Soon the planting season will start around here, and I am still working to get my herb planters prettied up and ready to welcome their jewels. I started off with some old terracotta pots and got them out of the way, and now it is time to work on the wooden planters…such as this little handsome guy here.
Ok maybe he wasn’t so handsome yet with his face falling apart, but he was going to get there with a little work.
He already had a nice rustic feel with that aged wood, so I didn’t want to slap paint all over him. Instead I wanted to re-finish him in such a way that would embrace his original rustic look. But before anything else, all the rusty old nails which were sticking out had to go. As I don’t have a good history with rusty metal, I asked Greg’s help for clearing the main body from rusty nails.
While Greg was working with the nails, I started preparing my homemade chalk paint. My initial plan was to stencil the toolbox with a nice brownish-gray paint. But taking a second look at the wood color, I thought the stencil could get lost on that wood, so I decided to brighten it a little and give it a driftwood look. To do so, I had two choices: either stain the wood or whitewash it. While Greg was all for staining it to achieve the driftwood appearance, I decided to whitewash it. He knew that it was my first time whitewashing and there was a chance I could mess it up, so he really didn’t like the idea. But when I told him “the worst case scenario is it will get ruined…and if it does then you can make me another one, and I can try staining that one,” he then hated the idea 😀
All I knew about whitewashing was that I should be using watered down chalk paint, so I started searching for the ratio of water to paint. On all the tutorials, the mixture was usually prepared first, then spread on the piece, then immediately wiped off. But some of the tutorials used 1 part chalk paint 2 parts water and some used 1:1 ratio. Since I couldn’t decide which ratio to trust, I thought I might as well come up with my own technique.
I picked two small plastic bowls. I filled one of the bowls with water and left the other one empty.
Then, using the empty bowl, I wiped most of the paint off the chip brush.
Next, I dipped that brush into the water bowl to thin the paint even more. You can see from the picture below how the brush is releasing the little paint it had.
As it was my first time whitewashing, I thought working in sections would be a smart way to go. After having a fully wet brush with very little white chalk paint on it, I started brushing the wood.
The picture below shows how thin the chalk paint was. Almost like “only water” with a drop of paint…
When watered down paint mixture is so watery like this, you would see a lot of little bubbles while brushing the mixture to the surface.
Right after spreading watery mixture, I wiped it off with a paper towel before it could seep fully into the wood.
I carried on like this until I got the driftwood look that I wanted. You can see the difference between the whitewashed part and the original wood from the picture below.
What you can’t see from the pictures is that I never thought about putting a drop cloth on the floor and since the paint/water mixture was so watery, it was splashing all over the floor as I was brushing it…lol… luckily I realized the mess I was making early enough and wiped it off easily before it got worse 🙂
…and I placed the stencils on the toolbox with the help of transfer tape.
The area I was going to stencil was a small area, so I didn’t bother preparing homemade chalk paint. Instead I used the latex paint as-is. The color I chose for the stencil is Home Decorator’s Warm Onyx and below is Home Depot’s matching color code for it.
I stenciled the design with a foam brush. I dabbed only a single coat. Once the stenciled areas were dried, using 320 grit sandpaper, I distressed only the lettering and the other stenciled patterns. I did it nice and slow, so I wouldn’t rub off the whitewash of the wood. So far so good…
Next, it was time to protect the driftwood look and the stencils. Since I was going for the rustic look and needed my protective coat to be matte, I applied two coats of Modern Masters exterior dead flat varnish on all surfaces of the toolbox (in and out, including the handle).
This exterior protective coat is slightly pricier than other brands, but because it delivers what it promises, it is worth all those extra pennies I pay for it. It has a milky color when applied…
…but dries clear and dries incredibly matte. So matte, in fact, that I sometimes forget if I’ve put a protective coat on an item or not. Therefore, every time I am going for a rustic look or a matte look, or whenever I don’t want to take the chance of yellowing of white-painted items, this is my “go to” protective coat.
Since the wood was protected, now it was time to put the whole thing together and plant it. Once I nailed the second face in [*ahem* who nailed the second face in?? -ed.], I lined the inside with landscaping cloth.
The toolbox had small holes and gaps here and there, so having a liner like landscaping cloth stops the soil from draining together with the water from those holes and gaps.
After putting packing peanuts at the bottom of the planter, I planted some peppermint and chocolate mint, and the project finally was complete!
So how do you like him so far? I think now we can call him handsome 🙂
I love how that Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish keeps everything in its original look.
It is as if I put no protective coat on this planter.
Greg is so happy with the finish as well! And even happier that he doesn’t have to make another toolbox now…lol