Friday, May 2, 2014

Rags to Riches

I am fanatical about designing furniture pieces for my own home. I love that I can take what is essentially trash and turn it into a unique piece of home decor. If I had my way, my entire house would be furnished with rehabbed cast-offs.

For the last several weeks, I've been working on something very special for my front entryway. Looking at a big, blank space under my stairs for the last 18 months really motivated me to get something in there that was striking, yet functional. Although the hallway is wide, it's still a main artery into the house, so whatever sat there needed to be low profile. A long, narrow console table seemed like the natural choice but after months of searching for one, I couldn't find something I loved.

Just when I was about to give up and build my own from parts gathered at my local big box hardware store, my daughter brought my attention to a Kickstarter program for a new product called The Floyd Leg.

Designed by Kyle Hoff and Alex O'Dell, these legs are powder-coated steel, meant to be portable (for apartment dwellers), and allow the user to create a table from any flat surface. Simple to use and industrial in feel, they were perfect for my needs. I donated to the Kickstarter program back at the end of last year and waited, knowing that the legs weren't scheduled to be delivered until April of this year.

The hunt was on for the perfect surface to create my table top. It needed to be long and narrow and after many months of searching and measuring and searching some more, my husband and I found this lovely, ten-dollar shutter at a second-hand store in our favorite Houston neighborhood, the Montrose.


More than six feet long, and a slim 12" deep, this beat-up old thing was perfect, with a price that couldn't be beat.

I brought it home and started cleaning years of grime off of it.

One look at it, and I felt I could be about 100% certain that it had previously been painted with lead-based paint. It cleaned up nicely, but I really wanted to get color onto it rather than use it in its high-gloss white state. Since sanding it was absolutely out of the question because of its potential lead content, I knew I had to spend some time experimenting with paint.

The big question then was, how well or badly would my acrylic artist colors adhere? My guess was very, very poorly. You really can't put acrylic or latex paint on top of oil paint and expect any kind of adhesion, but I had to try, anyway.

I decided on which side would be the top, flipped it over, and began experimenting on the back side.

The first thing I did was swipe a thin layer of turquoise green onto a flat portion of the shutter and then allow that layer to dry over night.

The next morning, I tried to scrape the paint off with my fingernail. To my stunned surprise, I couldn't budge the paint. I then took the flat head of a screwdriver and started scratching into the paint. Nothing but the most faint marks, and those I could live with!

Thrilled with my unexpected success, I then added my next color to my experiment, Manganese Blue Hue.

Feeling a little cocky with my success, I allowed that layer to dry for only about an hour and then I applied my next color, Cadmium Yellow Light Hue.

Ohhh purty.

After another hour to allow the yellow to dry, I tried the scratch test again.

Whoops! It failed completely, I was able to scratch the paint right off down to the original finish.

I walked away for another day, then came back the next day, tried my scratch test again, and once more, the paint refused to move. I realized then that the key to making this whole thing work would be to allow each coat of paint to cure overnight.

Since this electric lime green color made my husband's teeth ache, I decided to tone it down a bit. Out came the titanium white. Mind you, I'm still working on the underside of what will become my console table, experimenting.

Ok, not bad, getting there. But then hubby said he wanted a little more brown in it. Brown? Well, ok, but enough with the experimenting, I'm raring to go!!

We flipped the shutter over and I started on it in earnest.

First, the turquoise.

Yes, yes, yumminess. I liked the streaky way the paint was going on, too... I knew that in future layers, it would add texture and depth.

Next, blue...



Oh yes, looking delicious. I almost could have stopped here, but I promised hubby it would have some brown, so onward into the yellow layer...

Again, I could have stopped here, and was getting a little fed up with the tediousness of painting each little shutter section individually, but not wanting my husband to live the rest life with aching teeth, I pressed on.

A nice staining with burnt umber...

I REALLY liked it at this stage... the lime green I love so much peeking out, but a kind of grungy look all over because of the burnt umber. Hubby wasn't convinced. "Can't we get some white in there, now?" he wanted to know. Well, um, sure, I guess so.

AHHHHHH no, no, no, I hated that. All my hard work getting each layer painted, one layer per day, was now being obliterated! Blue, it needs more blue, bring back the blue, for the love of all that's precious!


Oh yes, much better. Much, much nicer. This is where I called a halt- it was finished. 

During this process, which took place over the past two weeks, the Floyd Legs finally arrived! 

Yes, they'd look lovely with the painted shutter.

But how would we deal with the shutters themselves? It was not a flat surface, I'd never be able to put art or knick-knacks on them. The best solution was to have a piece of tempered glass cut to cover them. But I didn't want the glass to cover the whole surface of the shutter, I thought it would add a lot more archetectural interest to have only the shuttered area covered, so I ordered a piece of glass a little more than half the length of the table. And rather than have the glass lay flat on the shutter, I thought I would raise it up a bit with some leftover, brushed nickle drawer pulls I had from some previous Ikea project or another.

Hubby drilled four holes through the shutter for me, and we screwed the draw pulls into those. Four clear rubber bumpers on top of the pulls helps protect the glass from being scratched by the metal pulls, and keeps the glass from slipping off. Then we just laid the glass right on top of the four pulls.

Getting the legs on was a two-person job.

They went on as easily as we had hoped, and now here it is in all it's reclaimed glory, in my entryway under the stairs!

Remember, when you're looking at what others might call junk, there could just be a wonderful and unique use for it in your home!

Reclaim, reuse, and rehab!


Lisa Chin said...

That is a well loved piece now! So much love and energy put into it and well worth it I think! I love how you added the piece of glass giving it more layers too. Great job Judi!

Jeannie said...

Judi, it is wonderful!!! I love the layers of paint and the legs are fantastic. I may invest in some for my outdoor studio instead of the saw horses I use now. Thanks for the inspiration!

Judy Rys said...

Love the process and the final product. Well done!

Deborah Levy said...

Fabulous, Judi!

elle said...

OMgoodness! I was just luving all you were doing til ya got to the oh No stage. I agreed. Can ya fix it??? Of course ya can! LUV it! Very cool! I am gonna have to look for a shutter!!! ;)

Bethany Garner said...

Hi Judi... what a way cool project! Thank you for sharing the entire process and you have given me some hints about two great old pieces my son dragged home after the Queen's University students left our fair city of Kingston, ON Canada. The "ghetto" is filled for one one weekend with everything the kids did not want to take on their move home or to their next destination after 4 years living at the campus. Great every year! If you live near a University city - take advantage. We found the BEST stuff!
You are lucky to have a willing hubby and love your studio peeks.Super project and success!
Bethany Garner

Warm n Wonderful said...

Absolutely fantastic! I love the process and the end product. Kudos to you for the waiting over nightness.

sukey said...

floyd legs, very cool idea. i didn't exactly understand how the glass shelf is attached to the table?

Jan said...

What a beautiful unique table you have created with all your hard work! Definitely one of a kind and so functional. Great job, you two!

Vicki W said...

Spectacular! Thank you for sharing the details.

Diane in NH said...

Nice job Judi, love the results you got!