Turn Your Crappy Furniture Into Shabby Chic Fast And Cheap

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Chalk paint is popular right now. Chalk Paint appeals to those who love shabby chic or distressed style of decor.

I don’t write DIY posts often. The main reason is money. You need supplies to craft and complete DIY projects. Most of us don't have the supplies we need lying around.

A lot of us are struggling. For someone like me after 17 years of marriage my furniture is old. If money is an issue, you do repairs or fix up your old stuff.

I see a lot of bloggers posting about a Spring refresh and I am over here looking at my house thinking I need one too. A refresh could mean new couch pillows and lampshades or redecorating your entire house. That’s on you.

But I cannot afford to buy new stuff. Our kitchen table is from Walmart. The varnish on the chairs and the table legs were too shiny, and they chipped easily. At the time I needed the kitchen table I couldn’t afford to buy the one I wanted, so I settled. 

Do-it-yourself projects are my idea of fun. I watched YouTube videos and read blog posts from professionals that distress furniture. I wanted to do this right. If I screw up my table, I won’t be able to use it anymore so I didn’t want to make any mistakes. Which I did. So here I am telling you what I learned.

Let's talk about chalk paint first. Chalk paint needs no prepping. Whatever you’re painting needs to be clean. You need not strip it and you need not sand it. You can paint almost anything with chalk paint. Chalk Paint is cheap and they sell a quart at Walmart for Under $10. Chalk paint goes a long way a quart can paint a lot of furniture.

Chalk paint will leave brush strokes on furniture. Many of the blogs I read said if you hate brush strokes skip chalk paint or use a sprayer.  I decided if I distressed my chairs and table then the brush strokes would be ok. Another reason I picked Chalk Paint is there are no VOCs which means you can paint indoors. Chalk Paint is also very forgiving and if you make a mistake, you can fix those mistakes. Chalk Paint dries quick.

Buying Chalk Paint on the cheap can be tricky. I wanted a specific color and I couldn’t afford to buy it. I had to settle for a different color. Now if you’re good at mixing paints, you could mix your own. Remember the ratio in case you need to mix more paint later.

After watching all the videos I knew I had to use a natural hair paint brush which will be problematic. Natural hair paint brushes leave brush strokes and they shed hair. Once you pull that hair it will take the paint with it. Consider doing one coat with the natural hair brush and a second coat with a smooth roller. The roller will waste a lot of paint but it will make the paint look so much better. Consider getting a natural hair stencil or detail brush to get in the grooves and nooks and crannies. My chairs had spindles which can be hard to paint. 

The stripper would not coat my table evenly.

The stripper would not coat my table evenly.

I wanted to discuss chalk paint. If you are staining any part of the furniture sand or strip before painting. Do your research. There are chemical and natural liquid stripping agents but that may not be the best way of doing things. I picked a spray one that seemed easy to use and natural with no fumes. It was lies. All lies. The stripping agent made a huge mess, and it took forever. Sanding would take me perhaps half an hour and then I would vacuum and dust up the residue.

Liquid stripping can take a long time. Apply it. Wait. Then scrape it off. Do a wash. I used water myself. Then wait for the wood to dry. It took hours. I still had to sand the table because it did not remove all seal. The stripping agent melted stuff and made a huge mess. The moisture can damage the wood too. Be careful. Even my thick plastic Playtex gloves melted. I should have never used a chemical stripping agent. Sanding would have been faster. Easier. Cleaner.

Fill in dings and large chips before you stain with wood filler. Let the filler dry and sand. Then stain.

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Another big mistake I made was I used a brush that was for stains to apply my gel stain and it was a hot mess. I found that an old cloth diaper made of Bird's-eye was a hundred percent better for the second coat. I recommend you go to town with an old soft cloth to apply gel stain. Go with the grain. 

Distressing is so easy. Pick the spots you would touch and wear the furniture down. A light stroke may lighten the paint up which can be a nice effect. If you want the old paint to show a few strokes with a medium grit sandpaper does the job. The process goes by fast. Do not get carried away.

Before I started this project, I painted our picture frames first. That is when I figured out it's easier to do one or two coats with the brush then use the roller. Most projects only need two coats but I dry brushed a third coat for detail. 

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You need to seal your piece. Many recommend wax for chalk paint. The issue with waxes is it’s not permanent! Wax needs an application every few months that is a lot of maintenance. A dining table where people are spilling things and wiping them up wax is not the best method. Use a polyurethane sealer. I used a sponge brush it made it easy. Two coats and your good.

So long story short is chalk paint worth doing? Yes. You can finish your project in a day. Be aware it can take a few days if you're stripping and staining part of the piece. In my case I have kids need I say more? 

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So here are some of my final thoughts and tips.

Don’t paint an item you’re not sure about. A family heirloom or piece you had for 25 years and you love it do nothing to it. Can you remove chalk paint? For sure you can but you may hurt the wood when removing it. So only paint something you can bear to part with.

You don’t have to buy Annie Sloan chalk paint. Walmart has chalk paint for under $10. Or join Michael’s rewards club you get a 40% off coupon. Sixteen ounces should be enough to do a kitchen table. Don't spend more than $15 on the paint and stain. Google what you want and find the lowest price. Stores that let you use coupons like 25% any item can make it possible to buy fancier paint.

If you will stain try sandpapering. It's not that hard at all. Sanding won't take as long as a solvent for smaller pieces.

 Consider using a chalk spray paint if your nervous about using a brush and not on a tight budget. It’s more expensive but if you have the money to spend, it will make your project go by fast and it’s easier.

