The little Pie Safe: a Furniture Flip

So, I’ve been really motivated to paint. Not walls, not canvas, but furniture. Where did this come from? Sam’s policy is that he never paints furniture. How could I break it to him that I wanted to?!

Well, I told him about my newfound inspiration, and we went through scenarios where it may be appropriate to paint furniture. A piece that has already been painted, that is on its way out to the landfill, if we can get our hands on it. A piece that has veneer; and we finally came to the conclusion that new furniture that we build, that is make of maple/pine/reclaimed pallet wood-that’s definitely ok.

So we found ourselves at the local antique store. They carry the Dixie Belle Chalk Paint I’ve been hearing so much about, and that was the motivation to get out and check up on the antique store’s inventory. When we pulled up, we found this diamond in the rough:

A white and pink side table sitting on a sidewalk covered in snow with a bird cage and other random junk around it

Yup, this piece could definitely be painted. We snagged it for $20. And don’t be fooled; this piece took both Sam and I to move! It’s solid wood! And it had been outside all winter so it was soaked through and frozen to the sidewalk. Sam had to grab a shovel out of the back of his truck to break it free.

Day 1: The pink highlights on the doors and top by the corbels are metal. A charming piece for sure!

A pink and white side table sitting on a laminate floor in a kitchen

So I got down to scraping the paint off. This piece had been sitting outside, probably for months, soaking in Utah’s winter. So it was really wet.

While I’m scraping the paint off, Sam and I were wondering what this piece of furniture is called. An end table? Cabinet? It’s just a little different. Then Sam’s mom showed up for a visit, exclaiming “Oh! What a cute little pie safe!”

“A what?” I asked.

“A pie safe. That’s what they used to call a piece like that. Back when there was no refrigeration, people needed a place to keep their food, where cats and mice and flies, or whatnot couldn’t get to it.” Joyce explained.

Made sense. So that’s what our piece is now called. The little pie safe.

A pink and white side table with part of the paint scraped off of it sitting on a laminate floor in a kitchen with chisels and a drywall spatula sitting on top of it

We removed the metal highlights, and boiled them:

Painted metal cabinet fixtures in a canning water bath pot filled with water and the paint coming off the metal

The paint was coming off well, and the beauty of these one of a kind pieces of metal was revealing itself to us. These pieces are so amazing, that we’ve decided to put them on another piece of furniture; one that we build.

Day 2: After more scraping and sanding, I’m back to taking apart this pie safe. The hinges looked like old bailing wire:

A scraped pink and white side table lying on its back with a door face partially removed on it’s hinge attached with bailing wire

The drawer panel, hinges and pulls came off well:

A thin wide cabinet drawer with two small cabinet doors sitting on top of it in various stages of paint scraping and sanding, and a pink drawer face with old wire hinges and drawer pulls sitting in the foreground

Sam helped me trim down the doors 1/4″, (look how freaking thick they are!) and I sanded them down and got to painting. We used Dixie Belle Chalk Paint, using Fluff for the inside trim, and Mint Julep for the main color, and the grunge glaze on the left door for the initial preview:

Two small cabinet doors with white inside molding and mint green panels with a drywall spatula in the foreground

I didn’t like it. The green reminds me of a hospital gown. And the grunge glaze just reminded me of the same look I had just furiously scraped and cleaned off in the first place.

Day 3: I had to go back to work, but I was thinking of this project all day long.

Day 4: Hmmm…. I tried more of the grunge glaze on the left side only.

A small dresser door with white inside molding featuring a brown glaze and mint green on the panel

This is more of the look I was going for, but not quite it. So I repainted. And sanded. The bottom panel is where I just sanded down the interesting spots, and the top panel is where I sanded down all the high spots on the entire panel. I liked the bottom one more. (Which style do you like better?)

Two small dresser doors with white molding and gray panels with a mint green colored distressed through the gray paint

But what about that look I’m going for, that really pops the molding more? I scoured YouTube, and found this gem of a couple, who were WAXING their pieces! It was black wax that I wanted!

Day 5: I met Sam for lunch, and we grabbed some black and clear wax. After work, I found a wax brush at Michaels, and used a 50% off one item coupon, so for around $8, I purchased a nice brush. I’ve been real frustrated with the shedding dollar store brushes as of late.

Day 6: Still contemplating the finish. I had been searching endlessly for inspiration. The old saying about art popped into my mind, I don’t know what it is, but I like it. So what was it about painted furniture that I did like? I started noticing pieces that really lit up my brain when I saw them. It took me a long time to figure it out, but I finally did. Most of these pieces of furniture that got me excited really highlighted the beauty of the original wood. That’s what I wanted!

Day 7: Back at it! And can you believe it? That stinking pie safe was still soaking wet. I ripped the top off, because there was really no saving it, plus I was going to replace it with Walnut veneer.

I had thought about the finish a bit, and wanted to do a test piece using the molding on the front of the doors that was meant for the trash. After using clear wax, I tried black wax to highlight the curves, and I loved it!

Day 8: I applied the black wax with a little paint brush and let it sit for about an hour:

Two small dresser doors with white molding that has black wax painted on it and gray panels with a mint green colored distressed through the gray paint

Then rubbed it down.

Lesson: angle your rag, so you don’t rub the wax out of the corners.

Two small dresser doors with white molding that has black wax painted on it and gray panels with a mint green colored distressed through the gray paint

This was it. That’s the look I was going for!!

Then I picked out some Walnut veneer for the new top, drawer and doors, sanded them down with 220, and stained them with a dark walnut stain. Look at the difference!

Walnut Veneer wood with the left side left the natural color and the right side stained a dark walnut color

Then I used an oil based poly. With most stains, you will need an oil based protection to seal the wood.

On to more sanding around the molding, puttying some cracks, and then I added white paint in some of the dents so I can sand them down later for a more aged look. I though to myself this piece is looking more like a cow:

A raw wood cabinet with white paint scraped off with missing doors and drawer

Day 9: I woke up early on Super Bowl Sunday to start sanding the putty, and begin painting.

A painted mint green cabinet with missing doors and drawer

The base coat went on, then came the top coats:

A gray painted cabinet with white molding and missing doors and drawer

Day 10: I worked on sanding some highlights on the base piece, then waxed it.

In the mean time, I added two more coats of Minwax Oil Based Poly, which was fast setting, sanding in between.

Walnut Veneer wood with a dark walnut stain and a layer of poly that has been sanded

When you sand poly, it will whiten up like the photo above. White it down with a lint free cloth, and continue with another coat.

Day 15: I glued the walnut top down, (using plenty of Titebond II) applied the black wax and began attaching the top molding.

Day 17: I wiped off the black wax and finished attaching the top molding.

Day 18: I did the wax applications to the top molding.

Day 24ish: I finished it! Attached the door panels, hinges and pulls. I think the pulls brought this piece together. It’s a little eclectic, and I’m loving it!

A small gray cabinet with white molding that has been waxed black and walnut top with walnut door and drawer panels and crystal pulls

Well, this is my first furniture flip! I learned a ton. I think I may have went too far with the scraping of the paint. It took me a couple of days to get that done. This was my first time distressing a piece, which I used the dry and wet sanding methods. I think the look turn out a little Adam’s Family-ish.

A small gray cabinet with white molding that has been waxed black and walnut top with walnut door and drawer panels and crystal pulls

What do you think?

With Love, Erika Nora

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