Toddlers and Furniture Restoration

This past weekend I skipped my typical post because we had our three-year old niece again for the weekend. I drank a lot of coffee every day, slept very soundly at night, and though I was still exhausted by the end of each day, it was a blast. This is the 2nd time Keith and I have hosted her for an extended weekend and we definitely felt even more comfortable this time around. There were a few pouty moments and a lot of trying to answer every "why" questions, but there was also tons of running around outside, playing make believe, learning all the words to Let it Go and jumping up and down the stairs (and on almost every piece of furniture in our house). Fortunately, I have a lot of kid experience as an older sister of three, babysitter since I was 8, and nanny at 16. Keith has more limited experience with kids, but he seems to be getting more comfortable with being an uncle every time we're around our nephews and nieces. It probably helps that this niece in particular 100% loves him. She asked about him all day on Friday while he was working, insisted he read to her every night, and wanted to know where he was the moment he left the room.

Since she's not my child I don't feel comfortable sharing too many photos but here are a few from The Thinkery, of her and Keith climbing on the totally awesome rope play set outside.

Being an aunt is awesome! You get all the fun and joys of being a parent, but get to drop them off at their house at the end of the weekend, and return to your own (clean, quiet) home to drink ginger-lime margaritas your husband made. I'm already looking forward to our next weekend with her though! We may have been busy babysitting our niece all weekend, but I was also determined to finish another friend's furniture project to drop off at their house on this past Sunday night. Fortunately I had already primed and painted the piece in the past two weeks. Unfortunately I thought ironing vinyl onto fabric wouldn't be as tedious as it actually was.

Here's what my friend's nursery piece looked like when I first brought it home (this was a hand-me-down from another friend):

I researched low and no-VOC primers for a few days and Olympic seemed to have the best online reviews. When I went to buy the paint and primer at Lowes, they only had the combo options (paint + primer in one). I have tried these twice in paint cans and once as spraypaint and have never had a good experience with it, so I was very concerned about how it would turn out. The Lowes' salesman told me that he thought Valspar's no VOC paint was better and insisted the quality had improved since these products were first released. I was hoping this piece wouldn't take as long as the last big furniture restoration I completed, so I cleaned off the piece and painted a few strokes of the paint + primer combo. It did not adhere to the slick piece and was very watery. Basically it did not impress me at all. I suppose I could have lightly sanded down the entire piece, but like I said, I was hoping to complete this project more quickly for my friend's nursery.

Fortunately my friend and I had discussed the possibility that the paint + primer might not work on its own. So I went with my back-up plan and pulled out my favorite and beloved Zinsser Primer. After one coat of primer, the piece was already looking refreshed.

I then left the piece in the garage, with the doors open whenever I was home, to air out for about a week before applying the low VOC Valspar paint + primer. I applied two coats of Valspar's semi-gloss zero VOC white paint + primer using a roller and by then, became more impressed with this product. This is the first time I've painted with low or no VOC paint and it was so nice not having a headache afterwards. Plus, it adhered much better to the piece after one coat of primer, the second coat was very light and mainly for touch-ups, and it seemed to hold up well in the hot garage after another week went by. I hope to eventually find a low or no VOC primer as well that's just as good as Zinssers, but if I never do, at least I know I have a less chemical option for painting.

This is before the 2nd coat on the bottom shelves spindles.

This is before the 2nd coat on the bottom shelves spindles.

After another full week of allowing the piece to dry, I finally started working on adding the fabric my friend custom ordered for each shelf. We thought it would be helpful if the fabric could be wipe-able and she found iron-on vinyl at local craft stores that turns any fabric into a vinyl fabric. You can find all the instructions online so I won't go into that in too much detail, but I will say, this is not a product I would use again. I started ironing a few days before we picked up the niece for the weekend, and still spent every night after putting her to bed downstairs ironing on our dining room table. I love iron-on solutions and am a big fan of iron-on hem tape for curtains, but for some reason, iron-on vinyl took much longer than I expected and still never seemed to adhere that well. Which means, as usual because I never plan accordingly, I was measuring and trimming the fabric for the shelves while Keith was cooking, just hours before we were supposed to be at our friend's house for dinner (and to deliver the furniture) Sunday night. Once Keith had the dessert in the oven, he drilled holes for the new drawer pulls my friend ordered from Home Depot and attached those to the drawer.

Thankfully we finished the piece, and were only about 30+ minutes late, and though it doesn't meet my expectations of perfection, I'm happy it didn't take months of work and is now in her nursery ready for their baby boy to arrive in the next few weeks. Here are some images of the completed changing table in my friend's safari-themed nursery, which I'll share full reveal photos of in the next few weeks.

I'm really glad that this piece is done but also that it's no longer in our garage so that every time we open the doors, the neighbors don't see a changing table and get suspicious. I love our neighbors but sometimes they notice way too much.

Sources: Zinsser Cover Stain Primer. Valspar Semi-Gloss White No VOC Paint + Primer. Tiger Drawer Pulls. Lions and Tigers Fabric.