Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to Re-Finish Furniture Quick and Easy

This is my first Craig's List purchase. I have browsed Craig's List for years, but never purchased anything for myself. I've gone on buying trips with my friend Rita, but never made the effort to go and look at something for me. I've been looking for dressers for Cami and Casey's rooms, but haven't been able to find what I want yet. This one caught my eye for my family room. I bought this dresser this weekend. It was advertised for $75, but the lady let me have it for $50. She is moving and I think she just wanted it out of the house, just one less thing to deal with. It took me two days to re-finish it while the girls were at school.

This is what it looked like when I bought it. It has good bones, just needed some TLC.

You know those people with the perfectly organized garages?
I'm not one of those kind of people.

It had quite a few scratches and would have required a lot of sanding to get the wood looking like it did originally. Sanding is my least favorite part of re-finishing a wood piece. That's why I like painting and distressing. It's so much easier and faster! And you don't need to worry about more scratches from use. You won't be able to tell.

You won't notice the damage on the legs once the piece is complete.

This was my inspiration picture. This is a Habersham Kitchen. I like the french gray color of the cabinets, but I didn't want to go as heavy on the distressing.

DAY 1/STEP 1: Take off all the hardware. Number the drawers and the hardware with a piece of painters tape and a sharpie. Some of these old pieces where made by hand. The drawers are not universal to each slot and it's a guessing game getting them back in the right one. I have learned this trick the hard way.

I love this handy little battery operated Ryobi drill my parents gave me for Christmas last year. Perfect for small jobs like this one. It packs a lot of power, it's light weight, and fits perfectly in a woman's hand.

DAY 1/STEP 2: Lightly sand the whole piece. I used 150 grit (because that's what I had) just to get the sheen off. I hate sanding so I don't do a great job at it. Saw dust makes me cough. You don't need to be meticulous with this painting technique.

See what I mean? I didn't do a very thorough sanding job.

Wipe the whole piece down to remove dust.

DAY 1/STEP 3: Combine priming and painting into one step by tinting your primer the desired color. If you don't feel you can do this step, have the paint store tint the primer for you. My favorite primer is made by Zinsser. I paint a lot. Over the years I have purchased Universal Paint Tints. I often mix my own colors for a project like this because it saves me a trip to the store and I am able to use up left over paint. Other than the cost of the dresser, I had everything else in my garage. This can of primer was half way full so I decided to mix the color in the can.

I added about a teaspoon (I'm guessing, I don't measure) of Lamp Black Universal Tint and about the same amount of Burnt Umber Universal Tint. Add the tints sparingly and mix well. You can always add more to achieve a darker color but make sure you have thoroughly mixed before adding more tint. Or just buy the desired color at the paint store.

(Apply two coats and let the piece dry over night before the next sanding.)

DAY 2/STEP 4: Sand the corners and edges. I try to picture where the piece of furniture would have received the most wear and tear? Corners, raised detail, legs, edges, knob pulls. Go lightly on this step. It's easy to over do it. You can always go back and sand more if you need to.

DAY 2/STEP 5: I added another thin coat of glaze at this point to add depth. The glaze is a little lighter than the french gray base coat. It's optional. I made the glaze with 1 part glaze, 1 part water, one part tinted primer left over from the first day, and a little extra white paint. I did a dry brush technique and went back and wiped some of the glaze off.

DAY 2/STEP 6: You are almost done! I borrowed one of my husbands shoe polishes in brown and a soft brush to apply the polish to all the detailed areas of the wood. I used an old tooth brush to get the polish into the recessed areas. Sand off most of the polish residue with steel wool. You can use a brown glaze or furniture wax instead of shoe polish. It's just what I had on hand and I ran out of glazing liquid. The wax gives the top a light protective coat. Wear gloves or your cuticles will turn brown.

DAY 2/STEP 7: Put the pulls and hinges back on and you are done!

Detail of the edge.

I cut wrapping paper for the inside of the drawers. More storage, Yeah!

Optional: I added a little gold gilding cream to some of the detail.

Not bad for $50.

I now have a pretty place to store my stuff since I lost my office to my girls.


  1. Great post. Great showcasing of your talent, S. I love the detail of the papered drawers. Keep up the good work! Someone has been busy!

  2. Thanks for sharing your post the dresser looks FABU and great. Your tips were also helpful. I'm following you, please stop by my blog for a visit.

  3. Amazing !! Wonderful tips, too !!


  4. Just the post I need--how to get that final coat so the paint doesn't look so flat.
    Great job. I luuuve that dresser behind the sofa.

  5. Brilliant! Found you from a comment on Centsational girl's blog. I primed my honey oak rails with tented oil based primer and though to myself, This could really be a nice pait color! Oh girl look what you have done!!! I'm sold:)

    New follower!

  6. I love that you used shoe polish!! That rocks!! Gonna have to keep that in mind!

  7. Thanks! This is great. I have several wood pieces I want to redo and this gives me some good ideas.


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