Earlier this year — February, to be exact — Aunt Bertha paid Hubby and I a visit. She’d never been to Warrenton, so I got to show her around town, introduce her to some of my friends, show off all of my projects, and take her to a number of my local thrift store haunts.
She told me she’d been looking for some new kitchen chairs. The ones she had were too tall and cut into the back of her legs when she sat on one for any extended period of time. We didn’t find any while she was here, but I told her I’d keep my eyes open for her.
A few months later, I went to the Fauquier Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and saw what looked to be the perfect size chairs. They were old (I’m guessing late-60s or early 70s), dirty, and ugly. But they were comfortable, were made of solid wood, and they only cost $20 each. Only three were available, but Aunt Bertha had another chair already that she said she could use.
First, I told her I couldn’t paint them. Then I decided I could, but it would be a while before I got to them. I have far too many projects in the queue!
When I told her I’d paint the chairs for her, she asked if I would paint her table to match. And that fourth chair.
I told her yes, and said I’d paint a couple of the chairs here at home then take them up to her house, which is just outside of Lancaster, PA, and spend a long weekend there painting the other stuff. She lives very close to Dad, so that would give me an opportunity to visit, too.
The difference in the chair after a couple coats of Old White Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) was quite dramatic.
It looked so much better, I could have easily stopped there. But to me, the real fun is in the details.
Yes, the details made the project take much, MUCH longer, but I wanted to do it right. I wanted Aunt Bertha to have a kitchen set she could really be proud of.
I forgot to do a before and after shot until after I’d already started painting the second chair.
This past Saturday, I loaded up the car and headed North. I wasn’t there long before we dove into painting the other two chairs and the table.
Aunt Bertha, who turns 68 in February, helped a lot. I put her to work painting one of the chairs and then the table. Once everything had the Old White base coat, I gave her some quick training and then put her to work waxing. I feel horrible that I forgot to get shots of Aunt Bertha at work.
She really was a very big help. I could never have finished without her. What I thought could be done by Monday night, ended up taking until Tuesday. If she hadn’t done so much work, we would never have finished.
I didn’t paint the whole time I was up there, I visited with Dad and Aunt Pearl, too. And I actually worked from Aunt Bertha’s house on Monday.
I am horrible at estimating how long these painting projects will take.
Aunt Bertha’s cat, Missy, who she just adopted about seven months ago, really watched me closely the whole time I was there.
Finally, late Tuesday afternoon, the project was finished.
After finishing the first chair here at home, I told Aunt Bertha she was going to have the coolest, up-cycled, shabby chic dining set in all of Lancaster County. She was quite tickled when she saw the painted chairs for the first time. And we are both very pleased at the final, end result.
We’ve both been kicking ourselves for not taking a picture of that fourth chair she’d already owned. A chair which my Dad had given her. Previously, it had belonged to my maternal grandfather (born around 1915?). It was originally a rocking chair, but my grandfather had cut the rockers off of the chair, which he always kept beside his bed. Most likely, it was already old when he got it. We’re pretty sure it is Black Locust, which is a very hard wood.
Before we applied paint, the chair was a really, really dark, walnut brown. Now, it’s much brighter.
The “new” dining set brightens the whole kitchen. And remember what I said about details? For some projects, adding details is what really make a piece or pieces special.
We distressed this chair a bit more than the others.
And while watching Missy watching me, I had an epiphany. I thought she might enjoy helping. I wasn’t sure how Aunt Bertha would feel about it, but promised I’d do the dirty work in case it really pissed Missy off.
Missy’s paw prints will forever be seen on the seat of this chair.
So, there you have it. What do you think?