Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Breakfast Nook, Redux

Our china cabinet before refinishing.

About 10 days ago I mentioned we were finishing up the dining room makeover and had moved on to the kitchen set in our breakfast nook. In the breakfast nook we are using a combination of color-washing and chalk paint to redo our 1970s trestle table and benches, 1940s china cabinet, and modern chairs. Despite a few setbacks, we have finished one bench and the china cabinet. I also sewed a window valance and set up the dining room this week.

One bench is refinished.

 I'm glad I was able to finish something because I am not feeling well. I'm not sure what's wrong, but I think I caught what my grandmother called "A cold in your neck". Apparently there's some scientific basis for this old wives' tale. Many years ago in college I caught pneumonia. I was sick for a very long time. Then, only a week or two after I recovered I got what my mother calls a "crick" in my neck. The weather was record cold for the area one morning, like 17 degrees, and I went outside to walk to class when a blast of cold air hit my neck and it seized up so completely I couldn't straighten my neck. I had to go back to the doctor, who told me the pneumonia virus had migrated into my muscle. I spent another week in bed and ended up missing so much school it delayed my graduation until the next year. It would have only been a semester, but I decided to add a second major in the meantime, so it took an extra year. Ever since then my neck will seize up again every so often, usually when I haven't been taking good care of myself by getting enough sleep.

Nearly a month ago we were up in the mountains for our son's band competition and cold wind was blowing on my neck making it feel like it might seize up. It didn't but it has been getting progressively stiffer and now I also have a headache in the back of my head that won't go away, earaches in both ears, runny nose and sneezing, sore throat, and upset stomach. I keep checking to make sure I can touch my chin to my chest, the way my mother used to test us for meningitis. I'm also just really drained. I only ran a little bit last week because I was just too tired. So, I'm proud to have gotten some work done. If I don't feel better soon I guess I'll have to try and find a new doctor around here to visit.

The refinished bench in blue looks more up to date.

 So, in my Every New Beginning post I showed you how to color wash wood as I did on one of the benches. The bench is finished now, and I think it looks very nice. When you compare it to the rest of the set you can see it looks much more up-to-date, not surprising, since the last time we refinished the kitchen set was in 2002!

The tape adhesive stuck to the drawer, and the sanding block Jerry used to remove it.

After the bench we moved on to the china cabinet. This cabinet, from the 1930s or 40s, belonged to Jerry's grandmother. In 1987 Jerry's parents moved with the cabinet. They stabilized the glass door and drawer with packing tape during the move. Unfortunately, after they arrived they just stuck the cabinet in an outdoor shed with the tape still on it. In 1997 they gave the cabinet to us, still with its packing tape attached. We tried to remove it, but the adhesive was stuck fast and hardened. Over the years I tried sanding, scraping, chemical removers like stripper, paint thinner, Goof Off, Goo Gone, scratching with razor blades, steel wool, all to no avail. I suggested painting the cabinet but Jerry didn't want to. So, for 16 years I've lived with the yucky tape mark on the front of the wood. Now, however, Jerry finally agreed to paint the cabinet. To say I'm happy about that is the understatement of the year!

We decided to paint the cabinet with chalk paint and embellish it with Rub-N-Buff metallic wax, just as we did with our dining room set. The recipe for the homemade chalk paint is here: For this color I used Olympic Serendipity in semigloss and Rub-N-Buff in Grecian Gold. We used the same color chalk paint for the base of the bench and I made my own color washing glaze with the Serendipity and glazing medium. The recipe for the colorwash glaze is here:

Removing the tape also took the finish off.

Jerry tried a sanding block and was finally able to remove the adhesive cemented on the drawer. The finish came off with it, but the surface was smooth enough to paint. Jerry painted the cabinet completely. I tried to help, but Jerry says the painting process helps him relax after his stressful job.

Once Jerry finished with the painting I went in with the metallic wax and just accented the carvings and embellished the finish here and there. Then I went back over that with more chalk paint, just to knock back any areas I felt looked too dark. I don't use any scientific process; I just keep re-working the piece until it has the look I want. When it dried I finished it with paste wax.

The china cabinet before paste wax finishing.

The finished piece brings a lot of color to the room. Our entire house is the same color. I know that's good for resale and we really don't want to spend the time and money to paint. We have quite a bit of cathedral ceilings with two story walls and painting is not easy. So we decided to bring color in through the furnishings. I also just happen to adore painted furniture. My grandparents' houses, where I spent most of my childhood, were both full of painted pieces and so it just looks like home.

The cabinet after paste wax finishing.

This china cabinet really reminds me of my paternal grandmother. It's funny; her family was all-American, here since before the Revolutionary War, but her decorating style was heavily influenced by the Scandinavian. She was a master at combining furniture genres while still creating beautiful rooms. I wish I could decorate and run a house like she could! She used color to tie disparate pieces together, and her house had a lot of Swedish Country and French Provincial antiques combined with very slick Danish modern and contemporary pieces. Everything in her house was jade or turquoise or chicory blue, or creamy ivory and she preferred painted furniture accented with metallic gold. Her house exuded a peaceful serenity unlike anyplace I've ever been, except maybe the Ritz-Carlton in Washington, DC. Just walking into that house made me feel pampered and relaxed.

The cabinet with the other furniture.

My Scandinavian grandparents', on the other hand, also had a house full of every style under the sun, but they made no effort to match anything. They certainly didn't adhere to Danish or Swedish style. My grandmother would say, "We just buy things we like; we don't worry about whether they match." Their house was all brown and red, and the furniture there was painted with patterns like fruits or flowers, very Norwegian, and very homey.

I tried to unite our kitchen set the way my American grandmother did, with color. We have the 40s cabinet and the 70s table set, the Early American Shaker cheese box from my grandfather's barn, along with the cuckoo clock and our 50s-style red stool. I love turquoise and robin's egg blue combined with beige and gold, and I also love it combined with red. When I was young I had a blue purse this color I carried with everything and my colleagues at work would joke that I considered blue a neutral color. Actually, I think that's true. I do!

The breakfast nook, halfway finished.

I think the kitchen looks fabulous so far and I can't wait until it's all finished. I hope I'm feeling better soon so I can get more done. I will keep posting as we finish the kitchen.

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