Re-finishing furniture: lessons learned

I started re-doing furniture about 2 years ago. Of course I started with my largest and most valuable antique piece. It was beginner's luck. Although I did my research and didn't jump into the project blind, I've certainly learned a thing or two along the way that I wish I'd known then! Below you see the finished product of my first serious re-do: imageimage

As you can see the piece is unique with intricate detail. I wish I had a "before" shot to share but just picture a dark wood with some areas of "glaze-y" surface, almost bubble-like patches. It needed some help. I used chalk paint (home-made), mixed up the color I wanted with some paint I already had, and started painting away. I wasn't sure how I felt about the feel of painting with chalk paint but kept on with it. Once it was dry (I was surprised at how quickly this happened!) I began sanding and distressing away.  I loved how forgiving this paint medium really is....I didn't have to be so careful with my brush strokes.

In hindsight, I wouldn't distress quite so per the close-up photo above on the right, you can see some lighter areas where I over sanded...this was a good lesson learned as I think about it every time I am sanding/distressing a piece.  Additionally I make sure and use fine grit sand paper on all my projects....I scratched some areas up on this piece....but I think I managed to get away with it.

On to the hardware...a win-win by using three different drawer pull types.   I didn't want it to be too matchy. Plus, it's fun to change it up with variety!  The top drawer pulls are pewter, and the center and bottom rows of drawers have two varieties of clear glass knobs.  I am happy with the look and I'm sure there will be many a projects with varieties of hardware in my re-furbishing future!

Another take home message....Do re-furbish an old piece you already have and one you know you love.   Don't overspend on a piece that isn't solid and then proceed to spend a good chunk of time on making it work.....see below for photo....

Before. Oiy.


I paid 30.00 too much on this piece.  It's worth 5.00. I discovered how bad it was while working on it...cheaply made, bad drawers, poor surface. Ug!  I think I felt bad for I kept on painting, stripping, staining. Anything to breath new life into it!  The partial finished product you see to the right.  I debated color but ended up going with a crisp white.  You can't go wrong with a classic crisp    I used a semi-gloss paint.  I am new to this paint type with furniture.  Let's just say I really missed my chalk paint.  Next I added a layer of polycrylic. Big mistake. Big. Huge.  It turned yellow within minutes. Not sure what happened there.  It could very possibly be a rookie mistake.

So now what?  Do I paint another layer of white?  Is this sad little dresser worth the extra effort? I'm not convinced it is.   The drawers, on the contrary, turned out decent.  The potential is there (if the dresser gets "fixed" and hardware is added).  I was able to strip most of the orange-ish wood, sand them, and restain with Dark Walnut.

The dresser remains unfinished and homeless.  There may be more work to come...... image  

 So after a little more TLC, the dresser ain't bad after all. It lives in my sons' room and gets the job done! I left the original hardware be, and took out the top drawer, as it was in pretty tough shape. Now the boys can use that nook on top for all the little trinkets boys save!