Take A Letter, Maria

I love craigslist, as is obvious by many of my blog posts. So when I needed a very small laptop table for the very tiny soon to be study room for Ron, I started combing through the furniture section and found this telephone table that looked like a mini-secretary to me:

photo            image

Unfortunately, I forgot to take “before” photos (I always do), so you can’t see the purple sides with the aboriginal art. While this would be fantastic for a small child’s room, it certainly didn’t meet my criteria for shabby coastal chic. Thank goodness for the internet, pinterest, and online recipes for chemical compounds not found in nature.

The first thing I had to do was take off the doors, remove the drawer and take off all the hardware, then sand it down. I wasn’t at all worried about the Zinsser Bullseye 1-2-3 primer adhering, since it sticks to anything and everything, including glass, but the art on the side was done with very thickly brushed and swirled acrylics, and I didn’t want the texture to come through. After a really good sanding with 100 grit paper, it was time to prime.


Whew! All those dark colors are gone! I wanted to try using chalk paint, and since I can’t afford Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, I googled for recipes. There are four basic paint additives that people use: plaster of paris, unsanded grout, calcium carbonate, and baking soda. However, that’s as far as unity goes, because other than some people agreeing on those additives, no one had the same recipe.

Some people use a couple of tablespoons of additive to a cup of paint and thin it with water. Other people use almost half additive to half paint, with a smidge of water. After reading twenty different recipes, I realized that really, people were just pulling quantities out of their asses. I finally just threw three tablespoons of plaster of paris in with a cup or so of paint and added a little over a third of a cup of hot water. My paint was a little runny, so I’ll use less water next time, but this did indeed work.


While some people said to let it sit for a while so that the plaster starts to solidify, most everyone else said to use it as quickly as possible, since it dries very fast. I decided to paint as quickly as I could, just in case, but my paint never solidified, although it did dry super fast. It was ready for a second coat as soon as I finished putting on the first coat. Once it was coated enough to finish covering the primary colors, I gave it a day to really dry and then I started waxing it.


Everyone agrees that paste wax is the way to go, although few people agreed on an amount. I tried using a bit of old t-shirt rubbed in the wax as an applicator, but that didn’t give me enough wax to get good coverage. Instead, I used a flat head screw driver to chip out wax chunks, then used the t-shirt to spread it around. That was much more satisfactory to me, but it does use a lot more wax that way.

During the day that I was letting the secretary cure, I went to a local craft store (I hate shopping there, but there are some things that only they carry) to pick up knobs. They have the best knobs and pulls for super crazy cheap. I found a set of light teal ceramic knobs that perfectly matches the paint in the playhouse; even better, they were only $2 each!

Once everything was waxed, set, and buffed, I put all the hardware back on, and this is what I ended up with!


Yeah, scroll back up to the top and take a look at where I started. Of course, Ron hated the color (although he has several shirts this shade of yellow). I told him that it wouldn’t matter what color I used, he would hate it, so I chose one that *I* like, that way one of us is happy. This definitely makes me happy. It’s the perfect size for a laptop, with a drawer and two shelves for storage. That’s a whole lot of usable space in such a tiny wooden box!

I’m thrilled with my first experiment in chalk paint, although next time, I will use more plaster and less water. I also bought a darker paste wax on Amazon to give it a more distinctive patina. I think this proves that no matter what something looks like beforehand, it can be turned into a beautiful treasure with just a little effort and creativity!


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