Monday, April 8, 2013

Transforming An Armoire into a Faux Swedish Tiled Stove

I needed a front entry "closet" for my c.1950 Cape Cod "Elinor Cottage" because it wasn't born with a closet - the front door just opens right into what is now my dining room.
After searching Craigslist I found this big, dark modern behemoth for the right price and went to go buy it.  It comes in two parts and I really like the interior - lots of drawers and cubbies, with front doors on double hinges so it completely opens/clears the front (its former life was an entertainment armoire).

After washing it down with soap and water I mixed up my own chalk paint because I use a particular shade of white throughout my entire cottage - Waverly's Cottage Linen White.  I did not want to be stuck with the one white offered in ready made chalk paint.  Cottage Linen White is not cream but its also not a stark/harsh white.  Its the perfect compliment to the blues I have in every room, including my favorite shade, a pale whisper of a blue, a discontinued Restoration Hardware paint color, "Atmosphere Blue".

I painted the exterior white and the interior in Atmosphere Blue with some surfaces wallpapered in a left over blue and white rose print from a bedroom re-do on the main floor.

Next I had to decide what to do, decoratively, with the exterior of the armoire.  
(some pieces speak to me of how they will look finished and some pieces take awhile to design themselves in my mind)

I considered hand painting rose swags or landscapes.  I even considered wallpapering the entire EXTERIOR too.  But in looking through some of my Swedish Gustavian decorating books one day, and seeing what was being posted and drooled over on Pinterest and in some blogs, I decided transforming it into a faux Swedish tiled stove was perfect!! My cottage was already decorated in my own version of Swedish Gustavian, my favorite historical style.

Due to lack of time, I decided it best to design a pattern and have it printed as wallpaper through Spoonflower, instead of hand painting every tile.
My first attempt at designing a tiled pattern went bust when I was constrained to square ones due to the pattern repeat I was working with through Spoonflower.  The armoire called for rectangular tiles in an odd size (and this is the tile shape you see on most real tiled stoves) so my next option was to design the faux tiles in Photoshop and then use an old method of transferring the image to the painted surface with Golden Acrylic's transfer medium and laser prints.
I used an old piece of hand made paper/scanned, to manipulate in Photoshop to look like a hand made tile, and then used some hand painted roses I had already used on a fabric design I have for sale through Spoonflower, "Watercolor Roses in Blue".

This has turned out to work the best for this piece and it will save me HOURS of hand painting when my job schedule doesn't allow me more then an hour each night after work and cooking dinner/cleaning at home for the family.  Not to mention I am healing a broken fibula from an unfortunate bicycle accident and its hard to get into certain low positions to paint with a cast on my leg!
 Start by laying out where the tiles will go - although I had already measured and designed them in Photoshop, to make sure they fit the space. I then had to cut them all out after printing them on laser paper.  They needed to fit within the moulding I had pre-cut but not yet attached, around the edges of the inset panel.
 Supplies: Your laser copies(trimmed and ready to go), (this transfer medium does NOT work with inkjet copies - sorry!) a brush or two, painters tape for low tack positioning, a tape measure and pencil, a water container, rag and a of course, the fluid matte medium!
 After measuring out a grid and drawing it on with pencil as a guide for where to place my tiles, I could begin gluing the surface and adding the faux tile laser copies - FACE DOWN.  Its the actual printed side that makes contact with the glue to do the images transfer so make sure your image is printed mirror image (backwards). NOTE:  there really is NO re-positioning so make sure you land the image down exactly where you want it!
 Leave it dry for at least a few hours.  Overnight is ideal.  Here is what happens when it doesn't dry long enough OR you apply too much pressure in removing the paper backing:  see the upper right corner?  The image and paper came right off.  BUT, this is where touch up comes into play.  If you don't care and want a worn look, this look is desired.  But if like my project, I want it to look like actual tiles, I will need to get out my acrylics and repair it.  No biggie.
 What is used to remove the paper backing to reveal the transferred image?  WATER!  Clean water and your fingertips.  Go ahead and try a soft cloth if you want but I prefer hands-on because I can control the pressure needed to wash/peel away the paper backing without taking the image off in too rigorous of rubbing.
After an hour of wetting and rubbing I got this far.  This is time consuming because you have to be careful not to remove the image by over-rubbing.  And its not a one time thing either - this removes the first layer only. When it dries it milks back over, showing you all the paper backing is not yet off so keep repeating until it dries bright and clear and true to your original laser copy print!

Once I get the paper all off I will go back in with my paints and create a faux grout and repair any tiles that lost some of the image.  I am still deciding whether to gold leaf the wooden trim or paint it a bright blue to match the faux tile flower print.

Keep checking in with me for updates on the project!  I have a long way to go but every step is exciting and I am already imagining it done - coated with a high gloss lacquer so it gleams like real porcelain tile!

1 comment:

  1. I'm so glad I found you! Your work is amazing and I am looking forward to watching you work on your project! I love your style and I am so glad that you share it on your blog! It is so exciting to find another lover of blue!!
    Cheers, Colette