Couch confessions

Sunday, 4 May 2014
It's amazing how long you can live with truly horrendous furniture before deciding to pry out the wallet and invest in something respectable. Or at least that's the case with Regan and I and our beat up, sorry excuse for a couch. "It's fine for now," we told ourselves. "No one else ever sees it anyway," we said. Except that sometimes they did, and it was embarrassing. Our nephew once asked if the torn section of the seat with the cracked and chipped-off faux leather was Brew's spot (our beloved beagle). "Ummmmm, nope. It just looks like that." And, to top it all off, it's the least comfortable couch in the world, or at least in the running to be. 

Ok, so maybe it is Brew's spot sometimes. He's conveniently covering the most offensive part. 
Trust me, it's worse than it looks. 

I've been stalking Kijiji for months looking for a cheap replacement and we've even gone to see two. The first was a poorly constructed used Ikea couch Regan deemed unfit (and that says a lot), and the second was a newer, similar version of what we have but much smaller - too much smaller. Then, as luck would have it (because it definitely wasn't pure skill), Regan won over $600 in a poker tournament! He suggested a GoPro and a hydraulic mountain bike seat, but naturally I persuaded him that a couch was a much better idea. #goteamwife

In an effort to curb our habit of impulse buying, we decided on a list of criteria the new couch would have to meet before we went shopping. 
1) $800 or less
2) Small enough to fit in our current living room 
3) Big enough to work in our future, larger living room
4) Must be comfortable - for Regan
5) Must be nice looking - for me 
6) Must be practical - for Brew and Gozo (le chat) and future kidlets

Our budget limited our shopping to furniture warehouses. In our area that means Leon's and The Brick. I was surprised to find quite a few options given our criteria. The sales people at both stores told us there were amazing, limited time sales going on at the moment, but isn't that always the case at these types of stores? "These prices won't last long! Buy now!" Despite being aware of these sale tactics, we're still suckers for them. I'm working on my poker face ...

I was a big fan of number 1. Regan agreed based on the high comfort factor. We talked ourselves out of it after realizing a pale blue/grey couch was a stain magnet. I still love the look of it, but I worried the colour would be hard to design around and I may end up regretting the purchase. My runner up was number 5, but it scored low on Regan's super subjective comfort test. His top picks were 2 and 6, both of which I could live with but wasn't particularly excited about. 

We were on our way out of the store to mull it over when a keen salesman noticed the sucker signs on our foreheads. Ten minutes later, he had sold us this couch:

Yup... it's cream. Didn't I say something about not wanting a stain magnet? Keen Salesman had an answer for that - fabric guard. I'm actually not sure what it's called but it's basically insurance on the fabric for the next five years. For a small added fee, of course. Still, this couch came in under budget at around $700 all in. I would have preferred something more streamlined, but this is something we could both agree on at a price we can afford. And it sure beats a hydraulic bike seat if you ask me. 

The couch was over-sold (Keen Salesman knows what he's doing), so we won't be bringing it home for about three weeks. In the meantime, I'm coming up with a plan for a DIY ottoman. Stay tuned. 

Laminate Armoire Makeover

Friday, 2 May 2014
Since moving into our starter home five years ago, the husband (Regan) and I have been living with some less than desirable furniture. At 25, we were just happy to have things to sit on and store stuff in. At 30, we began to notice that while our friends were evolving their styles, we were just letting the dust settle on ours. 
Literally. Things were getting dusty up in here. 

But I have declared 2014 to be the year of change. Cheap change. In full disclosure, this motivation mainly stems from the fact that we're trying to sell our little home, and have been for about a year. (Any takers?) 

The first piece of furniture to benefit from the newly-lit fire under my butt is this beaut:
I call her Behemoth. 
Think 'monstrous,' 'beast-like.' 
Not the most becoming name for a lady.

The armoire was generously given to us by my mother-in-law when we first moved in, and though it's not a looker, it is sturdy and provides much needed storage space in our master bedroom that is a little lacking in the closest department. Basically, it was the perfect candidate for a DIY update. 
And really, it couldn't get any worse, right? 

After years of sit-and-stare sessions with Behemoth, I had a pretty solid vision in mind. Crisp white paint, satin nickel hardware and some kind of design in the sunken panels. 

While perusing the Internet one day, I came across this post and inspiration struck. The quatrefoil pattern would be perfect for the armoire! The simple geometric pattern mimicked the shape of the panels and would allow me to introduce a pop of colour into the room without making the armoire look too busy.  And best of all, it was a FREE printable! #boom 

I printed the pattern on card stock I had on hand and used an exacto knife to cut out the stencil. 

But, first thing first, I prepped Behemoth with two coats of Zinsser 1-2-3 Primer which I applied with a brush then smoothed out with a foam roller. Then came two coats of paint - I chose Benjamin Moore's Chantilly Lace that I had colour matched at my local Home Hardware in economical Beauti-Tone paint. And here comes the tedious part – I decided to trace the stencil onto the sunken panels with a pencil then paint in the pattern using a small artist's brush rather than rolling over the stencil with paint in order to get cleaner lines. This took forever! And by forever I mean approximately a week worth of trace and paint sessions while I watched Netflix in the evenings. A week feels like forever when your project is causing disruption in 60 per cent of the house. Like I said, it's a 'cozy' house. 
Excuse the terrible photo, please. This was taken around midnight with a less than stellar point and shoot by a less than stellar photographer (moi). But you get the idea. 
I used leftover paint from my bathroom to fill in the stencil. It's Colonial Aqua by Pittsburgh Paints. This was after one coat. It took two. 

This is more true to colour. 
PS – While painting by pellet stove light may look romantic, it's actually a terrible idea. 
Dust and wet paint are not amigos. 

Meanwhile, Behemoth's hardware was getting a little spa day of its own. 

From brassy to classy with a few quick coats of Krylon Satin Nickel spray paint.  

And, finally, all of this hard work had to be protected. I went with Minwax Polycrylic. Apparently polyurethane yellows over time on white paint, but polycrylic does not. I applied the first coat with a foam brush to avoid brush marks, but I found it created tiny air bubbles in the finish. I lightly sanded down the first coat of finish to fix that, and painted on the second coat with a decent synthetic bristle brush, making sure to work quickly and not go over the same area twice to minimize brush strokes. I had better results using this approach. 

After two torturous days of curing time, Behemoth was ready to reassemble and in need of a new name befitting her new look. 

Let's remember where we started:

Drumroll please …

I am just so stinking happy with the result! I've been eyeballing all the furniture in my house looking for my next victim project. Nothing is safe.... nothing! 

What do you think, is it worth all the time and effort to paint outdated furniture? Have you painted laminate furniture before and, if so, has it held up? Do you sit and stare at your furniture and give it names, or am I alone on that one? 

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