I had begun to harness bitterness toward the lovely state of Michigan. I had been cooped up in my little house since November. The never ending winter was outrageous. It seemed like Spring would never come. We would get a warm day here and there but they were always followed by unforgiving blizzards. Michigan is such a tease. I had almost lost hope. But good news, guys - the sun is slowly creeping out of it's 198247284 month long hibernation. I welcome it joyfully with open arms.
I had lost motivation to get out and get projects started. The beautiful sunshine has changed my mood. I'm sure all you local readers understand. The warmth of the sun's rays have never felt better. My mind has been going on creative overdrive this week. I have lugged project and project out of my cold basement. I am so excited to start sharing a few with you!
I am pretty excited about this one, especially. This entire project cost...wait for it...wait for it....$0. I found the desk in the trash and had some leftover stain from when I was sampling different shades for my hardwood floors. All of the other supplies I had on hand or stole from my Dad.
Wood stripper OR Electric Sander
Rags (lots of rags! Stain is messy)
Two colors of stain (I used Pickled White and Spanish Walnut)
I loved the original look but it was really scratched up and their were stains all over. And, it was orange. I hate orange wood. I knew it needed a lot of sanding, but I wanted to try something a little different while I was at it.
This project is was a pain in the butt. Let me tell you. A lot of trial and error involved. I have full confidence that any of you could complete a similar project (and probably one that looks better than this at the finish line) but please read this first so that you can not make all the mistakes that I did. Actualy, this may turn into be more of a "What not to do post."
1. Get rid of the finish.
I did not research enough before embarking on such a project (always research before playing with stain, paint, etc...it will save you so much time and headache!) I read one tutorial (sometimes I get so excited about a project that I want to start right away and skip very important steps.) This tutorial said to sand with steel wool. I gave it a shot and it did absolutely nothing. Frustrated, I bought a courser grade of steel wool. Still nothing.
When all else fails, power tools! I love me some power tools. I pulled out my electric sander. It did the trick but it was a WORKOUT! I love a good workout, but the time it took to sand the beast was killer. Next time, I am going to strip the finish first.
I have dust all over my kitchen, but at least my biceps are looking good.
2. Mark your design with painter's tape
This was the most time consuming portion of the project. It was so annoying.
I decided to go with a checkerboard design because there was already a vague checkerboard pattern on the desk top. If your piece doesn't have a pattern, you will have to choose your design (a herringbone or diamond design would be pretty cool). Use a yard stick and outline your design with a pencil. Tape accordingly.
3. Stain the taped areas with your light stain
I wanted high contrast so I used Pickled White and Spanish Walnut (both of which I had samples of from when I stained my hardwood floors...a sample sized container worked jut fine). Follow the directions on your can of stain. More coats = darker finish. I did three coats of white and one of the darker.Be sure to use the lighter stain first!
If you like the straight lines then forget this step. If you like the more aged eclectic look, get ready to get messy!
(photo on the left was after I applied the stain but before I wiped it off...that's why it's so dark)
4. Let it dry completely then stain the remaining areas with your dark stain
You could tape off the remaining squares but you need to wait till the lighter stain is COMPLETELY dry. There's no way I had patience for that kind on nonsense. I free handed it. I did the light stain with a rag and it was real messy. I decided to use a foam sponge for the darker stain to get straight lines. It is essential to do the dark stain second so that you can cover the blotches left from the painter's tape with a straight line (as seen below)...painter's tape never does the job right.
PLEASE ignore my lack of a manicure. Creativity does not allow for nice nails. (Embarrassing, I know!)
5. OPTIONAL STEP: Stain splatters
Notice how my finished project had dark stain platters all over it? It started with an accident. I accidentally got a few splatters on one white square in the corner (as seen below). After several minute of pouting and dreading the idea of resanding and restaining that area, I thought to myself, "Hey, that looks kind of cool." I decided to grab a paint brush and splatter the whole thing. I love the distressed, imperfect look it gave. Good job, Hannah.
That word is so hard to spell. Top with some Polyurethane. I had some leftover from my floors that I used. It was meant for flooring, but it worked just fine.
And that's it!
A few things:
*If you do the splattering - do it outside. I worked on this project in the middle of my kitchen. Sometimes I wonder what happened to my common sense. I found dark stain splatters ALL OVER my white cabinets, white table, white floor, and a pretty cute shirt.
*If your an idiot like me and do preform this mess of an idea inside, listen here...I had no idea how to tackle the mess....I caught sight of that useless steel wool that did no good...I started scrubbing everything that was stained. Came right off! I don't know if that's bad for those surfaces, but I didn't notice anything wrong with them after I used it.
*Polyurethane smells bad. Do it outside.
That's it! Have a beautiful day,
Hannah & Tyler
We are a home renovation and real estate duo currently sharing the renovation of our Holland cottage, along with flips and new builds. We created this blog as a resource for our readers, helping home owners, travelers, and future friends to learn how to renovate efficiently, and affordably!