I mentioned this barn wood deacon’s bench in my last post. It was a Facebook Marketplace purchase, and I’m quite happy with it.
If you study the photo above closely, you’ll notice that the actual seat part of the bench is a different wood than the sides. Can you see how it’s much more smooth and doesn’t have the texture of barn wood?
Well, if you didn’t notice, you certainly could once I painted it in Miss Mustard Seed’s Farmhouse White.
My goal for this piece was to be rustic and heavily distressed. The barn wood sanded down beautifully with 80 grit sandpaper. The texture of the wood was absolutely perfect for a high-distress finish.
That’s good stuff right there!
The bench part, however, didn’t sand down well at all. I’m talking about the back and the “butt” where you sit down.
It turned out scratchy, uneven, and it didn’t have any texture at all. It may not look that bad to you in this photo, but I simply wasn’t happy with it. I severely dislike distressing that doesn’t look natural. If I can see the swirl marks of my orbital sander in the paint and scratches across the surface, then it’s a no-go in my furniture book. To my eyes, it looks really fake.
I was disappointed but I thought I could create some texture using a paint additive called “Saltwash” and revive the bench. Maybe another layer with some more texture would help?
Pretty cool stuff, right? It mixes very well with MMS Milk Paint and I was able to create texture on my bench. As it dried, I was excited to distress it and see what it would look like.
As I began scraping and sanding, it wasn’t looking the way I thought. To be completely honest, once I repainted the bench, it looked like a cow. It was patchy, uneven, and I just didn’t like it.
Real cows are adorable though. They’re perfectly acceptable.
So what do you do at that point? If you worked super hard on a project and invested time and materials into it, but you don’t like it, what do you do?
Throw it away?
Suck it up and sell it anyway?
Put it in a corner and cry under a table?
I may or may not have reacted these ways in the past, but I couldn’t do that with this one. Throwing it away was not an option. I had too much invested in it and I had to make it work. I couldn’t cry under a table because Brenda would think I’m having a breakdown. I certainly couldn’t sell it the way it was. It wouldn’t reflect the quality of furniture I produce.
As I was pondering my options on the porch at Painted Table Designs, the owner’s husband, Randy, came over to help close the shop for the night.
I looked at him, and he looked at the bench.
“What do you think?” I asked. “Be honest.”
Randy took a look at it and cocked his head to the side as he thought.
“I don’t like it.” He said with a shake of his head.
“Neither do I.” I agreed. I gave him the run down of what I had done so far and told him that I was basically stuck.
“I don’t know what else to do to the bench at this point. I don’t know how to fix it.” I admitted.
“What if you upholstered the bench?” He suggested. “You know, add some padding and fabric. Then you could put it inside. The barn wood is beautiful, especially on the back. It’s just that middle part that’s ugly.”
There was my answer! Upholster the bench! I even had the perfect fabric in my stash of supplies too. It’s a nubby and thick tan fabric with a subtle white grain sack stripe.
We ran the idea by Brenda and she loved it! She suggested that I do a braided jute trim with upholstery tacks every couple of inches. I had those supplies too. Check and check!
The bench now had a new plan that would be absolutely beautiful once it’s finished.
So what do you do when you just don’t like it? You ask the honest opinion of other people who will tell you the truth as opposed to what you want to hear. You open yourself up to other ideas and you become willing to take your project in a different direction.
It takes a good dose of humility to be able to do that. I consider myself a professional furniture painter and I can navigate my way around a furniture makeover pretty well. I know what I’m doing, you know? So to admit that I don’t know what to do or how to fix a problem is a shot to my pride. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I choose to look at it as invaluable feedback from the paying public. If people tell me they don’t like the color, finish, texture, or shape of one of my pieces, then I should listen to them. After all, they’re my buyers and they speak with their wallets.
So how about you? Are you stuck tonight, dear reader? Is there a project sitting in the corner that you’re scratching your head over? Try asking your friends to help you with ideas. Put it up on Facebook and ask for opinions. Be willing to hear the negative as well as the positive. And most importantly, take a page out of The Godfather. Don’t take it personally. It’s not personal, it’s strictly business.
And don’t cry under a table.