Family Heirloom Updated for Generations to Come

Once in a while, a piece of furniture comes into our workshop that is truly an honor to work on.  This particularly large hutch was definitely one of those as it defines the importance of family and preserving memories.

This gigantic hutch was handmade by our customer’s great-grandfather, grandfather, and father.  It is a piece of this family’s history as it has a consistent presence in childhood memories and even in the background of countless family photographs through generations.  We found it stored neatly in a locker where it was waiting for both a new family home it could fit into (did I mention it’s HUGE), and a little bit of updating to fit into a modern home.

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This was such a fun, quirky piece to work on with lots of decisions along the way to make sure it’s character was preserved while the finish was updated to fit into it’s new home.  For instance, we found a ruler built into the top of the upper doors (it must have been just the right size to fill a gap).  Of course, we made sure to preserve this bit of historical character and not paint over it.

 

We also understand that the scallops along the front were traced using a handy dandy coffee can so they were also kept intact.  The mirror along the back had warped over time and provided for a curved, fun-house appearance, so the decision was made to replace that with an updated shiplap.  And, while my first inclination was to sand off all of the drippy shellac layers and fill and sand smooth all of the dents and divots…I needed to stand down and go with the character of the piece to preserve those bits of history.  Ultimately, I hope we balanced preservation with modern utility.

 

This turned out to be like working on two large pieces of furniture at once. For the hutch top, the large, curvy “fun-house” mirror needed to be removed first and the space updated with shiplap.

 

 

Then, doors were removed, crown molding was installed, and a few areas tightened up.  Unfortunately, the hinges had been shellacked over at some point in the past, so they were incredibly difficult to remove intact.  We went hinge shopping! A bit of Midnight Blue paint started to pull the top together nicely.

We worked on the doors, drawers and hardware separately. The owners decided to keep the original hardware for historical integrity and simply update the look with paint, so the hardware was cleaned and painted with Fusion’s Vintage Gold Metallic.

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Next, we see the process for prepping and finishing this piece.

1) After washing thoroughly with TSP Alternative,

2) the shiny shellacked surface was lightly scuff-sanded to provide some tooth for the paint to adhere and then cleaned again to remove sanding dust. After that,

3) two coats of Midnight Blue were applied using microfiber roller and Staalmeester brush.  After 3 weeks cure time for the paint to evaporate all water residue,

4) two coats of polyurethane (FUSION Patina Gel Stain and Top Coat) were applied.

This is an example from the cabinet doors; the whole process was applied to the entire piece.

Now onto the bottom half!

One side had originally been built-in to adjoining cabinetry or a wall, so it wasn’t finished on the end.  This is a good view of the plywood sheets the piece was largely constructed from. Patching, painting, and building out the trim to match as well as possible came next.

SFO and Gel Stain were applied to the top to get the best possible color and finish.  Keep in mind, this top is made from a sheet of rough plywood, so trying to update the look without losing the character and charm of the homemade piece was a challenge.

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A piece this large shifts and adjusts under it’s own weight each time it is moved.  While this may have been level at one time, by this time, the plywood bottom wasn’t even or finished off in a way that I would want dragging across my wood floors.  We added adjustable metal feet to help level it and protect the floors in its new home.

Once we flipped it back up, finished up paint and started reassembling, it really came together nicely!

 

Just a few odds and ends like adding magnetic latches to the bouncy lower doors and this piece was ready to be delivered!  And that’s where it gets scary! Anyone who lives in the Northeast understands the state of the roads by the end of winter after a season of plows and salt has opened gaping potholes all along the roadways.  We double-triple wrapped, strapped and tied these pieces in our enclosed trailer and crossed our fingers for the entire 45 minute drive!

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BEFORE

Here she is in her permanent home!

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AFTER!

This wall looks like it was made for this piece of furniture; and the customer’s color choices are spot on for the interior of this home!  Thank You so much, Stacy, for trusting us with updating your family heirloom for the next generation!

Revive. Refresh. Restore. Lakeside Restoration.

 

All of the FUSION products used to transform this piece are available (along with personal instruction!) at both our brick and mortar locations and our online store.

Lakeside Restoration 1476 Monroe Ave Rochester, NY 14618

Vintage Matters 7060 Ridge Road Sodus, NY 14551

Online store:  Online Shop Link

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Battered Buffet

Oh how I have been in search of a buffet to paint!!

I finally found this set in an online auction and was pretty excited about the possibilities. The tricky thing about an online auction is you rarely have the opportunity to see the pieces live and “kick the tires”…it’s all reliant on photos.

