The painted piano: A true story

This is a true story of how a piano became a statement piece.  

Chapter I: The problem piano project

A woman named Kate had a vision for her piano.  So, she bought white chalk paint and began painting.   While painting, Kate came to the realization that her piano wasn't taking shape the way she hoped.  What did she do?  She stopped painting.  Then she called Novo Decor! 

Here's what Kate had to say during our first communication about the piano....

"Kate, (addressing me) here's the piano."

She went on to say, "I started painting it with white chalk paint. The problem is....I didn't finish. And I don't have an eye for detail work. And now I didn't put the wax finish on it because the paint doesn't look quite right." 

Chapter 2: Accepting the challenge

It was time to arrange a home consultation.  I needed to get a look at that piano, pronto! Kate stated, "if i'm honest with myself I know I probably won't get back to it.  I just don't have the patience for it."   I knew I could help.....

Kate decided to have me paint it for her.  And then, something really marvelous happened. Kate sent me a text:  "Kate! I've got a challenge to add to the piano." Her text included this photo:

.....and this question: 

"Can you do a pattern like this?"  Now, I'll admit, this pattern was intimidating, but I thought about it, and then I answered,  "Love that. Yes Kate. Pretty sure I can do that!"  

Chapter 3:  Planning

I had my work cut out for me, but was excited about the task!  Though I didn't have measurements of the area to be painted yet, I wanted to get a feel for this particular geometric pattern and color combinations, so I started sketching designs....

Then it was time to talk colors.  I brought samples to Kate's house, and she chose an amazing combination of 5 colors including "Lakeshore", "Hot Pink", "Aquarium", "Silver", and "Rejuvenate". I took measurements of the area, so that I could figure out the design mathematically, and create a symmetrical and eye-pleasing arrangement. We were getting closer. 

Chapter 4: Math and pianos 

My least favorite, and most favorite things: Math and Pianos.  They just don't go together!  But for this pattern to come to fruition, math was my friend (okay okay, so maybe math really does apply to everyday life).  Knowing the height and width of the space, allowed me to figure out how many columns of squares would run horizontally across the piano, and how big each square would be.  I made a sketch of the design to scale....

I've gotta say, sipping on my coffee and coloring this design was really quite relaxing and enjoyable.  

Chapter 5: Let's get this piano painting party started

A few days later, I began the job.  The white paint came first. Then sanding. Lots of sanding! 

After measurements, pencil marks, and meticulous placement of painter's tape, I was ready to begin the best part.....  

Filling in all the triangles with paint! I started with orange....

Then pink....

The sketch was helpful in keeping me on task with colors, and eliminated the need to step back, look, and think about what color should go where.   I referred to the sketch constantly, as I painted each triangle.  

Kate, the piano owner, was home while I worked. She was able to catch a sneak peek here and there, which was so fun! 

Chapter 6: Wet paint, and painter's tape, and wet paint oh my!

With all good things, come challenges.   Painted triangles had to dry before painting neighboring triangles.  This had to happen because painter's had to be applied to a dry area, in order to paint another area "next door".  To solve this problem, I staggered the painting, always looking for areas that could be painted without bothering other areas that were still drying, or taped over.  And so on and so forth...... 

Each triangle took three coats of paint, which wasn't too time consuming as I applied the paint very thinly, allowing it to dry quickly.  Always better to apply light layers, and more of them than one or two thick layers. 

Chapter 7: The final countdown 

Slowly but surely, the piano came together!  The colors couldn't have been more striking. A challenge it was,  but a good learning experience and one I won't forget....

From the looks of Kate's smile, I think she was happy with the result.  Now she has yet another fun conversation piece in her home, and, her kids will practice their piano lessons for an hour a day.  Right guys? 

I only have one regret with this project.........I didn't play a song on it!  Inconceivable. 

And that is the true story of the painted piano; "fractals for the eyes and ears", as Kate's dad Tom, put it.  Love that! 

Do you have a small area somewhere in your home that has the potential to POP?  It's amazing what design and paint can inspire!  Have fun with it. 

See related blog posts below:






Bathroom vanities: Vision + Paint = New Bathroom

It's a good day for a bathroom vanity reveal!  You're about to see a master bath that has taken on a completely new look.......with painted the vanities.  The home-owner had been unhappy with her vanities for years. The dark red mahogany finish wasn't living in harmony with the tile work, neutral walls, and dark gray counter tops.   The primary concern of the home-owner was there was just "too much" going on in the space.   

