French Linen Hutch

A friend asked me if I wanted to buy a hutch from her.  She sent a picture and I couldn’t pass it up!   It was a beautiful piece but it needed some TLC.   The surface was scratched and the drawers needed repair.



I sanded the top down, applied a coat of wood conditioner and one coat of Minwax Provincial stain. The wood top drank up the stain and turned out a bit reddish than expected.  The plus side,  the stain showed off a beautiful wood grain.

2017-03-08 13.31.19

2017-03-08 13.53.47

I’ve had a General Finishes top coat on my wish list at Lee Valley for awhile and finally ordered some.  I tried it out on this hutch and I love it!  General Finishes high performance top coat is a little different from other polyurethanes.  You just brush it on, careful to not overbrush, and wait 48 hrs between coats.   I lightly sanded before applying the second and third coats. No fuss and easily applied.  The top coat turned out beautiful!   It gave a nice finish and will be pretty durable for whatever the hutch is used for.   I’ll definitely use the product again.

I tried to pick paint colours that would appeal to everyone,  so I tried out Fusion Mineral Paint in Coal black, General Finishes Milk Paint in Coastal Blue, and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in French Linen.  I painted swatches on the back plate so I could visualize it better with the wood. Once it was dry, I compared the 3 colours to the wood colour.  I was aiming for a colour that complimented the reddish hue in the wood,  and not compete with it.

I found the black and blue were both too dark and on the colder side.   So, I chose French linen,  It’s a nice warm grey and complimented the wood.  After 3 coats, I lightly sanded and distressed then waxed. The inside of the drawers were painted Duck Egg Blue to make them look clean and new. Some new knobs mixed in with the old,  made the hutch look refreshed!

hutch 1hutch 4hutch 7hutch 10IMG_1046

I love the wood top!!  Another project done!

Thanks for stopping by!



Boxwood antique desk

I picked up this flip top desk a few weeks ago.  I loved the shape of it and how versatile it could be.  It’d be a perfect for an entry way, hiding things away or for use as a desk in a living room.

Right away I knew I wanted to paint it Boxwood MMS milk paint.  I love that colour and have only used it on my shutters I painted last fall.  It’s such a beautiful green.  And I’ve been itching to paint with milk paint lately.  I’ve been doing a lot of things with AS Chalk Paint.  I love that paint but it doesn’t give the same look as milk paint does.

Here’s some hints with mixing milk paint.

I grabbed all the supplies needed: milk paint, extra bond, water, plastic jar, whisk, and a measuring cup.  Side note, I don’t have running water at my work shop so I bring water in jugs and hot water in a thermos.

I measured out the milk paint powder with the measuring cup.  Before adding water I used the whisk to break up the chunks in the powder.  It will make it easier to mix with the water and have less clumps.

Now the powder is finer…

I added the same amount of water as milk paint powder.  And stirred with a whisk until well mixed and no clumps.  If it’s too watery add a little more milk paint .  If it’s too thick, add water.  It should be similar to milk.

I then added the extra bond, (same amount as water) and stirred well.  I allowed the milk paint to sit before painting.  It allows the paint to thicken up and make sure all of the colour to be absorbed.

While the paint sat, I prepped the desk for painting.   I lightly sanded and scuffed up the piece, just to give the paint something to hold onto.  Then cleaned up the sand dust and allowed the desk to dry.

After one coat of paint, the piece may look a little ‘wonky’ and imperfect.  But after two coats, it looks beautiful!  Trust me, don’t let the first coat of milk paint scare you away.    Adding the extra bond allowed the milk paint to bond well to the desk .  There wasn’t much chipping.  If you want chipping and more of a surprise in the result, skip using the extra bond.

After the paint dried, I lightly distressed and waxed it.  Here it is…

flip top desk after 29flip top desk after 3flip top desk after 6flip top desk after 8flip top desk after 26

I love this colour. It turned out slightly different than when I used it on my wooden shutters.  But it’s lovely all the same!

Hope the quick tips on milk paint helped.  Milk paint has scared me before but I love using it now.  Such a fun process. And so many beautiful colours to choose from or create yourself.


