Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Sealing Your Painted Furniture with Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish

Lets talk about topcoats for furniture. I have had a lot of bad experiences with topcoats. Polyurethanes, varnishes, waxes, you name it. I have battled brush strokes and sheen. I have had them bubble and peel. I have found drips and hairs dried in them. Yet, I find them a necessary evil. I want the furniture I sell to be durable for my clients,
so I use them.

 Over the years, I have found some products that I like more than others. I also have become somewhat better at applying them. Yet, I am always looking out for a new product, hoping to discover something that will be easy to use and dry to a beautiful finish. Well, I found it.

supplies for using modern masters dead flat varnish on furniture

Recently, I came upon Dead Flat Varnish by Modern Masters 
and I contacted Modern Masters to try the product.

I thought from the initial information I read about Dead Flat Varnish I would like it. But, I never knew I would like it so much. I love it. Really. I actually love it. Below is my review.

From the Modern Masters website,
Modern Masters Dead Flat varnishes (interior, interior low VOC, exterior, and exterior Low VOC,  These premium quality, water base, non-yellowing Dead Flat Varnishes are a water base clear finish coat formulated to have the optimum level of clarity with the least amount of sheen. They will remove undesirable variations in sheen created by using semi-gloss base coats with Decorative Glazes and allows the finish to maintain that aged effect.        

I used Dead Flat Varnish for my first time on my cream and gold French script dresser. It was easy to apply, dried quickly, and did not drip. One really big difference between the Dead Flat Varnish and previous top coats I have used is that it gives you time to rework it. I was able to go back and brush through some areas during the application to smooth or remove a stray hair. With most polyurethane, if you drag your bush back into an area you will leave brush strokes. When I was finished applying, it dried quickly and left a gorgeous matte smooth finish. I was also able to apply two coats in one day.

Steps to apply Dead Flat Varnish to furniture:

Prepping your piece for a topcoat:
  • Lightly sand with a smooth sanding block to remove anything caught in your paint finish.
  • Brush off sanding dust and any stray particles with a chip brush.
  • Wipe with a damp rag to remove any remaining dust.
  • Let dry.
  • Most importantly, wipe with a tack cloth to remove any last hair or particles.

Applying Dead Flat Varnish:
  • Apply varnish with a good brush. I always keep one brush that is just used for topcoats.
  • Work from the top. Brush the varnish left to right in long even strokes following with a light finish stroke. Work your way down, slightly overlapping strokes. Don’t worry about missed spots too much because you will catch them in your second coat.
  •  This product gives you a little time to go back so I usually check for anything stuck in the finish that I can remove with the bristle of the brush. After completing an area, run your brush along edges to catch any drips.
Video, "How to Apply Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish"

hand painted dresser

Things I loved about Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish
  • Great consistencty, not too watery and not too thick.
  • Applied easily and was not tacky. The brush did not drag in it.
  • You can go back and brush through areas to smooth spots and remove particles.
  • Does not show brush or lap marks.
  • Did not dry with drips.
  • Dried quickly.
  • Two coats covered completely.
  • Leaves a smooth flawless matte finish.

Dead Flat Varnish created a beautiful finish. Honestly, this is now my go to product. It was so easy to work with and to my disbelief, even easier than wax. Interested in trying Dead Flat Varnish? Visit to find Modern Masters products in your area.

The cream and gold dresser was also finished using Modern Masters gold. I will be posting the steps to create this finish next week!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A Welcoming New Look With Modern Masters Front Door Paint

Just before memorial weekend, I was able to cross a project off our never-ending home improvement list.  I painted our front door.  It was easy, it was inexpensive and in about 2 hours our front door had a fresh and welcoming new look.

black front door
Thanks to Modern Masters.

Several weeks ago, as part of the Modern Masters Front Door Campaign, I received a quart of their new Front Door Paint to try. That beautiful quart of paint was all the motivation I needed to start my front door makeover. 

