A Perfect Gray Blue

November 16, 2010

Do you have a signature color?  The one hue you turn to time and again that brings you happiness, soothes your soul, and brings you constant comfort?   There is such a color in my world, and it is the perfect gray blue.  The color that brings to mind a hazy afternoon in Provence, or a cloudy day on the Côte d’Azur.  (I’m guessing, I’ve never been, but a girl can dream!)  I swear, every time I see a well executed combo of white and dark wood with a beautiful gray blue, I completely melt like buttah!

Whenever I hear designers talk about their perfect ‘gray’ or ‘blue’ I’m all ears, but my personal quest for the perfect gray+blue continues.  It can’t be too blue, or it looks like a baby boy’s pastel nursery.  It can’t be too gray because it will feel lifeless and devoid of color.  Capturing the perfect shade of gray blue is a tricky thing I tell you.  It has to be just right!

Enter this little dresser I found at the local thrift.  Definitely in need of some love, and with such lovely curved drawers, I couldn’t pass it up!  It became the perfect specimen to test yet another shade of gray blue.

Here’s the sweet little dresser ‘Before':

honey dresser before


And After:

cg dresser gray blue


Here’s the quick play by play on this charming dresser.  It was pretty sad when I found it and had taken some abuse, but at $40, I still couldn’t pass it up.  Perfect shape!  It could have been restained if I had sanded it down, but I decided to paint instead.


sad top


In several places, the drawer fronts were chipped, so I filled in the gaps with a few layers of wood filler (allow to dry between layers) and then sanded smooth with a medium grit sanding pad.

patch and sand

95% of the time, I prime, but I didn’t this time, just like with this other dresser, because I wanted to allow for a bit of distressing around the edges, and priming makes it more difficult to reveal the wood underneath once you’re done painting.

Originally, I picked the color ‘Old Fashioned’ by True Value’s line of paints, but it was too pale, so I mixed in one part of the paint from this credenza to four parts of True Value’s ‘Old Fashioned’ to arrive at my perfect gray blue!


mix paint


Here’s a tip when your brushing latex paint on furniture: try the additive Floetrol.  It’s a paint conditioner (not thinner) that lengthens your drying time and minimizes both brush strokes and drag in your paint, just like the Penetrol for oil based paints I mentioned here.  

  add floetrol


People sometimes ask me if I paint the inside of furniture.  If it’s real wood like this piece, my answer is ‘rarely’.  I like the contrast of the raw wood interior, and too many layers of paint on your drawers can make them stick, so I say skip it.


dont paint insides


Here’s another tip for getting a super smooth finish on painted furniture when you’re not spraying on the paint: use an excellent quality brush.  Here, I’m using my favorite angled Purdy paintbrush.  They’re pricier than your average home improvement store brand, but completely worth it, you can’t beat the quality!  If you take good care of them, they will last you for years.

I love a true antique brass finish (not that super shiny sheen leftover from the nineties) so I used a little Brasso cleaner to remove layers of tarnish from the existing pulls and key holes, then I added some new knobs to the top this dresser.  {Here’s a quick peek at my favorite silver polish too.  It’s a cream formula and comes with a sponge, so it’s like cold cream for all your silver and silver plate.  I use it to polish up the antique silver for parties, try it, you’ll love it!}


brasso and silver cream


use brasso


I gave the dresser a coat of Polycrylic to protect the finish and preserve it over time.  Now this bureau looks so polished and pretty!  Don’t you love those little key holes?  They’re real!  I wish I had the keys that go with this piece, sadly they’re long gone.


cg hardware blue gray dresser


I compared the colors on the True Value paint swatch card, and the next color down is pretty darn close to what I mixed!  It’s called ‘Reward’, how appropriate is that?


reward paint true value


This lovely little lady now sits in the foyer, but I’m in a quandary now.  You see, there are two dressers in the entry now, can a girl have two in one space?  Isn’t that overkill?  I think this one will have to be sold soon, but I’m going to enjoy it for few months, and likely sell it in the spring.  That is, if I can bear to part with it!


dresser in foyer 2


cg gray blue dresser boy


Fabulous storage, classic style, and the perfect place to drop keys and mail, what more could I ask for?

Have you also found the perfect shade of gray blue?  What’s your signature color that you turn to time and again when you decorate your home?

**This revamp was featured on Apartment Therapy, check out the full post here!

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