Pauly D Foundation Auction Winner

Hi friends! It's been awhile since I have blogged about it, but I have been busy painting this spring. Today, I've popped in to share a reveal with you from earlier this year. This table is one of the most dramatic makeovers I've done in a while, and it was my first time working with the much raved about General Finishes Java Gel Stain.

Last fall, I donated a service to a fundraiser for our dear friends' foundation, the Pauly D Foundation. After tragically losing their son in an accidental drowning, the Pauly D Foundation was established to advocate for water safety and drowning prevention. Their vision is to make a difference by raising the bar on water safety education and awareness. I was happy to donate to such a wonderful cause. The lucky winner contacted me early in 2017, and we went right to work bringing life back to her much used dining table.


The top was in rough shape from years of use and the grandkids had given it their own special touch by carving their names in the apron with a pencil. It was definitely time to show this table some love. My client settled on a two tone look with a dark espresso top and white distressed apron. I have been intrigued by General Finishes Gel Stain for a while now. The way it works is that you can stain right over an existing finish, but this top had a lot of peeling and cracking. I decided to sand down the entire top and work with staining the raw wood for an even, clean finish.

I used my trusty Dewalt Random Orbit Sander that I always talk up on here. I started with a 60 Grit pad to knock off the existing finish and followed with a 150 grit pad to smooth it out before staining.

General Finishes has some great videos on how to work with their gel stain on YouTube. After watching them, I went to work. This is a picture after I put on the first coat of gel stain in Java. I found the whole process really easy.

I did two coats of stain and finished it off with General Finishes Gel Top Coat. I did three coats of top coat. And again, you can see the whole process by watching General Finish's video on gel stain on raw wood.

Once I completed the top, and gave it a few days to cure. I taped off the top and painted the apron and legs with Annie Sloan Old White. I used a 400 grit sand paper to smooth down the entire surface which let some of the original finish peek through. Then I finished the painted portions with Annie Sloan Soft Wax in clear.






It turned out just beautiful, and General Finishes now has a new fan!

The Pauly D Foundation is such a great cause, and I'm sure I will help out next year. If you have a service in the Chicagoland area or goods that you would like to donate to this fall's fundraiser, use my Contact tab to shoot me an email. I'll get you in touch with them!

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The Making of a Farmhouse Table

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I have wanted to make over my kitchen table into a farmhouse table for a while now, but I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with it. Then when I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Blue Egg Brown Nest, I fell in love with her kitchen table transformation. I knew I wanted something very similar, so I set to work.
My inspiration courtesy of Christen Bensten at Blue Egg Brown Nest.

Here is what I was starting with. We bought this table from the previous owners of our home in Indiana. They were downsizing, so we were able to purchase a lot of their furniture at a great price. This table was in really good shape, but I was never a fan of the table top's finish. It was too orange for my taste, and the varnish was very dull which means it did not wipe up well. The chairs were pretty oversized and looked a little out of place in our small dining space. 

And here she is now- light and bright. I just love the worn, farmhouse look of the table with the white metal chairs. It totally fits with my white kitchen, and I love the contrast it creates with my dark stained island.
white farmhouse table

I would love to tell you how easy this project was, but I am into telling the truth on this blog and not whitewashing (pun intended) the details. I decided I wanted to try to strip off the black paint on the apron and legs of the table, stain it a weathered oak color, and then do a coat of white paint on top. I wanted natural wood coming through versus the black. This turned into a big mess that I will save for another post where I will talk about using chemical paint stripper. To be honest, I am still scarred from this process, and it is just too soon to talk about it without getting red in the face or breaking out in tears.


So let's jump ahead. Here is my table stripped down to bare wood (or as close as I could get it). I used my Dewalt Orbit Sander for the table top, and it worked beautifully. It only took me about 30 minutes to strip the whole top using a 60 grit sandpaper disc. After I was done, I wiped it down with a tack cloth and went over the table again with a 220 grit sandpaper disc and wiped it down one more time. My table top is a veneer which means there is a very thin layer of wood on top of a pressed board or particle board, so I had to be careful not to sand right through the veneer.


After using two different chemical paint strippers and my orbital sander on the apron and legs, this is as close to natural wood I was going to get without losing my mind and my nose hairs. Stripping paint off of wood that was raw at its application, especially black paint, is pretty impossible, but let's save that for another post. I am starting to get angry, and you wouldn't like me when I am angry.

To stain the base of the table, I used Varathane Wood Stain which is a new product for me. It is really different from Minwax stain which is what I typically use. It is thicker, almost paint like and works a lot faster. I wiped it off only a couple minutes after I applied it. I was pretty nervous at first because the Varathane Early American was very different from Minwax Special Walnut. It was super orangey, but a coat of the Varathan Weathered Gray mellowed it out quite nicely. Phew!
1st Coat - Varathane Early American Wood Stain
2nd Coat - Varathane Weathered Gray Wood Stain

While my stain dried, I tackled the table top. I used the same technique Christen from Blue Egg Brown Nest used on the inspiration table, dark wax on raw wood. She got this idea from  another princess of paint, Miss Mustard Seed. They both used Miss Mustard Seed's Antiquing Wax, but I decided to use Annie Sloan Dark Wax because I already had some. 


