After several weeks of stripping... the built-in. I moved on to sanding, patching, and painting the lower portion. This got a healthy three coats of Bone White (see earlier blog for color information). I also bleached all the drawers down and put new cork liners in the bottom. Apparently, I am not only a DIY maven but also apparently a clean freak. After the drawers were lined I installed some brand new knobs I got at Restoration Hardware. These are amazing, they are real solid oil rub bronze knobs that weigh about a pound each. I love that they are slightly over sized and remind me of the talking door knob in Alice in Wonderland.
The lower portion went so quickly and easily I felt super successful and excited about the end of the project. Then I started staining the top. This took a few tries to get right. I was trying with a brush at first and it just didn't seem to be going on evenly. Each time I would sand all the stain off and start again. Finally I discovered staining with a rag... this was much more successful and after three coats I felt pretty good about my staining jobs. The second to last step was applying a sealer... I debated between varnish, lacquer, poly or just an oil treatment. The Internet is a warren of conflicting information, after hundreds of articles and blog entries I gleamed this: varnish is REALLY hard... you should be a professional or at least have a spray gun for it. Oil would require me 3-4 times a year apply a fresh coat to protect the wood from sun, water, and whatever I left on top. Apparently lacquer can also go yellow and eventually chip off... urgh. So I decided good old fashion poly would be my trick.
Of course, I had similar issues with the poly. I was tentative and putting it on way too light. The issue with poly is when you are applying it to the surface it looks horrible. No matter what you do there is brush strokes and small air bubbles. What I eventually learned was if you apply it thick enough then these spread out and go away as it dries. After a few different methods I settled on foam brushes. These did not leave brush strokes and after three coats of poly I finally had to admit, I might be done. I touched up the paint around the top and called it a day. Needless to say this was a labor of love. It took we two months and way too long to be proud of. I think a capable person could do this in about 5 days but in the end I feel like the result was pretty professional and I will admit to running my hands along the glossy top every time I pass it!