Painting with the essentials.

As a self-taught furniture refinisher, I’m always trying to improve  my work.  There are plenty of great tools and products out there to make things go more smoothly.  Finding the right ones among the millions of options is the hard part!

Over time, I’ve discovered spending a little extra on better quality products is worth it.   I bought a really great sander that makes prep work a wee bit painless. There are a few paint lines that I love and are easier to work with, AS chalk paint, Fusion Mineral Paint, MMS milk paint and General Finishes milk paint.    Latex is good too, lots of colour options, but using paint designed for use on furniture (like those listed above) is my first choice.  Using good paint makes prep work almost non-existent and the paint goes on easier.


In the past, I’ve just bought cheap paint brushes, cleaned them until they were yucky and falling apart, then tossed them in the trash.  Over time the $$ add up!   My thought process was, I had good quality paint, the brush doesn’t matter….but I was wrong!

Last week I bought a good quality brush at my local ASCP retailer, Rusty Hinges.  I tried it out the next day and had a “where have you been all my life!” moment.  The paint brush made the paint go on better, into all the nooks and crannies.  And I used less paint.  Love this brush!


So I learned something new this week.  Buy good paint brushes!  It’s worth it in the end.  I probably won’t use as much paint and it will be faster to paint a piece of furniture.  Win, win!

Have you learned any tips and tricks this week?  Share away!  Would love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping in!


My new bff, Bar Keepers Friend

This summer I purchased a couple of retro chairs at a yard sale.  I bought the two for $10.  Not bad!  At first I was going to buy spray paint to freshen up the chrome frames.  BUT then I saw this post and she had used Bar Keepers Friend instead of spray painting. The results were surprising and beautiful.  I dislike spray painting and wanted to try the cleaner instead.  I found a bottle of the liquid cleaner (comes in powder form too) at my neighbourhood Canadian Tire…for less than $3.

Bar Keepers Friend

I haven’t tried it on the chairs yet, but I tested it on some old rusty knobs. The one on the left was cleaned by Bar Keepers Friend. Big difference eh?


The knobs turned out so well, I used it on a chair I just picked up from a client. I haven’t reupholstered the seats yet but I cleaned up the frame. It had quite a few rust spots.  Here’s the before…



Here, you can see on the right I have already cleaned. Looks like new!!


Here’s the chair frame, before and after.  The chair is clean and shiny again!

image  image

I LOVE this stuff.  Bar Keepers Friend is now my friend.  My bestie.  I can think of so many things I can use it on.  My new-to-me bike, the retro chairs, old knobs, and so much more.  I would definitely recommend this product. No harsh smell.  So easy to use. I just used a green scrubby sponge and wiped it down with paper towel.  It really gives a beautiful result!

Anyway…I’ll eventually get to the two retro chairs.  But first….what can I clean??….


Tipsy Tuesday: Fav products Part 3

Tipsy Tuesday is back!  I missed a couple Tuesdays, but I didn’t get a chance to finish this post until last weekend.

Previously I covered products I use for prepping furniture in Part 1 and paint products in Part 2.  For Part 3, here are my thoughts on my products for stains and finishes.

Stains:  Wood conditioner and stain go hand-in-hand. Using wood conditioner is an easy step and makes the stain look consistent. You can see a brief how-to on staining a table top here.

My go to stain is Minwax dark walnut, its a beautiful dark tone and looks great on most wood types. I love special walnut too, it’s a nice mid-tone colour.  I’m trying to branch out on stain colours lately. I hope to test out some of the coloured stains or a white wash.  The only thing I don’t like about staining, is that they are stinky.  I’d love to find one that doesn’t have a strong odour.  Any suggestions are welcome!

dining table@ Pivot~Paint~Create

Stained with Dark Walnut

commode after @ Pivot~Paint~Create

Stained with Special Walnut

Top coats:  I use 4 different top coats,  Polyurethane, polycrylic, wax, and hemp oil.  What I choose to use depends on whether the furniture needs to be durable, if it was painted a light colour, and also what type of paint product was used.

