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Design students transform clunkers to first class


With their ‘shabby chic’ project, interior design students at Bob Jones High School proved the old adage, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

Kristy Wheeler’s students transformed pieces of wooden furniture into usable, stylish decorating accessories. “They can use these pieces at home or at college,” Wheeler said.

The furniture ‘makeovers’ correlate to the Alabama Course of Study by applying design elements to solve problems, decide on a home’s interior and exterior using a color wheel, compare factors for the consumer’s lifestyle and critique quality versus price.

Wheeler’s objective was to provide a fun, hands-on project while exposing the design students to the current trend of ‘shabby chic’ furniture.

“Shabby chic describes furniture and accessories chosen for their age and wear-and-tear or new items distressed for the appearance of an antique,” Wheeler said. Various techniques, like faux painting or faux glazing, can achieve the look “to give the pieces a vintage vibe.”

In addition, students learned the basics of refinishing wooden furniture and accessories. Wheeler instructed the students to find a small, wooden piece of furniture in their home, a relative’s home or thrift store at little or no cost.

“We also received a few donations from community members,” Wheeler said.

The Bob Jones students restyled a hope chest, side chair, corner table, child’s chair and bench, magazine rack, storage box, mirrors, stools, bookshelves and coat racks.

“If the piece was ‘naked’ or unfinished, the students lightly sanded and applied a primer,” Wheeler said. For painted pieces, they sanded, painted a base coat and top coat for distressing, ‘distressed’ the wood with sandpaper and applied a colored or clear faux glaze and polyurethane.

“A couple students learned from our guest speakers to use an interesting technique with aluminum foil and glazes for a metal look,” Wheeler said.

Guest speakers Reene Hodges and Paula Hamlett brought finished pieces and discussed processes and supplies that they used.

“It was a great learning experience for everyone involved,” Wheeler said. “The students thoroughly enjoyed the project.”


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