Tuesday 19 May 2015

Weekend DIY project: Writing bureau makeover + As featured on the Laura Ashley blog

 This week I transformed my old writing bureau 'Beatrix.' I love antiques in their natural state but this transformation has really lightened up our living space as she did darken our little corner somewhat. So with the help of Laura Ashley I transformed her! I used two different colours from the Laura Ashley furniture paint range: I used Dove grey (a lovely subtle shade) and cotton white. I also decoupaged some of the inside panels using Summer palace taupe / ivory floral wallpaper.  Isn't she looking lovely?  Read on for more photos, step-by-step instructions and my handy top tips!

For this project you will need

Laura Ashley furniture paint in Cotton White and Dove grey 
Undercoat / primer in white 
Fine / medium sandpaper
Clear soft Briwax wax 
PVA glue - matt finish
Paint brushes
lint-free cloth

Step 1 - Preparing the furniture

Remove all hinges and knobs. Then sand the furniture lightly. You needn't strip it completely, just give it a once over, smoothing any lumps and bumps, and it will help the paint stick. 
TIP: Sanding after every coat of paint is crucial for a nice smooth finish. 

Step 2 - Priming and painting

Apply your first coat of undercoat / primer to the furniture (see top right) Once dry, give a light sanding. Then apply your first colour - If you're transforming something dark you might want to apply a couple of coats of primer before your topcoat. However, as I am using two different colours I applied only ONE coat of primer, followed by TWO coats of Dove grey, and TWO coats of cotton white furniture paint to the front and sides, leaving the inside grey. I also gave the hinges two coats of cotton white at this point. After each coat of paint, I gave it a light sanding to smooth out the streaky lines caused by the paintbrush. You can see in the bottom-right picture below just how much the lines from the paintbrush can show up before it's been sanded. When it's smooth to touch apply your next coat. 

Step 3 - How to distress your furniture

Once the paint is completely dry it's time to distress! Here are a few tips on distressing your furniture. Using fine/medium sandpaper, start distressing the main edges and corners first, as these are areas that would wear naturally ... then you can start to pick out detail. I found rubbing lightly-but-evenly over the embossed drawer with fine sandpaper really brought out the pattern (see pic below). 

Two contrasting colours work really well. I used a dove grey underneath the white to give the bureau depth of colour - so when I sand a little, the grey will start to show though. Once you've finished distressing, give your painted hinges / knobs a sanding too, then give it all good dust down, and apply your wax with a soft lint-free cloth. Rub it into the grain then once dry, give it a good buff.

Step 4 - Decoupaging furniture without wrinkles

Measure the width and length of each area you need to cover ... then cut your paper to size. Measuring the wallpaper can be tricky so measure twice cut once, as my dad always says. Decoupaging can often result (frustratingly) in wrinkles and bubbles. This has happened to me on numerous occasions, but after some digging around I have found the solution and it's worked perfectly for me every time since. Here's the trick in three simple steps:

1. Apply a thin coat of the glue directly to the furniture - making sure you cover all edges and corners. 
2. Lay your paper gently in place but do not press down! Take a clean, dry cloth and smooth the paper down from the centre outwards. Do one side, then the next ... repeat every 30 secs or so. 
3. Once the wallpaper is completely dry, then apply another thin layer on top of the wallpaper - this should ensure a smooth bubble-free finish. TIP: A thick, wet layer of glue results in wrinkles, a thin tacky layer, does not.

 ... and there we have it! You'll notice the difference in colour is subtle and a little hard to see in these photo's but I'm really pleased with the finish of this piece. I highly recommend Laura Ashley furniture paint, and much prefer it to eggshell ... it has nice even coverage and lovely finish. Finally, here are my top tips for this make-over are: 


When painting - always sand in between coats
 Invest in a good paintbrush - it will make all the difference
When decoupaging - always use a very thin layer of glue  
 Get help - If you want to achieve this in a weekend, get another pair of hands to help, you'll need it! (A special thanks to Mummykins and Buster the dog).

JM x

Pop over here to see 'Beatrix' being featured in all her glory on the Laura Ashley blog!

JM x

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  1. That looks so pretty. I have been inspired

  2. Looks beautiful! LOVE your wallpaper choice! You did a great job on it! Oh so wish I was talented and able to do this.

    1. Ah glad you like it Belinda ... have a go! you'll be surprised how talented you are :-)

  3. So beautiful Jody. I also love to refinish furniture. Great tips on the decoupage :-) Looking at this makes me want to start working on some old furniture I still have in my attic and around the house. <3 Love, Christina