Monday, February 24, 2014

Silver Leaf Lamp Makeover

Monday already?!  I've been spoiled by all of these snow-induced long weekends.  This weekend went FAST.  And while this past weekend may have been gorgeous, the  weather for the weekend before it sucked.  The big Valentine's Day storm created MORE school days that will need to be made up this summer, and kept me stuck inside the house for far too long.  

What did I do with all that time stuck at home, you ask?

Metal leafed stuff, of course.  And watched some One Tree Hill. 


Before I get into the process, let's check out a before pic of my lamp.  This thing has withstood the test of time, I tell you!  I picked it up cheap close to a decade ago, and it has never really had its day in the sun.  It's been in the un-decorated second bedroom of at least three apartments and found its way into the mess that is the spare bedroom in our house.  Which is where it has sat unused for the past four years. Until I bought my fab Goodwill console table, that is. 

Now, it's out and about and in need of a makeover!

The rectangular base was covered with faux-leather with white stitching that was peeling off, but otherwise it was in good shape.  I mean, I assume so....I honestly doubt that it has been switched on in the four-plus years we've lived here.

Maybe I should have checked that before I put the work into beautify-ing this thing?

Also, in true 'Can't Wait to Get Started on My Project' fashion, I forgot to take a true 'Before' pic.  

Oh well. 

You'll have to trust me that this thing had seen better days.

I started by peeling the faux-leather from the wooden base.  Since the leather was peeling to begin with, this was quite easy and all I needed to do was pull it off with my hands.  There was some adhesive left behind, so I cleaned the base and gave it a light sanding.

Then, I painted the entire base using a water-based glossy black paint.  At the time I was undecided if I would distress the silver-leaf finish, but I knew that if I did that I would want black to show through. 

Once the paint was dry, it was time for the silver leaf.  I chose to do this in stages, leafing one surface of the lamp at a time.  First, I painted the surface with adhesive....

Beer optional, but recommended.

...and after it had dried completely, leaving a tacky surface, I applied my silver-leaf.  I used a foam paintbrush to gently smooth the leaf onto the surface.

I was super-excited when it was finally completely covered and fabulous, but the question remained: To distress or not to distress?

I took to Instagram to find out.  

And none of you answered the call.  Which left me stuck to decide for myself....and sort of feeling like a loser.

Anyone? Anyone?  Bueller?

Ultimately, I decided the that finish was just too shiny without any distressing.  

So distress it I did.  I really struggled with choosing a distressing tool.  I was very concerned about scratching the silver leaf.  

In fact, if I had this to do all over again, I think that I would have intentionally left some areas uncovered by silver leaf, creating more of a crackle finish, and eliminating the need for distressing.

Oh well, I guess I just have to leaf something else in order to try that technique out......darn :)

I tried a couple of distressing tools before finding the right one. Thankfully, I tried all of the tools in a discreet location first.  A toothbrush was too soft and didn't rub anything off.  A metal bristle brush from the garage turned out to be way too harsh. 

In the end, I used a clean copper dish scrubber from under the sink.  The copper was Mr. M.'s suggestion, because he thought that it would be the least likely to damage the remaining silver leaf.  I just gave the entire lamp a good scrub with the copper, leaving it worn and scratched all over.  

You can see that the distressing treatment left the finish much more dull and worn-looking.

Which I like quite a bit!  

I wish the lampshade was black with white piping....that may be a future project.

Also, this area really needs a mirror on the wall.  I ordered a black quatrefoil mirror yesterday.  It was only $15, so I'm a little skeptical, but hopefully it turns out to be a keeper.

And maybe the contrast of a black mirror will help me like the white lampshade more?!  Fingers crossed!

What do you think?  Was distressing the right decision?


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  1. Looks great Emily. Did u learn how to do this from ur mother!!!

    1. But she CAN take credit for my shopping skills!