I took a hammer and screwdriver to the table top before I applied the wax to give it a distressed, worn look. I also left some of the spiral dents from my sander on the table. I applied the wax pretty unevenly to give it a farmhouse look and then wiped down the excess with a lint free cloth as I went. The color is just perfect! The dark wax on raw wood has such a beautiful patina.This was the most satisfying part of this project by far, and since the wax works as a sealant, I did not use a protective coat like a polyurethane or polycrylic on top of it.

After I let the stain dry for 24 hours, I did a very light coat of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in my go to color, Old White. Once that dried, I did some light distressing with 220 grit sandpaper to get some more of that natural wood to show through. Since I worked so hard to get that weathered oak color, I didn't want to completely cover it up. I decided not to wax the base at all and left it chalky just like the inspiration table.

I finished off the look with six white metal bistro chairs from Amazon at a great price. They wipe up so easily which is just perfect for my season in life with my three little mess makers.

chalk paint





farmhouse table



We have been using the table for about a month now and the finish is holding up which is something I was worried about. Since it takes 30 days for the wax to cure, I made sure to not keep anything on the table for an extended period of time. It wasn't that hard. We just would clean up right after we ate and did most of our projects and homework at the counter.

I am only using hot water and maybe a little soap if needed to wipe up the table. This might freak you germophobs out. I don't have raw chicken on my table, so I am okay with not wiping it down with a disinfectant or chemicals. I think it is okay to use a Clorox wipe if need be every now and then. I just don't want to over do it. 

This was a project a long time in the making, but I am really pleased with the results. Do you have a table you would like to turn into a farmhouse dream? Does this post scare you or inspire you? I hope inspiration wins out in the end!


Modern Chairs to Aged Beauties

This week I finished up a set of chairs to go with my recent antique kitchen table I completed for a client. Another great thing about painting furniture is that you don't have to have a complete matching dining or kitchen set. These chairs are originally from Pier 1 Imports and had a black finish with red distressing coming through. I painted them with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Coco to match the table.


I did minimal distressing on these because I didn't want any of that red paint peeking through. These were finished off with a coat of Annie Sloan Clear Wax and Dark Wax. These chairs went from looking dark and modern to rich and cozy. I am really digging their new look.


Dining tables and chairs are no joke. It has taken me quite a while to finish this project, but it was oh so worth it. The results make it all worth it.

Antique Kitchen Table

One of my favorite things about working with clients are the amazing pieces that come my way that I wouldn't get to paint on my own. Recently, I completed this gorgeous antique table for a client. She is a woman after my own heart, a Craigslist bargain hunter. She practically stole this table from its previous owner. And while the finish was beautiful and in decent shape, it did not fit in with her crisp, clean decor.


We selected Coco from Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint® decorative paint line which is a new color for me, and I must say I am now a big fan. It lightened up the table, but has this great rich, warm feeling to it. Since my client has two toddlers and this is going to serve as her kitchen table, I used Minwax Polycrylic Sealer in Clear Satin for the table top and then Annie Sloan Clear and Dark Wax for the apron and legs.

I didn't have time to haul this puppy into my house and stage it for a proper photo shoot. Fingers crossed its owner will let me shoot the completed set once I finish off the chairs. Her house is amazing, and she has such great style. 

My favorite thing about this table is how the paint really made all the beautiful, detailed carving pop. They just don't make tables like this anymore. It was really hard to give this back. I really fell in love with it.



Check back soon to see the chairs and barstools that are going to coordinate with this set. What do you think of Coco? Are you as big a fan as I am?

Dining Room - Before & After

It is reflection time again. I have shied away from sharing a before and after of my dining room because it is incomplete in my eyes. I still need some window treatments, wall hangings, a rug perhaps. But I am sick of waiting, and I want to share it with you because it is my happy place. Seriously, I sometimes just sit in my front room and stare at the dining room because it is so pretty and peaceful. 


The before pic is actually from our house's listing before we bought it back in September, and the furniture you see belonged to the former owner. We put down the hardwood before we moved in along with some taller baseboards, and I also seized the opportunity to paint under the chair rail while we were stripped down to subfloors. There is nothing that is less me than a warm toned red, and I knew it had to go even before I had any kind of vision for this room.

The walls were painted with Sherwin-Williams Hazel in late fall, and we installed the light from Menards shortly after. I inherited the main pieces for this room early this year and eventually painted the table and hutch which you might have seen before if you have been visiting Pretty Distressed for a while now. Most of the decor in the room along with the two end chairs are from HomeGoods, another happy place of mine.






While I love HGTV, there is no instant gratification in a real life makeover. I work on things as time and budget allows. I hope you, too, can take the time to enjoy your space where it is and not get hung up on where you want it to be some day. My dining room journey is not over, but I am still getting a lot of joy out of how far it has come. To be continued...

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