Emily Winters: An Upcycled and Gilded Treasure

If you track with my main blog, Merrypad, at all, you’d know by know that I have a crazy penchant for touring springtime garage sales. With the change in seasons, they’ve just started to pick up with springtime in Western New York. A few weeks ago, in addition to buying a handful of bargain-basement priced goodies including storage baskets and vintage fabrics, I saved a sailboat that was drowning in someone’s “free” bin. Ah, the bin where dreams are made.

The little guy wasn’t in terrible shape, but it was apparent that he had been played with an awful lot, causing chipped paint and a dingy sail, but it wasn’t beyond repair.

Salvaged sailboat.

Its days of swimming pool races were now behind him, but with charming clean lines and an innocent design, I decided to embrace its form and create a new piece of home decor for my occasionally-beachy abode.

Read more about its quick transformation, and see how the finished piece adds a little glam to my home.

The little boat felt very reminiscent of the balsa wood planes and race cars we used to assemble and play with when we were kids, which is what led me to pick up a can of Testors enamel at the store. With a 40% off coupon, it only cost $3, which was markably less than I expected for such a product. Confession time: I’ve never actually bough this “big kid” model and hobby paint; we were always ridden to the Crayola washables. It wasn’t until after I was introduced to my boyfriend’s collection of vintage Testor bottles that I’ve been eager to try them myself. They’re legendary, as voiced aloud in the least Barney Stinson way possible. What I didn’t know was that Testors had a line of enamel sprays which, as opposed to the tiny bottles of paint that you’d embrace for detail work, would save me a lot of time in refinishing the boat.

Not fully decided on a color until I got to the store and saw my color options, I immediately gravitated to the metallic gold, a color that I’ve been gradually introducing into certain areas of my home (like, on my living room pillow cases and on a picture frame easel). I figured that adding it to the decor further by flooding the sailboat with a clean coat would really make it pop wherever it sat (and knew full-well that I could also correct it if I didn’t like it with another coat).

Testors gold spray enamel.

I work with conventional spray paint relatively often (just wait until you see what I’m working on for next week) so I didn’t expect this to be much different in application or quality.

I set the ship on the driveway over some newspaper to test the product out for the first time.

  • Keeping the bottle about 10″ away from the boat, I swept over the boat from end to end in clean strokes until the visible area was coated.
  • Application was smooth; no splattering, very clean and even spray (hurray!)
  • Best of all, it offered very good coverage. One coat was all it took, and I thought it was a light one at that (I’m conditioned to doing many light coats with most spray paints to avoid dripping.)


Spray painting the gold enamel onto the sailboat.

  • It dried really, really nicely too. The metallic finish was flawless except where there were already dings and flaws in the original boat.
  • The first (and only!) coat of paint was very smooth and glossy to the touch (not rough, didn’t “feel” spray painted, if you know what I mean by that).
  • I don’t have an in-progress shot of spraying the inside of the boat where there were more nooks and crannies, but the even spray did really well here. No dripping, no erratic spurts of paint, and nothing but great coverage where I aimed.

Rather than replacing the sail with another fabric option, I decided to make something a little sturdier, and crafted one from a piece of manila folder using an utility knife, a few dabs of hot glue, and the original dowel that was used to hoist the fabric sail.

Manila folder, or sailboat sails?

With a coat of gold enamel, the card stock stiffened up even more, making for a sturdy sail in this finished piece of decor.

Finished sailboat decor.

It’s sort of reminiscent of a child’s first shoe that someone preserves in gold, right? It’s both shiny, and a statement piece in my home now, looking great on the mantle, bold against the dark brown paneled walls, and glowing in my entryway window, complementing my favorite Amber Perrodin sailboat print (you can find the print and browse the rest of her great art right here).

Gilded Sailboats and Amber Perrodin art.

Anyone else grasping at gilded accents lately? Any exceptional free bin finds this season?

Catching the home improvement bug at an early age, Emily Winters is a now a devoted DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects she covers on her blog Merrypad range from painting a wall to building a deck, so it’s only natural she landed at DIYNetwork.com. You can follow Emily on twitter at @merrypad and like her on facebook at facebook.com/merrypad.

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  5. Robin says:

    I needed a boat this week for my Sunday School story and ended up going to Hobby Lobby buying a boat very similiar to this except for added anchor,paddles, and other things….I am totally a trash to treasure person tho and I loved your boat . I will be back to see what other treasures you have come up with. I have such a pation for this "making a silk purse out of a sows ear ' is what my grandma taught me and I love the challenge!

  6. [...] I decided to change that and sprayed an area with gold enamel (my favorite, by Testors, used on this little gold sailboat and the golden magazine rack) so that it would be an earthy party on the front, with gold pow-wow [...]

  7. [...] I decided to change that and sprayed an area with gold enamel (my favorite, by Testors, used on this little gold sailboat and the golden magazine rack) so that it would be an earthy party on the front, with gold pow-wow [...]

  8. jeffrey a hofbauer says:

    That turned out awesome, great job!

  9. that is adorable, I would like to make it a project with my grandaughter

  10. [...] via: Emily Winters: An Upcycled and Gilded Treasure Category: Home Tags: Emily, Gilded, Treasure, UpCycled, [...]

  11. [...] this little sailboat from my latest garage sale adventure? He’s the star of this week’s DIY Network post after being given a glamourous update. All the more reason to remember that one man’s trash [...]


About Emily Fazio 


I caught the home improvement bug at an early age, and now I'm a full-time DIYer living in Rochester, NY. The projects I cover on my blog Merrypad range ...

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