Thursday, February 11, 2016

Treasure Chest Thursday: New Life for a Rocker

Treasure Chest Thursday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers encouraging bloggers to create a post with the main focus being a family treasure, an heirloom, or even an everyday item important to the family.

There was a time when I thought old furniture should be restored to its natural state. I wanted to see the grain of aged oak and the knots of old pine. What could be more beautiful than the rich color of walnut and mahogany? I was appalled that someone had slapped dull green paint over a beautiful old wash stand or sideboard.

If you follow the DIY-ers in blogland, you know that painted furniture is all the rage. While I am not ready to Annie Sloan my dining room table or kitchen cabinets, I have crossed over to the dark side (or maybe it's the bright side) when it comes to painting furniture - some of it, anyway.

Several months ago, I announced plans to pass along my childhood rocker to my first grandbaby.

Wendy Slade Christmas 1952
Me Christmas 1952
The little maple rocker apparently had been a Christmas gift in 1952 from my parents or grandparents or maybe even from Santa. Had “Miss A” been born ten years ago, I might have sanded and stained it to give it new life.

Instead, I was inspired by the countless colorfully painted rockers on Pinterest to take an Annie Sloan chalk paint class. After learning that annual waxing might be required, I realized chalk paint might not be the wisest idea for a child’s chair. Instead I took the more traditional route with latex enamel paint.

Using color cues from the planned nursery, I purchased some samples of aqua and lavender Valspar paint from Lowes along with small cans of white and black Rustoleum.

Wendy Slade's rocking chair from 1952
Rocker "BEFORE" 
Even though there was very little varnish left on the rocker after years in either an attic or garage, I sanded it before applying Zinsser stain blocker. Painting the chair was obviously the fun part, but it required a plan of attack. Where to start? After much consideration, I decided to paint one color at a time. I even drew plans to remind me which color would go where.

First all the white surfaces, then lavender, and then aqua.

Makeover in progress

The checkerboard seat proved to be trickier than it looked, requiring measuring to insure at least some semblance of being centered and even. FROG tape promised to be my friend, but it was only a fair-weather friend. Touch-ups were required when paint bled through. The final color was the black on the runners and arms.

Since I am not an artist, I relied on stencils for the vines on the arms and seat back. I used simple craft paint and foam pouncers.

I soon realized that painting on purple was not easy. Even though the lavender is light, darker shades of pink, orange, and green were needed in order to show up well.

The final step was the gold dots and outlines. Surely a paint pen would do the trick, but the paint pen was a bear to work with. If I pressed too hard, the paint ran. Following along the straight lines of the grooves, rungs and edges of the seat back was no picnic either; I had to go over and over to connect the lines. I don’t know whether paint pens don’t like other paint or they don’t like wood.

If you don’t look TOO closely, the chair looks pretty cute.

I hope one day when Miss A is a mother, she will pass our chair on to the next generation. Whether she leaves it as is, repaints, or strips it back to its natural state, I will be happy knowing a family heirloom lives on.

Me 1955
Miss A 2016

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. Wendy, it turned out beautifully! I had the hardest time keeping myself from scrolling down to see the finished rocking chair while reading. Miss A will enjoy growing into it. ~ Cathy

  2. It came out really great!! Very nicely done!


  3. Wendy, you are an artist. The chair turned out adorable and, of course, it has a terrific history!

  4. I love, love, LOVE this. You did an awesome job and Miss A will treasure this gift her entire life!

  5. I love this rocking chair. It looks like something glorious from Alice in Wonderland.

  6. You should be very proud of that rocking chair - it looks wonderful.