This next DIY project I’m going to share is a big leap from the $2 coasters I started with, but one I think turned out pretty well!
When I moved to San Francisco 4 years ago I came with bags and bags of clothes and that was pretty much it. It was great that in the first apartment I moved into the guy who I was replacing was willing to sell me all his furniture. It was the standard Ikea black stuff and I got a bed, dresser, desk, and shelving unit for ridiculously cheap (thank you, Trung!). I figured down the line I would upgrade and eventually replace the stuff with things that were more my style. Well, it’s been 4 years….I have gotten rid of the desk, upgraded to a Cal King bed, but added a coffee table.
When Paul and I moved to our new apartment I still didn’t feel the need to replace all our Ikea furniture with “real” furniture. My plan is when we actually buy our first home we’ll do some upgrades. And, hopefully we’ll have some more space for me to re-do some Craigslist or flea market finds. A 680-sq foot apartment is no place for DIY projects, FYI. But, I was determined to at least make the black laminate disappear. My home design preference runs along the neutral tones with pops of bright color spectrum so the black laminate is probably the polar opposite of my style. I decided I’d start with the Lack coffee table we had and revamp it to something brighter. I went through many different design ideas, but finally settled on a neutral base color with a blue stencil as a border to match the blue rug I had gotten.
So, this is what we started with:
Yuck right? It just screams “help me, brighten me up!”. If you’re not familiar with this Ikea Hack website and you have a lot of Ikea furniture, I strongly suggest checking it out. It’s got some great ideas for changing that plain old laminate stuff to something spectacular.
So, after doing lots of research I settled on Gripper primer, and Behr latext paint. Since laminate is super “slippery” I needed a primer that would cling to it well so that the paint would actually stay on and not chip off easily. Home depot and the web both confirmed that Gripper was the way to go (another favorite of people is Zinsser 1,2,3).
So, the first coat of primer went on and it looked like this:
By the way, I did all of this on our patio which is no bigger than a large handicap bathroom stall. Can we buy a house already?!
I did 3 more coats of primer and in between each coat I sanded it with sanding sponges. I used 100 and 180 grit and they worked great!
In an attempt to not get streaks I painted the primer in W patterns and used a good quality foam roller. After all the coats (about 1 hour of dry time in between each coat), the table and the shelf that sits under it looked like this:
The next day it was time to start painting! I picked a neutral sand color for the base and color matched the blue from the rug I had gotten for the living room for the shelf part. The rug can be seen and purchased here. I used the same painting methods as with the primer and did 4 coats of each. I followed dry times in between coats (2 hours about) and then left the pieces out to dry for a few days.
Next part, stenciling! This was by far the most labor intensive part of the project, and I was completely unprepared for my aching back and cramped fingers. Paul warned me that I was in for a loooong process, but I brushed off his warnings as him just teasing me and cued Destiny Child’s “Independent Women.” I had settled on this stencil pattern from the Martha Stewart collection at Michael’s (the top pattern on the first stencil sheet). I chose the quatrefoil-esque one since it was the easiest to line up after some practicing with the other options. I STRONGLY suggest that if you are going to stencil something you practice, practice, and then practice some more first. I did practice rounds on cardboard for a whole evening first just to make sure I had it down. And, then I did this frame as a practice run.
This pattern by far left the most room for error. Other ones in the packet you really had to line up well or else things would be completely off center or uneven and would be noticeable. With this pattern you couldn’t tell too much if things were off a bit.
So, on to the table! I only wanted to do a border on the top of the table so I cut out a rectangle from pieces of paper (measuring/lining up like crazy to make sure lines were straight) to place down in the center of the table, using painter’s tape. I used this adhesive spray and these foam pouncers I got from Michael’s and they were definitely better than just using regular foam brushes. Trust me, I tried to not give in to these silly things, but when I tried using my regular foam brush the paint seeped under the stencil and just didn’t work. Good thing Michael’s always has coupons (found here!- you just need to change the location to your area). Anyways, this has been a lot of text so far so I leave you now with pictures to show my progress:
And finally, the finished product!
Note: I let the whole table “cure” for about a week or 2. Then I topped it with polyurethane sealer, brushing it on. I gave it 4 coats of that stuff in hopes that will make it last longer. I decided the under shelf needed something else so I bought some cheap baskets from Michael’s that were on sale, gave them a good coat of white spray and there you have it!!
Just so you don’t have to scroll up again, here’s the before and after:
I’m pretty happy with this first big project I did. It turned out exactly how I wanted and is soooo much better than that horrible black laminate. It did prove to me though that DIY projects are seriously intense. Like, no joke. There really is a reason that many of the home and DIY blogs I read are by people who do it as their full time job. After 8 hours at work and time at the gym each night it really only left weekends to get this project done. I’m not going to lie- it has scarred me a bit to do the other 2 pieces in our living room (shelving unit and entertainment system that I want to also paint) and I still have a dining room table to refinish. Too bad we didn’t win that Mega Millions….
But, it was also really fun and rewarding to get an end product that is much more “me”. Next up: a new headboard! Over or under that I finish it within 6 months? Any gamblers out there?
Thanks for stopping by!