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In this case the photos didn’t really show the whole picture, and it’s even difficult to see in the photos I have posted here.  The wood veneer on the china cabinet is, in fact, more gorgeous than these photos reveal.  And I mean in a “holy cow no one should ever put paint on that beautiful wood” kind of way.

 

 

The buffet had, however been quite battered, including chipped veneer, poorly applied ancient shellac, and structural cracks.  Perfect for Paint!!!

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Luckily I was able to find a home for the china cabinet with someone who was as in love with the wood as I was and planned on sprucing up only the interior with some color. Whew!

First step after washing and scuff sanding was to remove the doors, drawers and hardware.  After that it was on with stripping the old finish off the scratched and stained top to see what condition the wood was underneath.

A few coats of Citristrip later and it looked pretty good with the exception of some character-building dings and a single light burn mark from a hot dish.  That helped to make the decision for a dark stain on top to blend in the burn.  Here’s how it looked after two applications of Minwax Jacobean stain and a several thin layers of Polycrylic Matte for a topcoat.

 

 

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For the body, I started with a good cleaning with TSP, light sanding and scrub with some odorless mineral spirits to remove any residual wax.  A few repairs here and there (and everywhere…) – including repairing the top finish after some precariously stacked boards in the overstuffed garage were accidentally knocked onto the curing finish…yes, a variety of words were said.

A base coat of FUSION Concealer helped to solidify coverage for the first coat of FUSION Raw Silk.  It only took two coats of Raw Silk to get great coverage overall.  I used a microfiber roller on the flat spots and my go-to angled 2 inch flat brush for the rest.  I was EXHAUSTED after working the flat brush into all of those curves on the legs…and I still missed a bunch of spots.  This strategy was Not going to work.

Enter Staalmeester!

I had a set of Staalmeester brushes I have been wanting to try out, but frankly didn’t anticipate being wowed by any cutting edge paintbrush advances…I mean, it’s just a paintbrush, right?

Folks have been buzzing about how great the pointed sash brush is for getting into nooks and crannies, so I decided to give it a try since it couldn’t get worse than what I did with the flat brush!

H-O-L-Y    C-O-W   was I totally Wowed!!!!

The #18 pointed sash brush at the very bottom if the picture became my new favorite tool.  It slid effortlessly into all of those nooks, held tons of paint, and laid down a smooth, even layer of paint in half the time it took me to attempt the base coat.

I will Never paint curves again without it!!!

After that valuable lesson, I have lightly distressed and partially antiqued this piece.  I also reassembled the buffet and painted a few coats of concealer inside the cabinets and Chocolate inside the badly beaten drawers.  Here’s a peek at the progress so far…

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 There is much more finishing work to be done  – MORE TO COME!!!

 

 

 

This Table Has Legs (6 of them) & She Knows How to Use Them

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After working on several of these provincial pieces, I find I really love the lines of these legs.  I lament the size and shape of our dining area as it just won’t accommodate this set. Here is a photo of how battered and beaten these legs were and how nicely they cleaned up after a bit of scrubbing, filling, sanding and painting (& sanding & painting: repeat…).  This table has 6 gorgeous legs .IMG_2933

In addition to her battle scars, the overall color of this set was also frightening.  The yellowed, worn, faux finish with chipped gold trim was not exactly appetizing.IMG_2983I was initially planning on lightly sanding and re-painting the whole thing.  I’m not sure what made me curious to experiment on the table leaf…perhaps it was the factory marking on the bottom of it indicating “Cherry” in barely legible scrawl.  Dining Table & Chairs:

Could this tabletop possibly be cherry wood hidden under a thick, impenetrable layer of paint and wax and what can only be described as funk?  Only one way to find out…Citristrip on the leaf.

And This is what I discovered!

Not exactly blemish-free, but too beautiful to be covered in a faux-wood paint finish.

So, this is what I did.

Yes, that’s my living room with multiple furniture refinishing projects in various stages of incompleteness in the middle of it.  Before judging me, please understand…It’s Winter in Western NY.  The unheated 1-car garage is filled with pending project furniture and averages about 15 degrees.  The yard alternates between deep snow and semi-frozen mud this time of year, so there was no place to sand the table top.  Thank goodness Citristrip can be used indoors because the goopy, gloppy mess ended up getting stripped in my living room.  Who can wait for Spring when you know there’s  painted cherry wood yearning to be free?

