Living in New York City I hear myself say all too often, "If only I had a garage I could_____." As every New Yorker knows, space has its limitations which requires most of who live here to get creative. If it can't be suspended from the ceiling, hung on the wall, or stored in a suitcase inside another suitcase under the bed, it probably has to go. Sometimes I feel having an apartment in the city is akin to living inside a set of Russian nesting dolls. In any case, I'd been determined to refinish an end table which Aaron and I've had since college. We bought it at a used furniture store in Boston off of Boylston St. for a whopping $30 and has since become the perfect table to hold our record player. It has just enough drawer space to hold takeout menus, a small flashlight, and the occasional safety pin. Over the years we've become attached to it, knowing it was a well-made piece, but fully aware it was an eyesore with its chipped and scratched finish. It had great potential and just needed a little love in the form of sanding and a fresh coat of paint. However, my lofty plans were always discouraged by the blatant reality that there just wasn't any space to take on such a project. If I only had a garage….
A couple months ago, I finally bit the bullet and decided to tackle this table once and for all. Luckily for us, we have a small "balcony" (in reality it's just a glorified flower box, which is only accessible by climbing out the window) with just enough room to shove the end table into a 2 foot space. We refer to it affectionately as "the terrace." By New York standards, it ain't bad! The so-called terrace is where was able to sand down the entire table with a bandana covering my nose and mouth, looking like a wild west bandit (I'm sure our neighbors have a delightful opinion of us).
Since the table was in such bad shape, and we already have enough mismatched wood furniture in the room, we decided to paint it rather than re-stain it. The entire project only took me two days to complete from start to finish. I thought a crackle finish would suit this piece well and give it some added character. It's a process that seems like it would take a long time, but is actually quite simple and only takes three coats of paint.
Here's how to achieve a crackle finish on a project in 10 easy steps:
- Choose two contrasting colors of flat-finished paint (the greater the contrast the more intense the crackle finish will be) at your local hardware store, as well as clear crackle medium finish (if your local hardware store doesn't carry it, your local craft store will). Also purchase a clear satin finish, if desired.
- In a well ventilated area, sand your piece of furniture to remove any existing stain or finish.
- Wipe the piece down with a damp cloth to remove any dust or debris.
- Place your piece of furniture on a drop cloth and remove any drawers. Remove any hardware from the drawers and set aside.
- Paint your piece with a single coat of your desired base paint and allow it to dry completely, preferably overnight.
- Apply a coat of crack-medium and allow it to dry for 30 minutes to 1 hour, but not more than 4 hours (follow the manufacturer's directions for best results).
- Paint the piece with your chosen top coat in long even stokes and let it dry completely (you will see that the top coat will begin to crackle immediately).
- Allow the piece to dry for at least 24 hours before replacing any hardware or putting anything on top of it.
- If desired, use a fine-grit sandpaper to gently sand the edges of the piece, giving it a worn look and further exposing the base coat. Wipe the furniture clean with a damp cloth.
- If desired, paint the piece with a clear satin finish to protect the finish (however, leaving the piece unfinished will give it the most authentic worn appearance). Let the furniture dry for at least 24 hours before placing anything on top of it.