Minwax polyurethane is great for well-used furniture and stained table tops (ie dining tables, desk tops etc).  It allows the furniture to be durable and easily cleaned.  Avoid using it on white or light coloured painted pieces.  It will cause yellowing.  For a piece that is intended to be all white…yellowing would look horrible.

While refinishing a coffee table, Penny and I had a happy accident.  We painted a union jack motif on the top and the white in the flag yellowed after the polyurethane coat was applied.  It actually looked good, it looked like a weathered flag.  Gotta love mistakes that turn out better than intended!

Union jack@ Pivot~Paint~Create

Sealed with polyurethane. The white stripes eventually yellowed, but it looked great!

Varathane clear satin finish.  I mainly use this on table bases and chairs.  Looks great over painted or stained pieces.  The satin finish gives just enough sheen to the furniture without being too shiny.  Bonus: it doesn’t have a strong petrochemical smell like polyurethane.

Sealed with Varathane polycrylic in Satin

Sealed with Varathane polycrylic in Satin

Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Oil, oh how i love thee!!!  And for so many reasons: it doesn’t have a strong smell, kinda earthy or dried grass odour.  It refreshes dried wood, brightens and enhances the colour/grains of raw and stained wood.  You can use it on pretty much any surface that needs moisture. It looks great on pieces painted with milk paint. You can easily reapply hemp oil in the future if the piece needs refreshing.  But I would still use polyurethane on a table top (like a dining table or desk) that needs more durability.  Also, avoid using it over painted pieces (with chalk paint or latex).  Those are best sealed with wax or varathane.

Half moon table @ Pivot~Paint~Create

Stained with special walnut and sealed with Hemp Oil.

Waxes.  I’ve used Minwax furniture wax and Annie Sloan, both of their clear and dark waxes.  I love Annie Sloan’s clear wax.  It has much less of a smell, easily applied and buffed off.  If you leave wax on too long or cover too large of an area with the wax, it can be hard to get a good sheen.  So, remember to start small and apply wax to a small area and then buff off the wax.   Dark wax is great for toning down a bright colour and giving the piece a beautiful antique look.  Always apply clear wax first, buff and then apply the dark wax.  If you put on too much dark wax, you can apply clear wax to reduce the darkness.

grey french chair @Pivot~Paint~Create

Sealed with both clear and dark wax

wash basin @Pivot~Paint~Create

Sealed with Minwax clear wax

That’s it for my favourite finishing products!  My ‘go-tos’ are Annie Sloan clear wax, MMS hemp oil and Varathane polycrylic.  All three are great products and have little smell to them.  It’s important for me to use environmental and health friendly products.  I do most of my work in my work shop that doesn’t have much ventilation.  Don’t want to get ‘high’ while working on furniture! 😉

What are your must-have products?  Do you stick to one kind of paint or finishing product?

Let me know of other products you have tried out, good or bad!

Thanks for stopping in!

Until next time,


Tipsy Tuesday: Fav Products (Part 2)

Welcome to Tipsy Tuesday! In Favourite Products Part 1, I reviewed some essentials for prepping furniture.  In Part 2, I’ll go over the many paint products available and which are my go-to paints.

There are sooo many options for paint.  Milk paint, latex, chalk, clay and acrylc paints.  Having the wide variety is great for furniture refinishers, so many colours and paint effects to choose from!  But, for those who are occasional diy-ers, it’s tough to decide which paint to go with. It’s hard enough to choose what colour!   In this post I’m aiming to make the choice a little easier.

Milk paint:  I am not a fan of surprises…but I have one exception: milk paint.  With each piece of furniture, chippyness is unpredictable.  Sometimes it drives me nuts, but it looks authentic and unique.  So I just let it be!

Chippy goodness @ Pivot~Paint~Create

Chippy goodness!

There are a couple types of milk paint, ‘normal’ and acrylic.

