Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Stripping Paint off Hardware without Harsh Chemicals

You probably missed the compelling post about my Edith Wharton hinges unless you were one of the three followers I had at the time. I received a comment from Trina of A Country Farmhouse  offering some advice about stripping paint off old hardware so I recently put Trina's advice to the test and thought I'd share my experience for anyone else who might be facing this task.

I've also gotten several e-mails asking where to buy the washing soda.  I found some at my local small organic grocery store as well as the drug store that sells laundry detergents.  It's also available on amazon.com here.

Supplies needed:

1.  Old pot or container in which you'll soak your hardware

2.  Pot of boiling water

3. Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda

4.  Your old painted hardware

5.  Toothbrush, preferably one no longer being used

6.  Small bucket for doing a final washing/rinsing of the stripped hardware.

7.  Paper towel or rags

I found some sources on the internet that recommended boiling the hardware in an old pot and others that proposed using a Crock Pot, I guess for the "low and slow" method.  It seems that washing soda is sodium carbonate (not baking soda which is sodium bicarbonate) is a water softener but is also used in foods as an anti-caking agent so it's not necessarily toxic but there's something I don't like about the idea of boiling hardware and releasing lead paint fumes. 

And don't get me started about the Crock Pot.  I was the victim of a Crock Pot childhood.  Six nights a week we were subjected to every possible combination of meat and Campbell's Cream of Something soup.  To this day, I can't go near a Crock Pot, not even to strip my hinges. 

I would have found something larger to hold more hardware but for this test I'm only doing two.  So I put about 1/4 cup of washing soda in a coffee can, filled it up with boiling water, stirred until it all seemed dissolved and dropped in the two sets of hinges I need for the dining room study closet door.

I tested a hinge after an hour and the paint seemed to be softening its grip but it was still very much intact.  After a few hours, the paint was softer but still holding on.

To make a long story short, I got distracted refining the diagram for my shelving units and the hinges ended up sitting in the coffee can for a week.  This is what they looked like (above) at that time.

Look how the several layers of paint are all coming off together.

This portion comes off all in one piece.  (I know, I should have worn gloves. I still have paint under my fingernails.)

On the detailed side, the layers also come off easily.

Here's the paint off one side of a hinge...front and back all in one single piece! All the hinge needs is a quick scrubbing with a toothbrush in some warm soapy water.

Here's the paint that came off one hinge.

Once they're washed up, I dried them with a paper towel and put them outside to bake in the sun.  This dries them quickly so they don't rust.  One internet source recommended putting them in a low oven if the sun's not available but that just seems unnecessary.  Some of the original paint surface has come off so I cleaned them up a bit with some steel wool and gave them a coat of spray paint.

Here's one of the hinges "before."

And here's the "after."  I've used Rustoleum's Metallic "Dark Bronze" as my finish coat.

Cost:  I paid $10 apiece for my hinges.  It seemed steep at the time, especially since it was a lot of 50 hinges but I loved the connection to Edith Wharton and thought I would use most of them. 

But when I actually compared it to a similar hinge like this one found on a popular antique hardware website, this reproduction hinge ranges from $12.49 to $13.49 depending on the finish.  And it doesn't come with a story. 

Here are my two hinges all ready to be installed.

In the end, this method was easy and highly successful and (lead paint aside) it doesn't use any toxic chemical paint strippers.  I wouldn't hesitate in buying old painted hardware, or anything or for that matter, that can be submerged.

And, thank you, Trina, for your recommendation!

I've used this same method several different times to strip various hardware and have found it's best just to use the hot water to dissolve the washing soda but leaving the hardward in the solution for several days works best.  The paint will come off sooner but it seems the longer it soaks, the easier it gets to peel the paint off.  Why work any harder than you have to?  Take it easy and let it soak.

If you try it, please leave a comment and let me know how it worked out or if you discovered anything new.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cabinets, Shelves and Windowseats

The conversion of the dining room into a dual- or multi-use space entails, in part, the installation of some cabinets for hidden storage, shelves for "books and looks" and a window seat.  The window seat alone serves three functions in my mind.  These are:  1) Storage.  I'm hoping I can get my vacuum cleaner in it so it's one less thing in the closet;  2)  A seat for a dinner guest when the dining table is fully extended; and 3) help soften the dining room look that's normally all hard surfaces.

