A new look

Anneke Rossouw writes: My grandmother was about 13 years old when her father bought this sideboard for her mother, as well as a matching kitchen table and six chairs, so it has great sentimental value. Can you help?

Jani Goussaard replies: This is a beautiful piece to paint, although the detail in the cupboard makes it a bit difficult to sand. After you’ve washed it with sugar soap to remove all the oil, built-up dust and residual grime, you can make a solution of shellac and ethanol alcohol and apply this to the detail. Shellac creates a bond with the wood (even if it’s not raw and sanded) and acts as an excellent primer coat. Once you’re done with this process, sand time rest of the piece with medium grit sandpaper (180) and apply a wood primer to the whole cupboard; when it has dried, you can start playing around with the paint.

If you don’t feel up to all this effort, consider using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™. It’s new to South Africa but there are a few stockists across the country, including Paint & Decor DIY. What makes this product so wonderful is that you don’t have to sand and prime the piece you’d like to paint just select your colour and start painting. It has an amazing texture and is really fuss-free and easy to use — ideal for all those detail elements.

I’d go for a bold paint colour, like a bright blue or vibrant red, and because you shouldn’t need to use more than 1 litre of paint, you can always repaint it if you have a change of heart. If you choose to paint it blue, consider replacing the handles with something like the blue Delft ones (pictured right; R40 each from Paint & Decor DIY). You can also experiment with a glaze: try an antique glaze as supplied by Harlequin Paints or make your own by mixing paint with a scumble glaze until you achieve a consistency that will allow you to paint and wipe it over the furniture piece. Alternatively, you can try Annie Sloan’s Dark Wax. And while you’re at it, why not give the table and chairs a go too!

Spoilt for choice

With 20 standard colours, five kids’ colours, the ever-popular white, and a newly launched non-drip ceiling paint.

Garage conversions: what you need to know

Marcelle Trethewey writes: I’d like to convert my parents’ double garage into a living space but there are no ablution facilities and I’m struggling with the layout. What steps must I follow to make the alterations?

Marchand Ochse replies: If the existing garage is an approved structure and has an approved building plan, there are a few important things to consider: firstly, a garage is not classified as a habitable space and planning consent is necessary to make this alteration legal. Should the flatlet have a kitchen (anything with a sink), it will be seen as a habitable space and regarded as a second dwelling on the property.

Title deeds must be checked to see if a double dwelling is not listed as a restrictive condition and relaxation may be required with consent from the neighbours, but this is time-consuming and can cost you in excess of RIO 000. Other than the title deeds, the zoning of the property needs to be checked and a departure may be required with the consent from neighbours. The position of the garage on the properly may also be outside the building lines and this means that if it’s converted legally, you may need further departure.

The space may also be subject to Part XA (energy efficiency), which could be difficult to achieve as it was constructed as a garage and the walls may not have cavities, the roof may require insulation and all the doors and windows will have to be reviewed for compliance. Lighting and water heating must also conform to Part XA. Part XA requires a registered person to conduct calculations and submissions.

Also be aware that a ceiling will have to be installed and the minimum underside may not be less than 2 400mm above the finished floor level.

Tint that table top

Sindi Jooste writes: I have an old table top that I sanded down and painted in varnish (Dark Oak) but it’s not dark enough. Is there a way to make this varnish darker so the table top has a chocolate brown finish?

Ashley Stemmett replies: You can definitely add a stain to a tinted varnish to alter the colour. Brands usually use the same or similar names to define their colours; however, one brand’s ‘dark oak’ may not be the same as another — it may entail some mixing and experimenting to get the exact colour you want. I’d suggest adding small, measured increments of either (or both) ‘imbuia’ or ‘ebony’ stain to the dark oak varnish to get that dark chocolate colouring you want. Have an offcut piece of wood handy to try out the colour after each addition of stain. Remember to ensure that you’ll have enough varnish for the job or make a note of your measurements, otherwise you’ll have to recreate your unique mixture, which may not be easy.

Work the space

Carol Teladia writes: I’ve just bought my first apartment and the kitchen isn’t very big but the developers have allowed us to ‘customise’ units and placement in the open-plan area. I love cooking and want to make the most of the space I have; what do you suggest?

Worlds apart

Specifically developed for woodworking and commonly referred to as carpenter’s glue, Alcolin Professional Wood Glue is a technologically advanced aliphatic resin adhesive that offers many advantages over conventional PVA adhesives. PLUS it has a low VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) content, is non-toxic and non¬flammable, making it safer for the environment and for you.

The high creep resistance makes it ideal for use on stress joints and its strong initial tack eliminates the need for clamping when bonding small parts. Alcolin Professional Wood Glue is fast-setting with superior strength and heat resistance. It is also chemical-resistant, leaving it unaffected by most finishes, and has excellent sandability.

Alcolin Professional Wood Glue is available in 250ml bottles at your local hardware store or retail outlet.

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