I think there should be sashes for d.i.y-ers, kind of along the lines of girl scout sashes. You'd get merit badges for things like wallpapering your first room or sewing your first dress. In this world of grown-up merit badges, Jesse would be carefully sewing our "refinish your first piece of furniture" badge as I type this.

A couple of weeks ago we found this beaut at the thrift shop for $25.

She was dirty, an odd beige color, paint chipped, and well-worn, but I liked her clean lines and mid-century modern-esq angled legs. Plus, we'd been looking for a sideboard with doors for awhile to hide our nerdy board games and guest sheets in our living room. Since we plan to move in the next couple of months, we've put a spending freeze on new, expensive furniture in case it won't fit the scale or decor of our future house. We'd never refinished any furniture before, but we figured that we're industrious and would be able to figure it out.

So, we printed out instructions from the wonderful internet, bought any of the supplies we didn't already own (paint stripper, TSP powder to neutralize the stripper, cheap brushes, sanding paper, face masks and gloves), and took miss sideboard up on our flat roof for better ventilation. As soon as we started scraping away the stripped paint pieces, we discovered our process was going to be much more difficult than anticipated. You see, our little cabinet had lived a very colorful life, and now instead of having to strip just two layers of paint, we saw at least four others buried underneath.

This is the point where most online resources tell you to back away from the piece of furniture, it will be more effort than it's worth, especially for a cheap thrift store find, but Jesse and I decided to be masochistic and carry on. Each surface required at least two turns of stripping and scraping, followed by vigorous buffing with steel wool, applications of TSP, and finally lots and lots of sanding. In the end, though, we were finally greeted with a the original smooth, clean wood surface. Sorry there are no photos to prove this, but by this point we were too exhausted and achy to depress the shutter on our tiny little camera. We had originally planned to just varnish the clean wood, but the original pink paint had seeped through over the years to stain the wood and no matter how hard we sanded, we could not get rid of it. So, I decided to paint her glossy white....partly because we already had a quart of glossy white latex paint on hand.

Even though it was a lot of hard work, and you probably can't even tell the difference between the before and after from the photos, I'm really happy with how our little sideboard turned out. Which is especially good news since Jesse basically told me. after all the effort we put into her, I'm not allowed to ever throw her out.

Adventures in Refinishing

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  1. congratulations, it's beautiful!

  2. Oh my, I love it!

    If you ever wanted to get rid of it, I would make it a home.

    P.S. I love your blog. I followed you over from your wedding blog.


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