We're happy to report that this problem has been solved!  Christine, the home-owner, knew the look she was after, and with a little help, she chose the perfect color for her "new" master bath cabinetry.  A combination of wax finishes completed the job, for a gorgeous antiqued look that Christine is really happy about! 

Here is what the vanities looked like before: 

Vanity #1

Vanity #1

Vanity #2. No before photo of vanity #3. Shoot! 

Vanity #2. No before photo of vanity #3. Shoot! 

You can see the bathroom has an abundance of beautiful tile work.   Christine liked the tile and knew it made a lot more sense to change the vanities, rather than spend thousands and thousands (not to mention the mess and time investment!) of removing all the tile work! 

Now, the vanities look like they belong in the space, and they are no longer a pain in Christine's side!  The whole room looks and feels much more cohesive. But one other detail in the room still needed attention.....

The hardware.  Christine was not loving the silver finish of her vanity hardware (the knobs and drawer pulls).  Additionally, the other fixtures in the room had a different finish; shiny silver chrome.   While she liked the hardware style, she wanted a darker finish to tie in the dark counter tops.  What to do? 

I suggested spray paint.  Believe it or not, any bathroom fixture can be spray painted, even faucets (if done correctly!).  I provided several color samples for Christine, and she went with "oil rubbed bronze".  A great choice.  

Wow. that's a lot of drawer pulls.....

Wow. that's a lot of drawer pulls.....

Here they are now.......

This picture reveals the new color most accurately

This picture reveals the new color most accurately


I really enjoyed sharing ideas with Christine, and working together as a team.  She had the vision, and I am thankful for the opportunity to have helped make it happen.  Thank you Christine! I hope you love your "new" bathroom for years to come....

And that's a wrap for this make-over.  Thank you so much for reading, and for following me! I appreciate it more than you know!  

Do have a "fixture" in your home, like a vanity, that has the potential to change?  When something bothers you about a room, consider what can be changed and what cannot.  Even the smallest of changes, like painting your hardware, can have a dramatic effect in a space!  

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View Previous August Blog Posts Below: 










Armoire to baby-changing station: REVEAL

Greetings and welcome to the start of another week!  Hope your Father's Day weekends were fabulous!   Last night was REVEAL night for Brooke and Joe's "new" baby-changing station!  If you missed the introductory post on the project, see it at this link:  Armoire= Customized baby-changing station

You can also see the "live" reveal video clip on the Novo Decor Facebook Page.  Just click the link, and then scroll below this reveal post.  Link:  ARMOIRE REVEAL

Reveals are my favorite part of my job.  And customizing a piece for a new baby on the way makes it even more awesome.  Here is what the piece looked like before:

And here is what the piece looks like NOW: 

Two hooks were attached beneath the top shelf, for additional hanging basket storage

Two hooks were attached beneath the top shelf, for additional hanging basket storage

The larger doors were removed (but painted so Brooke and Joe can re-attach them someday if desired).  The shelves that were previously inside the piece were also removed, and replaced with one shelf at a comfortable baby-changing level.  A shelf was also added at the back of the piece, for additional storage.  Brooke wanted some hooks as well, for hanging metal storage baskets, so those were added below the new shelf.  

It was a process, and as always, a learning experience for me.  I still can't run a saw or drill with my eyes closed yet, but I'll get there.  Lol.  That is where my husband Karl comes in. Thank you hon, for all your help with this one! 

Here is an abbreviated version of the process.....

Perfect fit!  

Perfect fit!  

New pieces were sanded, primed, and painted white, the same color as the rest of the armoire....

I chose pretty, gender-neutral glass knobs for all the doors. 

There is closed storage at the bottom, as well as exposed storage, which was created when we added the additional shelf where baby will lay.  Brooke can put cute baskets in that nook to hold all the baby necessities. It's amazing how many items 8 pound humans need! 

It's always fun to transform something unattractive, into something beautiful, customized, and functional!  I cannot wait to see this piece in Brooke and Joe's baby's room!  Brooke has a great sense of style and has a beautifully accessorized home.  I know the baby's room will be no exception!   

Going back to the is a photo Brooke sent me as her inspiration for this project....

photo from "Our storied Home" blog/website, found on Pinterest.  

photo from "Our storied Home" blog/website, found on Pinterest.  

Stay tuned for the Steffensmeier's fully stocked and styled armoire.  And after baby arrives, a full post on the completed nursery is coming your way!   Yeah!

Thank you Brooke and Joe!  I learned a lot from this project and hope you love it for many years to come!  

