So often, folks are appalled when others update vintage or antique furniture using paint. It’s easy for them to blame us for “ruining” a piece, however they often don’t stop to consider that perhaps someone else ruined it already and we are just reviving a well-built piece so it can be recycled and enjoyed.
If folks collectively took such great care of their furniture, then we wouldn’t end up with things like the following:
Discolored or Water-Stained Wood
Sometimes it’s the old linseed oil finish aging gracelessly; sometimes it’s sun bleaching or water leaching. Any way you look at it, it’s not pretty.
Surprisingly easier to fix than you may think – if painting. It’s an enormous endeavor if you hope to patch with matching veneer and stain. Most of these pieces aren’t going to be worth the time and effort of replacing with stain-quality veneer, so the choice is often to cut, patch and paint in order to keep it’s life going!
Chips and Gouges
Paint Splatters and Mishaps
Oh the stories some of these pieces could tell!
Cigars or cigarettes left on the edge of a table “just for a minute” only to burn down to a nub when forgotten; ashtrays that spill their flaming contents; and don’t forget the occasional candle left seriously unattended….
(AKA Droppings & Mildew)
Don’t get me wrong – barns are great places to find buried treasure – you just need to be prepared for some serious cleaning….and then some more. Think sparrows, bats, cats, moist hay, rodents….but don’t think too hard about it or you may miss a real gem.
So, why did I paint that piece?!
Revive. Refresh. Restore. It’s all about Sustainability.
Because Reviving beauty doesn’t always mean bringing it back to original condition;
Because Refreshing is restoring strength to piece of furniture;
Because Restoring function is what keeps a well-made piece in circulation and out of the landfill.
We would LOVE for you to share pictures here of some of your most desperate-looking diamonds in the ROUGH!
All of the products to complete these projects are available at our Online Shop
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.
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.
after mirror removal
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.
Adding crown molding
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.
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.
Original yellowing poly finish
Light scuff to knock down the shine
Painted with FUSION Midnight Blue
Coated with clear FUSION poly for added protection
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.
Upon arival – this side used to be built into a bank of cabinets so it was unfinished
Painted with basecoat
Trim added to match the finished side opposite
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.
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!
Here she is in her permanent home!
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
“We’re not bringing that home…the leg is broken off!” … “it’s too heavy….too big…” … “it’s ugly”…
These are actual words that were spoken as we stopped to retrieve this sad desk. There were also others that will not be repeated here…
All were quite true, except for the part about not bringing it home. It desperately needed to come home with us!
The very first thing we did was use Bondo, epoxy adhesive and some creative carving to reattach the broken leg. Since it’s a weight-bearing part, glue or putty would not have been strong enough, and there were also a few chunks missing which required re-creating the profile by carving into the dried Bondo surface. After carving, sanding and painting, it is hard to tell unless you know which leg it is and look very closely!
Decor trends go through phases; faux-painted furniture was all the rage in the 1960’s, and you can find lots of pieces painted from that time frame in mustard or avocado with this faux wood grained antiquing finish.
Say what you will about them, I credit these sometimes heinous finishes for protecting lots of beautiful wood for decades! Paint doesn’t harm wood furniture; in fact, it can preserve it nicely as you will see on this particular desk.
This desk had one potentially fatal issue; Mildew or mold infestation can be a serious and sometimes unfixable problem with older furniture stored in damp places. No one wants strange odors lingering in their furniture and they certainly do not want spore contamination to spread from furniture to the items stored in it. Fortunately, the paint on this desk actually protected the wood from mold/mildew that had started growing on the painted surface; the mildew had not infiltrated the interior, and once the paint was chemically stripped, the wood beneath was beautiful and free of any mold infection. A light wash inside and out of the entire piece with an anti-mildew agent ensured any sneaky spores wouldn’t take hold elsewhere. Probably unnecessary in this case but better safe than sorry. (Using a mask and gloves is important anytime mildew issues are addressed).
As you can see here, we started sanding off the painted finish to get a peek at what was underneath before deciding to use a mild chemical stripper on the rest of it.
I don’t know about you, but I was THRILLED by what I found underneath this corner – look at that wood!!! Sanding can take a LONG time, and can be physically demanding both on the person sanding and the veneer (as was the case here). Chemically stripping off old paint can be an easy – but messy – first step with just minimal sanding required after to even out the finish.
We did find a few cigarette burns in the surface (another sign of past trends) that were gently sanded out; creative wood stain application camouflaged the remaining scars. A couple of coats of polyurethane on top, and this desk is well-protected for another few decades!
Did I mention in previous posts that I’m a sucker for Fusion’s Midnight Blue paint? Well, here’s more evidence!
While moving this desk into our spare bedroom/home office, we realized how the leg was initially broken off….this heavy desk is huge and required some creative angling to make it through the undersized doorways in our older home! But it was SO worth it, and she will not be moving again unless we do!
