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I am not a stripper

January 9, 2012
by thenestinggame

Normally when I finish a project, big or small, I have some sense of self-satisfaction. Sometimes even a little pride, because  I’ve never really thought of myself as artistic or crafty (and still don’t really…in the conventional sense). But when this project was finished, all I could think was “No way in hell am I ever doing that again.”

For a couple years now Taylor and I have gravitated toward the look of unfinished wood, particularly on more traditional pieces. We saw this chair in Savannah (almost) two years ago and I filed the picture away in the Pinterest of my mind.

Fast forward to Memorial Day Weekend. I wanted to get a proper bedframe for Sadie’s room/the guest room. I had originally considered doing an upholstered headboard on my own, but for some reason—maybe impatience? ( ironic)—I bought a Jenny Lind frame for $75 on Craigslist.

And then it promptly sat in the basement well into the fall.

At the end of September the Moody Glam room was painted and starting to take shape. At some point along the way we’d decided we were going to give the whole stripping thing a whirl. I’d seen tons of traditional, stained Jenny Lind frames and many painted ones, but really hadn’t seen any in the raw wood. (I’ve since come across a couple and blogged about them in this post. ) And so one optimistic October day, I dragged the bed outside and Taylor sprayed on Citrustrip.

I don’t have a full on “Before”, but in these photos you can see that the bed was pretty ding-ed up to begin with.

Spraying the first round of stripper:

So, it dried/cured overnight and the next day I spent about 3 hours with a metal brush, a rag and mineral spirits scrubbing off this gunk. And after it dried, it looked something like this.

Yuck. Ugh. Boo. Not what I was expecting.

The next weekend. Round 2. I’d read about SmartStrip on Janell’s blog and it did a bang-up job on her (awesome) chandelier. I picked up some at Sherwin Williams—the only place I could find it locally—and slathered it on.

So, for the record, SmartStrip was A LOT more pleasant to work with than the Citrustrip. It was a fluffy paste, no odor and didn’t seem very chemical-y. It came off somewhat easier than the Citrustrip and I could use water instead of mineral spirits. A good bit more of the stain came out, though it was hard to tell because I finished when it was DARK.

And then we did this all over again. Yep, a third coat of stripper (the SmartStrip).

I don’t even remember what weekend we’re on at this point, but I was just about over it when Taylor luckily stepped in and said he’d take it from there and start sanding.

So he pulls out the belt sander and takes it to the flat parts of the bed. You can see how much more the SmartStrip (and about 7 hours of brushing and scraping)  took off.

Taylor had hypothesized that a dremel tool would be helpful in removing what was left of the stain in all those damn spindles. So, he did a test patch and we JOINTLY (this will be key information later on) decided that it removed too much of the patina and he’d just suck it up and do it by hand with coarse and medium-grit sandpaper. That way, he’d have more control over how it would look.

So Taylor spent a Saturday afternoon with the headboard. When Taylor was done we brought it up and leaned it against the navy wall aaand….loved it! Whew! Only one more tedious day of sanding left. (Okay, and then waxing it.)

Then Sunday afternoon rolls around. And after Taylor’s been out on the patio working for about an hour or more, I peek out the window and see…the dremel tool. And about half the footboard has been dremeled. Aaaannd….I quickly glance at the finished headboard leaning against the bedroom wall and see that the color looks…well, different.

So I saunter down the stairs and in that helpful, wifely way ask if everything’s going okay. And then I maybe sort of enquire why he’s using the dremel when he preferred the sandpaper route the day before. And Taylor, justifiably annoyed with my line of questioning, explains he’s out of sandpaper. So I oh-so-helpfully offer to get more because, well, didn’t we both prefer the way it looks using the sandpaper? And then it just devolves from there.

Why don’t you just do it yourself, then?

Why are you using the dremel when you didn’t like it yesterday?

I’m not doing this for my health, there’s football on.

Well it’s already taken 5 weeks, why didn’t you tell me you needed sandpaper you know I would have gone to get it for you.

Realization that footboard may be irreparably messed up. Expletive.

Calm down. It’s only a piece of furniture.

It’s been 5 expletive weekends!

Bed is aimed at brick wall, then changes directions and is flung with hatred and near-defeat into the yard.

At this point Taylor heads for the shower and I wipe down the footboard and haul it into the room. And when it’s in there, you know, it really doesn’t look all that different. This can be salvaged.

But first a little more yelling—not at me, more just at the frustration of the whole project—and almost just as quickly we’re laughing about it. And then I’m at Ace Hardware to pick up some cloth-backed sandpaper. And then it got dark.

And then it was Christmas.

AND THEN WE FINISHED THE BED.

I am so glad we did it. And I am so glad it’s over. I love how it looks—all the shades left in the wood: gray and gold, the hint of the stain in the deepest grooves,  the lighter shade of the wood, especially against the deep, navy wall and the saturated oriental rug.

