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

This post contains affiliate links. I will receive a small commission for products purchased through these links.

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!


Goodwill Dresser Video Tutorial - Part 3 (Dark Wax)

Thanks for coming back to see the last installment of my Goodwill Dresser video tutorial series. Today, I am covering the topic that seems to give most furniture refinishers the highest anxiety- dark wax. But let me put your fears to rest, it isn't really that tricky to master.  Annie Sloan Dark Wax is amazing stuff. It gives your piece an instant antique look that would normally take about a hundred years to occur naturally.

In case you don't know anything about my Goodwill Dresser, here she is.

I created this series, so you can get this same look right in your home. I think this will always be one of my favorite pieces, and once you create your own, you might just feel the same.


Here are some links to products used in this tutorial:

Make sure you check out the other videos in this series, Part 1 and Part 2. I would love to see your creations, so send me your before and after shots if you decided to try this technique out on your own. 

Goodwill Dresser Video Tutorial Part 2

The second part of my Goodwill dresser video tutorial is here. Last time, I covered painting the piece and hardware. Today, I will show you how to distress and clear wax the piece using sandpaper and Annie Sloan Clear Wax.


If you need a little more help on either distressing or clear waxing check out my other video tutorials. I have one for distressing and one for clear waxing.

Here are links to all the products used in this tutorial:

Originally, I thought I could break this tutorial into two parts, but I wanted to make sure they are thorough enough for the novice to average painter. Part three will come next week and will cover the most daunting part in my opinion- dark wax. But seriously, it isn't that scary. Make sure you subscribe to my YouTube channel to be one of the first to see the final video once it goes live.

Goodwill Dresser Video Tutorial - Part 1

This link contains affiliate links. I will receive a small commission from products purchased through these links.

I am still as in love with my Goodwill Dresser as the day I painted it. Above any other piece, this is the one I get the most questions about, so I decided to divulge my secret on how I created it using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint® in Old White. Get your painting clothes on, roll up your sleeves and get ready to dive in to create your own heavily distressed beauty.

This tutorial will be broken up into three parts and will show you how to create a very heavily distressed piece just like my Goodwil Dresser. Think heavy brush strokes, lots of distressing with sandpaper and lots of dark wax. 

In part one, I show you how to prep and paint the piece and hardware. Make sure you check out the description on YouTube for links to the products I used in this tutorial.



Part two is in the works and should be up on the blog next week. Check back to learn how to distress and clear wax your piece, or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel and you will be able to view part two as soon as it goes live. Happy painting!