Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions

From WhiteBerry furniture transformations to my wedding dress, you guys have asked it all. And now I am going to try and answer it all! So grab a cup of hot chocolate, curl up in your favorite chair and enjoy.

Please keep in mind that this not a "how to" on refinishing furniture, it just covers the basics. Why, you ask? Mainly because I am not one for following rules, and I tend to "wing it" with most projects. I hope you learn something new, but the best piece of advice I can offer is to just have fun.

What do you use to paint your furniture?
While whipping out a brush or roller is still the norm for most, I neither have the time nor patience to do multiple coats in teeny tiny cracks and corners on these bigger pieces. This is where the right tools really make the difference. I use a paint sprayer attachment for an air compressor.

This is an air compressor for anyone unfamiliar with one. It can be used with a variety of tools: hardwood floor nailers, trim staplers, screw drivers, etc.

They range in size and price, so be sure that if you are looking at buying one you first consult the sales person on what type of uses you will be needing it for. Not all compressors are compatable with sprayers and will ruin them if the compressor is too powerful.

This is the exact sprayer I use: a Campbell Hausfeld gravity fed.

Using a sprayer reduces paint time, as well as drying time. Often my pieces take about 30 minutes of actual spraying and are completely dry within 20 minutes.

I am regularly asked about the all in one units you can buy in the paint isle. I actually own one and completely packed it up and gave away after 5 minutes of using it due the splattered and uneven finish. However, I do regularly talk to and hear from people who LOVE their all in one. My best recommendation would be to go to your local home improvement store and rent each before you commit to buying. They literally cost only a few dollars for 4 hours which is a small cost to feel reassured with whatever you choose.

What colors do you use?
I really and truely wish I could answer this question, for my own sake!!! The reason I can't answer it is because I only buy mistints and mix my own colors. To keep my costs as low as possible (more money to do more projects with!) I love buying mistints. Often a gallon only costs $5!!! I also love buying them because it is so much less intimidating to pick a color. Too often a color is not what I envisioned on the tiny little card so with the actual paint painted on the lid I can see a true look at how the mixed paint feels in different light and finishes.
The other good news? Most people stick to shades of white, beige and cream for walls and trim so there is usually a pretty good supply to choose from in those shades.

The only downside is that unfortunately I have to rely on color matching (which still isn't 100% accurate) when I find a color I love, or if I need more.

What do you use to fill holes?
I always use wood filler.

Where do you paint in the Winter?
Sean (the brains and muscle of this whole operation!) rigged up an expertly constructed "studio" in our garage. Since it is fully insulated and drywalled in there I am free to paint to my heart's desire, even in the dead of Winter! To keep warm I do use a propane heater, but please be careful of where you are working because many fumes are flamable when you are working with paint, paint thinner and cleaner, etc. I highly recommend you do your research before working indoors!

What type of paint do you use?
Since I buy mistints I don't have the luxury of choosing. It varies from semi-gloss to flat most of the time. Because I finish of all of my pieces with several coats of semi-gloss verathane it really doesn't matter anyways, but I always tell people that if you don't want to do the verthane step just stick with semi-gloss paint.

Do you sand and prime everything?
The honest answer is no. Unless I have some repair or holes to fill I skip the sanding step. I prefer to just gently rough up the surface with some 220 grit sandpaper instead of completely stripping the old finish off. If I do any type of sanding I usually stick with a basic primer. Other times if there isn't any sanding I use Kilz no-sand wood primer. This has always done the trick, infact I even used it on the railings when I redid them and not a scratch or chip is to be seen.

Do you put primer in your sprayer?
NO! You can, but I just find it a real pain to clean the nozzle afterwards. The other reason is that you do have to thin your primer in the sprayer and that can be tricky sometimes! I use the spray cans of Kilz primer, which are also really fast drying (which is great when you need to work on multiple pieces in a short time frame). I know it isn't the most eco-friendly option, but I do make sure to send along all my used cans to the eco-station.

Do you paint the inside of the furniture?
No, I usually don't like my clothes and stuff to smell like paint LOL. I do paint the insides of cabinets when there are glass doors, but other than that I leave well enough alone!

How do you work with laminate or veneer finishes?
So far I have only worked on solid wood pieces so unfortunately I don't have any advice on this front. But a little paint never hurt anything right?

What do you use to distress the furniture?
I use 320 grit sanding blocks. Going over the most exposed areas, like corners and edges, gives you the most realistic look. I know it can be intimidating to scuff up your freshly applied paint, but trust me, once you start it is hard to stop!