Milk paint comes in powder form and you mix with warm water.  The best ways to mix milk paint is with a whisk, small electric mixer or a mason jar with a lid.  I use a mason jar and shake it good so the paint isn’t clumpy.  It may seem scary having to mix your own paint, but you can always adjust the recipe.  If it’s too clumpy stir and add more water.  If it’s too watery, add a little more powder.

Don’t stop at the first coat!  With my first try at milk paint, the first coat looked horrible.  It looked streaky and didn’t cover well. I also wasn’t feeling the colour yellow so I painted over it.  BUT I’m sure another two coats and some dark wax, it would have looked good.

First attempt with milk paint

First attempt with milk paint

I’ve used Old Fashioned Milk Paint and Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint.  Both are great products.  The colours available are beautiful and can easily be mixed to make custom colours.  Make sure to keep track of your ‘recipe’ if you need more of the colour.

Benefits: Milk paint looks great on all furniture.  You can add a bonding agent to reduce chippy-ness. I love using milk paint on antique style furniture especially those with carvings.  Milk paint isn’t made of chemicals, has no odour and is easy to cleanup.

Cons: Chippyness.  It can be unpredictable.  If it scares you or you want a modern look, add the bonding agent.

Acrylic-based milk paint is great too.  I’ve used General Finishes Milk Paint and I absolutely love it!  It’s not a ‘true’ milk paint, its acrylic based and comes pre-mixed.  But the quality of the paint is very good.   It has a low odour, which is a big plus.  It doesn’t give the ‘chippy’ look so you can either distress the furniture or leave it sleek and modern.  There are a few colours available and they also mix well for different colour options.  I’ve painted several pieces in Lamp Black, Tuscan Red, Antique White and Coastal Blue, all beautiful colours.  GF milk paint’s coverage is superb!  Two coats usually does the job.  The paint gives a beautiful finish especially after sealing with a satin finish.

Benefits:  So many!  I can’t think of any reason not to use this paint, I just love it.

Cons: None, haven’t come into issues with this paint.

maple side table

Lamp black

small red hutch

Tuscan red

navy night stand after 4

Coastal blue

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint: I finally tried ASCP recently!  A shop in the city recently started to carry the paint!  I took a fun painting class at the shop where I learned a few tricks.

Playing  around with ASCP

Playing around with ASCP

Chalk paint is just that, paint with chalky additive in it.  It allows the paint to cover very well with no prepping.  Before opening the can, turn it upside down for a bit to allow the paint to mix.  Then mix it well with a paint stick when you open it.  That just makes sure all the colour and chalky goodness mixes properly.

Benefits: ASCP is very versatile.  You can paint anything, wood, metal, fabric.  No lie.  And you can use it for different furniture styles, distressed/antiqued, modern/sleek, and any style you like.  Great coverage and no prepping needed, no sanding or priming, oh my!  You can distress the piece of furniture using sand paper…or even a damp sponge (the green/yellow kitchen sponges).  Love that.  There’s not much I don’t like about ASCP.

Cons: The paint is expensive…but a little paint goes a long way.

grey french chair

Paris grey ASCP with dark wax

Homemade chalk paint: I’ve made my own chalk paint mixture using plaster of paris (POP), a little bit of warm water and latex paint.  I don’t measure usually, just go by consistency.  I try to make it like greek yogurt, if that helps.  I think lighter colours are best when mixing with POP.  Mix well to avoid clumps and the finished product won’t look chalky.  It bonds well with any surface, so little prep needed.  Once its sanded lightly then waxed…the piece is smooth like butter!

Benefits: Cheaper than ASCP.  Make your own using latex paints and there are soooo many colours available.

Cons: You have to sand to make it smooth.  If you don’t mix it well or use warm water, it can look chunky or chalky.

Homemade chalk paint

Homemade chalk paint

Clay Paint:  Clay paint is a cool product.  I love that its a natural paint, since it’s clay based, and has no smell.  When distressing all you need is a wet rag! No dust in the air or clean up to do.   I’ve used CeCe Caldwell‘s brand of paint.   They have beautiful colours.  Layering a couple colours can make your piece unique!

Benefits: So many!  Love how its natural based and no VOCs. Its worth trying clay paint out!

