DIY: Perfectly Flawed

This is my brain on home shows:

Before

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After

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Boredom and desperate need for a home refresh finally pushed me to make over my lifeless, decades old wood dining table and chairs–replete with dings, scratches and in some cases, major gouging.

We’ve since added to its misery but tried to make amends years ago with new chair re-upholstery. Nothing doing. Didn’t make my heart sing. But with real life encroaching on personal time, my furniture (and the rest of the décor) never made my triage list.

Finally though, enough was enough. I decided to commit to re-staining the tabletop. I reasoned the top was so damaged that if I goofed it wouldn’t make much difference. I had nothing to lose.

So for months I pored over Do It Yourself Internet sites and scoured local libraries for DIY info, techniques and lots and lots of pep talk. And all I wanted to do was stain the dang thing.

After wading through scads of instruction and rejecting the more elaborate procedures, I compiled my own basic action plan which I knew I’d be most likely to carry out.

I’ll skip the part about how I have no work area and we had to live in a construction zone for weeks. I just ignored the ‘when will you be done?’ questions.

I’m happy to report the tabletop turned out nicely (see above photo)–better than expected. But I couldn’t stop there. Now I had to fully update the table and chairs as well.

After much additional research I decided on chalk paint (not to be confused with chalk board paint), a type of paint that results in an antique-y, shabby-chic effect. What drew me to this paint was not only the ultimate look but the swear-up-and-down-claim by chalk paint advocates that this paint can be used directly on the piece with little to no prep, such as sanding or stripping the prior finish.

Well, yes and no. Some items would need prep some would not. I eventually learned to use a shellac product that can help block the old sheen from bleeding through.

This would be the end of my post if my purpose were simply to summarize why I did this redo.

But there’s more. Though I applied two to three coats for full coverage of the chairs, I immediately observed the chalk paint self-distressing and self-aging, showing flaws as it dried. The more I saw this, the more coats I used. I wasn’t sure I was happy with what I was seeing but there was no turning back.

Somewhere around the third chair I had an epiphany. Oh, I get it—it’s supposed to show flaws. That’s part of the character. It tells a story. And it’s OK.

I think it’s interesting to note that the distressed, imperfect finish is highly desirable to many—even deliberately sought after. Furniture treated with this particular paint is not pristine or flawless but real, with all its imperfections.

I appreciate, too, how forgiving the paint was. If closely examined, one could see a number of paint malfunctions like a dried drip here or there or a tiny spot I may have missed. Ha. It’s all part of the charm. And most of us won’t be looking too closely.

I’d bet you’d be hard pressed to see any flaws in the “after” picture above. Taken from a distance, the whole package looks pretty darn good.

Admittedly, painting with chalk paint is an odd way to find life parallels but it’s as good as any other experience we might use to freshen up our ideals, allow our imperfections and find ways to gloss over others’ flaws*.

Not too shabby.

*Not at all costs: know when an item or relationship is unsalvageable.

X, S

 

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