Have I mentioned how much I love my team? Have you met them yet? If not, you can get to know them a little bit in this post. They are amazing. I am so grateful to know these ladies and I cannot believe my luck that they work with me. One of our shared loves? Vintage furniture. Brittney, one of our Project Leads, recently had some "down time" (this term is relative) and she used the time to refinish one of her lovely vintage pieces. And because she thought it might be helpful to share her process, she documented it for you guys. BOOM. Thanks, Britt! Check out Brittney's process below and our Insta stories this week to see what other members of the team are refinishing or, of course, just to see what we're up to and say hi. I hope this inspires you to tackle your small (or big!) projects around the house!
This past Mother’s Day I received the greatest gift ever! I was given the gift of TIME to myself to complete an item on my to-do list without any interruptions (well barely any)! I FINALLY refinished our cabinet that we were gifted back in 2016 and it was so satisfying! Taking a piece of furniture that we already own and making it feel new again feels so good.
Here she is beforehand! Thanks (or really no thanks) to #crappyiphonepics you can’t really tell how dull this piece was in areas. The wood was wearing in spots and the color seemed fairly dull overall. Just plain ol’ brown. I wanted to freshen it up and give it a little oomph -- some shine, depth and color within the grains. I wanted to keep this piece as close to its original color as possible so I went with stain rather than painting.
Step 1: Prep & Sand the Piece
To begin, I took off all the brass hardware, removed the drawers and started with an orbital sander on all the drawer faces. A BIG thanks to the orbital sander for its hard work. That thing made this task a piece of cake for me. Using the weight of my arm (not heavy weight) I passed the sander along the surface evenly, moving past the layers of dark brown dullness until I could see the lighter color throughout the entire surface. Some of the veneer was cracking so I continued to carefully sand and smooth the areas down.
After sanding the drawers, I moved onto the cabinet itself. When I made my way to the feet and along the top edge of the cabinet, I used a sanding sponge to get into all the nooks and crannies. From there, the process was super quick!
I whipped out my leaf blower to blow off the dust (not totally necessary but very helpful). Then wiped everything down with a microfiber cloth to get the surface prepped and ready for the stain.
Tips & Tricks:
Step 2: Apply the Stain
As I said before, I wanted the color to be similar to its original color so I went with Minwax Early American. I took a look at their stain guide online and decided from there. One of our rules of thumb is to stay away from stain colors that have the word "golden" in their name (it will pretty much always be too yellow). I didn't want anything too gold, orange, yellow or red -- just the right balance!
This stuff is strong so make sure to wear a mask and gloves to protect yourself! I used a cloth and dipped it into the stain (a little goes a long way) while applying it evenly across the surface. The whole cabinet only took one coat and dried pretty quickly. But beware, it’s smelly so even though it may be dry don’t plan to bring it in the house right after!
Tips & Tricks:
Always test your stain on the back of your piece to make sure you like the color. The longer the stain stays on the wood before you work it in with your cloth, the richer and darker the stain will be.
Step 3: Polish the Hardware
After applying the stain I was excited to get down to the hardware! I came across this recipe for cleaning tarnished brass on the good ol’ internet: two parts baking soda and one part vinegar. I mixed it together in a small dish and then used a paper towel to massage it on the hardware which immediately rubbed away the tarnish. Voila!
Tips & Tricks:
Keep the hardware and screws in a bag while working, or a few labeled bags if it varies throughout the piece, to help remember where each part goes.
Step 4: Air It Out!
After spending a night outside to remove some of those fumes, I welcomed it back into our bedroom!
Here is the before & after side by side:
I know, I know, it looks pretty similar, right?! But look at that hardware! It shines! And the wood has that little bit of character that it was missing before! Relieved to find out I didn’t ruin it, nor did I lose my excitement for refinishing. Ready for the next piece!
Have you refinished anything lately or plan to? We would love to see what you are up to. Use the hashtag #refreshedandrefinished to share your projects with us!