This is the most challenging furniture painting project I have ever completed.

The Most Challenging Furniture Painting Project -- not because the painting was hard, but because of everything else going on in my life at the time!

It’s not the biggest piece I’ve ever painted or the most detailed. The painting itself is pretty basic — turquoise blue interior like the sea and a blend of tans on the outside like the sand. Easy peasy.

What makes this the most challenging furniture painting project really had nothing to do with the furniture or the painting.

And everything to do with my personal life these past few months.

The All Things New Again crew picked up this bar cabinet in April from an awesome repeat customer. They are getting ready to move to the beach and we are helping them makeover their dark, serious Northern Virginia furniture with lighter, beachy vibes.

We noticed our dog Bella was limping around the same time. Honestly, I didn’t think much of it. She was 12-ish years old. (We don’t know for sure. The animal shelter estimated she was about 6 years old when we rescued her 6 years ago.) But she was still chasing squirrels out of our backyard like a boss. I figured she pulled a muscle or something and would be better in a few days.

You can see the limp here in the cameo appearance she made in our silly “before shot” Instagram reel.

There goes Bella! Right on cue!

My dad and I spent the next few days prepping and priming all six bar cabinets.

Bella’s limp got worse.

We took her to the vet who diagnosed arthritis and prescribed medication. We all expected her limp to improve within a few days.

Meanwhile, I painted the interior of the upper cabinets The Gulf by Dixie Belle Paint Company. And a basecoat of Putty on the exterior of all cabinets. I have never painted anything Putty before, but it was a near exact match to the wood grain on the flooring sample from our clients’ new beach home. (And it turns out, I really like the color!)

Bella’s limp still didn’t improve.

The vet took x-rays on our second visit and discovered a tumor on her shoulder. Lab tests confirmed it was cancer.

I took a few days off from painting. The project could wait. I needed to sit in our backyard with her. We would start on the sunny back porch step. Then after awhile, she would limp over to the shady spot under the dogwood tree to cool off. I rubbed her back while we watched the squirrels run across the yard unchallenged.

We held on to hope that she would be OK.

Cancer and Covid

After two years of being oh-so-careful, my son tested positive for covid in May. That was the day before we dropped Bella off for a CT scan to see if surgery was an option.

It wasn’t.

The tumor had snaked itself around her scapula so much that even if the surgeon amputated Bella’s entire arm, she couldn’t guarantee she could get it all. And that didn’t matter anyway. The test also revealed that the cancer had spread to her lungs.

I tested positive for covid that night, my husband the next day. Our whole family spent the next few days in bed. Bella was curled up snoozing on her cushion. I always like waking up in the middle of the night and hearing her snoring. For 6 years, that sweet sound has been a comfort to me. Bella is snoring. All is well in our little world.

Her breathing started to become labored. I would wake up terrified. What if she stopped breathing in the middle of the night?

That week was a weird, weird balance of two really bad things. Worrying about Bella’s cancer took my mind off the covid. Being sick with covid distracted me from the cancer.

Life is funny sometimes, isn’t it?

Through this entire ordeal, our customers were so kind and understanding with the delays. I always say we have the best customers in the world, but we truly do. And I’m grateful.

The most challenging furniture painting project

When I felt better, I got back to work blending a mix of colors on the outside of the cabinets to create a sandy effect. I used these Dixie Belle colors: Putty, Dried Sage, Burlap, Pine Cone and Sand Bar.

I love blending colors, just swirling them around and watching what happens. This is not a pallet of colors I normally choose. But they are so calming and beautiful together. I imagined I was lying on the beach when I was out in my garage painting.

By then, Bella’s health was deteriorating. You could now see the lump on her shoulder. She could barely walk and her breathing was labored. We bought a wagon to take her around the block at night instead of our usual walk. We worried about when we would need to call the vet one last time.

But one day I was painting the cabinets and I looked up. There she was! She had hobbled out to the garage and down two steps by herself to her usual spot where she “supervised” me. The look on her face said, “Here I am! Let’s get to work.”

We spent the afternoon together just like always.

The best dog ever

Bella died on a Sunday morning in June, underneath the dogwood tree in our backyard. I was right beside her, rubbing her back and telling her how much we loved her. She brought so much love to our family.

Bella wasn’t “just” our dog.

She was the best Christmas present ever.

rescue dog | Fairfax County Animal Shelter | Bella | black lab | best Christmas present ever
Volunteers from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter dressed like elves and delivered Bella to us on Christmas morning 2015

She was my co-worker out in the garage — or driving out to the shop. Or photobombing my furniture photo shoots. She was The Boss.

That time I spilled paint all over my dog. (She was MAD!)
Oh no! She was so mad at me this day!
Bella and Me
furniture painting project | photobombing dog | All Things New Again

She was a kind and patient soul who loved “her boy” like she was his mom too. She kept an eye on him when he went outside to play with his friends. She stationed herself outside his bedroom door every night, keeping him company until he fell asleep.

black lab | dog | Bella
walking the dog
Joey and Bella

She was our constant companion and friend.

She was—and will always be—loved.

We bought a statue of St. Francis, who loved all of God’s animals so much. We placed it in the corner of our yard near the azalea bushes where Bella patrolled for squirrels every morning. There’s a little dog on the statue. I painted her black with little white paws.

Bella | rescue dog | black lab | best dog ever

We framed a photo of her to place on my son’s nightstand so he doesn’t feel so lonely going to bed without her.

But bedtime is still the hardest part of the day around here. For all of us.

We miss her dearly.

I still wake up in the middle of the night listening for her snoring. Then I remember. I’m careful where I place my feet under the dining room table as if she might still be under there waiting for a little boy to drop something tasty. As I was writing this, I looked over at her spot in the office right next to my desk, half-expecting her to be there.

Our house feels way too quiet without her.

But the most challenging furniture painting project I have ever completed is finally complete. I sealed it and put it back together out in the garage. By myself. Unsupervised by a little black dog with white paws. We delivered the bar cabinet back home this weekend. It is ready to host many parties at the new beach house.

We also picked up our next custom painting project this weekend. It’s a dining table and chairs to be painted a lovely shade of light blue. I’m looking forward to painting it for another awesome customer.

And when it gets a little lonely working out in the garage without my girl, there’s a spot in the backyard where I like to sit and take a little break — under the dogwood tree, watching the squirrels go by.



Do you have a piece of furniture that perfectly fits your space — but not your style? Let us help! All Things New Again is happy to provide you with a free, no-obligation quote for custom painting your furniture. We serve Northern Virginia and metro DC area. Click here for details and pricing.

Before and After of the Most Challenging Furniture Painting Project! (I LOVE how it turned out!)

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