24 October 2012

DIY: hand-painting with oil-rubbed bronze paint

So thanks to yesterday’s post, you now know all the dirty storage secrets of our bathroom. The main secret being that it looks DIRTY because there is NO STORAGE. Well, at least it looks very messy. Waaay too messy for my concealed-storage-loving tendencies.

Fortunately I’ve already started implementing some of the storage ideas in our bathroom! And for the store-towels-on-a-shelf-actually-in-the-bathroom idea, I decided to repurpose this old metal wall shelf from the guest bathroom pre-re-do:

(Is that a real word? Pre-re-do? Geez, it’s fun to say. Totally makes up for that AWFUL AWFUL before photo.)

When I first moved in, I spraypainted the shelf gold specifically to fit in that already-red-and-gold bathroom. But while I got the color right for the room, I didn’t consider scale, which is why I later took it down. It was just too big and stuck out too far for that small, cramped room. So, the shelf sat in our Harry Potter hidey-hole from then on – it just seemed too useful to give up, even if I didn’t have a current place for it.

And oh, do I have a place for it now! But not on the wall – in the corner of my bathtub, to hold towels:

It really looked nice there except for one thing: the color. I feel like gold comes off as bold when paired with brighter colors, but with beige, it turns neutral. So in its current golden hue, the shelf looked blah. And worse, it clashed with all the chrome fixtures. I’m a fan of mixing metal finishes when possible, but these didn’t work together.

So, I decided that this guy needed a new life in a dark oil-rubbed bronze hue. That would work with the black décor elements in the bathroom. as well as the dark doorknobs and ORB light fixtures throughout the apartment (although the one in the bathroom is chrome – ahh, well).

Painting the shelf would be easy in the old house – I’d spraypaint it! Remember that I’ll spraypaint anything (ceiling fans, towel racks, faux flowers, shoes, et cetera) so a shelf like this would be easy-peasy. But we don’t have a place to spraypaint outdoors anymore, really, so I needed to find oil-rubbed bronze paint that I could brush on instead. Bonus points if I could find some sort of water-based acrylic that would be less likely to peel when brushed over the oil-based spraypaint! (Remember that you really should prime if you paint water-based paint over oil-based paint to avoid chipping and peeling. Remember also that I really, really hate priming.)

This Martha Stewart metallic glaze from the Depot of Homes looked promising...

So, I set up shop in our entryway (again, it’s the only hardwood floors in the place – I wouldn’t paint on carpet!) and went to town with a small cheapie foam brush.

The first coat looked... not promising. Which makes sense, as this was technically a specialty finish glaze, not opaque paint.

Still. The edges looked pretty awful, and that made me a feel a twinge of nervousness that this wouldn’t work.

I let the first coat dry and added a second semi-thin coat the next day. And behold, it suddenly looked totally amazing!

Even the edges were pretty! The glaze levels itself out really nicely, so there were virtually no brushstrokes.

The only downside to the second coat is that I don’t think the glaze is intended to work that way. So even though the coat wasn’t super thick, the second coat took days to dry. I actually began to worry that it would never totally dry. Can you see the faint, small wet spots there in the back of the shelf, still there on day three of drying?

Thankfully, by day four, it appeared to be totally dry! Finally, we could stop walking around the dropcloth in our entryway and put our towels in their rightful place in the bathroom! Not in the dining room turned office closet because that makes no sense!

I’m thrilled to have found an oil-rubbed bronze paint that works well when brushed-on. Spraypainting would have been a bit faster and required less effort, but the finish I got this way is comparable to a super-smooth spraypaint finish. If you need to ORB something up, give that Martha Stewart glaze a try (and no, I wasn’t paid or perked or anything to say that) – just make sure you set aside a long time for it to set! Once dry, though, it’s totally safe to come into contact with linens. Not the slightest hint of ORB residue on our towels, even though it’s a water based paint over oil-based spraypaint. Whew!

So there’s phase one of bathroom storage – I’ll keep you posted as I (slowly) check the other projects off my list!


Anonymous said...

Rust-Oleum makes a hammered bronze paint sold in quarts (Amazon) which I have numerous times with much success.The hammered texture is not overly pronounced and covers small flaws well. It also has the advantage of being indoor/outdoor. I painted a planter with it that I had planned to keep inside but is now in the backyard for the summer.

sarah said...

Both this post and the previous comment have been very helpful! I am going to attempt to turn ceiling fan hardware from an 80's brassy color to a more oil rubbed bronze color. I've seen lots of posts about spray painting ceiling fans, but it's not in my skill set (or allotted time frame) to take the fan down--so I'm going to attempt to tape and paint just the hardware with the fixture still mounted. Wish me will. I'm hoping to post some before/after pictures if it goes well... http://sarahehowell.blogspot.com/