Speaking of, I snagged the sister rug from my Mom’s house when I was in Florida in September, had it cleaned, and reunited the two like Peaches and Herb.

Yeah, they’re a little rough and old, but that makes me like them even more. I also like how they butt up next to each other—and with no dust ruffle, you can see them extend underneath the bed.

What else is new? Ask these guys.

Found them at an estate sale and couldn’t resist. They hang out on top of the etagere and watch people sleep. Composers on the Shelf.

And I brought some pretty branches in to shade Leeroy Jenkins.

Mother nature sure knows what she’s doing, eh?

I may have also brought in a ladybug infestation. Whoopsie.

At least they go with the color scheme.

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39 Comments leave one →
  1. Elaine Smart permalink
    January 9, 2012 9:21 am

    Had a good laugh reading this! Can visualize the entire situation.
    Was worth it all – beautiful bed and room.
    Lady bugs are good luck.

  2. January 9, 2012 9:28 am

    that SUUUUUCKS! my first (And one of few – i try and avoid it whenever possible) experience with stripper was a terrible one, too. I thought that somehow it’d be a breeze since I was a painter and sort of used to these things…no…it was misery, and took forever. BUT your bed looks awesome! :)

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 9, 2012 11:01 am

      Glad to know we are not alone in the hatred of this process. Thanks for the compliments!

  3. Leigh Ann Morabito permalink
    January 9, 2012 9:54 am

    LOVE THE BED!!!! The exchange between you and Taylor reminds me of many Morabito home- improvement moments. The room looks amazing.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 9, 2012 11:01 am

      Yes, lots of tense moments in the making of this blog. :) How did your dining room turn out?

  4. Sarah Ford permalink
    January 9, 2012 10:01 am

    I cheat. I give said furniture/doors etc to a lovely man who dips and strips the item in a couple of days. Not too expensive either, a wooden door costs £20 (UK pounds) to dip and strip. Worth its weight in gold as it saves the very same arguements/conversations between my husband and I!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 9, 2012 10:51 am

      Sarah, I need to find this guy in Atlanta. We have a bergere chair that we want to do the same thing too, but can’t quite get excited about going through this again.

      • Sarah Ford permalink
        January 9, 2012 11:01 am

        Hi, Sorry, he’s based in Cornwall, England. There is a fabulous shop called Acorn Antiques (the same name as a 1980′s UK sitcom), who buy French Furniture and recondition it. They also offer the dipping and stripping service (we have bought a number of old wooden chests from them and had 5 doors done by them – Fab!

  5. January 9, 2012 10:58 am

    Had a similar staining experience with a child’s rocking chair (was once my Grandpa’s, so even more pressure to get it right). Suspect I have similar spouse experiences coming my way as we get further into our bathroom renovation. So far we’re mostly laughing–had great fun smashing the shower walls to bits this weekend. WAAAY more fun than sanding!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 11, 2012 9:24 pm

      Rita, I have a feeling this is how our eventual master bath reno will go. We have missing grout in our shower like you did…so maybe sooner rather than later. :)

  6. Janelle Keel permalink
    January 9, 2012 11:08 am

    It was worth all the pain and agony (and marital distress) because the bed looks fabulous in the room!

  7. January 9, 2012 11:50 am

    I am so glad you posted this. I just spotted a Jenny Lind frame on Craigslist and I’ve been mulling it over in my mind for a couple of days. It looks very similar to yours – I absolutely love the look. I think you helped me make my decision!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 11, 2012 9:25 pm

      Go for it, Emily!

  8. Melissa permalink
    January 9, 2012 1:14 pm

    Love it. My favorite design blog. :)

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 11, 2012 9:26 pm

      Aww shucks.

  9. January 9, 2012 2:00 pm

    I used to have a ton of those composer busts from my piano lessons! Ah, memories.

  10. Martha Hopkins permalink
    January 9, 2012 2:14 pm

    The root of the issue here is choosing a SPINDLE BED for your first stripping project. OMG. And I’d definitely be investigating the furniture dipping service. I think anywhere between the Mississippi and Atlantic, the Mason-Dixon Line and the Gulf, would be sufficiently close as to warrant a road trip.

    Even with all the wahala, that bed looks fantastic. Way to work through the pain. All subsequent projects will be, as my father would say, “no hill for a stepper!”

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 11, 2012 9:27 pm

      Yeah, there was probably an easier place to start, but oh well… At least it’s OVER! Thanks for the compliments.

  11. January 9, 2012 3:02 pm

    Oh it was all so worth it. The bed looks beautiful and I am thoroughly jealous.

    Gotta love that fine line in DIY between “learning by doing” and “this is taking way to much time and money – ready to head off to therapy…” I’ve definitely crossed it a few times myself ;). Glad you two made it through to the laughter side of things!!!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 11, 2012 9:34 pm

      Yes, Jen. I get so jealous of real designers and stylists who outsource. Someday! Until then, it’s fun to figure it out as I go. Thanks for the nice words.