All of the products used to refinish this desk are available at our shops, Vintage Matters at 7060 Ridge Road Sodus, NY and Lakeside Restoration 1476 Monroe Ave Rochester, NY – or enjoy at our online store at https://lakeside-restoration.myshopify.com/
This duo was on it’s last stop before the trash heap, so despite having no room … they came home with me. After further inspection, most of the parts were contained in the drawers, and the interior was in great shape! Bonus!!
Whenever someone suggests that simply slapping paint on wood shouldn’t take too much skill or time…. I recall how every clamp in my shop was doing double duty for weeks splicing these dressers back together. And did you ever notice how a dresser seems to triple in size once you remove the drawers? Then comes the washing (inside and out) dewaxing (yes, that is an invented word), and lightly sanding wood filler and years of blemishes. Each drawer interior then gets cleaned and sealed, often with hemp oil for an invisible finish that freshens up the interior wood to look like new.
Midnight Blue to the Rescue
One of my all-time favorite FUSION Mineral Paint colors, Midnight Blue is the perfect Little Black Dress for just about any piece of furniture. To obtain a smooth finish, I used a microfiber roller and a handmade Staalmeester Ultimate One brush for the Perfect Finish! I highly recommend the Staalmeester Ultimate brushes; with the caveat that you may never be able to go back to using a ‘common’ brush.
I’m partial to the look of real wood on the top of my dresser, so after piecing veneer back into place (the ultimate puzzle!) and patching some spots on the tops, I used the subtle opacity of FUSION’s new Double Espresso Gel Stain to camouflage the repairs while providing a durable wood finish. This product is great – especially for a piece that may not take well to sanding off the old finish to raw wood due to the veneer’s fragility.
Capturing the true color is challenging in my space, I’ll keep trying to get a good glamour shot – but the After is definitely an improvement, even with substandard lighting. Along the way there was a brief trip to Rochester’s ReHouse Architectural Salvage to secure a single matching handle to replace a missing piece….that place is a life saver!!!
All of the products and tools used on this project are available for purchase (along with how-to instructions) at our shops on Monroe Ave in Brighton and Ridge Road in Sodus as well as at our online store;
I just started working on a commissioned desk and found I was ridiculously excited about it! Folks are heading back to school, back to college, furnishing new offices…It is desk-season, after all! So, I couldn’t help but take a little stroll down my memory lane of desk projects.
I have a soft spot for a good desk; always have.
After all, I have spent many, many years behind a desk studying, reading, writing, working… and now, refinishing and reinventing them! Did I mention – I really love a good desk!
What did I ask for when I turned 18? You guessed it; a good desk! One to get me through college, graduate school & beyond…of course I still have it – it’s a good desk! We have at least 7 desks currently active at home…
After I refinished the desk below, my daughter announced she wanted it for her room. A proud Momma moment if I’ve ever had one! It’s a Beaut! And, of course, she has it in her room.
Big desks, little desks, white desks, black desks, smooth desks, distressed desks, writing desks, executive desks, secretary desks, children’s desks, even coastal desks!!
This is just a small sampling and doesn’t include some really bizarre, historic, and unique desks yet to be chronicled!
Do you have a favorite type of furniture to hoard…ahem, Collect? Refinish?
Is it Desks?!
Even if it isn’t desks, I’d love to hear and see what your favorite flavor of furniture is for collecting or restoring!
Also, please let us know if you’d like to know more about any of these pieces and the process that went into finishing them for future blog posts!
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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…
There is much more finishing work to be done – MORE TO COME!!!
I picked this up from a college student moving out of her apartment – she bought this with plans to paint it but it never even made it into her apartment! This sweet compact secretary sat in her breezeway collecting mail and dust and now her lease was up and she needed to move on.
I really liked the texture of the wood on this piece and wanted to make sure it was accentuated. FUSION Homestead Blue has such great coverage that one thin coat was all I needed so it didn’t flatten out the grain. While you could see the wood texture close up, the color was a bit too uniform for what I was trying to do, so I used FUSION’s antiquing glaze with a little extra Chocolate paint mixed in to darken it up. Finally, I added a tiny bit of strategic distressing so it didn’t look too new and further accentuated some areas with a bit of black wax. While I didn’t need to use wax for sealing because FUSION has a built-in topcoat, I wanted some extra depth. I LOVE how easy this wax is to use and how forgiving the black wax is.
The interior was papered with some illegible script and a few of the organizers were painted inside with Soapstone to add some interest.
With the new finish, the original hardware really stands out and makes more of a statement than before.
This dresser project has been many many many months long. She has actually been completed for some time now, but I hadn’t gotten around to taking her “After” pictures until just recently.
Here is where she started; A room full of project furniture…of course. Try to ignore the rest and focus on the tall, yellowish French Provincial dresser to the right of center.
