Tag Archives: furniture

Thursday, October 17 2013

Teach an old door new tricks — Upcycle Challenge

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In high school, I chose musical theatre class over woodworking because I was afraid I’d lose a finger. It’s been 10 years but I’ve finally realized this was a huge mistake.

The Vancouver Home and Design Show has, for a second year, invited me to participate in the Ultimate Upcycle Challenge. This time, there’s a twist: ‘Unhinged’ as the competition is called, would see seven individuals transform an everyday door from the Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore into something worthy of purchase at the home show’s silent auction (running Oct. 17-20 at BC Place).

Every DIYer has their comfort zone, and sawing wood is about as far out of mine as possible. Still, I wanted to push myself to try something new with this door challenge, and despite countless miscalculations/errors/accidents, I managed to execute my hanging shelf concept: something to help organize towels and toiletries in the bathroom, or scarves and belts in the bedroom.

My first foray into furniture design will be open for bids starting today at the home show, with all proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity.

If you’d rather do it yourself, than buy it yourself, the hardest part of this DIY is sawing straight with a handsaw. Lucky for you, I’ve found an absolutely foolproof way to get a straight line every time.


  • door
  • sandpaper
  • towel bar
  • shelf brackets
  • power drill
  • paint
  • handsaw
  • Rust-Oleum satin paint + primer, white

How to: Door-turned-wall-organizer

  1. First, saw the door in half. The secret to sawing in a straight line with a handsaw is a physical guide. I learned this the hard way and after my first crappy cut I used the bottom half of the door to guide me. I recommend getting wood long enough to span the door and weighting that down or using clamps. As you can see, I used art books, all of my art books!
  2. Draw a line where you’re going to cut. Mark your starting-point line with the handsaw by doing a few back strokes, moving the saw up towards you. Then start sawing, using the wood edge as a guide and using your free hand (in glove) to push lightly on the saw to minimize the bouncing (this is supposed to cut down on damage to the bottom cut). After that, saw off the bottom piece (below the blue line in the ‘Before’ photo), this will be your shelf.
  3. Fill holes, sand and wash your door to prep for primer and paint (primer optional).
  4. Paint the base colour (half Martha Stewart Craft Paint in Beach Glass and half Titanium white) on the top three-quarters of the door piece and then the shelf (don’t forget the sides). *Note: If you’re mixing your own paint, for heaven’s sake save some extra in containers in case you need to do touch-ups. Otherwise any extra paint you have to mix afterwards is unlikely to be the exact same colour. 
  5. Hardware: OUTSIDE (!) take Rust-Oleum and spray paint shelf brackets, screws and towel bar. Do a couple coats in short bursts and let dry before you go for another round. Tip: Use a coat hanger for the shelf brackets.
  6. Ombre the main piece with the Rust-Oleum white, spraying at the bottom and going past the three-quarter mark where the mint colour ends. Hold your arm straight as you sweep across with white to get that nice gradient, ombre effect.
  7. After all elements are dry, attach the shelf and then the towel bar using a power drill. You may have to touch up the paint on the brackets afterwards, for me paint got chipped off during the drilling portion.
  8. Mount shelf-towel-bar-upcycled-door thing on the wall and you’re done! Leaning optional.
Thursday, October 10 2013

Age furniture overnight with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

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For decades, my grandmother has so vehemently lied about her age that no one really knows how old she is.

Isn’t if funny that when it comes to furniture, maturity is something to be bragged about?

The visible signs of aging add character and authenticity to furniture pieces, and therefore value.

‘Vintage’ is such a desired quality in the home decor department that many have pushed to find ways to accelerate, and even fake the aging process overnight.

As demonstrated with this tutorial from expert painter and author Annie Sloan, the distressed and old-as-Father-Time-chipping-paint look can be expertly imitated using her decorative Chalk Paint and waxes.

So roll up those sleeves and prepare your paintbrushes, it’s time to turn your new bedside table into a senior citizen.


