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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Painting the garden bench

by Lili Mounce

This has been one of those projects that I put off, and put off, and put off. But what really got me to do it, was to put this job on my public August to-do list. There's a certain sense of accountability when you broadcast to anyone who will listen, or in this case "read", that you intend to do something. It's like joining Weight Watchers. You know there are others, who will be there, to see if you stick to your resolve or not. Well, I can say this worked for me. My garden bench is painted!!!

I really did not enjoy this job at all. It was most definitely work. I still need to paint the two matching chairs (but only one to do this month, as Mr Hubs still has to repair the other). I learned quite a bit from this job that will help me with the other two chairs.

  1. Clean the surface very well first, with soap and water, plus a scratch-less kitchen scrubby, such as a bundled up onion bag.
  2. Prime all surfaces. Here I made an error in judgement. I only primed the bare wood repairs, and not the previous paint. This bench was a sage green. I thought it would be light enough in color that the white paint would provide good coverage. Not so. I put several coats of paint on this bench, when I could've probably gotten by with 2 coats paint, 1 coat primer. Oh well, I know better for the other two pieces.
  3. Use good quality paint. Here again, an error in judgement. I used what was leftover from another project. It just didn't go on smoothly, or cover well. Finally, today I bought a quart of good paint. And guess what? It was smooooooth as silk going on. And in just one coat, it completed the bench. I'm hoping to really save myself some time and work on the chair next week.

So, the bench is painted. I also learned some things about our weather, how to winter store this sort of piece, and where in the yard it's suitable to have a wood bench.

It's wet here 9 months of the year. This quality (read "not" quality) of wood furniture needs to be under cover for the wet months. I'll pick up a tarp or a proper cover in September. This quality bench should not reside on soil. It had been in the garden itself, sitting on soil. If I want to put it in the garden in the future, it should be on a concrete, stone or brick base. For now, the bench is destined for our deck. And that's why I've chosen to paint it white, to go with the other white furniture on the deck.

I need to admit, this is far from a perfect paint job! There are the odd runs here and there. But they don't matter. I'm not selling the bench, just sitting on it. And any little goofs in the paint job will go unnoticed once I get some cushions on it.

A lot of our house is like that. Not perfect, but no one notices. Striving for perfection would intimidate me from doing the job, as well as take double or triple the amount of time to complete. In my mind, I'd rather be perfect at loving God and my family, than perfect at doing chores. And even there, I'm still not so perfect : )

I think I need a new folder in my Labels, Things I'm Not So Perfect At. So, what do you do not so perfectly?


  1. Sewing. The armholes on my daughter's new nightie-made-from-pillowcase aren't perfect but she still loves it. Also face painting, origami, cake making. I figure I'll improve.

    1. Hi Jessica!
      That sounds like a darling idea, making a nightie out of a pillowcase! And I'm sure that you're right, that your daughter just doesn't even notice any flaws in the armholes.

      Thanks for reading!

  2. It looks beautiful from here, Lili. Striving to be perfect is not in my vocabulary either. No reason to made it harder on ourselves if we don't have to. :)

    My bedroom suite was made by my father when I was a little girl. The headboard has a single strand from the paintbrush embedded in the varnish and I can see it when I lay down, but it does not bother me in the least because I know my father made it lovingly with his own hands. :)

    I know what you mean about making something public. Sort of ensures that you have to follow through on it, which is so true of weight loss. If you tell people you are trying to lose weight then you sort of have to do it. lol

    1. Hi Belinda!
      Thanks! As I was painting I kept thinking to myself "I could sand out those runs and drips, and caulk the cracks". But then I also thought, they don't really matter.

      Your bedroom suite sounds so lovely. And so very special that your father made this for you. Yes, I would leave the fiber from the brush in it too. A little reminder that this wasn't just a factory piece, but a cherished heirloom, made with love.

      Thanks for dropping in! I loved that vintage war time poster on your site yesterday, by the way.

  3. There is absolutely nothing that I do perfectly, even of the things I consider myself to be somewhat skilled at. I was a chronic B+ student in school and that really hasn't changed. I have to make a conscious reminder to myself to NOT get intimidated by the accomplishments of others. My cooking is usually tasty but sometimes I burn things. My budgeting is pretty good but sometimes I make impulse purchases. I try to be patient with my kids but sometimes I lose my temper and yell. I have to limit looking at because I will never ever be able to decorate with that level of charm and inspiration. But ... my family eats my food, we only owe on our house, my kids like being with me, and our home is cozy and welcoming. I have a feeling that this is the way most of us who read your blog live. And it's a pretty okay life!

    1. Hi Kris!
      Very well said! And I suspect it's better than just a "pretty okay life". I bet yours is one filled with joy, many friends and cherished family. That's what I strive for.

      As has been said many times, perfection is over rated. It always comes at the expense of something else. My imperfectly painted bench is fine enough.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. Painting, in concept, seems so simple, but in reality is a complicated process. Looks like you did a pretty good job with this complicated process.

    Several years ago, I figured out that perfectionism was preventing me from doing a lot of things. I've improved in this area since then and found myself to be a lot more productive and good enough with almost everything.

    1. "Good enough" seems to be a standard I can live with, with just a couple of exceptions.

      If I ever need open heart surgery, I want a perfectionist for a surgeon.

      I want the pilot of my next flight to be a perfectionist.

      And for all the bridges I drive over and skyscrapers I go up in, I want the engineers who design these to be as perfectionistic as possible!

      Otherwise, yes, "good enough" is a good enough standard for most things I do!

      Thanks for reading!

  5. Oh it looks like you did such a good job. It really looks nice!!

    1. Hi Alicia!
      Thanks! I'm just hoping I don't have to repaint very soon. I'll take better care during the wet weather months, this time around, as painting is really not my strong suit.

  6. There are lots of things that I don't do perfectly, maybe most things.
    Painting is definitely one of them. Every piece I have painted has drips and holidays. They are glaring at me but no one else seems to notice, at least they don’t say anything if they do. Carpentry is another not perfect skill. Nothing I have ever cut & nailed has fit together properly.

    1. Painting is so hard to do well, is my conclusion, with all the drips and runs. But I have noticed that while I may "see" the flaws, no one else seems to. And I guess in the big picture, a few drips here and there really don't matter. Now carpentry, wow, good for you! I have tried to do baseboard molding. That's the extent of my carpentry experience. Getting that right is hard. Thanks goodness for caulking, covers a lot of my goofs! Anyways, my house is for living in, not to be a museum. (Do you suppose the owners of those homes featured in magazines ever put their feet up on their coffee tables?)

      Thanks for visiting!

  7. Looks good!! I've finally got time to do my painting projects--my nightstands are almost done! I keep looking at the marks from the paint brush and drips and wishing I could sand it away (I can't, I tried) or wondering if I need just one more coat (again). BUT It looks fine from a couple feet away so that's probably good enough.

    I just need to get the motivation to start my dresser... I'm just not looking forward to sanding something so big! My hands are going to be vibrating for hours after....

    1. I'm starting to not notice the drips in the paint. I figure, I could spend oodles of time doing this, perhaps the whole summer, and have the one nice thing finished. Or, I could be satisfied with good enough and do a whole lot more during the summer. Only so many hours in a day, right?

      I still have two matching chairs to paint. I had to make myself get started yesterday on one of them. I told myself "I'll just wash it off". And I got it washed, and then the sanded and the first coat of paint on. I'll try to finish up this chair this week. And then I can move on to things I enjoy more!

      Good luck with your dresser, and post pictures of your night stands and dresser when you're done. I love seeing other peoples projects!

      Thanks for visiting!


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