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Refinishing Furniture

I’m so in love!

I find myself staring at her beauty with a cup of coffee in my hand, and I vaguely hear my husband say, “Can I have a hug? I miss you.”

Reluctantly, I tear myself away. 

This is the first time I’ve loved a piece of furniture so much.  I think I may have a problem.

It all started when I realized I needed (ok, wanted) a console table for my entryway- you know those skinny tables in a hallway where you can set down your keys and stuff when you walk in?  

So, I started looking online and found tables from $150 to $350 dollars.  But, nothing really fit the bill.   The $150 dollar ones looked cheap and I didn’t really want to spend $350 dollars on it. 

So, I decided to stop to browse at a local antique store. I was thinking I could buy an old table and refinish it with some chalk paint.  

Our Meet-cute

So, I walked into the bowels of the expansive Eagle Bridge Antique Center in rural New York, down the street from Grandma Moses’s farm (you know, the famous folk painter?) and across the way from the woods where Robert Frost wrote his poems. There were multiple rooms filled from floor to ceiling with treasures from decades past.

Tucked in a corner and almost covered in other knick-knacks, I found her. She had the kind of carpentry we just don’t see these days.

Elegant and curvy, way more sophisticated than what I had imagined.

I thought, this may be a little too much, but it will do.

But, when I brought the piece home, I truly realized how beautiful the piece was. I did a little internet sleuthing and realized I had inadvertently bought an antique Hepplewhite sideboard. These beauties were selling on the internet for $2000-$8000. I snagged her for $150.

After I realized how much the table was worth, I really struggled at first.  My plan initially was to strip the top and to paint the bottom, but I couldn’t bear to think of covering up the beautiful wood on this piece and ruining it.  Plus, Dian from the antique store texted me and and said, “Don’t paint it! I think it’s worth 2-3k.” 

But, the reddish stain wasn’t going to fit into the style in my house.  

So, I decided to invest the time and re-stain her instead.

Here I go!

Refinishing Furniture

Refinishing antique furniture has so many benefits.  It’s good for the earth to reuse and recycle the goods other humans have already created.  Plus, we can get amazing carpentry in our home from decades past for a fraction of the cost of producing same piece from scratch today.  And, once we spend the time and effort to refinish an antique to a style we like, the joy and pride that comes from having the piece in our home is so awesome. Plus, the history!  I like to imagine Robert Frost setting down his keys on that table as he walked in.  

How I Restored This Piece of Furniture

Here is what I did.

Clean

First, I just got the cobwebs and the superficial dirt off the table.  

Sand

Sanding with a belt sander is definitely efficient.

Then, I sanded the original finish off the whole table.  I used a belt sander, a hand sander, and some sanding blocks.  I started with a rough 60 girt paper to strip the finish and worked up to 130 grit.  This took a lot of work- probably a whole weekend.  But, there’s something so satisfying about stripping off a finish and seeing the beautiful wood underneath.  Plus, power tools make me feel like a badass. 

As an aside, using a chemical stripper is an option but everyone I talked to at the paint store told me it makes a goopy mess and you end up having to sand anyway.  Plus, I had a belt sander so I just decided to skip the goop.

Stain

Once the whole piece was sanded, I brushed on the stain and wiped off the excess.  I used Old Masters Spanish Oak wiping stain for the bottom and left the top the natural unstained mahogany.  

Finish

Then to protect and seal the wood, I used Old Masters Polyurethane on the bottom.  Initially I used the same poly on the top, too.  But, I didn’t like the orangish tinge it gave the wood.  

So, I sanded that off and finished with Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish instead to preserve the natural wood look.  I did 3-4 coats of the poly on the bottom and 3 coats of varnish on top, sanding between coats and at the end up to 1000 grit. 

Final Touches

To finish it off, I replaced the hardware and used Antique Gold Rub and Buff on the veining around the drawers.

And voila!  I got a refinished antique Hepplewhite sideboard worth several thousands of dollars for about $200 and I was able to help the earth by reusing and recycling, as well.  

Frugal win!

Before

Before

After

After: Look at those sexy drawers!

I found those picture frames on someone's yard! Another frugal win!

Have you ever refinished furniture? Share your transformations and tips in the comments below!

Stay frugal, y’all!

Disha

Standard Disclaimer: Not meant as individualized financial or medical advice.             

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