What do you seal your furniture with?
I use Verathane brand water-based sealant. I usually work with semi-gloss but occasionally use satin as well. It is VERY IMPORTANT to try and find this type of sealant (I buy mine at HomeDepot) because everything else I have tried does turn the paint yellow over time. Sometimes you can see the yellow fairly soon after it dries, but other times it takes a few months to see (even when the can specifically says non-yellowing). So now I am very loyal to only buying Verathane, especially since I primarily paint in shades of white and any amount of yellowing is definitely not good. I usually do two coats to give it a nice, even finish.

How do you pick the pieces you work on? What should I look for?
I generally have 2 criteria:
1. the piece must be in generally good condition structurally. If there are problems with drawers or anything I stay away, but a few minor fixes like broken hinges or closures are not a big deal.

2. the piece should be solid wood. I can easily work with adding or removing anything as long as I am working with real wood.

If you are a beginner at refinishing I would recommend that your first few pieces just be things that will look like new with some fresh paint and new hardware. The more advanced work or removing or adding detailing or trim usually require more tools and time and can feel overwhelming if you are just starting out. But soon enough you will be jazzing up even the ugliest of old furniture!

Where are you located so I know if I can buy your pieces? How much do you usually charge?
I am located in Edmonton, Alberta. If you are in the general area definitely get in contact if you have any inquiries. My prices range from $150 to the mid-$400's. I like things to be accessible and affordable so depending on my time and the hardware I try to keep them priced decently.

Where do you get your hardware?
I get all of my hardware from http://www.leevalley.com/ . They have an unbeatable selection!

What color are the walls and trim in your house?
Every wall in our house (with the exception of our dark grey master bedroom wall) is painted in Seed Pearl by Pratt & Lambert. I highly recommend them for interior wall painting, even though they are a little pricey, because the finish is really beautiful and the coverage is great! Our trim is mostly unpainted still, but we have chosen Mirage White by CIL for the trim. It is a bright, fresh white.

What kind of Camera do you use?
I use the Canon Rebel. It takes a while to learn (I still am learning actually!) but it is very user friendly. For most photos I use a Canon 2.5, 55-300 mm lens. If you have invested in a fancy-shmancy camera you need to work your way out of the green box zone!

Where do you get your slipcovers?
All of our upholstered furniture, with the exception of our wingback dining chairs and our living room couch, comes from Ikea. It is affordable and the covers fit like a glove, pretty much the perfect combination! As for our wingback chairs, we picked them up from a Craigslist ad for $20 and had a local seamstress do the covers. It was a bit of a splurge, but totally worth it for the perfect fit and look we wanted. Our living room couch (seen here) was another splurge when we bought our first house and was custom made by Urban Barn. The cover is a surefit cover I bought on clearance for $30 that I bleach white and then nipped and tucked a little for a perfect fit. Want more ideas on how to make store bought covers look custom? Click here to read a previous post I did on the topic.

You have a toddler and two dogs, you must be crazy to have a white house!?
I will leave that issue to the professionals, but for a run down on our life in white, check out this previous post.

Where did you get your silver poufs?
HomeSense (aka Canadian HomeGoods), where else! They were on clearance for $70 each and I just loved the paisly pattern that is embossed on the leather. It is a unique take on the typical pouf.

Did you make your wedding dress?
Hehe, I always chuckle a little when I am asked this. You guys must really believe I can do anything (which is totally making me blush)! While I can sew a relatively simple pillow sham I am nowhere near the skill level of making actual clothes. My dress was made by Vera Wang Lavender Label, from Spring 2007 if I recall. As soon as I slid it over my head I knew it was perfect for me! A little unexpected and unique, and the perfect mix of shabby (unfinished seams) and chic (black lace=pure romance). Totally my personality!

Where did you get this shirt?

My everyday uniform is pretty much centered around this equation: Romantic, Breezy blouses+ ripped and torn jeans=pure comfort! This particular blouse is by design duo Christopher Deane and was purchased about 2 years ago from my favorite online store ShopJinny. I admittedly splurge on designer clothes, just not that often. Knowing how I wear my clothes I prefer to buy quality, long-term pieces that I will get a lot of wear out of. But of course I would rather be spending $$$ on stuff for the house~

Want to know more random tidbits, like where we got Wren's name and how we fell in love? click here for the juicy answers to your most random questions!


Susan said...

I have scouring craigslist all night long since your last post and some of these very questions were running through my head! :)


Susan @ www.peanutpetunia.blogspot.com

Tamstyles said...

thanks..thats just the info i needed

eve said...

Thanks! If I ever find furniture like you do, I'll know what to do with it...I think. I'm so jealous of the great furniture you find and the way you envision it to be.

Catherine said...

Thank you so much for this! It's so inspiring. I wish I lived nearby, but sadly I'm in an entirely different hemisphere!

Astrid said...

Thank you so much for answering all those questions!

We bought a hlvp (or something like that) paint sprayer a while back for another project and I'm going to try it out on some junk wood to see how well it works. If it doesn't I'll be off to rent one of the sprayers that attaches to an air compressor.