As soon as I decided to try the new Modern Masters Front Door Paint, I visited the Modern Masters  website (which offers tons of product info, support and ideas) to explore the beautiful 24 color palette. There, I discovered they have created a free app (for iPhone and Android) which lets you take a picture of your front door and then try out all their hand picked front door colors on your actual front door. It's addicting and you will try every color.

So, after trying them all, it was obvious that the color that would work best with our historic home  was Elegant, a classic black.

Now you can't go wrong with black. But, I did find myself wishing I had a white house and could try one of the other gorgeous colors like Fortunate, a cheerful granny smith apple green.

But Elegant it was...

I prepped my door by wiping it down with a solution of water and white vinegar. Then I applied the  Front Door Paint using a two inch angled brush and working by panels on the door. Also, follow the grain of the door along each panel for the smoothest look.

The Front Door Paint went on smoothly, and dried quickly to a glossy finish. I was able to apply 1 more coat and the door was completely painted in two hours.

I had plenty of paint left. The paint comes in a screw top container which I love, because it keeps the paint in good condition for the next year or two when you want to freshen the color.

Front Door Paint is available at selected Lowe’s and Ace Hardwaresas well as online via or the Modern Masters online shop. So easy to find and then easy to transform!

Modern Masters Elegant

black front door

Find beauty in your day!

Monday, May 18, 2015

The White Country Kitchen: The Paint I Chose to Transform my Cabinets

white kitchen

In Febuary, we finished updating the kitchen in our victiorian farm house. With the help of a gallon of primer and white paint, we transformed if from dark and dated to bright and fresh.

For this project, I knew I wanted the look of a traditional country white kitchen. 

I also knew, having worked as a decorative painter and having painted my fair share of kitchens, that painting kitchens is neither fun nor easy.  It is a lot of work. So, you want to make sure that after all that work, it looks professional and will last. How do you do that? By making sure you select good products that are easy to use and durable

Now starting out, I wanted to use chalk paint. you see I am a chalk paint fan. A big chalk paint fan. I use it almost exclusively for my furniture. But, I knew I had to be sure that chalk paint would be the best choice for me. 
As much as I love it, would it be cost effective, easy and durable? 
After a lot of online research, I decided against chalk paint. 

Now if want chalk paint in your kitchen, go for it! 
I actually followed up with a friend who painted her cabinets with chalk paint a year ago to see how they have held up. She said she just used wax and they have held up great. 
For my project, it just wasn't the best choice for me.
Here are the products I chose to paint my kitchen...

Benjamin Moore does offer an ADVANCE primer too, but I used this as it was highly recommended by our contractor. I loved it.

Now don’t skip this step. Not on kitchen cabinets. 
Don't let anyone tell you different. No matter which paint you go with, oil, acrylic, or chalk kitchen cabinets are used and abused so you want to ensure that paint adheres well. Use white for white cabinets or have it tinted as close as you can to the color you choose. This step will also help you get better coverage and use less paint which means less money.

I used Benjamin Moore ADVANCE alkyd paint.

After a lot of internet research and recommendation from painters, I went with Advance paint. Thin and creamy it went on smoothly, self leveled and best of all, it required no top coat. I have easily wiped away spills, even dried on food, since painting my cabinets. Also, if I ever have nicks, I can pop open a can and touch up without worrying about a difference in sheen from a topcoat. 

As I said earlier, I love chalk paint. I really was planning on using it in my kitchen, 
but here is what stopped me...

  • You still need to prime in kitchen..I recommend using primer no matter what so even with chalk there is that extra step.  
  • Your must use a top coat with chalk paint. That costs money and time. You would need two coats to ensure coverage and you have to worry about drips.
  • Now that you have it top coated, if you ever have nicks you need to paint and topcoat again.

To show you how the primer and paint will look. Here is after just one coat of primer. I did two coats on everything so my white paint would cover easily.

Then, using a brush and roller, I applied two coats of paint.

