Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Stain Reaction: Part 1

If you recall, I wasn't able to complete the "real" Pinterest Challenge: Summer Edition -- the one hosted by Sherry @ Young House Love and Katie @ Bower Power -- because I was on vacation. I decided to give myself another week so I could participate! :)

I'm posting the results of my Pinterest Challenge: Summer Edition results a couple (5 days) early. Don't worry -- I'm only cheating a little. I'm only posting early it because it was the simplest of projects, and I am going to continue the challenge with another piece of furniture -- the library file cabinet I craigslisted. I'll post the results of that project on Tuesdsay 7/17 like I originally promised.

I started with a simple, inexpensive table I bought with some other pieces at an estate sale. Here's what it looked like when I brought it home:

It was fine, but fine just wasn't gonna cut it. I lost a little steam on the office/craft room project, so it took a while, but I'm never one to back down from a challenge. I was determined to get 'er done.

I ran to Home Depot for a few necessities: gel stain and sand paper. It turns out that the Home Depot near me only carries 4 colors of gel stain: Ugly, Uglier, Hideous, and NotMyStyle. Bummer. Being the laid back, go-with-the-flow uptight person I am, I let out a heavy sigh. I really wanted to give gel stain a go. Oh, well. Such is life. I considered a couple options, but landed on Minwax's PolyShades in Mission Oak (satin finish). I really thought it best to stay at least 10 feet away from anything oak. It seems to be really frowned upon these days, but the color on the sample board at Home Depot wasn't all that bad. The product boasts "stain and polyurethane in one step." I was all about not having to go through an extra step. Plus, I was already at the store and wasn't about to go home and read reviews on the product. Sold. I ended up getting the stain, some sandpaper, and some steel wool, something the label on the stain recommended.

When I got home, I brought the table out the garage and got right to work. First, I sanded the entire table lightly.

Then, I wiped the dust off. Then, I added one coat:

Then I waited overnight. Then, I rubed the whole thing with steel wool. Then, I added a second coat:

See that orange chair in the back? I've got big plans for him. (It's definitely a boy.) Don't lie. You're excited. Anyway, then I brought it in the house.

It's much darker than I thought it was going to be. I don't associate oak with anything that dark. Luckilly, I didn't have any solid color choice in mind. I was open to options. I like what happened. I'm not in love with the table. I think I've exhausted the point, but the table was cheap, cheap, cheap, so it might not live here long term. I was in need of something affordable to fill the space since I had already spent so much money on the room.

Overall, I liked Minwax Polyshades. I thought it was a good consistency (not too thick, not too thin), easy to apply (I used a paintbrush.), and affordable (under $10). I plan to use the same stuff for the file cabinet. I have to figure out how I going to apply it, though. I used my good paintbrush on the table, and I had to throw it away. I attempted to clean it with dish soap and laundry detergent, but nothing would take the stickiness out of the brush. I think I paid about $15 for the brush a couple months back. I've gotten some good use out of it, so it's no big deal; but I certainly don't want to spend another $15 on a brush I'm just going to throw away. I might try a sponge brush, but I'm worried about how it will turn out. Any suggestions? Please?

The next few pictures are udpated from the original curtain post. I considered using drapery rings with clips to hang the panels instead of threading the rod through the hem. I went for it. I also thought the fabric was dominating the window when I was just aiming for a pretty accent. I thought about taking them down and cutting one panel in half and making two panels. Instead, I took them down and folded each in half hot dog style. I then clipped the rings to the back of the panels at the hem and hung them back up. See how it gives the panels a more traditional pleated look without being too stuffy? The rings make the panels much easier to manipulate too I like it. Do you?

And because you're probably getting tired of looking at the same wall in that small room, here's a sneak peak at the desk wall. It's going to take me a while to fill the nooks with stuff, but it's getting there. The black table on the right will be replaced with the file cabinet I'm working on whilst you read.

It's almost done! Once I finish the file cabinet, the big projects will be complete. Then, it will just be a matter of getting some more stuff for the shelves and table tops and maybe putting something on the wall above the desk/shelves. (maybe a vinal decal?)

So what do you think? Is the stain I chose too dark for an otherwise light room? Are the curtains better now, or were they better before?

Update: Here's a before and an after shot of the curtains. Sorry about the dark after picture.




  1. I love how the table turned out. I like the darkness of it. Just a thought: I don't know what material your desk chairs are, but have you ever thought of spray painting those a lighter color so they can pop? (I'm thinking of John and Sherry's office) Maybe a teal color like what's in the curtains.

    And can you post a side by side pic of the curtains??? I can't tell which I like better.

    Can't wait to see your library cabinet!

    1. Bah! I thought about posting a before and after picture of the curtains, but I was too lazy. (Too lazy to post one extra picture???) Anyway, my faux pas is now updated, so check it out and let me know!

      & I have totally thought about spray painting those chairs! They're plastic from Ikea. Just like that table: cheap, cheap, cheap. I'm tossing around throwing some yellow in the room somewhere, I'm just scared that it'll get too crazy. Another option is like a dark/bright teal (probably similar to what you're thinking). I'm going to stay away from green because of the other chairs, and there's already enough white in the room. Hmmm...

    2. I think I like the after. The before is definitely not bad...just more casual whereas the after looks a tad more polished and like you said, acts as an accent instead of taking over.

      Yeah, yellow or teal would be super cute!

  2. I remember one tutorial saying Minwax Polyshades is a little less forgiving than General Finishes gel stain, but it looks like you did just fine! I love the contrast between the dark table and the curtain, wall, and molding.

    1. I've never tried any other varieties of stain, but I can tell that this one wasn't super forgiving. If you're perfect like I am, it doesn't matter how forgiving a product is. Ha ha. Anyway, The Polyshades was (I think) a bit thicker than a typical stain, so it gelled up pretty quickly which would make it hard to adjust. Plus, there was no wiping involved, which was a pro and a con -- one less step, but less forgiving.



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