Friday, May 24, 2013

The Quotable Table: Aging and Personalizing a Mass Produced Piece of Furniture

stamping favorite quotes on furniture

This spring has found me looking at things around the house in a new light. Sometimes we walk around our house (and sometimes we walk around in our life) and think "That doesn't look right" or "Something's wrong" and I should fix it. Lately here, I've stopped just noticing and started taking action. I have a table that looked adorable when I had a sofa with a red and white ticking slipcover. But as the living room developed, the table looked more and more off somehow. I decided to age and personalize it.

This piece was purchased several years ago at Target when it was on clearance for $20. It isn't a fine piece of furniture so I was pretty brave while experimenting on it.

It has a tough manufacturer's finish so I lightly sanded the entire thing. It has all these little details that were crying out to be aged. There are several ways to accomplish this. You can use stain, or an aging wax. Any number of crackled finishes might have looked great but I have a lot going on in this room and wanted the equivalent of tea stain for fabrics that are too white and new.

After sanding I rubbed it down with dark Old English furniture polish, using a brush to get it into all the crevices. Then I wiped it off. It brought the white down a notch without making it somber. This technique provides a subtle aging and is easily controlled. 

 I sanded the edges to roughen it up a bit and give it some character. And applied more Old English.

 Then came the fun part. Last year I was in Anthropologie with my daughter and fell in love with these vintage silverware pieces used as garden markers.

 I set out to make my own and found a 36 Piece 1/8" Steel Letter/Number Stamping Set set online at Harbor Freight Tools for less than ten dollars. I thought that if they worked this well on metal they would work on wood even better.

The first two letters were too close together and created a chip. After that I spread them out a bit and all went well.

I drew a straight line to make sure the lettering was relatively straight and wrote the quote in pencil to make sure I didn't skip a letter. When the stamping was finished I filled in the letters with a black Sharpie. Then scrubbed and sanded the surface again. I could have easily used a magic marker, brown crayon, or just more Old English for this step and saved a little work.

 The result whoever, made me very happy. It's a subtle detail that speaks to the mood of the room. I topped the table with an antique tray, vintage atlases and a wooden bowl from Belize that is filled with rocks and shells from places we've traveled. I placed a magnifying glass on top for scouring atlases for new places to visit.

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