Do you ever find yourself walking by a piece of furniture, only to turn back and stare when it squeals like a girlfriend who just got engaged softly calls out to you?  Well, that happens to me all the time.  Only the pieces that I’m notoriously attracted to are usually thousands of dollars in chic beachside boutiques.  Or historical family heirlooms (read: not for sale) that have been beaten to a beautifully weathered pulp.

I’m not satisfied with either of these options, which means I’ve got to get creative.

Que rolling up of sleeves and rubbing together of hands as I cackle evilly.  (I know, I’m weird.  I can’t help it.)

It’s not the exquisitely ornate, charmingly scuffed, substantially solid wooden piece that I day dream about.  But I’m still proud of my first attempt.  It was good practice for the broken, solid wood, 100-year-old Craigslist piece that is (hopefully) coming my way someday.

Unfortunately this will be the one tutorial in which I don’t have pictures for all the steps.  It was completed before my blog was born, you see.  However, this furniture project is not too terribly difficult, so I feel like I can still walk you through the steps without much trouble.

step 1: Acquire your piece of furniture.  I wasn’t going to mention this, but I already admitted my secret in my leather & organza flower necklace tutorial, so…

I picked recycled this side table from a dumpster.  I wish I’d taken a picture of the state it was in before, because the poor little thing was quite awful.  =]  It had obviously been sitting out in the rain for quite some time; there was mold all over, and the water had pocked and twisted the wood.

It was love at first sight.

It had that old, weather-beaten look that I yearn to adorn every corner of my home with. It reminded me of a small table you’d see on an outside patio of a charming cottage on Tybee Island.  I could just imagine placing a cold pitcher of overly sweetened tea on it’s crooked, rain warped top…

But I digress.

step 2: Clean your piece (if needed).  This little baby had to have a deep scrubbing before anything else.  I simply sprayed it down with Tilex and used some serious elbow grease to scrub it with a wad of paper towels.  Repeat the process as many times as desired (about six or seven in my case).  **NOTE: Tilex is probably not the best thing for real wood.  However, my the wood on my little table was practically destroyed to begin with, and I needed something with some considerable power to eliminate the mildew.

I would also like to point out that although I left the warped table top in place, I wouldn’t recommend doing that on a more substantial piece.  My side table is so small that I felt I could get away with it.  In my opinion it even added a bit of charm (or that’s what I told myself, anyway).  However, you wouldn’t want to leave anything warped on something larger, because then it just ends up looking like… well, a warped piece of furniture.

step 3: Sand your piece.  I prefer to use sanding pads as opposed to actual sand paper.  They’re cheaper because they last for multiple projects (as opposed to just one), and they have built in angles that allow you to get into small nooks and crannies.

step 4: Now for the fun part: adding a little color!  (In the pictures above, you can see the original color of my side table in the on the places where I removed the paint.  It was alright, but since this table was so small and simple, I wanted it to really pop.)

I wanted the look of an aged piece that had been painted and repainted over time, so I knew that I would be using multiple colors.  Behr is my favorite brand, and I ultimately decided on a vibrant turquoise color called “Lagoon”, as well as a light, airy blue called “Clear Water”.  My budget for projects are small, so in order to save money I opted for sample sizes ($2.50 each) instead of gallons ($25+ each).

Wanting the wood grain to show through and knowing it would stretch my limited paint supply, I watered the paint into a glaze by mixing it with water.  I wasn’t exact in my ratios, and ended up putting in a bit more paint than water.  It looked to me to be the consistency of liquid concealer makeup.  Clear as mud, eh?  Sorry for that.

Dry brush your base turquoise color onto your piece.  “Dry brushing” means dipping your brush into the paint, only to wipe most of it off before applying it.  You can use a paper towel to do this.  Or if you’re cheap thrifty like me, simply press the bristles against the side of your paint container, then flip the brush to the other side and repeat.

step 5: Allow the base turquoise color to dry.  Then water down the second, lighter color and paint it on top by using the same dry brushing technique.  I purposely painted in a sloppy manner in order to show the two paint colors through the brush strokes.

step 6: Take your sanding block to the edges of your side table in order to age it a bit more.  I love how”shabbified” the piece looks after doing this, and it’s not as difficult as you might think!  Simply rub the sanding block back and forth against the edges a few times – start with light strokes and keep going until you get the desired amount.

Remember the table top, as well, focusing especially on the corners to make it look as if it was worn naturally over time.

That’s it for the table itself.  However, if you’re in need of a little inspiration for the tabletop, then feel free to keep reading.  ^_^

Although I wish it were otherwise, since we’re living on one income and with the economy the way it is these days, my spending cash is usually next to nil after paying the bills.

I sometimes drop into my local 99 Cent store, because one never know what kind of treasures you’ll find in there.  However, as much as I love to decorate with scores from the dollar store, I don’t want it to look like I decorate with scores from the dollar store.  Cheaply priced is good.  Looking cheap, not so much.

When I stumbled across these cute little birds during a recent trip, I snatched them up and ran home, knowing exactly what to do with them.  Once again, I wish my blog had been around at this point, because these two birds were the most hideous shades of red and green.  Very reminiscent of ugly Christmas decorations, which was definitely not the look I was going for.  Nothing that a little white spray paint couldn’t fix, though.  ^_-

The clam shell was a recent buy from my favorite local thrift store.  I seem to find something perfect (at just the right price) every time I walk in the door – hence why it’s my favorite.  This trip was no different.  The clam shell was actually an unmarked item, and I thought for sure that because I loved it so much, it would automatically be out of my price range.  When I carried it lovingly to the counter and asked how much it was, the man looked at me and said, “How about $7?”

SOLD!

I’m not sure what this clam shell was originally, but it’s heavy…chipped…textured…and I love it.  Once again I knew immediately what to do with my treasure.  The deep bowl and gentle curves screamed out for me to tuck a nest inside.

One thing you’ll realize about me the moment you walk into my home is that I. love. nests. They’re cute, they’re evocative of motherhood, and the best part: they’re cheap to make! Simply grab some dried brown spanish moss, embellish with a few tufts of soft green reindeer moss, plop in a few speckled eggs and viola! Instant adorable.

So with a little creativity and a bit of paint, you can breathe new life into just about anything.

I hope I’ve inspired you to take a second look at things you might consider useless, whether it be an old, warped side table or ugly dollar store trinkets.  With a bit of creativity (and perhaps a little spray paint), you can turn these overlooked items into things you’ll be proud to bring into your home.

Thanks again for crafting with me, friends!  I’d love to hear if you find this tutorial useful or inspiring.  Until next time!!