Finishing the Farmhouse Table
I felt like before I could do the big reveal on my DIY project, I really needed to write a post about finishing my farmhouse table.
When I mentioned “finishing,” I mean the final look that I wanted to achieve. I knew I wanted an aged wood look. Imagine the look of wood salvaged from an ancient barn or old fence panels from an antique picket fence that has stood in place longer than you or I are old. To get this look, I knew I had to start with some sort of stain that was either a dark rustic brown OR a weathered barn wood/ driftwood gray. Once I got that stain looking right, I was going to sparsely paint over it with a crisp white wash. The final look would give an aged or weathered effect.
I debated, for weeks on how to finish my bare, pine wood table. I spent all of this time and effort on my project from hell and did not want to screw it up in the final stages of the project…and, no pressure, by the way, but it needs to look awesome for the upcoming market I was getting ready for. More on that later…
The pine wood had a pretty pink tone to it and I was absolutely set on putting bright, cherry red casters on the four legs. So, whatever stain or paint I used needed to compliment the red casters and the pink tone to the pine wood. Just to make sure to complicate things as much as possible, I also had to test the different paints and stains on a piece of pine wood to make sure that what the color looked like on the package or paint can, looked just as good on the actual wood.
Quite a tall order but did I expect any less from the project from hell?! I almost wanted to say, “Oh, never mind, I’ll just paint it white and be done with it!”
But no, I had to go off on a learning adventure of how to achieve the “barn wood look.” I’m talking about the scraped up, scarred, weathered wood salvaged from an ancient barn that has aged into a dark brown or gray patina from years of rain, snow, wind and sun.
Since I had not actually used authentic barn wood, I researched how others achieved the barn wood look and found all kinds of recipes and advice from using stains and paints. So, back and forth I went…Should I stain it? Should the stain be oil based or water based? How will my paint react to the stain? Should I use chalk paint, milk paint or regular latex paint?
I created sample boards of brown and gray stains, of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Trophy and about nine different shades of gray in chalk paints- either homemade or Annie Sloan. I also tried two different shades of Martha Stewart glazes. I drove myself crazy with all of the possibilities of these choices mixed together and used alone.
…and then I fell back on an old sample board I created for the French Graffiti table. I had blobbed samples of paint on a white background to mix and match different colors of grays for all of the different typography I would be painting all over the table top. There was one color that I just loved: Behr Ultra latex paint in Sparrow. This gray had a bit of silvery blue to it and looked stunning with a white wash on top of it.
As a test, I mixed my own chalk paint with the Sparrow gray paint I chose and painted it on a little stool with a “weathered” technique I developed for all of the pieces I’ve created for customers and for the pieces I sold at past markets. The little stool that I was using as a test subject was made for a tablescape at the upcoming market. I had left over wood and I needed some height on my table for display purposes, so I whipped out five “stools” that would be used on top of the tables.
I stood back and looked at the gray on the rosy pine wood. You know when you’ve found the perfect color for a project- it’s a lot like when you find the perfect gift for someone or you came up with a perfect idea- when it makes you say out loud, “There it is.”
The Behr Ultra latex paint in Sparrow, mixed into a homemade chalk paint, looked beautiful on the light rosy pine wood and under the pure white chalk paint I used. It also looked perfect with the red casters…and there it is.
I don’t know why I didn’t think about a paint wash to begin with- I feel like I’ve gathered a lot of skills in manipulating paint but I’ve never used gray as an undercoat. I’ve always used brown like that of a finished chair found on the side of the road. The finish is worn off in places but no matter, by the time I painted a white wash over the brown stained wood with my “weathered” painting technique, it looked refreshed and beautiful.
So, now that I had a color and had settled on creating a weathered look, it was time to finish my farmhouse table. I stomped through the snow to my workshop and got to work. I watered down my gray chalk paint and put the first layer on the wood. I immediately saw clumps and thought, “What is that?!” I had already wiped down the entire table of all dust created from the sanding I gave it and tried again. I brushed on the gray wash and, again there were these mysterious crumbles. There was also a sheen to it. Chalk paint doesn’t have a sheen. My chalk paint doesn’t have a sheen! “You should not be a shiny!,” I said out loud to the table.
I leaned in closely and took off my mitten to touch the shiny spot. Oh…no way. I took a quick picture and fired it off to my Mama, by way of email, who doesn’t need another reason to convince me to move back to warm Texas.
The message I got back was, “You know, in Texas, paint doesn’t freeze. Ready to move back?”
My paint had frozen onto the table and was then crumbling back off in places. Paint icicles..paint crumbles…and now a paint slick. I looked at my gray wash that I had just mixed…yep, a paint slurpie.
I thought my death match with my project was over…