Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Cat Chest Refinishing Tutorial

All right, I am a cat addict! So much we know.
But I am also a glam addict!
So what has a girl to do if, she has no space for a second litter box in a hidden corner of her home? Well, she has to come up with a solution to hide a litter box in a very conspicuous spot! 

Enters 'the cat chest update'. 

I have been wanting to hack a blanket chest (entry opening, air vents, and dividers) for a while now, but my DH was gone (and I suck with power tools) so, when I came across this chest on CL for $40 I was hooked, line and sinker! I HAD TO HAVE IT! These are the photos from the CL posting, hence the small size. Sorry, in the excitement I forgot to take any 'before' shots.


Just in case you guys want this but, don't want to bother with the refinishing, you can find the same box at http://www.lovethatcat.com/cat-furniture-chest.html these guys offer a small degree of customization too. (Again, I received no compensation from these guys, I am adding this info for your benefit only).

Back to the chest. So it was 'sorta' clean...um, not really! LOL. But, most items bought off of CL aren't. Anyhow. I removed dust, dirt, grime and um, yes, cat poo with a detergent-bleach-water solution. I let it dry really well and then I took it apart (lid and dividers) and lightly sanded the whole thing down. I knew I was going to spray paint the inside (I was worried that 2 coats of primer + 2 coats of paint would make the dividers hard to slide back in if, I had rolled or brushed. I was right! It was barely ok with ├╝ber thin coats of spray paint!) so I used a primer in spray form as well. This is the brand I always use, for all my projects with either oil based or latex paints. You can either roll it, brush it or in this case get the spray can.
image courtesy of thepaintstore.com
I don't have any pictures of when I primed the inside, but basically I spray painted the primer only on the inside of the chest twice and waited for it to dry 24 hrs in between coats. In the mean time, I spray painted my brass hardware with Rustoleum rubbed bronze spray paint (I have a love/hate relationship with this guy). I always poke my screws through the cardboard to make them stand up. 

Ummm, yes once again, I was too excited to remember to take a picture of the hardware painted. But, hey! I did not forget to share the HATE part of the relationship I was hinting at before with Rustoleum! I love the finish of this paint, however, I HATE the way it sprays...and this is why!

So far, I have used several cans of this paint for various projects, and it's always behaved this way. I may do a summary blog of all those projects, one of these days. I am not sure why this paint drips the way it does, but it does and it drives me nuts...but I do like the finish...so it's a catch 22!
Back to my chest. I decided to try out a paint I have been wanting to use for a while now: Krylon. I have seen many bloggers use it successfully, and I like that it comes in a great array of colors. I needed purple and I liked their Rich Plum shade, so I bought some at Walmart.

Photo courtesy of Walmart.com
As you may have figured out by now, nothing with me is perfect! :)
 When I went to spray the first coat of paint, something was very off. The can was dripping all over the place, a MESS! It was only the following day (when I was ready for coat #2) that I realized what had gone amiss. I had removed the red 'thingamajig' that was on the nozzle (now, now, are you wondering if thingamajig is a real word? Off course it is, just ask my Texan in-laws. LOL). 
WHY in God's green earth would I remove it, may you ask? Well, the afore mentioned Rustoleum, comes with a safety that HAS to be removed. Guess what? That safety is a small red thingamabobber! Do you see now where this is going? I am so used to think: small red plastic thingy = trash, that I just did that without reading the instructions on the can. ALWAYS READ INSTRUCTIONS! Said thingy, was a very handy-dandy nozzle orienter. No wonder I was dripping all over! I removed my sprayer! Silly me! Well, I guess I learned my lesson! I sprayed a total of 3 coats of purple with 24 hrs drying periods in between. Next I rolled on 2 coats of Zinser cover stain primer on the outside of my chest - always use good quality tools...in this case a good nap 4" roller. I prefer to roll regular paint and primer whenever I can, as you get a thicker more durable coat. Spray paint is most useful if your piece has tons of carving, nooks and crannies, if you want a perfect airbrushed finish (like for the rubbed bronze hardware) or if you want a super thin coat. 
Here is my chest painted inside and primed on the outside.

Then I rolled on 2 coats of white paint (I first cut in all the nooks and crevices with a 2" Purdy paintbrush). I had a leftover can of Rustoleum Oil base Gloss paint from other projects, so I used it

Photo Courtesy of Shopping.Yahoo.com

Here is the finished chest with 2 coats of primer + 2 coats of white paint... 

The same exact treatment was given to the lid, 2 coats of primer + 2 coats of paint. 
The great thing about oil based paint, is that you don't need a clear top coat. It cures very hard and it dries like an enamel. 

I knew I wanted to stencil a design on the front panel in purple. So again, what has a gal to do when she does not want to pay $40+ for a nice stencil? Well, she tries to improvise. I had read bloggers having successes etching glass with a stencil made from contact paper, so I thought I'd give it a try for my project. I hand drew a mirrored image of my design on the back of the paper, and then I carefully cut around my shapes using both regular and manicure scissors. 

I very carefully adhered the contact paper to the front of my chest and used painter's tape to cover all the edges around the stencil. I wanted the design on the outside of the chest to match the purple hue on the inside so, I had to spray paint my design. Since spray paint is messy, and the overspray travels everywhere, I made sure I completely wrapped my chest with a plastic drop cloth and taped it in place.

I sprayed 3 thin coats of purple Krylon.

As I mentioned before, this was just a trial. I knew, going in, that the makeshift stencil may not hold...and in fact it didn't. When I removed the self adhesive liner this is what I ended up with.

Well, I guess it was worth a try! At this point, I was pretty happy with the design, just not happy with the poor quality and jagged edges of the stencil. So I grabbed a tiny painter's brush and I proceeded to hand paint around the entire edge of the design to clean it up. The result is not perfect, but I am still pretty happy with the chest as a whole. 

Here are a few shots of the chest in my master bedroom, yes that is Mrs. Rufus inspecting the quality of my work!

This shows you the guts of the chest. As you can see I keep Clorox wipes, scooper and bags on the left compartment, the litter box is in the middle one and i slid a mat under the 3rd divider to help control tracking (somewhat).

Here Rufus demonstrate how they enter and exit the chest. She is quite the visual aid :)

Hope this gives you some inspiration on creating your own furniture hack to hide the unsightly yet very much necessary array of litter boxes in your homes! 

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  1. Looks like a great idea..thank u fir posting it! Diane