Monthly Archives: July 2014

Little Girl’s Vanity Desk

We finally finished working on the antique vanity that we turned into a little girl’s desk. I posted about this a few weeks ago, but to refresh your memory, this is what we started with:

IMG_0818       IMG_0660

You can see it was originally very short, so we added 8 6″ legs to the base to make it a better height. The finish was flaking off, so we sanded the entire piece down and primed it.

Originally, we were hoping to stain parts of the wood, but it was made of pretty cheap materials that probably wouldn’t have worked well with stain. We also toyed with the idea of making this into a vanity for a bathroom sink, by placing a vessel sink in the lower middle part and removing parts of some of the drawers to make room for plumbing. The cost of that would’ve been pretty high (just for the vessel portion would’ve put us at least at $100, and the vanity and legs weren’t cheap).

Instead, we decided to make this into a little girl’s desk. I know I would’ve loved something like this as a kid – mainly because it has a huge mirror and what little girl doesn’t love to dress up and look at herself in the mirror? So, we decided to go with pink and white paint. We picked a very faint blush pink and a white paint we keep going back to called cream delight. The top surfaces, sides, and drawers were painted pink, and the rest got the white trim. The top of the desk was also sealed with a layer of water-based poly, to protect the surface.

IMG_0803The finished piece came out very cute, and we finally mounted the mirror on it. We noticed this old mirror had some edge wear, with the mirror paint chipping off at some parts. We used clear nail polish to seal the edges and prevent any more chipping. I think the age marks on the mirror add some character to this piece.

IMG_0826          IMG_0825

For the knobs, we used some wooden knobs that were replaced with something else from a different piece, and we primed and painted those pink as well:

IMG_0827Next, we fixed up a blue chair that we picked up at the Raleigh flea market, and painted it in a matching white color to go with the desk:

IMG_0808            chair

As a finishing touch we lined the drawers with some pretty patterned drawer liner we had left over from another project.

IMG_0829We have this posted right now, hopefully it sells soon!

Contemporary Dining Table

In the last post, I mentioned the dining table we were working on. I had uncertainties about how this would turn out, but Nik was persistent about moving forward with this project, and I’m glad he was! To remind you, this is how the table started out:

IMG_0869                        IMG_0749e

The top had tons of water damage to the wood and the finish, and the pedestal was gross and missing two of its support legs, making it unusable.Then Nik stripped it, reattached the board and we sanded it a bit. IMG_0781

At the end of the day (weeks?), this is how it ended up:

IMG_0813       IMG_0817

Here’s a few pictures we took outside, to have some different lighting on the weathered wood:

IMG_0809         IMG_0810

After stripping and sanding through the water-damaged finish, we noticed that the wood actually looked kind of cool – more of a “weathered” look than a “damaged” look.


It was still a little incomplete looking, so I stained it with a very light stain (golden oak) then sealed it with multiple layers of water-based polyurethane. We attached the legs, and decided we’d try to sell it like that! If it doesn’t sell, our other idea was the paint it and glaze it. Glazing can mean a lot of different things, but the kind we’d use would be glaze mixed with a dark stain or dark tinting. From my understanding, glaze looks like runny Elmer’s glue, and basically thickens the stain so it is more workable. We’d paint the table a lighter color and glaze over it to put some dark dimension into the cracks and imperfections, kind of like this dresser or this instructional guide. So that’s our backup plan if no one goes for the weathered wood look!

Works in Progress

I was originally planning on doing a post for every piece we completed, but somehow we’ve found ourselves working on FOUR pieces at once! This means it’s a little progress here and there on each piece, but we probably won’t have anything completely finished for a while. So today I’ll write about these four pieces and the progress (or lack thereof?) we’ve made.

Nik has been on a bartending kick lately, and  has purchased a collection of unusual alcohols to mix drinks. Unfortunately, our kitchen and pantry are small, so most of these bottles and the fancy kitchen gadgets used to make the drinks have been cluttering our counter tops for the past few weeks. We decided we are in need of a bar cabinet to hold everything. We bought this old tv/stereo cabinet for $20. It’s a mix of solid wood and particle board with veneer, so it should be a workable surface to sand and paint or stain. Right now we’re thinking some sort of dark paint for the body, and maybe stained wood on the top.

IMG_0751 IMG_0752

It has a neat little drawer that pulls out too, so that can be used for glasses and gadgets. Bottles and a wine rack will go inside the cabinet. Nik decided the top needed a rail for containing things, like this but more like the metal rail on this bar. We made a lengthy trip to the plumbing section of Home Depot on Saturday to see what we could fashion from copper piping. We ended up buying connectors, some end caps, and 10 feet of 1/2″ copper pipe, and a copper pipe cutter device.


