My emotional journey painting chairs!

Sometimes all we needed is just a good cry. Which is exactly what I did, and I feel so much better already. With it comes a big sigh of relief! A heavy burden lifted off my chest.

I know it seems to be silly to have an emotional breakdown over chairs. Who does that, right? Apparently I do.

When my husband left for his 9-day trip to the East Coast to windsurf with a friend, I decided to spruce up our dining set by repainting it. It’s something I have been thinking for a while, but I just never got around it. It was only after we recently bought our 2 white Ikea shelves that I was more convinced that its dark paint colour has to go. The dining set has 6 padded chairs (as you can see on the photo below) and a rectangular table with a nice detail on top. I spotted it at The Brick for less than C$500. A fantastic deal! This dining set was one of our first purchases after we got married 4 years ago, and surprisingly even though it’s not made of solid wood, it only has few minor dings and scratches.

Before we purchased the 2 white Ikea bookshelves (R photo above) which I used as our dining room pantry we had a cherry coloured cabinet on the R corner (see photo below) where we put our tea collection, and our sweet and salty snacks for easy access. The dining set didn’t look out of place then.


However, when we moved the cherry pantry to the garage to make room for our recently purchased white shelves, the inevitable has come. Its dark color was not blending well. The living room across from this dining area also has white furniture (you’ll see it on the next photo down below). But buying a new dining set that will go well with the existing color scheme doesn’t sound very practical specially since the one we have is still in great condition. Hence, the idea of painting it became more and more appealing. I have done quite a few painting in the past, just never furniture though.

But really how hard could it be? Later on I found out how naive I was!

You see there’s a big difference between painting the walls of your house to painting furniture. I know that now. The only time I used Primer is when painting a new drywall. If my surface area has existing paint already, I just use a good paint with primer. And if you get the really good brand of paint, one coat can sometimes be enough specially if you’re painting light coloured walls a darker tone. The only preparations are dusting off the wall (or wiping it down with a damp cloth if you prefer) and taping. And then you cut your corners with a brush and you use your honky donky roller for the rest of it, and you are done.

No endless sanding required. No hard to reach little corners. And no 2-3 coats of sealing necessary.

Our dining set is made of wood veneer. Not laminate. Trust me, there’s a difference. I learned that a wood veneer is a thin layer of hardwood (usually thinner than 1/8/inch) that is bonded to a less expensive surface, often a cheaper wood, particle board, or MDF. While laminate is a man-made product (usually plastic) that is actually ‘printed’ to look like it has wood grain.That being said, light sanding is a necessary step for both materials so the paint have something to adhere to. They said that if you use an oil-based primer, you can pretty much skip the sanding process. I don’t know how long your paint will last if that’s the case. I sure do want to skip the sanding myself, but if I’m going to put time and effort on this project, I might as well make sure it’s all worth it. I don’t want to see paints chipping off anytime soon!

I won’t put all the details of my insane project here. It would be on another blog when I’m finally done the crucial process of painting, sanding and sealing it. But this I will share… On the many articles and blogs that I read to prep for this project, the majority of them say that oil-based primer is more durable than water- based.

pregnant-lady_wm.jpgBut because I happen to swallow a perfectly round watermelon, exposing myself to too much chemicals is probably not a good idea.

It is unfortunate that even though we are on our last days of April, it’s still too cold for me to paint outside. When applying primer and paint, the label says the working environment has to be above 10 degrees Celsius. Well, it hasn’t been above 10 where we live! It would have been ideal if I can paint our chairs outside during the day when my baby naps, but the weather hasn’t been warm enough for that. I can’t even do it during the day inside the house when she sleeps because the chairs won’t be dry by the time she wakes up. The last thing I want is scrubbing off ‘lil hand prints of paint stuck on the carpet fibers! That’s just not happening!

So what do I do? I paint at night after she goes to bed. The dining area has been my work station. I used as many lights as I can so I can see what I’m doing.

Still, nothing can beat the day light! Every time I will bring out the chairs at the deck for sanding, I can see little imperfections here and there that could have been avoided if I had ample lighting. Here’s where my other frustration lies. I have to do my sanding outside or I will risk my baby crawling into the dusts and putting her hands in her mouth. So when she naps in the afternoon, I bring the chairs to the deck.

One by one I will carry them down the steps of our main floor, line them up to the hallway, and when all 6 are down in the landing, I will bring them to the deck one at a time. I tried carrying 2 at once, one hit the door and chipped off a paint that has not totally set yet. Arrgghhhh!!!!

Bringing the chairs back in the house for painting, and taking them back out for sanding seems like a never ending process, and I’m really getting tired of it! I have sanded these guys 5 times already, which means carrying them up to the main floor, where I paint them at night, and then out into the deck for sanding in the afternoon. It needed 2 coats of primer. Perhaps if I have used the oil-based, one would have been enough. But clearly that wasn’t the case with this one. I used 2 coats of paint as well. However, there are still some areas that need some touch up. After that, I am planning to put 2 coats of sealant to protect the paint from constant use.

Perhaps if I don’t care much for the smooth factory finish, I wouldn’t have bothered sanding them in between paints. And maybe if I’m okay with the distress look, I could have just left the sanded areas the way they were. But I do like a smooth factory finish look. It looks fresh. It looks neat. It looks perfect! Ah, perfection! That is my curse!

So when you are 29 weeks pregnant, and you have a 14 month old baby who’s been teething and cranky, and a husband windsurfing in the East Coast in a gorgeous warm weather you wish you had so you are not hauling chairs in and out, crying over what seems to be an endless sanding and painting of dining chairs is warranted.

A warning to all pregnant mommas out there who wish to do some crazy house projects like this: a momentary emotional breakdown over chairs can be expected… especially when you only have a couple of days left before your husband comes home and painting the dining chairs happen to be your big surprise for him.

I definitely felt the pressure of the clock ticking in our living room, mocking my every brush strokes.

HOWEVER, I think I have every bit of an excuse to be on a rampage right now.

I am pregnant. Physically exhausted. Sleep deprived. And emotionally down.

But now that I have bawled my eyes out, cried my heart out to God, numb my mouth with BBQ flavored potato chips (Yuck!), and expressed my frustrations in writing, I think I am ready to face the dining chairs again.

Chairs… I shall not be defeated!!!

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