Cons: It’s expensive and hard to get in my area (have to order online).  There are a couple companies (like this one) that make a similar product and have more retailers.

Layered colours with clay paint.

captains chair after 2

Watery blue effect

Latex Paint:  I love Behr and Benjamin Moore colours.  Both paints are high quality and great to paint with.  I try to go for the paint and primer in one (Behr) since the coverage is much better…and one less step!  Key thing when using latex paints, is to prep the piece well.  Stripping and sanding til the surface is smooth is important.  (If you mix latex and POP to make chalk paint, its more forgiving and bonds better with the furniture).   Any style of furniture can be acheived; distress away or leave it sleek.

Benefits: So many colours available and reasonably priced for a quart of paint (probably can get 2 cans versus 1 of ASCP).

Cons: More work goes into prepping.  (Have I mentioned I dislike prepping?!) 😉

dipped end table @ Pivot~Paint~Create

Using latex paint to create unique pieces.

Currently, my go to paints are General Finishes Milk Paint and homemade chalk paint.  I’m hoping to stock up on more milk paint and ASCP.

That’s it for paint products…for now!  Next I will talk about stains, waxes and other finishes.

Thanks for stopping by!  Until next time!


Tipsy Tuesday: Favourite Products (Part 1)

Hard work, a little knowledge and a few good products are key when refinishing furniture.  For the next few Tipsy Tuesdays, I will chat about products I’ve used.  The good, the bad and the best products for furniture refinishing.

First off, cleaning and preparing the furniture.  If you don’t prep properly or you use poor quality products, the finished piece will look cheap and paint can peel.  Not pretty!  Here are some of my favourite products for prepping furniture:

Glue: I like to use Gorilla Glue or No more Nails for repairing pieces of furniture.  I try to avoid furniture that needs a lot of repair.  I try to find the most sturdy or well made pieces to refinish.  Less hassle and better end product for customers!

88mL No More Nails Glue

Orbital sanders (like this one) are a must!  Especially when you are refinishing something like a table or dresser top.  Always have safety glasses and a dust mask on hand, even if there is a dust collection attachment.  Safety first! 🙂

Strippers:  I’ve used a few kinds, even oven cleaner.  I try to avoid using strippers because of how smelly or fumy they can get.  My workshop doesn’t have windows, so it’s difficult to air out fumes from strippers and spray paint.  I do like strippers that are more on the environmentally friendly side.  Some actually smell nice! Like this one:

1L Safe Strip Wood Stripper

Cleaning:  Unless the furniture is filthy or just chemically stripped, I use plain old water.  A quick wipe down with a wet rag or cheese cloth should be good.  I use a mild cleaning spray for furniture that needs a little more cleaning.  1L Ready to Use All Purpose Safe Prep Natura Cleaner

Primer: I have a love-hate relationship with primer.  I totally get that it’s a needed step for certain pieces of furniture, especially for preventing bleed through.  My main reason for disliking primer is I don’t like the white peeking through when distressing. But primer can be tinted to any colour so that is a good option.  For furniture with a modern look, typically I use ‘paint and primer in one’ latex paints, since they cut out an extra step.

Before starting to paint, determine the style you’re aiming for.  Do want it to be antiqued and distressed versus modern and clean lines?  Once you have a plan, you can choose the type of primer or if you need to prime at all.  For pieces that have a smell (smoke/mustiness) or that may bleed through the paint, I use Zinsser’s Bulls Eye Primer or Shellac.   Both are great to use under light coloured paints when painting over mahogany or knotty pine.  It reduces the bleed through, orange-ugliness.  You can also use Shellac to help milk paint bond to the furniture and prevent a lot of chippyness.

I love painting with milk paints and chalk or clay based paints.  Priming is not needed, which makes me love them more!   Next Tipsy Tuesday I will talk about paint products I love, the ones I avoid and those I can’t live without!

**Please note: The above opinions and tips are my own through testing products myself.**

Do you prime or just paint away?

If you have other products you like, please leave a comment!  Love hearing tips from others!

Until next time!