Tag Archives: paint and stain

Finished Console

Two posts in one week! Well, I did promise I’d have some pictures up soon of the project we just completed for our good friends Lindsey and Dave, so here it is.

They were looking for a console to hold their TV boxes with some extra storage, and we were looking for a way to thank them for all the help they gave us at our wedding. So we started looking for a piece of furniture that would fit their living room space. We finally found this buffet on Craigslist and I haggled the price down a bit with the seller:


This piece was big, 48″ wide and about 17″ deep. And it was heavy and solid – after working with it, most likely mahogany. It had a solid piece of wood on the top and the door/drawer fronts and veneer with some damage near the feet on the sides. So we decided we’d keep the solid wood sections stained, and paint the rest of the body. Stripping the old varnish off the wood was first on the list:


Then came sanding the sections to be painted, and patching the veneer with wood filler.  A lot of filler goes on, then is sanded smooth.



The drawers and doors also got stripped and sanded, then the stained along with the top. The wood grain was really beautiful:

Then the body got dragged inside (I hope the phrases I use here aren’t searchable or the authorities will certainly be after me) for primer. We needed 2 coats since the redness of this wood soaked right through the first coat of primer – one of the reasons we think it was mahogany. Then finally paint, which i forgot to take a picture of:


The challenge with this piece ended up being the doors. Lindsey wanted non-solid doors so they could use the remote through them, so we suggested glass or radiator grate as an option. She bought some small pieces of crafting-grade radiator grate though JoAnn Fabrics and tested the remote through it and it worked! So we went with that.

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A router has been passed down to Nik from his father/grandfather, so he learned how to use it and purchased a bit that could make cut outs for the door. He also bought a router jig that helps you to cut straight edges with the router. I still don’t entirely understand how routers function…but from my limited understanding, it’s essentially a fast rotating bit that cuts smoother than a jigsaw, and also allows you to turn corners (because it’s rounded) and, if you buy a bit with a cool profile, can add ornate edges to your cut.

Nik did quite a few practice cuts on scrap wood, then felt confident enough to tackle the doors. They came out great, and he left a small edge for us to butt the grate up against to secure it in place, kind of like when you have a picture frame and the glass butts up against the frame and that holds the glass in place. The radiator grate was thin aluminum that was just trimmed to size with heavy duty scissors.

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After that, we finished staining the newly cut door edges, then sealed up all the stained parts with water based poly, and put all the parts back together. This piece came with cool old handles, but they were very tarnished, so Lindsey and I had fun spray painting the handles a soft silver color, and then the door handles were replaced with some new crystal knobs to add a little glitz.

The inside is basically an open cavern, so we’re working on a little shelf to put in there, but other than that, this project is finally done! The paint color we used was the same color as the little shelves we added to our master bath:


To be honest, I was not really sure about this color when we finished it and it was sitting in our living room. I thought it should be changed to a cream color. But we decided we’d give it a try in Lindsey and Dave’s living room and see if the lighting there changed our mind, and it definitely did! We all think it looks great in their space. One more funny note, is the door and the drawer stains match 100% – but once they were installed, the vertical grain on the doors reflects light much darker than the horizontal grain on the drawers. Wood is always interesting! So here’s the official before and after:



A well deserved thank you to Lindsey and Dave for being amazing friends and offering so much help at our wedding to make it a flawless day!


Artsy Antique Dresser

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here – it seems the “scientist” part of our lives has been taking over recently. Nik and I are planning to graduate this summer/early fall, so unfortunately furniture has to take the back burner sometimes. But, we’ve still managed to wrap up a few projects in the past couple weeks, so I’ll write about one of them today.

We picked up this antique-looking dresser from the guy with the huge furniture warehouse in Durham, for $85, which is more than we usually spend on a dresser but it was unique and we didn’t want to leave empty handed from his warehouse, so we went for it.

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Nik started off by removing the weird back panel, and although I was against this at first, I think I like it better without it in the end.


We had discussed doing some varied pattern of paint and stain in the little cut-out sections, so Nik decided to strip/sand the inside portion and the top and stain that, and then just do a rough sand/prime the rest of it. In an effort to save money since the piece cost us more than usual, we decided to go with a strange color that we actually found in the dumpster in our neighborhood earlier that week. It was more than half a gallon of good Valspar paint…flat sheen and a strange mint green color, but importantly, it was free! After testing out different stain options with this paint, we decided on dark walnut – the special walnut was too red, and we thought the classic gray stain with the green paint would look too coastal.


So, on the stain went, then priming and painting! We sealed the whole thing in water-based poly. We had thought about sealing with wax since the paint was flat and you need porous, flat paint for wax to really seal a piece, but we were concerned about wax getting into the little wood carving lines and being difficult to buff out.

Here’s how the finished piece came out, with original hardware:

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And for good measure, a before and after:

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New (Old?) Works in Progress

This past week we revisited some projects started a while ago (almost 2 years ago for one of them!) to try to wrap them up. The first one is a designer coffee table from the Edward Wormley Precedent Collection, which is super high-end (when in good, probably un-refinished condition, of course). This table unfortunately had some water damage to the top level veneer, so Nik and I got some new Red Oak Quarter Sawn veneer at Capitol Lumber in Raleigh. We spent many tries color matching it to the veneer on the bottom level, and this came out the best.