This post shows the piece of furniture I'm seriously considering painting http://thelopsidedhouse.blogspot.com/2009/07/avas-room-update.html

julie said...

thanks for posting this. I'm going to refinish a bedroom set that we have.

MMM said...

Thank you soooo much for taking the time to answer more of our questions/concerns! You're fabulous! :)

sara said...

holly...thanks for the spray attatchment info! :) keep up the good work girl...your blog is so much fun!

Cindy said...

I bought an air compressor recently. I was looking at the paint attachment dealies. Heck, I could buy one and give it a go....it would help SO much with the big projects! Thanks for the post.

Sarah said...

Hey, Holly! Awesome, thanks so much for the insider info. I can't believe you just buy mistints - taht is so cool and brave of you!!! Love the new armoire in your bedroom!! Keep up the great work, wish I lived in Canada:)

Allegra said...

THANK YOU for sharing all of your tricks to your amazing trade!! I could never do what you do but it would be fun to redo some old stuff I've got laying around for me.
You are SO talented and I really admire how you just DO what you think of and GO for it!! You are in inspiration :)

Little Lovables said...

I live in a teeny tiny apartment with no yard and 2 toddlers, so I can't really paint my furniture with a spray gun or sand it down, but maybe with your tips on the no sanding primer, I can finally do several pieces I have been yearning to do.

Thank you :)

angela said...

I love the idea of buying mis-tints. So smart! Thanks for the tip.


Brittany Michelle Ragsdale said...

Hey Holly! It's Brittany! I am ADDICTED to your blog sweetie! I can't believe how much time and effort you put into answering people's questions and how well your pieces turn out! I am amazed every time you post something new! Keep up the good work! I am going to be working on a lot of pieces coming up soon and will be putting your advice to good use! Thanks!

Anny said...

Thank you for this post, it gave me lots of ideas :)

MrsKBJ said...

I didn't know there was such a thing as no sand primer! Thanks fo rthe tips!!!

Shelly said...

Thanks! Very helpful. I'm not sure where you find the time but your work is amazing.

emily said...

I love your blog! Thanks for the great information. I just picked up a desk I found on craigslist this past weekend, so your tips couldn't have come at a better time! Thanks!

julie said...

yea!!! just the info i needed! thanks for sharing your talent with us! now, i just need to be brave and go for it!


Steph said...

I just bought the perfect dresser for my son's room on craigslist that is solid wood. I love your site and you are so informative. I have two questions for you. When you distress, sometimes the distressing that comes through underneath looks really dark. Do you somehow tint that afterward? and my last question is, what do you think is a reasonable price to pay for a solid wood craigs list find that is hideous pre redo?

Holly and Sean said...

Ooh I am so glad that many of you have taken the plunge and are working on some reinventions of your own!

Steph, when the items are really ugly I limit my prices to $20, but to be honest I try to get them for free. The last armoire was free, and you cannot beat that! If you have access to a truck you can always do a posting that you will pick up unused furniture and most people are happy to just be rid of the hassel. The most I have ever paid for a dresser was $35 if that helps you out any~

Cindy said...

Did you use a sealer on the Dining Room Table?

That's What She Said said...

Thanks for the advice!


I've deleted my blog and restarted.. Well fixing to!

Jenni said...

Thank you so much for the information!! I just recently "found" you, and I was wondering many of these same questions. It's like you read my mind ;o)

Your work is beautiful; I'm completely over the moon for it!

Autum said...

Holly, your blog is lovely! It is a pleasure to see the magic you work on furniture!
I too love to transform pieces with paint. I use a lot of spray paint, but we (by we I mean my husband) paint the larger pieces with a sprayer. My husband paints custom motorcycles and golf-carts as a side job, so he has a professional paint gun, when he paints for me, he will only spray oil based paint thinned with acetone or mineral spirits, because he's had trouble with latex in the past. I say all this to ask a question. Do you have trouble with latex paint gumming up your paint gun? How much do you thin your paint for spraying? I'd love to have one of my own to use for spraying furniture and be able to use latex paint for a change.

windhula said...

Great answers...thank you. I'm off to the home improvement store now!

Holly and Sean said...

Hi Autum,

I primarily do use Latex and so far have not had any issues. I add very little water because I find that when I do it is too misty and I don't get much efficiency with my paint (it all blows away LOL). I do about 9 parts paint to 1 part water. But smaller guns do have issues so maybe just switching guns will help a little. I wish I knew more about it all to give you a definitive answer.

dana said...

Excellent post! this answered many of my questions. Thank you!

Jen M said...

Hi Holly

I absolutely adore your blog and all of your makeovers and am thrilled for you that you've gone into business with it. I wish you all the best!

My question is the following: do you have to thoroughly clean out the paint sprayer after each colour / polyurethane? Is that a big chore? Isn't it a pain to paint the colour and then have to clean it out and then paint the varnish and then have to clean it out etc?

