First Bed In Fifteen Years

When my husband and I got married, we married for love not for money.  In fact, we were so in love we were happy to sleep on the floor.  Although we eventually broke down and bought a mattress and box spring, we neglected to buy bedroom furniture.  Our love and marriage produced two beautiful children, and as the years passed we lived on love with the hope that money would eventually flow into our lives.  

Recently, I decided it was time to actually buy a bed.  We are now nearing our 15 year wedding anniversary, the kids have bedroom furniture, why shouldn't we?  After all, we are not starving, right?  We are by no means swimming in money; but we are paying the bills every month.  Maybe we can splurge a little on ourselves and buy what everyone else in America seems to have: bedroom furniture!

I have been refinishing furniture here and there for almost two years.  Why not use this hobby to buy the bed I really want?  The bed I really wanted was over $4,000.  I googled and shopped many stores.  Sadly, white furniture seems to be rare and more expensive than dark stained furniture.  If you are in the same boat, get ready to jot down some notes!  Here is the way you too can get beautiful furniture for a fraction of the cost.

Step 1: Plan to save cash every month for 3-6 months.  Save as much as you are able.  We saved $450 cash in about three months.

Step 2: Search Craig's List and local estate sales daily or weekly for the style & size bed you like. I really wanted a king size bed with posts.  But you can be less or more picky with your searches.  Offer the seller cash for the bed you like.  I even negotiated and saved an extra $100. (The worst they can say is no)!

Step 3:   Use common sense when buying anything online.  Be safe.  Always meet in a public place and/or take two or three friends with you to pick up and pay for furniture.  You will need more people anyway to lift heavy pieces.

Step 4: Choose the paint color, style, and finish you prefer.  I prefer to use chalk paints instead of latex paints.  You can make your own version and save more money, or you can buy various name brand chalk paints available online or at local specialty markets.  I've used both.  My favorite, however for ease of application is CeCe Caldwell Chalk Paints.  If you choose the cheaper route, google "homemade chalk paint recipes".

Step 5: Make space in your garage, remove all hardware, and clean the furniture.  I used a mixture of bleach and water in a spray bottle, paper towels, and old rags.  Remove drawers and any easily moveable pieces. Wipe furniture throroughly.  

Step 6: Paint furniture with first coat.  I used black first because I bought a bed that had a cherry wood finish.  Cherry wood is difficult to cover, and I wanted to attain a white, shabby chic, worn look.  

King Size Bed Before Refinish

Step 7: Paint furniture with second coat.  Second coat should be the same color if you choose a clean modern look.  If you choose a worn, distressed look, then  your second coat should be  a different (contrasting, but not clashing) color.  My second coat was a bright white.

Step 8: (Skip this step if you want a clean modern look) Sand second coat lightly in most areas and heavily in various random areas to create a stressed, worn look.  The sanding can me done with sand paper by hand or with an electric sander.  I used both to save time and to assist in heavier sanding (required in order to expose either the black paint in some areas or to expose the raw wood in other areas).  For example, if I got to the cherry wood color stain underneath, I sanded deeper to get to the raw wood since the cherry would have clashed with the look I was trying to achieve.

Step 9: Lightly sand entire furniture for desired texture.  More sanding for smoother finish, less sanding for deeper textures.  

Step 10: Apply furniture wax.  There are many choices available here.  I opted for a liquid wax from American Plaster Paint Co. because it was faster than the application and drying time required by the soft but solid wax sold by CeCe Caldwell.  Also, I prefer any wax to the (Minwax) polyureathane finishes because they will not have a yellowing effect, especially on light paint colors, such as the bright whites.  (Optional: you may apply an antiquing glaze or choose to apply an aging wax for a deeper more complex finish).

Shabby Chic Furniture Look

Step 11: Place furniture in desired room and assemble.

In closing, I have to give a disclaimer here regarding the money we spent.  First, we did only spend $450 on a king size bed.  Second, we had a queen size mattress.  Third, my mother-in-law graciously purchased a new king size mattress and box spring for us because we did not have the money at the time.  Which takes me back to the beginning of this article: love!  We may not always have the cash flow we desire, but after 15 years of marriage, I can say we have always had love.  It flows richly and deeply.