By the end of the night, Nik had designed this scheme:


…and constructed this:

IMG_0760   IMG_0762

It came out great! He then cut little 1.5″ lengths of pipe to lift the rail off the bar a bit and I buffed all the piping with steel wool to shine it up and remove the printing that was on the pipe. To attach it to the bar, we’re planning on gluing a small piece of wooden dowel into the base pipes and screwing it down into the top of the bar. We’ll probably do that last, after we’ve refinished the bar top, so there’s a lot to happen before the rail is on!

For our next project, we’ve wanted to replace our coffee table for a while because it’s cheap and old. While I was away one weekend Nik bought a modern-looking table from someone in Carrboro for $50. I thought the price was a little steep, and when he brought it home and I looked at it, we realized its not even real wood. We still like the design though, and it’s a heavy duty table. It was used as a kid’s craft table by the previous owner, so we planned on just cleaning it up, restaining any imperfections, and sealing it with poly since there’s not much else we can do with not-real wood. I spent last night sanding glitter off of it, but I accidentally sanded through some of the finish. Now we’re rethinking this project, and we’re maybe leaning towards spray painting it in a sleek high gloss white, but we’re not sure yet.

Next, when Nik was buying that coffee table, he spied a dining table that was being discarded in the neighbor’s yard. He grabbed the table and the disassembled pedestal legs and toted it home. Once he got home, he realized it was being discarded because not all of the pedestal parts were there…


It needs four of those bottom foot pieces, and there are only two! But, the table was free, so after searching craigslist, we found 4 metal table legs for $40, and Nik worked on stabilizing the table base and screwing the legs into the table bottom yesterday:


After that, we’ll probably sand and paint the table and put it up for sale.

Our final project is an unusual little vanity we picked up for $60. Its an old piece, but it’s interesting and I think it will work nicely as a little girl’s desk (people pay a surprising amount of money for kid things on craigslist). It was a lot shorter than we were expecting when we picked it up, so we found some legs at the lumber store for $45 to attach to it to get it to a more reasonable “desk height”. You can see the lighter color legs we added in this picture:


It has 4 drawers and a large mirror, and we also bought a little kid’s chair at the Raleigh flea market to go with it for $10. The desk is currently primed with paint, and the flat surfaces are painted a very light blush pink color. The trim and chair will be white.

So, those are the 4 seemingly endless projects we’re working on at the moment. It was so hot this weekend we didn’t make much progress, but hopefully we can work on things during the evenings this week!

Green Accent Dresser

On my way home from work, I saw this beautiful dresser sitting by the curb of a neighbor’s house with some other unwanted items. I couldn’t turn down a free dresser, so after getting home, I dragged Nik and his car out to see it. We loaded it up and brought it home.

IMG_0426On another blog, we had seen a piece similar to this. She had stripped off all the veneer from the front drawers of hers, and found beautiful wood slats underneath. Nik was feeling adventurous, and started soaking the drawer fronts and removing veneer. For the most part it came off easily.

IMG_0853And look what was underneath! Wood slats!

IMG_0854We stripped the veneer off the top as well, but the wood here wasn’t in as good condition. The drawers had little worm holes in them which gave it such a unique look. We sanded them down and scraped all the saw dust out of the little holes. Then we stained the drawers with special walnut stain. We sealed the drawers with water-based poly since we didn’t want to get any yellowed oil-based polyurethane in the holes. It worked beautifully.


The top didn’t come out as nicely when we stained it, so we took a step back and decided to resand and paint the top and the rest of the body. I wanted to do a colorful piece, and Nik picked out a vibrant green color to try. After the first coat it was a bit shocking, even with the primer still showing through!

IMG_0576Since we painted the top as well, it was a lot of bright green. We decided to white wash it to tone town the fluorescence a bit.


We sealed the top with water based poly, but since the paint was satin (with a little sheen) we didn’t seal the body since sheen is protective on its own. We went to put it all together, and due to the humidity of the lovely NC summer, the wood had swollen so much none of the drawers fit! We had to sand down the lips of each drawer, and finally we got them in smoothly. We sold this piece for $200 to a couple expecting a twin boy and girl, who plan to use it as a changing table and dresser in the nursery.

IMG_0659                              IMG_0658

  IMG_0656 IMG_0652 IMG_0655

Grandparent’s Hope Chest

Since our first chest came out so nicely, we offered to refinish an old chest Louise’s parents had as a gift. This chest was a hope chest built for Louise’s grandmother (or great grandmother?) by her grandfather (or great grandfather?). We never took a “before” shot, but after sanding it, staining it, and sealing it with furniture wax, the end result was simple and beautiful.