As much as I would probably never sit in a window seat, I've always loved their allure.  They just look like a place one would want to hang out, relax and read a book.  If I had this view, I might never want to get up.

If I'm not mistaken, this is the dining room from last season's Sarah's House.  As much as I loved the room on the show, this is the first time I've noticed the drapes hang in front of the window seat.  I like that detail.

This is one big wall of cabinetry but I love the cloud-like cushions on these window seats. 

Love the fabrics and colors on this window seat.  I'm secretly attracted to the balloon shades too.  They're often very opulent but they don't feel that way in this fabric.

I decided to sit down and sketch out what I'd like to do but the perfectionist in me wanted to see everything in perfect scale.  I don't have any design software so I used Microsoft Excel setting up each of the cells to be a perfect square.  I used each square as an one inch and I just blocked out the space for each element I measured.

I'd like the shelves to be backed with some kind of beadboard but not the traditional and ubiquitous Home Depot kitchen cabinet kind of beadboard.  I think a house the age of mine would have had something handmade and unique.  Maybe just a V groove between boards.

I'd like the cabinet doors to be inset and very simple so I can use a cabinet latch like this.

I had these kind of latches on the circa 1920s kitchen cabinets in my last house.  They were painted a hundred times but they still worked and I loved them.

I'm kind of infatuated with Farrow & Ball's color Arsenic.  I love the name and the color is just too much.  

I'd love to paint the back of the shelves in this color but I'm not sure it's a color I pull off.  But that challenges me so I'll give it a try.

I just bought their "colour book" and I'm really loving the colors.  They're perfect shades for an old house.  Arsenic is a spot-on match with the paint on this old stool I keep in the kitchen.  I'm already migrating from the reds I was adding to the house last month to the blue and green hues that I love so much.

To get this project in motion, I saved my Excel diagram to a .pdf and emailed it off to my contractor Sam.  A few days later, I noticed that he'd stopped by because something I bought on etsy was sitting on my kitchen table.  It's so nice to have a relationship with a contractor you trust to have a key!

Sam has a design background so he usually does work on the computer before he starts building.  A few days later, I got this measured elevation back by e-mail with an estimate.  There were a few conversations back and forth about materials and scope of work before we agreed on a price

The plan is in motion and I'm very excited!

But before he can start, there are a few things that need to be done.  I need to clean out the dining room,  take down the drapes, strip a few of the old hinges I bought to use around the house so they can go on the closet door.  I also notice the rug is going to be too big.

It's been a busy weekend.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Wallpaper in your Closets

After moving in to my house I decided I wanted to use wallpaper to create the perfect mood in my guest room.  During my search, I came across several fantastic prints that I wished I could use "somewhere."  It was at that point I decided I might wallpaper the inside of every closet with a different pattern and then paint the floor in the closet to match.  What a pleasant surprise (or shock) it might be to a guest--or as someone commented, "a snooper"--who opens the closet to find a flowery, or bright or whimsical print inside.

Having wallpaper in your closets is like having a suit jacket that's lined with a loud or bright pattern.  No one can see your bright blue paisley lining but YOU know it's there and it puts a little spring in your step.  Makes you feel a little sassy, right?

So after the archeological dig through my closet wallpaper, I thought it would fun to match up some vintage wallpaper prints with some current rooms and see how the two paired.  Below are the results of my matchmaking.  These are mostly Ralph Lauren rooms and the wallpaper is 1940s and 1950s.  (Try to ignore the quarters in the wallpaper images.  They're there to show the scale of the wallpaper)

I think this is a perfect new pattern to add to the room.

I felt like this room needed something bold but feminine to center its masculine chi.

Three cheers for the red, white and blue.

Here I took inspiration from the linear coffee table and the botanical pressings.

Using the gold frames as color inspiration...

A combination inspired by the Chinese jar and the pink flowers.

A little hokey but fun.

This was a tough one.  The plaid is quintessential RL but the pattern in the maroon stripe echoes the zebra ottoman.

I love this combination.  I think I would wallpaper this whole room with this wallpaper.

Look how nicely this one goes with the aubusson carpet.

For the girly girl's closet.

I want that bed.

Just in case your potting shed has a closet...

And last but not least...

Isn't this one just perfect?  I LOVE this wallpaper!

But in case you prefer something a little more feminine,
here are two different options.

I had a lot of fun putting these together and I hope I've inspired you to replace a few skeletons in your closets with some exciting wallpaper.