Making it theirs, Part 1

Read Part 2 here, Part 3 here, and Part 4 here.

Haven’t been doing much knitting recently.

It’s not that I haven’t wanted to, but I’ve been spending most of my days recently playing with paint. The kids are at the age where they really have definite interests (that don’t change on a daily basis) and they want their rooms to reflect them, to really be theirs. But that can be hard to do when you move every couple years with the Navy, especially since we’re often renting and can’t make permanent changes. We actually could paint here, if we wanted to, but we’d be required to return all the walls to their original color before we left…and I’m not painting twice in 2 years.

Plus, I’d rather have things that we could take with us. So, I turned to my favorite ongoing inspiration source, Pinterest. I knew I’d find some cute ideas there to start me off…and any I found on my own I could pin there so I’d have them all in one spot. I started a board for each of the kids: Jeffrey’s Room, reflecting his Star Wars (mostly the Clone Wars) obsession; and Lexie’s Room, all about fairies.

For Lexie’s room, I decided to start with her furniture. She’s still in a toddler bed, which we’ll be replacing soon, and we just bought her a new dresser–real wood and made by hand (actually by a group of Amish craftsman in Indiana), which will survive future moves. The dresser is a pretty natural wood color, and my tentative suggestion to do any painting of it was soundly veto’d by Steve. I’ve got other plans for that later.

But there was some furniture in her room that could–and needed to be–altered:

Lexie's bookcases (1)

Lexie's vanity (1)

Lexie's vanity stool (1)

The bookcases were originally for Jeffrey’s nursery, where we’d gone with a primary color scheme. The vanity table was mine, but I hadn’t used it in years. And although I still have to make Lexie her quilt (I’d bought fabric to make her a baby quilt before she was born; she turns 4 this year), I was still planning to use the inspiration fabric from that quilt to design her room:

fairy fabric

Pink and purple are Lexie’s favorite colors, but I’d go nuts if that’s all I worked with. I decided to also pull the pretty leaf green out of that fabric too. Then I had to figure out how I was going to paint all these items so that they were bright and colorful enough to satisfy an almost 4-year-old but still classy enough to last for a bit…oh, and in such a way that the inevitable damage that will be done by the movers only enhances the piece.

So I found and pinned info on painting a crackle finish and distressing painted furniture and hit Lowe’s for some paint. I decided on base coats of the pink, blue-purple, and green, which I’d top with a very pale pink.

Lexie's furniture paint color

Had a bit of trouble buying the paint, but that was just because it took a while to convince the young woman helping me that I knew what type of paint I wanted–I had to show her where it was written in the crackle finish pamphlet 5 times before she believed me. So I probably shouldn’t have been terribly surprised when I got everything home and started priming…and got this:

Lexie's bookcases (7)

It was like painting with milk. So I took another look at the label. I’d told her I needed primer that did a good job of covering dark colors; she’d given me tintable primer that you use to paint dark colors. And, as a different person in the paint section explained, tintable primer has no color of its own, hence the milky look. But, they exchanged the primers at no cost to me even without a receipt, so I was satisfied.

Lexie's bookcases (8)

Much better. I was ready to get everything set up and start painting.

Lexie's bookcases (5)

I was especially pleased with my set up for the posts of the rotating bookcase and the vanity legs; screwing them to the cardboard meant I could paint the entire thing at one go.

Lexie's bookcases (9)

Lexie's bookcases (12)

The original plan had been to paint each item a different solid color, as I did here, and then use the crackle finish treatment with the light pink…but by the time I’d reached this point, I was admittedly ready not to see these pieces again for awhile. And Lexie was loving all of the color. So I revised my plan and decided to use the crackle finish only on the vanity and the large pieces of each bookcase that were wood colored (I’d planned to leave them untouched so they’d coordinate with the wooden dresser, but I figured the wood showing through the crackle would be enough).

Lexie's bookcases (6)

Lexie's bookcases (10)

The end result was a little more “distressing” than “distressed,” but I comforted myself with the fact that most of those pieces would be covered with books, and once it was all put together, my errors wouldn’t be obvious. But a word of caution to anyone else considering crackle finishes: when the instructions say that you’ll start seeing crackling “in a few minutes” so don’t overwork the top coat, what they actually mean is “it happens immediately so you get one stroke and that’s it.”

Anyway, chances were that anyone looking at Lexie’s room would be distracted by the vanity, because my plans there were a bit crazier. I was going for even more of a multicolored look, where it would look as though there’d been multiple layers of paint being exposed, but I wanted to do it without actually painting on multiple layers and then sanding them off. So instead, I did this:

Lexie's vanity (4)

Lexie's vanity (6)

Crazy, huh?

Lexie's vanity (7)

Fortunately, the top coat did tone it down enough that I could live with it, and I have to admit it grew on me. I liked all the color under the top coat. And the last piece to finish it off was the vanity bench. I’d painted the legs in the various brighter colors, covered the plain beige top with the fairy fabric that was my inspiration, and then added a purple skirt. This part was pretty nostalgic for me, because the fabric I was using was from the crib canopy I’d sewed Lexie way back when. From this:

crib canopy

To this:

Lexie's vanity stool (4)

And finally, I was ready to put it all together:

Lexie's bookcases (17)

Lexie's vanity and stool

Lexie’s response was a gasp, followed by, “It’s so pretty!” Which means as far as I’m concerned, it’s perfect.

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7 Responses to Making it theirs, Part 1

  1. Jessica says:

    I would never have thought to put multiple colors under the crackle finish! I absolutely love how that turned out!

  2. […] mentioned previously that I am using Pinterest to redecorate my kids’ rooms; they each have a Pinterest board […]

  3. Jaia says:

    Jen, it all looks amazing! It is just perfect for a little girl. Lexie is so lucky to have such a fun room. I can’t wait to see Jeffrey’s room!

    • Jen says:

      I’ve got one more post of “things I made,” and then I’ll be doing a post with all the pictures. :-)

  4. […] Part 1 here and Part 2 […]

  5. […] Part 1 here, Part 2 here, and Part 3 […]