 If you have children and have no help with these projects, you will get sidetracked. This is a commitment and whatever you are painting won't be something you can use. It can take longer to get this done if your kids keep bugging you and it can test your patience. The result is worthwhile though if you need to spruce up your home.

Hang onto things like empty plastic food containers. You can use them to hold wet brushes and mix paint.

The dollar store is a great place to get some of your supplies but I would avoid buying a plastic dropcloth. Every single one I tried ripped to shreds. Old newspaper works well and if you get a paper, it's free.

Wear thick gloves if you use any solvents or stains.

Enjoy your project. Painting and staining was hard with no help but I felt great.  I did this all by myself and that made me feel like I accomplished something.

Happy crafting everyone.

It's not perfect but we like it.

It's not perfect but we like it.

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4 Easy Christmas Crafts

Christmas is Coming! 

Christmas time is the perfect time to break out the glue gun. Some of the best Christmas decorations and gifts are handmade.

I am sharing my three favorite Christmas Crafts I made this year. Lakelynn Salinas allowed me to share her impressive handmade Grinch faux fireplace.

I am posting a few tutorials that are easy. I am terrible at telling others how to craft. So I hope the instructions are easy to follow.

Christmas Art- 

Kohl's has similar pictures, but they were expensive. So I decided I would make my own for less. You need a small canvas and scrap booking paper. Adhesive letters if desired. Modgepodge is best to keep the paper in place.

This craft is simple you trace the canvas shape on the back of the paper and cut. Place the paper on top of the canvas use a foam or regular paint brush apply the Modgepodge.  Use Modgepodge like it is paint remember it will dry clear. The Modgepodge will take several hours to dry. After the glue has dried apply the decals to the canvas. This project is fast and easy, well if you exclude the drying overnight part.

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Pillar Candle-

I wanted something to use all winter and I could change later. You can pick any candle holder you like with a smooth surface. You can use any ribbon you want for the embellishment.  I measure by wrapping the ribbon around the pillar and snip. I prefer glue tape because hot glue, may seep through and burn you. Since glue tape is cut, I use the ribbon to measure it. A glue gun works too be careful not to burn your fingers. Glue tape and hot glue will pull off. You can remove the ribbon after the holidays and apply a new one for other holidays.

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Easy Skirt-

This one is easy you can sew it from memory with no pattern. Measure the waist where the waistband sits on the child. If the measurement is 21 inches, I add about 1/4 of an inch for when I sew the seams together, so the skirt will not be too tight.

Measure how long you want the finished skirt to be. Here is where it can get complicated. There are two ways of handling the elastic casing and the hem. If you own a serger, you can serge the raw edges. You need to make seam allowances for the hem and the casing. If you do not own a serger, you will need to fold down the hem twice and the casing. You must remember to double those seam allowances.

For example, let's say I serge the raw edges, and I need the skirt to be 21 inches. If my elastic is 3/4 an inch and I want a 1/4 inch hem, I add an inch and cut 22 inches long. I leave a little extra space for the elastic casing. If the tube is too tight, you won't be able to thread the elastic. The gist is your fabric will need to be 22 inches long. I add a pinch for the casing.

For example, let's say you do not own a serger, and the elastic is one inch, and you want a half an inch hem. You want a 23-inch long skirt. You need to double the hem measurement and add a quarter inch to the casing. So you add an inch for the hem and 1.25 for the elastic casing. So that's 25.25 inches.

The width is what you want. I use the width of the yard for bigger skirts. Cut the fabric and sew the edges together. Use a zig-zag stitch to finish the raw edges if you do not use a serger.

If you are not using a serger measure, the length you desire for the hem. To hem the skirt, fold the hem over then pin the hem with glass pins and press. You must repeat the hem directions again. By pressing the hem twice this prevents the raw edges from fraying. Then sew the hem.

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At the waistband if you want an inch first measure 1/4 inch fold and press. This is so the raw edges are tucked away to prevent fraying.  The waistband needs to be slightly longer than the elastic. I measure one and 2/16 an inch.  You then fold the fabric, pin, and press again. This will be your waistband so pin and press. If you serged the raw threads, you only need to fold and press once.

Use a straight stitch but do not close the waistband. An inch of the waistband casing must be left open. You need this gap for the elastic.

Mark the elastic, so you know you are sewing the right sides together to prevent twisting. What you want to do is use an elastic threader or use a safety pin. Pin one side down and feed the elastic through until the opposite end comes out.

The sew the elastic together. Push it into the casing and close the gap. The tight elastic will gather the skirt for you! Wolla you have a skirt!

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Another skirt I made with this method.

Another skirt I made with this method.

These skirts make great gifts. Once you have made a few it becomes a very easy project.

These skirts make great gifts. Once you have made a few it becomes a very easy project.

Last, I love this Grich Faux Fireplace. Lakelynn Salinas is incredible. Here is a link to Pinterest where she has written a tutorial. Her twist on the faux fireplace is the best Christmas craft I've seen in forever. She had to get creative this year. Her daughter was worried that Santa would not visit because their new home did not have a fireplace. Is this not one of the best parenting wins?

Lakelynn is from Tennessee she works, she has four kids, and is pregnant with her fifth and made that! She is a supermom. Her husband helped her with the painting. This craft may seem elaborate, but it's easy. I love this so much. This is perfect for Christmas! Lakelynn is on Pinterest so follow her. 

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Which craft is your favorite? Are you making any gifts this year?