  • Annie Sloan Chalk Paint
  • paintbrush
  • Annie Sloan Clear Wax
  • cloth
  • sandpaper

How to: ‘Chippy’ paint look

  1. Leave a can of Chalk Paint open overnight or in the fridge for a few hours to thicken up.
  2. Paint two coats (or even three in some parts), moving the brush in different directions. Leave to dry or use a hairdryer to get some really good cracks.
  3. Apply Annie Sloan Clear Wax with a lint-free cloth or brush, working the wax into the paint like a hand cream and removing any excess as you go.
  4. When it is dry ‘knock’ the paint off using a piece of folded sandpaper.
  5. For a great antique look, use Dark Soft Wax. Work it into your (still wet) Clear Soft Wax and spread. Work in small sections at a time. If you applied too much dark wax, simply dip a clean rag in clear wax and use it to remove the excess as you go.
  6. Another great way to bring out the crackles in paintwork or create an aged finish is by applying a subtle wash in a darker colour. The paint will gather wherever there are cracks. In ‘Color Recipes,’ Annie use uses a Country Grey Chalk Paint wash over Old White Chalk Paint. This is a gentler way of bringing out the crackles than using her Dark Soft Wax.

* This tutorial is from Color Recipes for Painted Furniture and More by Annie Sloan CICO Books, $24.95 US; $28.95 CAD www.cicobooks.com Photo credit: Photography by Christopher Drake

Thursday, September 26 2013

DIY: Annie Sloan charms with Chalk Paint

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If ever there were an expert to induce the ridiculous Wayne’s World ‘We’re not worthy!’ from DIYers, it would be painter and author Annie Sloan.

A pioneer of the furniture-painting craze, Sloan will be in town, bringing her 40-plus years of experience and painting passion, to the Vancouver Home and Design Show’s main stage at BC Place on Oct. 19.

And as a special treat to 24 hours readers, the U.K.-based creative shared with us this ‘Swedish-coloured’ dresser project from her best-selling book, Quick and Easy Paint Transformations: 50 Step-by-Step Ways to Makeover Your Home for Next to Nothing.

This furniture makeover features Chalk Paint, decorative paint by Annie Sloan, a.k.a. a do-it-yourselfer’s dream because it eliminates the need to sand or prime furniture first.

“The whole point about my paint is that it is one paint but there are many possibilities — from using it as a wash, thick and chippy, textured with dark wax, as a dye for fabric, layered and distressed, smooth and modern, etc., etc.”

Sloan said her Chalk Paint’s flexibility allows people to be creative and adapt techniques to suit the particular piece of furniture. “I say you should get the furniture to speak to you.”

Spoken like a true paint whisperer!


  • Old White Chalk Paint
  • Aubusson Blue Chalk Paint
  • 1-inch paintbrush (for paint)
  • 1-inch paintbrush (for wax)
  • Clear Wax
  • Dark Soft Wax
  • Cloth

How-to: ‘Swedish-coloured dresser’

Sloan tip: “To achieve the Swedish look, the right colours need to be used. My Aubusson Blue is a particularly Swedish-style shade — it is based on the Prussian Blue, a colour that was discovered in the 18th century and became available to all.”

  1. The trick to painting this piece in a loose way is to add a little blue onto the side of a paintbrush that is already loaded with Old White. Use the brush to coat the moldings with blue, but allow some blue to spread onto the main parts of the furniture, where it can be blurred and blended into the white.
  2. I painted the whole table, giving the central oval shape emphasis by working the blue into the molding.
  3. Allow the blue to make a gentle “blush” in and around the middle of the oval.
  4. I applied clear then dark wax to the whole table with a brush, again emphasizing the oval shape by filling the molding with dark wax.
  5. Remove any excess wax with a cloth.

‘Swedish-coloured dresser’ is from the chapter Using Colour in Quick and Easy Paint Transformations by Annie Sloan

CICO Books, $21.95 US; $23.95 CDN – www.cicobooks.com

Photo credit: Photography by Christopher Drake