Faux Finishing 101

My bathroom cabinet was at that awkward age — not old enough to be interesting or antique, but too old to be pretty. It was ordinary stained wood, with white paint splatters here and there from a paint job before we moved in.

On top of that was a coating of that lovely combination of toilet paper fuzz and hair spray I like to call “spruzz.” There was excessive spruzz buildup in all the ridges. Before you think all that was from me, I’ll tell you now that Mike’s a big fan of the hair spray. He doesn’t feel dressed without his ’do being properly glued down. He could go through a can every few weeks. I’ve been working on the same can for nine years.

A good cleaning would have helped the cabinet, but I wanted something different.

So I studied paint chips, and some of the faux techniques, and wondered if I could really paint, not having much experience painting anything but flat shelves.

All by myself, I got the cabinet doors off, and took the drawers out, and used the inside of one of the cabinet doors as my sample. I sanded it, got it all cleaned off, and then painted it off-white. Excuse me, the real name of the paint was “writer’s parchment.” There’s a big difference in plain old off-white and writer’s parchment.

Then I sanded it some more, and painted it a bright blue. Because this is the only technique I know how to do, I sanded the edges so that the white paint showed through.

When you’re talking about fancy furniture or custom cabinets, this is called a distressed, edge-rubbed finish. But this wasn’t fine furniture, it was my bathroom cabinet. And I was afraid it just looked sanded instead of edge-rubbed.

For the grand finale, I used a glaze called “Sunfade.” It’s supposed to make things look like they’ve been in the sun for years and are bleached out. It’s white stuff that you put on, then wipe off. That was an odd concept — painting it on only to wipe it right off.

My sample door didn’t look half bad, so I went ahead and did the rest of the doors, drawers and cabinet. The more I did, the more I got the hang of putting that glaze on and wiping it off. It’s not as easy as it sounds.

The glaze gets down in all the nicks and dents in the surface that were invisible before. They look just like white paint splatters here and there from a previous paint job.

And the glaze collects in the ridges, like years of hair spray and toilet paper fuzz, only now it’s not your common spruzz, it’s a stylish sunfade glaze that came out of a fashionable can with a fashionable name on it.

Believe it or not, I love how the cabinet turned out. It looks like it’s been out at my Nantucket beach house since 1952, all worn and faded. I know there are some who will look at it and say under their breath, “I sure hope she didn’t pay good money for that paint job.” That’s OK.

I just know it’s much more enjoyable to be looking at a sun-faded blue cabinet with writer’s parchment paint showing through instead of a cabinet covered with spruzz, even if it is hard to tell the difference.

From 2004

One thought on “Faux Finishing 101

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s