We seem to be doing things out of season around here.
But it actually makes perfect sense to be working on these outdoor spaces now, on the cusp of fall.
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year here in North Carolina. The weather is glorious and will remain so through late October or November. Comfortable temperatures, low humidity, no ugly yellow pollen coating everything, fewer mosquitos to swat. It’s really the perfect time to be outside.
So, I’ve been slowly getting the front porch ready for its fall debut. As you know, I love decorating the porch for the different seasons, and I’ve been moving towards adding some neutral furniture pieces that can work with any seasonal color scheme I throw at it.
My gray-and-white rug and my vintage metal bench, plus our gray shutters, led me to choose a gray, white and black color scheme.
When I found this old, battered buffet at a junk sale this summer, I knew it would look fabulous painted black. I had been searching for a piece like this to anchor the far end of the front porch, too.
Now, I know some people think it’s pure blasphemy to paint wood furniture, and there are certainly some pieces I would never paint. But this buffet wasn’t worthy of that kind of coddling or the effort that a wood restoration entails. The veneer was peeling from both ends, and one of the drawers was busted out in the back. The buffet was missing most of its hardware, and the surfaces were nicked and scratched.
But with a couple of coats of paint and beautiful new hardware, I knew it could be fabulous.
I used DecoArt’s Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint in Carbon, for this furniture makeover. Plus, I mixed a bit of Everlasting and Yesteryear (DecoArt’s white and gray) to do the detailing on the doors and cabinet drawers.
I’ve been afraid of painting furniture black before because I feared the finished piece would look flat or lack depth or interest.
But I don’t think you can say that about this buffet. I think it’s brimming with character and interest.
From the pinstriped doors and drawers…
… to the fabulous pewter and harlequin knobs from Charleston Knob Company.
Yes, I did add white highlights to this piece because that’s what the design dictated. (I like to listen to my furniture when I’m painting it. And podcasts, too. Have you heard Mystery Show? My new fave.)
But the black finish is anything but flat.
I used two light coats of black paint. I let the original stained finish show through in places, and I used a sanding block to add more light distressing in places, like the legs, grooves and around the edges of the drawers and doors. A light touch really is key. The 8-ounce jar of paint was more than enough for this buffet.
I’m a big fan of the rub-through look, which you see all the time at places like Pottery Barn. This technique, rubbing away a bit of the paint so the wood and stain shows through, really helps give black painted furniture depth.
Oh, and does anyone else do this when you’re painting furniture? I try to make things easy on myself, so I’ll turn furniture on its side, upside down and any which way I need, to get all the surfaces covered without having to work on my knees on the hard garage floor.
I wanted to show you another trick of mine, too, when I’m trying to add fine detailing like the pinstriping here. I do use a fine painter’s brush to get more control, but I’m still not steady enough to do it perfectly. So, I don’t even try. I’ll usually wet my brush, add the paint as neatly as I can, then follow up immediately with a wet cloth to wipe away my mistakes.
It’s never perfect, but it’s not meant to be, and using the wet rag also adds a little bit of distressing. I’ve found you can lightly sand away mistakes, too, with a medium or fine sanding block.
And can we talk about these knobs? As soon as I spotted these in the Charleston Knob Company catalog, I knew they would be perfect for this piece.
Harlequin is such a classic pattern, so it’s great for a vintage buffet. But I also think it has a lot of modern appeal, and I’m always trying for a mix of old and new. Plus, it matched my color scheme.
I also painted an old dresser mirror frame black to prop on top of the buffet. I’ve used this piece before in my porch decorating. It’s a great place to hang seasonal wreaths, because a southern gal can never have too many wreaths!
While these pieces didn’t go together and are actually made out of different types of wood, when painted the same color, they look like a cohesive set.
This buffet is pretty well protected from the elements on my covered front porch, but I did want to add a durable topcoat suitable for the outdoors.
You don’t want to use wax on a piece that’s going to be outside. Remember what happened to Icarus and his wax wings when he flew too close to the sun?
Instead, I used DecoArt Americana Soft Touch Varnish, which has a similar look and feel to a waxed and buffed finish. If this piece were going to be outside, unprotected, and not in a covered space like our porch, I likely would have chosen a different topcoat, made specifically for outdoor applications.
I’ll be back in a few weeks to show you the porch completely decorated for fall.
Until then, here are 10 simple ideas to get you in the mood for fall.