See other large pieces I've done below:

Armoire: Shabby Chic and Fantastique

Evolution of a Cabinet

Armoire: Shabby Chic & Fantastique REVEAL

This week marks the one year anniversary of Novo Decor Co. and today's post is a GREAT way to kick off the week!  It's reveal time for Sara and Brian's armoire!  Love reveals! 

The Story

I met Sara and Brian this past winter during our sons' hockey season.   Sara asked me to take a look at an armoire they wanted to use in their guest bedroom.  Since their guest room has no closet, the piece would be perfect for serving that purpose. Sara and Brain recognized it's potential for great storage, but they also knew it needed a new look!  Here's what Sara said about that:

"We thought of painting it ourselves but just don't have the time right now."

And that's when Sara reached out to me!  Finding the time is often a barrier that gets in the way of tackling projects like this!  Maybe you can relate?  The good news is, there is a solution.  I was happy Sara and Brian sought my services to help them achieve their goal.  

 Here is what the piece looked like before I started working on it: 

Serving a variety of storage purposes over the years, and surviving four military moves, this armoire has made its way to Sheboygan, where Sara and Brian currently live. They wanted to blend all their things when they moved in together, and this armoire was something they knew they could definitely use. 

The new look?  Sara knew what she wanted:  Cream color, shabby chic.  Based on that request, I drafted up two ideas and two price points.  Sara and Brian chose an option, and less than a week later the piece was shipped over to our place (thank you Brian!). 

The Process

The piece was purchased from a "naked" furniture store.  It was natural pine.  Since shabby chic was the desired look, layering with paint was necessary.  The piece had to be primed and painted in a darker color FIRST.  This had to be done to create the base (darker) layer, so that when the cream colored paint was painted over it and sanded, the darker color would show through.   Here is how that looked.....

from "naked" to shabby chic......

1. Prime the sections that will be painted in the darker color. Why prime?  Priming helps adhere paint to wood.  That way as you sand away the cream colored paint, the darker color will remain.  I also primed the interior (shelves) before applying the paint.  The interior of the piece was not distressed, but simply painted using the same cream paint as the exterior. 

2.  Paint over the primed sections with the darker paint (two layers)

3.  Lightly sand to create a smooth surface

4.  Apply Vaseline to edges and any areas where the darker color is desired (when you sand the cream colored paint, these are the areas where the darker color will show through)

4.  Begin application of the cream colored chalk paint.  (light and fast strokes). Sand.  Paint a second layer, sand. Continue layers until desired coverage is achieved.

more painting and sanding....

5.  Once the piece was evenly covered in the cream chalk paint, distressing came next.  I used a fine grit 220 sand paper to lightly sand the entire piece, with more aggressive sanding (still using fine grit paper, but applying more pressure when sanding) to achieve additional distressed sections.   The areas where the Vaseline was applied sanded off easily and quickly. 

6.  Wipe down the entire piece with tack cloth, or a clean lint-free cloth to remove all dust from sanding.  The surface must be free of particles for the next step which involved application of protective topcoat. 

This armoire could very possibly provide shelter for 3 small mammals, maybe 4.  Reminds me of a cabinet I painted last year.....that post to come! 

This armoire could very possibly provide shelter for 3 small mammals, maybe 4.  Reminds me of a cabinet I painted last year.....that post to come! 

and finally the last step....

7.  Apply Polycrylic.  Polycrylic is a protective topcoat necessary for preventing finger prints, scratches, and marks on your painted surface. Two coats is recommended.  I waited 24 hours between layers of topcoat.  

Steps 1-7 were also done to the doors, which I detached from the armoire before beginning the project.  After the whole piece was painted with topcoat, it was time to re-attach the doors and all the hardware!  Tip:  Always label your hardware so you know what goes where!  Re-attaching hardware in new locations can make a difference in how doors close, or even line up! You may have to purchase new hardware if the original pieces are in poor shape. 

For an added touch, the drawers were lined.  I also painted the backdrop and drawers of the piece in a different color, for some contrast.  

Glass knobs replaced wooden ones....

Shabby Chic & Fantastique! 

The piece looks new, fresh, and different.  Just what Sara and Brian were looking for.  Thank you so much guys for asking me to do this for you!  Hearing what you had to say about your new piece puts a giant smile on my face..........

"We love the armoire!  What an amazing transformation!" 

"We were excited to have you do it for us"

"We are more than impressed!"

Are you contemplating a painting project?  Get started at the link below!

13 Must-Have Staples for your next Painting Project