Before installing the salvaged wood shelves, I put together the Varde knowing that once the hard part was over (because yes, building it was more difficult than giving it a new look!), I could get to the best part. And because it’s so large, I had to build, paint and protect it all within the workroom itself (it will fit through the door, but just baaarely) – which required some stealthy maneuvering. But now? It’s a not-too-sweet pale pink, a nod to the main studio space:
I painted the Varde just as I would any piece of furniture, with the exception of a couple of extra steps that I’ll likely use again (with the biggest change in my poly application – see below!). The most time consuming part of painting anything is the wait; the patience between coats is a buzzkill, but absolutely worth it. So while it took me two days to give her the new look, it was only a handful of hours in total, spread out in 30 minute intervals.
Spackle + putty knife
Zinsser 1-2-3 water based primer
Morristown Cream paint (Ben Moore), eggshell
Minwax in Jacobean
Wood stain (Jacobean)
Minwax Polycrylic in satin
Medium grit sanding block
Super fine sanding block
2″ angle brush
4″ foam rollers
Rag for stain
WHAT WE DID: For seemingly no reason at all, the unit had small holes along the inside shelving. You would think it would be to slide the shelves up and down, but with the way the shelves are screwed into the sides, that wasn’t even a possibility in the design of the Varde. I started by covering them up with spackle (avoiding the holes that were needed for the sliding drawer installation), knowing that if I ever wanted them back, I could easily drill new holes. Note: I purposely waited to install the drawers and butcher block top until the very end, knowing that it would make painting and staining much easier.
Using a medium grit sanding block, I quickly roughed up the entire unit (making sure to smooth over the spackle as well). After wiping up the lingering dust, I coated the entire piece with just one coat of primer, using a 2″ angle brush for the corners and a 4″ foam roller for the large flat surfaces.
I followed that up with three thin coats of Benjamin Moore’s Morristown Cream in an eggshell finish using the same brush and roller technique. I would always suggest to do more thin coats than less thick coats; yes, it takes more time, but your finish will be smoother (and thank you!) for it. On a real side tangent, choosing this pink was much more difficult than I thought it would be (poor Scott)! I wanted an honest to goodness pink, but nothing that would compete with the art and supplies on the shelves. In the end, Morristown Cream had enough brown in it to tone it down from being too “baby.” Also? Pink is a hard color to photograph.
Once the paint was dry, I applied two coats of Polycrylic in a satin finish on all of the side surfaces, and I applied three coats on surfaces that would be getting the most abuse. Here’s where I did things a little differently. Normally I would use a wide 4″ brush to apply the poly, for fear that using a foam roller would cause bubbles. I did some research and found this great article on Design Sponge that discusses water-based polyurethanes vs. oil-based, and for water-based formulas, a foam roller is a-okay!
I still used my 2″ brush for the corners but moved forward with my foam roller for everything else. At first, I had a big bubble fest, but once I realized it was because I had over saturated my roller, things went much better. (I did get the occasional streak of bubbles, but immediately doing a gentle roll on top smoothed them out.) Between each coat, I used a super fine 220 grit sanding block.
For the butcher block top, Scott used our power sander to smooth the finish and remove what he could of the oil. (The top received one coat of protective oil in Ikea land, per the Varde disclaimers.) Taking it one step further, we also mixed a solution of no-rinse TSP to pull out any oil that had saturated into the surface – a first for us, but something we’ll likely we do with any wood restoring in the future.
I followed that up with two coats of Minwax Jacobean stain and three coats of Polycrylic, again, sanding between each coat.
Aah, pink! Once everything was dry, Scott installed the top and the drawer slides, while I got to work drilling new holes for these pulls from Schoolhouse. (And can I just say? The pulls! They are gorgeous!)
I’ve made a list of measurements for everything that’ll need to be stashed in a bin or crate, took note on how much space the drawers have for containing things, and once I gather my supplies, I’ll be ready to organize the workroom! That thought alone gives me shivers.
Three cheers for pink! Oh Ikea, we love to hack you.