IMG_0447 IMG_0448

Cedar Lane Chest

Our bedroom always has lots of loose blankets and things floating around, so we wanted to redo a chest to use for storage. We found this beautiful cedar chest made by Lane on craigslist, and paid $80 for it. We loved the unique veneer patterns on the front of it. It sat around all winter while we waited for it to get warmer to work on it. Once we stripped and sanded it down it looked like this:

IMG_0798  IMG_0801 IMG_0802Some of the veneer was chipped in places, so Nik repaired this with extra veneer we had. We stained it with special walnut stain, and sealed the entire thing with polyurethane. IMG_0838   IMG_0423 IMG_0424After buying this piece, we decided it would be best to keep the waterfall dresser we previously refinished, since these two make somewhat of a matching set.

Mid-century Modern Small Chest

After success with our first small mid century modern dresser, we bought another one off craigslist for $60.

mcm end table 2 mcm end table 3

This dresser had a few layers of paint on it, so we stripped and sanded it down. We had hoped to stain some of the body, but the wood wasn’t in great condition so we ended up painting the casing, and staining the drawers and feet. We spray painted the handles of this dresser as well with nickel and hammered copper spray paints. The finished product came out nice, and we sold it for $100.

IMG_0342        IMG_0343 IMG_0344        IMG_0345

Gray and White Dresser

Our next dresser was purchased for $50, and it was a bit larger than we had thought because it barely fit in Nik’s car. It was also super heavy! We finally got this clunker in the door, and decided that although it was quite solid, a lot of the wood wasn’t in great shape for sanding and staining. We decided paint would do the job.

IMG_0310         IMG_0315IMG_0313We sanded it to rough everything up, then primed everything. We had some gray paint left over from Nik’s desk project, but I decided an entire dresser in gray would be very monotone. I thought white trim on the raised areas of the drawers would add some character to the piece. After a long time applying and removing painter’s tape, we finished.

IMG_0393We experimented with sealing this piece with furniture wax, since wax can be successful over flat paint. Wax needs the porousness of flat paint to be able to get into it and cure and seal. Overall, it worked decently. We cleaned up the hardware and put it back on. We sold this dresser for $160.

IMG_0398 IMG_0391


Mid-century Modern Small Dresser

This cute little dresser was purchased for $50. We originally wanted to stain the entire thing to maintain its mid-century glory, but the mark on the top left turned out to go deep into the wood so it couldn’t be sanded out.

IMG_0739 IMG_0740We re-thought our plans, and decided to paint the body and legs a sleek shiny white, and stain the drawers. The body was sealed with polycrylic. We decided to experiment with furniture wax for the first time, and bought some Minwax furniture paste. This was applied over the stained drawers with cheesecloth, then allowed to dry out, then buffed with 0000 grade fine steel wool and finally a buffing pad. The drawers came out beautiful. While furniture sealed with polyurethane feels hard and durable, and looks smooth, furniture sealed with wax feels soft and buttery and supple. Wax is relatively durable as well, but should be reapplied more frequently, depending on how often the piece is used. Waxed furniture also can’t withstand heated things being on them since wax softens even after it has cured on a piece of furniture.

The hardware on this dresser was very unique, so we spray painted it with a mixture of satin nickle spray paint over a layer of Rust-o-leum “Hammered” spray paint in copper. That stuff really does look like hammered metal, I have no idea how it works, but it came out great for the handles and the metal feet! We then sealed all the hardware with a few layers of spray on polyurethane to protect the spray paint. In the end, this piece sold for $105. 

IMG_0777 IMG_0778 IMG_0776 IMG_0774

Bow Front Buffet Dresser

This beautiful old dresser was bought off craigslist for $50. Its a really solid piece of furniture, but the seller was getting rid of it because one drawer had a lot of veneer damage, and another drawer was missing a pull.

IMG_0695        IMG_0700

We decided we could make this work by removing the drawer and making a nice shelf instead. We stripped and sanded the top, and then sanded the rest of the body and drawers. The top was stained dark walnut and sealed with polyurethane.

IMG_0219The body was primed and painted with a slate green-blue color. We also sanded out the inside of the drawer, removed part of the sliding mechanism, and painted it.

IMG_0215IMG_0216The hardware was cleaned up and put back on. To make it presentable, we bought some baskets from Michael’s for about $18. This piece sold for $150 to a family who wanted to use it as a TV console, with the empty shelf as a storage area for their DVD player and cable box.

IMG_0224 IMG_0226 IMG_0223