Holly and Sean said...

Hi Jen,

It sounds like a bigger chore than it really is. I usually have everything cleaned up in about 10 minutes. I also don't put the verathane through the sprayer. It is like stain, you definitely don't want to shake it and I don't think it is recommended for sprayers. I buy the spray cans of verathane for minimal fuss.

rysko1 said...

Hi Holly, I love your blog and beautiful furniture! Do you use oil-based or water-based varathane spray? Thanks, Elizabeth

SewMuchAdo said...

I just found your blog the other day and love it! You are so creative and I love all your projects and decorating style. I just read that you are from Edmonton, I grew up in Lethbridge. Now I'll love your blog even more!

Haydee said...

what air compressor do you use? I might have to invest in one now that I've ruined a lot of wood furniture.

Alexis said...

Hello! I have been reading your site for the past few weeks and love your pieces! I have a question for you. do you put the kilz primer in the sprayer also? or do you use spray paint?

J said...

I have been searching for months for a good hardware source and Lee Valley has exactly what I need! Thanks so much for the recommendation!

Cortney said...

You are an answer to a prayer! I have been waiting for months to do some projects but without the much needed guidance that you have just provided! Thank you so much! :)

Becky said...

Hi Holly, Do you use a glaze or a stain to darken the areas that you have distressed? beckyjblood@yahoo.com

Lovely Little Nest said...

Wow this was really helpful! Thanks so much, Holly! :)

Kristi REDISKE said...

I have used primer on a wood buffet-used the non sand primer(I did sand some), I have painted 2 coats of paint and the brown still wants to come through just a bit-what am I doing wrong? I will check the Faqs to see if you answer this problem. I am trying to reprime and then paint again. It isn't real bad but wondered if that ever happens to you.

Magic Brush said...

Where did you purchase your sprayer? Any regrets on the one you bought? Did it cost you an arm and a leg? I faux finish professionally and do SOME furniture. The school that I go to sells an HVLP for faux finishers.... but it's over $1000.oo. YIKES!!!!!

Katie said...

Hi Holly!

I just noticed you're from Edmonton! I'm from Calgary, Alberta and it's SO nice so see some bloggers are from Canada, let alone Western Canada!

Great FAQ btw, and Wren is waaaayy too cute!


Kate said...

I haven't seen an answer yet so I'm going to ask as well...how do you darken the edges of some of your pieces?! Stain/paint first? Then white paint? Then sand?

It's spring break here in Texas and I'm about to do a dresser for my daughters room!

Liz said...

Holly, Can you tell us what kind of air compressor you use with your paint sprayer? I have a small 135psi pancake compressor, is that going to work with with sprayer?

Keswick Country said...

Great to find out you're Canadian. I'm swoon over design blogs in a regular basis and get pretty frustrated when I know all of the stores/sales etc. are out of my reach. Your home is beautiful! Congrats!!!!

Joy said...

I was wondering if you have any advice on a clear coat that won't leave a yellow tint on white painted furniture. I have a piece that I just painted but also used a crackle finish so I can't use a water based poly = ( Any thoughts? Thanks!

Lindsey said...

Great post, I was wondering if you could post the link that would show your wedding dress?

Holly Austin said...

ah, thank you SO SO SO MUCH for posting this info!! I read your blog almost daily, how did I miss all of this??? Anyways, thanks for your answers!

Sharla said...

Hi Holly. I've recently painted and distressed a piece of furniture and like it enough I actually want to protect it. Ha! I went to Home Depot (in Kansas) and they hadn't heard of Verathane brand sealer. I've also searched online and haven't seen anything that closely matches it. I must be looking for something wrong.

DB said...

Love the new media cabinet ! How did you attach the doorknobs you used as hardware? Thanks !

The Norwex Chick said...

MY NEW FAVORITE SITE!! What an a beautiful home you have! I came accross one of your pieces on kijiji--and have since been on your website and blog. LOVE your creativity. I have an old table, chairs and buffet I'd like to try painting/distressing...if I send you pics would you be able to give me some advice? Or...maybe price it out for you to do, once I screw it up:)
Thanks for your blog, love it!

Special 'K' said...

Thank you so much for sharing. I have cut and pasted your wonderful info, printed, laminated and pasted to my wall. What a beautiful space you have created my very first visit here I will follow on my way out so I know my path back here. Perhaps you will find the time to come visit me soon and do the same. I look forward to engaging more throughout the year and beyond. Take care. Cheers SpecialK XoXo

Marcie said...

Just found your blog and LOVE it! I am just wondering where you manage to find so much of your furniture?

Marcie said...

I just found your blog and LOVE it! Especially the tutorials. I am just wondering where the best places are to find furniture to re-do?

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