Thursday, June 23, 2011

Community Project

The end of the school year came with a sigh of relief and great anticipation.  Not only would our schedules free up, the weather {hopefully} get warmer, but I had a project to do.  Perhaps my excitement over this project was amplified because it meant I could avoid the projects I didn't want to do, like cleaning and organizing the master bedroom closet.  Or getting ready for a garage sale.  This project is fun, with a cute, rewarding finish that everyone will see (I mean really, who am I going to show my closet success to?)  It also couldn't have been done a moment before school was over for the year.

Being a homeschool family, we can pick and choose our schedule.  We typically run an August to May/sometimes June school year.  This year, June 10th was the magic day.  We had a "T minus" countdown on our whiteboard.  We scurried to finish our Government packets & our Classic books.  We just quit math at the end of the book, which was incentive enough for my 6th grader to do four day's worth in a single morning.  In my head, though, I was counting down to Project: Refinish the School Table.

We have a sturdy, dependable farmhouse-style table that we use for school.  It's the kind with a light wood top and white legs.  Nothing fancy, but it meets our needs.  The thing is, we don't have a homeschooling room.  Well, technically, when you enter our house, you're in our homeschooling room.  Our whole front room is wall-to-wall bookcases, a piano, two reading chairs, and our school table.  Actually, our school stuff spills over into the dining room, too.  We have a bookshelf and large whiteboard in there, along with very utilitarian posters of US & World Maps and an ambitious Periodic Table of the Elements {maybe if we just display this, our kids will memorize it by proxy?} 

It took me a while at first, but eventually I gave up on trying to make my house a showpiece, and acquiesced to the realities of homeschooling: it's not always pretty.  But about a month ago, I was blurking on a design blog and I saw a gorgeous painted table this woman was using for a desk.  When I looked closer, I realized it was just a farm table, like mine!  She had painted an ordinary farm table and it looked super classy.  That was what I would do!  I could sand it down, paint it with leftover paint from one of our 562 paint cans in the garage!  It would even be free!  I could hardly wait to begin.

Our first official week off of school we all cleaned out the school area.  The kids have baskets in which they keep their individual books, papers, etc., and like any school locker or desk drawer they are usually pretty trashed by the end of the year.  Once everything was removed from under and on top of the table, I brought it out to the backyard to begin the sanding process.  All the kids helped.  {Thank you, kids!} 

We sanded for a full two days out on the grass, then moved the table up on the covered deck for more fine-tuned sanding and the first coats of paint.  I envisioned an antiqued beachy look, like this table had been through a lot and finally was at home in a little cottage by the sea.  I meticulously painted two base coats in White Sands, sanding between each one.  The kids helped with that, too. 

Next came two coats of Hidden Spring, a beachy-aqua shade. 

Then, some sanding and antiquing on the legs. 

It was really taking shape.  Finally, I was ready to finish the top of the table.  This would require extra smooth sanding and painting, so that it would still be a functional table for school.  The dust was flying!

We tried to warn Indy

He thought about moving

But then decided it wasn't worth the effort

We called to him, to get him to move
Really, we did

But he preferred to sit there and look mournful
Nobody does mournful like Indy

Helper Nick

(actually helper Allie's hand prints)

We were coming in to the home stretch.  Only the painting of the table top remained.  One coat White Sands.  Let dry.  Sand.  Second coat White Sands.  Before we could get to the "let dry overnight" stage, apparently Lucy felt the need to inspect my work.

Yeah, it was still wet. 

Yup, those are imprinted, not just muddy prints.
{Sarcastic Yay!}

So, I sanded again.  I couldn't get all the embedded outlines of paw prints out without taking off all the layers of paint and starting all over again.  My laziness and the realization that this could easily happen again even if I went through the trouble of re-doing it required me to let it go. I did want it antiqued, and the beauty of that is it's not perfect.  It has flaws.  These particular flaws will bring to mind the memory of the week we all worked on the table.  Hopefully, I will be able to laugh about it in the future more than I did when I first discovered it.

Somewhere around day four of this project, I mused out loud, "Wouldn't our forefathers think it was silly to work this hard to make something look old and weathered?"  Ken's sardonic reply came from across the yard, "I think it's silly to work that hard to make something look old."  {he later complimented the final result} 

In the end, the great thing about it is that we all worked on the table together, in some way or another.  I guess one could say it was a Community Project.

{First day of school 2009}


{sweet imperfection}

Folks, I am thrilled you stopped by today.  Thank you for taking the time to be a part of Two and a Half Dogs.  Here's wishing you satisfaction in whatever projects you're tackling this weekend.


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