Hello lovely ones!
I hope you are all well and happy 🙂
I had a bit of a freak out the other week when my husband informed me that I am now in my third trimester. “What?” I said. “No, I can’t be, I only just started enjoying the second trimester!”
But, Adam was right, the final three months had crept up on me.
I had a mini panic! So much to do in the nursery, and I had barely made a dint.
So it has been ‘all systems go’!
In the last week or so, we have done two pick ups of baby furniture generously given to us. It has made things feel very real and very exciting.
There has been no progress on the ‘Rocking Horse’, as I am still waiting on some paint to come in at the hardware shop.
I have, however completed the restoration/revamp of some old suitcases I bought for storage purposes. The nursery has no inbuilt wardrobes or cupboards, so I figured a bit of extra storage space will be handy. I got two large, vintage suitcases from a local op-shop for $12.00. Bargain! I also had a small vanity case that housed my barbie dolls as a child. It had been my Mum’s as a teen, so I better not refer to it as ‘vintage’ 😉
This is what they looked like:
They were all dirty, the two large ones had been marked by a previous owner with permanent marker and stickers. All had rust and tarnish on their locks and hinges. In short they needed some TLC.
The Clean Up!
1. The first thing I did was remove the permanent marker. This I did easily with nail polish remover.
2. The next thing to tackle was the removal of the stickers and that yucky sticky gunk stickers leave behind when they have been on something for a really long time. My weapon of choice in these situations is eucalyptus oil and warm soapy water. It did take a bit of muscle and I did end up getting the steal wool out for some of the scrubbing, but they came clean in the end.
After removing the stickers, I replenished the warm soapy water and gave each case a thorough scrub to remove any dirt and grime. It was amazing how dirty they actually were, but I guess it is not an easy job being a suitcase.
3. The next step in the ‘revamp’ process was a bit of a challenge, and I did not get quite the results I wanted. Both cases had a fair amount of rust and tarnish on their locks, hinges and other metal bits and pieces. Two of the cases had brass plated bits and the other silver. I started to tackle the rust initially with steal wool, soapy water and lots of elbow grease, which removed a lot of the surface rust, but not all.
So next I tacked it by covering some parts with a paste of bicarb soda and lemon juice and others a paste of vinegar and bicarb. I let them sit for an hour and then rubbed off. This technique got the clean bits shinier but didn’t touch the tarnish that had built up over the years. There was really no difference between the vinegar and lemon mixes.
So the next move was to the Silvo and Brasso. This method worked best on the tarnish and get a shine, but even after all these methods I couldn’t get the metals ‘as new’; but, that is okay, you don’t want to erase all the history from a vintage piece. Vintage pieces are special because of their aged character, so even in a revamp it is good to preserve some of these elements.
A Fresh Lick of Paint
So, next was to refresh the two larger cases with a lick of paint. I found a great source of inspiration from The Concrete Cottage blog by Jeannine. She revamped an old suitcase beautifully and had used Annie Sloan’s chalk paint, which is designed to add texture as well as colour to a piece. I loved the effect but could only find one place in Melbourne that carried Annie Sloan products and they were definitely not budget friendly. So, I did the frugal thing and googled DIY chalk paint. I found many recipes but the best one I found on salvagedinspirations.com blog BEST Homemade Chalk Paint Recipes. I chose to use the plaster of Paris recipe, which was 3 parts water based paint, 1 part plaster of Paris plus a bit of water. I already had some sample pots of white water based paint to make use of, and I added acrylic water based artist paints to tint the paint the colour I wanted -Tiffany blue and Custard yellow.
The first mix of paint I did, I put the powdered plaster in first then the paint followed by the water – THIS WAS A MISTAKE! The paint was good the first day but it went lumpy when I stirred it through on the second day. The best method to make a nice smooth mix was to first put the powdered plaster in a clean sealable container, like a jar, then add the water and stir to make a smooth paste, then add the paint followed by your choice of tint.
With the tint, add it gradually till you get the right shade, as you can always add but you can’t take away. Then – VOILA! You should have a nice smooth, easily applyable chalk paint.
You can then paint your project. The finish should come up matt and slightly textured. A very soft finish.
By the way, I decided not to paint the vanity case, as it was in pretty tidy condition and I really like the red colour as it was.
Antiquing with DIY dark wax
Now, my husband laughed at the next step in my ‘revamp’ process. I had these beautifully cleaned and freshly painted suitcases that I had spent quite some time getting to that stage and I wanted to make them look old again. It’s called antiquing isn’t it girls? (eye roll)
Jeannine had used Annie Sloan ‘dark wax’ in her restoration job. This gave her suitcase a nice vintage look and softness to the finished item. Again, I could not find any budget friendly ‘dark wax’, so I made my own. I used 2 parts beeswax furniture polish and 1 part natural bees wax, which I have in grated form. Then I used a small amount of oil paint in ‘burnt umber’ colour to tint the wax. It has to be an oil based paint to be compatible with the wax products.
I melted it all together by placing it in a glass cup, inside a saucepan filled with water, which was gradually brought to boil then kept on simmer. Stir throughout this process.
Stir throughout this process.
After it has all melted together, remove the cup from the water with tongs and set aside to cool. Once is has completely cooled, it will be ready to use.
Use a soft rag to coat the item in the dark wax, as heavy or light as you want. Then use another clean, soft rag to buff it off again. This will leave the wax only in the cracks, creases and textures of the surface (which is why it works well with the chalk paint).
You can see above, the contrast between where the wax has been applied and where it hasn’t – this is before it has been buffed in. Below you can see the difference once the wax has been buffed in.
So once all the waxing had been applied, I did a finally clean up of the cases and they were done.
I am pretty happy with their turn out and they will come in handy as places to store things not needed on a daily bases, such as clothes that baby doesn’t fit in yet but will in the coming months.
I think these lovely ‘revamped’ vintage suitcases will lend the nursery not only vintage charm and storage solutions, but also lovely touches of colour.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. I love hearing from you!
Next blog, I will hopefully have updates on the ‘rocking horse’ and a feature on reviving an old nursing chair I recently picked up for $20.
In the mean time, stay safe and happy