Then I was searching, searching, searching for a large ottoman tray, and they were expensive. Like CRAZY $100 to $200 expensive. So I came back to the shelf, which was obviously the perfect size for the ottomon. I sawed off the legs and prepared to paint.
And then I had a brilliant idea.
And then my brilliant idea failed.
But, in the end, no one would ever know it failed.
Except that I decided to tell you about it.
My brilliant idea was to get a nautical map and decoupage it onto the tray, providing a conversation piece beneath the appetizers and drinks we would serve to guests in our living room.
It didn't go as well as I had hoped. It's been a while since I made my cork boards and side table, and my decoupage skills were a bit rusty. If you've never decoupaged anything, it's easy.
How to Decoupage
1. Mix a solution of 50% glue (the regular old white kind) and 50% water.
2. Brush the solution over whatever you want to glue it to; the surface should be clean, and preferably primed or painted.
3. Once it dries, coat with a dozen or so coats of polyurethane, until the surface is smooth and protected.
I was worried I would have trouble getting such a large item to stick (most of my experience is with wine labels, which are much smaller than maps), so I made the mistake of NOT following the instructions above and decided to brush the surface with the glue solution first, and then lay the map down. That proved to be difficult, but I did get the map in place. And then it started to bubble. I brushed the decoupage solution over the top and there was more bubbling, and as I tried to gently push out those air bubbles, wrinkling. And as I became more and more frustrated and desperate, smudging.
If I were to get a new map and try again, I would carefully place the map, maybe tape down the corners, and gently brush the decoupage solution from the middle out until it was in place, hopefully with fewer air bubbles, and thus no wrinkles or smudges.
Fortunately, there's a second side to the ottoman tray, but I didn't want to risk ruining it with another failed decoupage attempt. So, I painted the whole tray using two coats of Annie Sloane's Chalk Paint in Country Grey, the same color I used on this table. Then I used a rag to apply a coat of Annie Sloan's Clear Wax. If you have a piece with lots of detail, it's better to use a stiff brush, but a rag works fine when it's mostly a flat surface. I let it dry for 24 hours, and then buffed it with a clean cloth until it was smooth. This last step takes just a few minutes and really completes the finish. The wax just sits there until you make it shine. For table tops (and ottoman trays), it is recommended to do 2-3 coats of wax. I haven't done that yet, but I will.
If you're interested in trying Annie Sloan's Chalk Paint, there's a giveaway that you can enter through Home Stories A to Z to win $150 in Annie Sloan products, and a chance to win a grand prize of a class with the master when she tours the U.S. this Spring. Good luck!
And, have a great weekend!
P.S. I've joined the first Before and After party of 2012 on Thrifty Decor Chick. Check it out for lots of inspiring projects.