 After two coats of paint.


Find beauty in your day!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Grain Sack Striping on Furniture, Quick and Easy

One of my favorite ways to add personality to a piece of furniture is with grain sack striping.
 I know. Grain sack stripes are everywhere, but I have yet to tire of them.
 In fact, I don't think I will tire of them. They are just good ol' clean and simple.

Recently, I finished updating a tired Queen Anne styled drop leaf coffee table. (Didn't everyone have a grandmother with some Queen Anne pieces like this?)  

A fresh coat of chalk paint and some distressing updated it entirely.
 But, it was a simple Paris Gray grain sack stripe that let it make a style statement, ever so simply.

Grain sack striping is definitely not rocket science, 
but I wanted to share how I do quick and easy striping. 
My mostly full proof method for painting grain sack stripes? I let the tape do all the work.
For this process, I used 1 1/2 inch and 1/2 inch painters tape to lay my stripes.  You can find a good assortment of painters tape here

Starting with a table freshly painted with off white chalk paint.

Find your center, and lay out your middle stripe with the 1/2 inch tape

Follow with 3 stripes of 1/4 inch tape on either side of the middle. 

Here are all your taped lines.

Now, pull up the middle stripe and the second in on each side of the thin tape.

 There, perfectly even stripes... without measuring.

Fill in stripes with your color of choice. Here I used Annie Sloan Paris Gray.

Pull your tape up after paint is slightly set. Then add distressing as desired. And when don't we desire distressing?

 xo Debbie

Monday, February 2, 2015

A Tour Inside Our Old Victorian Farmhouse....The Day We Moved In

Last May my family and I moved into an 1860 brick Victorian Farmhouse. 

It was old and charming and as soon as the last moving box hit the floor, I shared with my readers the grounds of our new home. The landscape and surroundings were enchanting and they had captivated me just as much as the home itself.  (Visit that post here)

What I didn’t share was the inside.

Now for a home that was nearly 200 years old, it actually was in beautiful shape. It had been well renovated over 30 years ago. But still, 30 years had left some renovations dated and the paint colors (and there were a lot of them) from the previous owner weren’t for me.

With a lot of projects ahead of me, I decided I would post each room after it was updated. 
Well, that is what I planned.

Even as my husband and I worked on the house, painted and painted some more, we really hadn’t created any great transformations. Instead, I found myself with a home that was still a work in progress and a business that I had unintentionally put on hold. I hadn’t restocked my Etsy store and I had not posted to by blog.

It was then, months into our move, that two things dawned on me. 

First. With time, money, oh and lets not forget, my indecisiveness always an issue, it would be a long time before I felt a room was “finished.”

Second. I realized that a “finished” room is not really the story. Sure a good before and after picture packs a lot of punch, but the real story is in the process. It is the design ups and downs, the good decisions and bad decisions that are truly interesting. 

So, I am now ready to share our design journey in this old house of ours, as long and imperfect as it may be....and not wait for the destination. 

So for starters, 
here is a tour of our old Victorian farmhouse the day we we moved in.  

Here is the enclosed side porch off of the kitchen.
French doors lead to the garden.

This is the second area of the enclosed porch,
 which can be closed off from the main area.
I am hoping to make this my studio by summer. 

The Country kitchen.
Just off of the mudroom and laundry.

We start updates in two weeks, so I am looking forward to sharing the changes.

Another angle of the kitchen.
How about that for an accent wall?

The dining room that we will use as a sitting room.

 Here is the main living area. 
Pretty! This space didn't need much work. 

The front stair case.
This was one of my favorite features.
 I can't wait to share more detailed pictures coming soon.

Upper floor landing, outside of master bedroom. 
There is another set of stairs leading to the kids bedrooms.

The master bedroom. 
Painting in progress...

Second floor hallway.

Guest bedroom.
 Round the corner, another bath, office and servant stairs.

So there you go.. 
 A little glimpse of "what we got ourselves into." 

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