She was so very tired looking but was a quality, solid wood piece and very well constructed. The whole set of provincial bedroom furniture came from the original owners so there were no loose joints or missing pieces to contend with.
We decided to upgrade my daughter’s dresser (which had been a roadside find) at our summer cottage and replace it with this one. There are also two matching twin head/footboards that will eventually go into her room once they are revived. The only problem was trying to fit the furniture style into the relaxed family cottage. I’m not fan of distressed shabby furniture, so this would be an interesting cognitive exercise for me.
I like natural wood accents on my painted furniture projects, so the first step was easy – strip the top and see what was under there! The sweet cherry wood under that factory paint finish was then stained and sealed. I painted the body of the dresser creamy white (FUSION Mineral Paint Casement) and struggled a bit with what to do with the details. Paint a darker cream to highlight the features? A deeply contrasting color? Leave it all white (my significant other liked that idea). How to make it fit into the cottage…
After a few false starts I finally used FUSION’s Little Whale from their Tones for Tots line. Turns out to be a very cottagy (is that a word…it is now) accent color.
A little taste of Before and After.
I really like the way this turned out! I had originally planned to paint the hardware a brushed steel color, but frankly we needed the dresser installed STAT! I had already passed along my daughter’s old dresser and her room was turning into one big pile of homeless clothes. So I put the original handles back on with plans to update the finish later (we all know how that works…). But I think the contrast has grown on me – I like them just the way they are. And I’m not just saying that because I think I’ll never get to the task of refinishing them. Really.
If you look closely, one of the updated provincial headboards is to the right of the dresser (painted in the same Little Whale blue) – but that will be for another blog post – and once the other bed is finished!
What are your thoughts about the hardware color? Would you have chosen a softer or bolder accent color to go with the style of the lakeside cottage?
Rethink the piece. Revive the parts. Restore the function.
Maybe it’s because it’s been a LONG winter in Upstate NY; or perhaps it’s because our family just returned from visiting the beach in Florida; maybe it even has something to do with the obsession I have had with painting furniture either black or white or black or off-white…But I felt the need for some Cheesy Fun Furniture!I busted out of my rut by jumping into some FUSION Midnight Blue (OK, not so different from Coal Black, but it’s a start!) and a little reverse stencil staining on top of this great (heavy) oak side table.
I started by cutting the shape of an anchor out of contact paper and placing it on the previous finish. Then, I used a darker stain to cover the surface. Once dried, I peeled off the contact paper and gently sanded to bring the surface level.
That was fun!
I tried a similar technique on the whale and waves after painting the table legs….you guessed it – Little Whale Blue from the Tones for Tots FUSION line. However I preferred not to bring the tabletop much darker and it wasn’t a strong image, so I ended up covering that with a traditional stencil and washing it with Homestead House’s Driftwood stain & finishing oil. I think it’s just Cute!
But that’s not all…then I went totally off the wall and made this:
Yes, that is FUSION’s Coral stenciled with a picture of coral in metallic brushed steel. It’s just so bright and FUN – you can’t help but smile when you look at it!
Ahhh, so that has been my beachy, nautical adventure in painting this week. I hope it also brings smiles to many other faces! What fun color or technique do you want to try on a piece but haven’t because you convince yourself it’s too silly? I say Go For It – it’s just paint and wood – what real harm can it do? …and it might just turn out Beautiful!
Yellow, gold and pink. I’m not sure the “before” pics provide the full experience of 60 year-old, dingy, gunk-in-the crevices state of this furniture. The streaky yellowed color resembled the tar on the walls of a smoking room. While the rose marble was really beautiful (and flawless), sitting atop the yellow and gold bases made it appear rather tacky and crass at first sight.
We received a house-full of french provincial furniture from the original owners who purchased it new as newlyweds. This has provided an almost endless supply of projects – many of which will be documented here in future posts.
I was very nervous about having slabs of marble
lying around the garage – it’s too expensive and too permanently breakable for me. So, the marble topped tables were
clearly the first candidates for repair and restoration.
The repairs were pretty straightforward and included filling a few gouges, gluing a loose joint here and there and adding some structural support screws.
After scrubbing with TSP substitute (twice), it seemed the toughest part was finding the right shade of creamy white to show off the rose marble while subtly highlighting the french details of the pieces. After many tries, I settled on the perfect hue. As you can see here, flipping a detailed piece upside down to access all of the crevices is the most effective way to ensure a thorough paint job; (and I can throw in a load of laundry while coats are drying!). A thorough sanding of all surfaces, including the patches, a few coats of paint with light sanding in between, and a final coat of polycrylic for durability (and easy future cleaning!) and this set was ready for it’s new home.
I love how the carved wood details subtly show off the distinctive lines of the pieces without having to use the previously overdone gold highlights.
What color would you have chosen? Would you have used an accent color to highlight the trim details?