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Restoring Furniture

Story By Natalie Mahaffey

    Jilian Harrington has always had a creative mind, but, until recently, she had never truly found what she was passionate about. That changed when she and her husband Brandon opened the now local favorite Palmetto Peddlers back in November of 2010. “We get a lot of furniture in from a lot of amazing vendors in our store,” Jilian says. “It’s hard to find time to hunt for stuff to resell, so I noticed I owned a few pieces that needed some form of transformation to work where I needed them. After working on some pieces for friends and family, I was surprised at all the positive feedback I was getting on my work. People really enjoyed the pieces that I had transformed, and they looked amazing in their homes. I enjoy that feeling of a client being satisfied with my creativity. I finally found a creative outlet for myself that I enjoy. It feels good, ya know? It’s healthy to be able to have that outlet.” One of the most important aspects of Jilian’s work is maintaining the integrity of the original piece of furniture, while updating to fit the needs of the client. “I try to salvage the certain areas that are too beautiful to be painted,” she explains.

    The materials Jilian uses to transform a piece of furniture are the most important aspects of any good project. So, when she first started using Dixie Belle and their array of products, she knew she’d found her perfect match. “Dixie Belle paint will always be my go to paint. It is a chalk mineral base paint that adheres to almost any surface, including wood, plastic, metal, and glass. And it hasn’t failed me yet!” But before she gets to the painting part of the transformation, she has to do some work with the furniture itself. “When choosing my project piece, I want to be sure there aren’t any areas that I can’t handle repairing myself. Sometimes no matter how perfect a piece may seem, repairs can get costly and you don’t want to take on more than you can chew,” she explains. Once repairs are complete on a piece, she moves on to the beginnings of the transformation. “I remove all the hardware, and I gently sand everything. It helps remove hard to clean areas and scuffs it up so the paint adheres better. Sometimes it may be an unnecessary step, but I feel it makes things easier in the long run,” she says. Once sanding is done, she uses wood cleaner and wipes down the whole piece, inside and out, including any drawers or cabinet spaces.

    When she completes the sanding and cleaning of the furniture, Jilian begins with the painting. The first rule of thumb when it comes to painting is to always prime. “This helps with coverage so you don’t use so many coats of paint. ‘Boss’ by Dixie Belle works great, but you can also use Kilz.” Priming a piece is especially important if you are going to be painting a light-colored piece. She also explains that, “an oil base primer works really well on furniture. I usually only need one thin coat of primer.” Once she has primed her piece, she sands it again, just to smooth out everything and to help with the finished look. Then she applies her paint. “There are a few different ways to do this. I use Cling On! brushes. They are exceptional in that they don’t shed bristles and they are self-cleaning. You just return the brush to the water and the paint falls off,” she says. The self-cleaning aspect of the brushes is especially important because then you don’t have to use any harsh chemicals on your brushes, which can deplete the quality of a brush fairly quickly. Jilian also explains that a technique she has found to be helpful is to dip the brush in water before painting because it gives a good even coat that doesn’t hold brush marks in the paint. She then lets the first coat dry for 30 minutes to an hour before applying another light coat of paint. She repeats the drying process, and sands the piece one last time. One last coat of paint goes on after the sanding process, and then she waits. Before doing any detail work to a recently painted piece of furniture, it is important to make sure it is fully dry. Otherwise, you will find yourself having to start over from the beginning.

    Once the painting part of the project is complete, Jilian then decides on the detailing that needs to happen to the piece. To do this, she has to decide on what types of products to use. Again, she relies heavily on Dixie Belle. Any piece of painted furniture needs to be sealed, and Jilian stresses that using wax or a clear coat sealer is important to maintain the integrity of the piece for years to come. She uses Minwax Polycrylic or Dixie Belle’s Satin Clear Coat to coat the piece of furniture. She lets the piece sit for at least 24 hours after sealing before moving it. One last piece of advice she gives: “Let a piece sit for a good 30 days to cure completely. Only allow light use until then.”

To find some of Jilian’s original pieces, visit  Palmetto Peddlers at 2295 Hoffmeyer Road in Florence.

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