How to Refinish Furniture

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There have been many times where I have walked by a piece of old furniture, whether it be my own that has been gathering dust or a random piece at a thrift shop, and dreamed about redoing it and bringing it back to life. I’m definitely a newbie at painting and refurnishing furniture but I sure do love the process. Join me in my journey of refurbishing an antique vanity that had been passed down to my dear husband.

My main goal for this piece of furniture was to create something beautiful by using only what I had in the basement. Due to the lack of money and abundant need for diapers and other baby supplies, I didn’t want to purchase any supplies for this project.

I researched many techniques for painting wood and keeping the antique look. I tried the vaseline technique (Putting a thick layer of vaseline on the corners you want to look rubbed off and antique) but I didn’t have much luck. After failing at this technique, I decided to go with the trusty sand it down after painting the wood.

  •  The first step is to clean the wood. You want to get any dust or gunk that may have gathered cleaned off. In addition, it may be a good idea to strip the wood of any top coats that may be on it. I did not have anything to do this and my piece of furniture didn’t have much for a top coat, so I skipped that step.
  • After cleaning the wood, I sanded it down with an electric sander. If you don’t have one, that’s okay. Sanding by hand is just as effective but not nearly as quick and easy.

  • Once again you will want to clean the wood. Make sure to get all the dust from sanding off. I recommend using a wet cloth first and then drying with a lint free cloth.





  • Now begins the fun part. PAINTING! I used the cheapest white paint from Walmart that I had previously bought for the trim in my house. Conveniently enough, once finished, this paint looked very similar to the expensive chalk paint everyone loves. (Spoiler alert, you can make your own diy chalk paint with household products. Click here to see how).  I did about three layers, letting each layer dry completely before adding another (okay maybe not completely due to my lack of patients 😊).







  • While my paint was drying, I stained the top of the vanity with some old stain I had. I wasn’t sure I would like how it turned out, but I actually love it. I had to do several layers of this to get the darkness and saturation I was looking for. I used an old cloth to apply the stain. I made the mistake of doing this on a coldish night and ended up bringing it inside because the stain would not dry and was very sticky.

  • After everything dried, I sanded the paint off the corners and other places that I wanted to give that antique look. While I worked on sanding the drawers, I had the top coat drying on the top of the vanity. I used Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane  that I had previously bought for an outdoor project. I didn’t use this on the rest of the vanity because it gave off a slight discoloration to the white paint and made it have a glossy look which I didn’t want.

Finally, I put all of the old hardware back on and snapped of few photos!

Although I had a few fails (Vaseline, stain not drying etc.) the whole process was a learning experience and was a lot of fun. I hope you have as much fun as I did with your project and can learn from my mistakes!


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