January 18, 2013

Shutters: The Swiss Army Knife of Window Treatments

Alternate blog post names considered:
"Shutter? I Hardly Know Her"
"Shutters: Not Just Tuxedos for your Windows"

They really do have a wide variety of uses after they've served their purpose as the Robin to your windows' Batman. Don't believe me? Search for "old shutters" on Pinterest - I dare you. Here, I'll even make it easy for you.

I dug  into the old archives to pull up another shutter project that I worked on back when I first hopped on the DIY furniture train.

It was a mix-and-match grab bag of reclaimed materials so random, even Dr. Frankenstein would be proud. But it sat, lonely and unused, until finally we found the right place for it. Now it hovers proudly over the giant bathtub alcove, otherwise known as "Courtney's oasis."

It took me a while, but I found some more old shutter doors, and I have been chomping at the bit to do something with them.

As most of my "personal" projects (read: for our home) go, it started with Courtney finding something on Pinterest. When that happens, one of the following three things will happen. I've included the definitions I've come to learn are associated with each.

Pins it on her subtly-named "Honey Do List" Pinterest board = "At some point I want this."
Casually mentions it in a conversation = "I want this soon."
Sends pics via text or email = "This is what you'll be doing this weekend."

This project was a level II alert, so I decided it would make a great Christmas gift, to go along with the Colonel Reb pallet sign. It would also turn out to be great timing because it could, albeit temporarily, display our Christmas cards.

The shutters I had were door size, so I cut one in half and sanded it down to the raw wood. The refinishing Gods, who had smited me so many times before, were smiling on me. The side I wanted (with the slats facing up) was the unpainted side. Formerly the inside of a closet, maybe? All it took was a light once-over with the palm sander. No scraping, stripping (the wood, not me) or cussing.

I wanted the finish to be rough, rustic, used and worn - like the old guy with the beard and eye patch sitting by himself at a bar at 2 p.m. on a Tuesday - I wanted it to look like it had a story to tell. So I tried something different. Instead of painting>sanding>staining, I started with staining the entire thing I just sanded (Minwax special walnut, if you care). Once I distress the paint on top, the darker surface below will show through, creating a nice contrast.

After it was dry, I took a tea candle (any white candle will do, really) and rubbed the ENTIRE thing down, Karade Kid-style.All corners, all crevices, even all flat surfaces.

Doing this a) makes the distressing part much easier and random, and creates a more intense look, and b) provided a valid excuse for me to post a pic of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel-son.

Next, I applied a sloppy coat of cream-colored paint to the whole thing. You don't have to be as careful to not paint too thick because, with the wax, the paint will randomly stick to some areas and not others.

Once dry, I simply used a combination of 100 grit sandpaper (to lightly scuff the entire piece) and a putty knife (to get the crevices and corners) to rough it up. Here is a close-up of the final.

If you like the rustic weathered look as much as I do, I highly recommend this technique. After adding an $8 decorative knob from Anthropology, here it is in action.

You can use basic clothespins for paper and photos, or cheap "s" hooks to hold things like keys or even jackets.

Right now, it's still housing our Christmas cards. Soon, it will serve as a home for event invitations, grocery lists and probably an art gallery for Campbell's, umm, "abstract" art.