  12. Natalie Bailey permalink
    January 11, 2012 11:55 am

    I had those exact composer heads/busts when I was little! I have no idea WHY I had them, but they were an integral part of my bookshelf when I was a wee lass. I’ll have to ask my mom what happened to them…

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 11, 2012 9:36 pm

      After I bought them, I tried to look them up online hoping I stumbled onto some treasure. How funny that 2 of my friends had them as kids.

  13. Kara permalink
    January 11, 2012 5:25 pm

    I HATE sanding more than anything. For our first refinishing project we landed on a gate leg dining table with semi-intricately turned legs. It was so awful to sand and we really only roughed up the legs because we ended up painting the base (while staining the top) because I just couldn’t stand sanding it any longer. I can’t imagine if we had to seriously sand every single crevice. I am stressed just thinking about it!!
    The bed looks amazing!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 11, 2012 9:37 pm

      I was DONE after the third stripping session. Luckily Taylor pressed on… Thanks!

  14. January 12, 2012 2:39 pm

    I think I love everything about this room.

  15. Tony Molina permalink
    January 13, 2012 2:29 pm

    Molly, I don’t know if you remember our house on Pershing, but I stripped all the woodwork on the 1st floor (at least 7 coats of paint) and stained it all a beautiful Mahogany finish. It took 6 months, 5 nights a week and the weekends, ask Karen. I used every product on the market, including the dip and strip route on a few pieces. The moldings returned warped and had to be replaced. The Window sashes had to be re-glued and all glass panes caulked some were broken and had to be replaced. You have to be careful with the dip and strip services it can be very destructive to your piece. I had to craft my own tools for certain moldings with curves and crevasses. I used heat guns, stripper liquids, scrapers, sand paper and tons of fine Steel wool for grooves and round edges. In the end just like your bed, it turned out great and well worth the effort. You should consider yourself lucky though, when you stain your piece your only half way there, once you’ve finished the stripping and sanding. Next time call me I’ll give you all my secrets.

  16. Tony Molina permalink
    January 13, 2012 2:32 pm

    By the way, the carpets look great together and your camera work is tremendous. You’re becoming a real pro. love the Blog.

  17. January 15, 2012 7:44 am

    hey!
    it looks awesome. i use the citristrip and love it…but i use the gloppy gloopy kind. it’s more like the other stuff you used.
    in any case it will cure, or lighten, over time.
    but the liming wax is called “liming wax” and it’s by briwax.
    i used this tutorial: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/photos/0,,20354203,00.html

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 16, 2012 11:24 am

      You rock my socks. Thank you for the scoop!

  18. February 10, 2012 3:18 pm

    I just heard about a stripper called Soy Gel when reading about Milk Paint. I haven’t tried it but it sounds awesome! No odor, non-toxic so it can touch your skin removes many types of coatings including, paints, varnishes, and urethanes from wood, concrete, and metal. It’s all natural and made from Soybeans! Have you ever heard of it?

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      February 10, 2012 3:20 pm

      I haven’t! But the next time I strip something (at the earliest 2018) I will give it a look. Thanks for the suggestion!

  19. Heather permalink
    April 7, 2012 11:01 pm

    Just started stripping pieces and then I sand them with either 120 grit or green steel wool pads… hubby is a cabinet maker but he was at a loss for stripping. A little old timer Georgia research revealed… Acetone. We buy it at Home Depit, put it in a spray bottle and spray it on in small sections. It evaporated very quickly so you have to start scraping with a plastic scrape or in the spindle case, wipe with a rough rag.it helps if you spray the rag also. Then you can sand down to smooth out and finish with the natural wax… Hope this helps!! Your blog was spectacular!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      April 9, 2012 9:00 pm

      Thanks for the tip, Heather!

  20. April 10, 2012 4:17 pm

    was initially intrigued by such a beautiful room – the double rugs, the unfinished turned leg bedframe… on and on! but oh my, your commentary on the sanding of the bed-frame = hilarious and so spot on for men !!! thanks for entertaining all around. beautifully written!

  21. May 8, 2013 12:51 pm

    Just found this post via pinterest and I’m obsessed. I’m totally considering attempting this with a crib whenever my husband and I decide to have a baby. Fantastic job!!! Your hard work really paid off! Just started following you on bloglovin. :)

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      May 8, 2013 1:00 pm

      Thanks, Sylvia! It was quite an undertaking! I’m sure you could do it on a crib but I am having PTSD flashbacks thinking about it. ;)

  22. Annie permalink
    September 29, 2013 7:58 am

    Hi, I came here looking for an easy, time-saving way to scrub old, built up basement dirt from a Jenny Lind bed. Not even strip it, just clean it. I’m thinking that if you didn’t find it, then there isn’t one. Should probably stop googling and start scrubbing. Your bed and room look gorgeous. How did you adapt the old frame for the newer size mattress? Thank you.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      October 1, 2013 3:29 pm

      Hey Annie, we lucked out and our bed frame was for a full sized mattress. Happy scrubbing!

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