So if you look carefully in this photo of my progress preconditioning the wood in preparation for staining, you will see that I am totally busted. Citristrip and mineral spirits only got me so far and I needed to sand the table top to address a few particularly difficult areas.  Yes, I power-sanded in my living room.  In my defense, it was midnight and it didn’t seem to make that much of a mess.  Until the morning sun shone brightly through those big windows, illuminating the thick layer of dust everywhere.  I quickly regretted my nocturnal activity.  And I cleaned.  A lot.  Please folks, Don’t do this at home in the house.  

But it does look pretty good, doesn’t it?

The next morning, in addition to realizing how silly it is to sand in the living room, I also noted that after conditioning, the wood was less than perfect.  Nothing that a few layers of stain couldn’t manage, but it was clear I would have to go with a darker shade than I originally planned.  This became especially relevant when the edges took the stain much differently than the top.  It took some creativity, but I was able to make it work.

With the time needed to dry between layers of stain and polycrylic on the top, I was able to patch, sand and paint the base and 6 chairs.  A few of the chairs needed gluing and general tightening up, but this is a great set of quality furniture and it is SOLID.  The seat covering is pretty new, in great shape and professionally done, so I decided to leave it in place.  Better for the next owner to select something specifically suited to their taste than to mine. (Although I do have a bolt of gorgeous blue-patterned upholstery I purchased just for these seats – before I realized they wouldn’t fit in my space…). Oh well…

Since I was obviously working indoors, I chose a paint with no fumes or VOCs.  Fusion Mineral Paint is the most eco-friendly paint I have found.  It is pure acrylic, sticks to just about anything, and doesn’t require a topcoat for tough-as-nails durability. By the way – I despise waxing furniture, so not requiring a topcoat is a Huge plus for me.  The color I chose for this set is Champlain, an off-white neutral in a creamy tone.  I sanded between coats for extra smoothness and ended up using a quick swipe of wipe-on poly just to make sure it would be easy to clean in the future – it is a dining table after all – and I know what my tables endure so I expect no less from anyone else.

Just look at all of those great legs!!!!!

I wish I had a better space to properly stage this in, but it really is a gorgeous set that I think speaks for itself despite the lack of staging.  What colors would you have chosen?  How would you stage this set?

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Orange Dining Table and Chairs

Imagine orange velour.  Not bright, cheery, fun orange… I mean stained, dirty, aged orange velour.  That is exactly what I had scored with this dining set.

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In fact, even the table finish had a bit of an orange hue that developed with its age.

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And it gets better – if you look closely, you can see the dated diamond pattern in the table top.Stanley Dining Table & Chairs:

The look on my spouse’s face clearly questioned what (perhaps if) I was thinking.

What I was thinking is that this was a solid wood dining set with two captain chairs and I was getting it for a ridiculously low price as an estate sale leftover.  I needed furniture to practice on so low cost was key. What’s the worst that could happen?

First up – what to do about the caning.

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  Most of the caning was in perfect shape, except for a small hole in one chair back.  After researching, I had no desire to to repair the caning – not necessarily because it looked difficult (it does) rather because I decided I didn’t love the look of caned chair backs.  Besides, they leave those little annoying patterns on your back if you sit in them for a while…

 No question I would be recovering the seats, so I also decided to pad and upholster the cane.  After painting the chairs, of course.

Paint & Stain

Since farmhouse tables seem to be the trend, I went with painting the chairs and table base a creamy white.  I’m not a fan of the distressed look, so after cleaning with TSP substitute, sanding and priming, I painted with a solid white.

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Unfortunately I didn’t get a photo, but my first attempt at upholstering the chairs with the gorgeous cream linen (bought on sale) looked very nice.  In fact, too nice – it made the chairs look way too formal for the farmhouse style I was going for.  So, I went back to the fabric store and picked a different fabric.  After batting and upholstering the chair backs and cushions, here is how they came out on the second try.

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 I really wanted to have the stained wood table-top look, however, remember the criss-cross diamond pattern? Yuck. While I had never used a gel-stain (which is effectively a tinted polyurethane that sits on top of the existing finish) this seemed like a good time to try it. Using a large, wide brush, I applied several layers of deep brown in one direction across the width of the table.  This darkened enough to hide the criss-cross while making a texture that resembled the depth of wood grain.

On this project, I learned a few things along the way about how much space it takes to comfortably refinish a table and all of those chairs (answer: more than I have in my home/garage).  I also became pretty proficient with a pneumatic stapler by the end of the project.  Overall it was a great learning experience and confidence-builder for me and this dining set will get a new life now that it has been updated.

Before                       After
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