One of the most exciting and time consuming aspects of living Dordrecht has been decorating our flat. The natural light and "bones" of our place is so beautiful, part of me would be thrilled leaving it completely bare to simply bask in the bright openness. Fantasies in minimalism aside, the challenge is keeping certain aspects stark, while achieving a "homey" and livable feel. We've found the best way to do that is incorporating some DIY - our most recent project being the kitchen table.
We scored this beast of table for free. There is a fantastic Facebook group limited to residents of Dordrecht where people post items they no longer need and anyone who wants something can pick it up for free (there is order to this process but I will spare you the details). Our first few weeks here, we were very active giving away clothes, dishes and various house wares. It's a nice way to meet your neighbors, de-clutter, reduce waste, save money and maybe help someone in need. I think every city should have something like it.
Anyway, one afternoon I was scrolling through the page and saw this very large, solid pine table with an 80's looking orangey-faux-oak finish. It definitely had potential - but we had to see it in person. This posed an entirely new set of challenges, as picking out and moving furniture is not so simple when you don't have a car. Let's just say it involved about an hour of biking, inclement weather, a borrowed car and ping-ponging around the city.
Once we had the table home, it took a while to decide how we wanted to transform the 180x100 centimeter piece of furniture. I'm not sure how we came to the conclusion, but we ended up choosing to whitewash it. The individual steps were simple but the entire process as a whole was quite time consuming. JP and his dad spent several hours sanding off the hideous orange-y finish, I spent several hours over 2 days layering coat after coat until we had the desired coverage, then we sealed the table...3 times.
There are infinite painting tutorials on-line, but here are a few tips I learned along the way:
1) Test - sand and treat the bottom of the table like you would the top. This is a great location to find the perfect consistency and technique for your desired finish.
2) Work lightly and quickly. It's much easier to add another layer than remove a layer. I used a consistency of 1/2 water 1/2 acrylic based paint. The finish was thin, so it dried fast, meaning unless I wanted visible brush strokes (which I didn't) I need to work quickly.
3) Watch for drips. I wish I had been more attentive to the sides of the table. We have some visible drip marks because I wasn't paying attention. Maybe someday I'll sand and refinish.
While it's not perfect, I'm really happy/proud of our table and chairs. I feel like it works with the natural elements of our space and adds a bit of homey-ness. We actually have a few other projects in the works, but I'll save those for another time.
What was your experience like decorating in another country? Or do you have any good DIY tips? I'd love to hear about it.
Until next time!