Here’s the table with damage, and then stripped and sanded:

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And here’s what the veneer looks like:

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We bought plain 10mil veneer, so its very thin. Nik cut it approximately to size with a razor, then decided he couldn’t handle the anxiety of trimming it so it would fit perfectly. So I did this with scissors, and it came out alright. I trimmed it a bit too much on one side, but with some wood filler to fill in that little bit of extra space I think it’ll come out great.

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Now we need to paste it down with wood cement, then sand and use wood filler, then stain the piece and seal it up! The wood cement needs 65 degree temps for 3 days to cure, so we’re basically waiting on the weather to get warmer for that. That cement stuff is serious business – it says to turn off all nearby pilot flames in your house if you use it (obviously we’re going to do this outside), so hopefully we don’t blow up the neighborhood. I’m not 100% sure how we’re going to get that perfect, because it IMMEDIATELY adheres upon contact of your two surfaces, so the veneer will have to be laid out perfectly the first try! I’m pretty sure Nik will go hide in a closet while this happens so his perfectionist anxiety doesn’t get the best of him!

The next project is a cool mid century china cabinet I picked up with the help of friends and their big truck and we’ve been storing it in their garage until it got warm enough to work on.

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We had worked on it a while back, stripping and sanding some of the shelves and door fronts. Due to damage to the body, we decided to paint a large portion of it, and stain the top 2 shelves and door fronts. Here’s some pics of the sanding and some of the damaged areas we’re attempting to fix with wood filler:

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We made some progress doing the staining and also priming the rest of it last weekend, and we also used our friend’s circular saw to cut new underlayment for the back panel since the old backing had issues.

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It’s starting to shape up! Next we need to finish shaping the wood filler for those problem areas, prime over that, get the whole body painted, and seal it up! We haven’t picked a color yet. White paint with stain is pretty classic for mid century modern furniture, but maybe we’ll mix it up a bit.

Finished Ombre Secretary II

A few weeks ago I mentioned how we were redoing a second ombre secretary to match the one we finished back in December. We had a second interested buyer who helped us pick out another secretary that was in need of a face lift, and we redid it in the same style. We finished this a few weeks ago, but I stashed it behind some other things in the other room and didn’t get any good pics until I pulled it back out today for the buyer to pick it up, hence the delay for this post! Here are the before and after pictures of the FIRST secretary:

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And here’s some before pictures of the second secretary:

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So now some details about how we fixed this up – in the last post about this piece, I mentioned we were brainstorming ways to repair the bottom drawer which was missing a small chunk:


We ended up using a small piece of trim wood that Nik cut approximately to size (with our new Rigid multi-tool!) and then sanded down by hand to be flush with the drawer.


We experimented with stains to make sure we could color match the new wood since it wasn’t maple like the rest of the drawers. The final match was pretty good – you almost can’t see it on the top right corner of the drawer:


We also painted the hardware black. The metal was all a bit icky, so I cleaned all of them and sanded with some fine sand paper before spraying:

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So here’s the final hardware and repaired corner of the bottom drawer:


And after painting the body white and adding the gray trim on the front panel like we did on the last one, we sealed it all up with water based poly. Here’s the finished pictures:

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And for a side-by-side before and after picture here we go:

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We’ve been accruing new projects but thanks to the awesome snow storms Chapel Hill has been getting we haven’t had many opportunities to work on them! Nik found a new round dining table and an beautiful solid  (mahogany?) wood piano bench near the dumpster. We also bought an antique-looking dresser from the same guy that sold us this second secretary. So, these will be upcoming projects as soon as it doesn’t look like this outside of my North Carolina house:

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Neil’s New Bar

I told my brother Neil I wanted to make him something after he moved into his new place in the fall, so I went with a bar/storage cabinet. We found a dry sink we liked a lot, and it had a wooden railing all around the top that would make a perfect place for storing bottles, bar accoutrements, etc. Here is what we started with:

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Nothing majorly wrong with it, except the top was kind of lifting off the body, so we remedied that with some strong wood glue and clamps.


We stripped and sanded the door  fronts and the entire top, and stained it with Jacobean Minwax stain. The remaining body was painted…then I decided I didn’t think the paint was dark enough, so I painted it again. My brother wanted it dark, if I used paint so I think the new choice is better. Its a dark teal-ish greenish greyish color, called Painted Turtle by Behr. Of course it looks totally different in different lighting. We sealed the whole thing up with water based poly.

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Next, I had a satisfying trip to Home Depot where I found new hinge hardware, new wooden plugs since a couple were missing, and new hardware that looked much sleeker than what was there:

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And here’s the new hardware:

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I had to drill some new holes for the new hardware, and most of it went off without a hitch. The new hinges still need a bit of tweaking since they’re not quite thick enough for the raised door, but I think I figured out something that will work. So here’s the final product:

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Not too bad for bachelor pad furniture!

Secretary – Two Times a Charm!

We successfully sold our refurbished secretary a little after Christmas, but ran into an unusual problem – two people who really really wanted it! So, we sold it to the first lady who had asked about it, and offered to redo a similar piece for the second lady. After some craigslist searching, she actually found this piece in Durham, which we promptly picked up:

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And if you remember the previous secretary, you can see they’re a pretty close match!

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The guy that sold us the second secretary is a thrift store owner that has a 20,000 sq ft. warehouse literally FILLED with furniture. He’s a nice guy with tons of beautiful stuff (some of which is in “too good” condition for us to buy, fix up, resell, and make a profit). He invited us to go to the warehouse a couple weekends after purchasing the secretary to check it out, and that building was so overwhelming! We did buy one other piece from him on that trip…but that will be for another post!

So back to the secretary…our buyer loves the style we redid the other one in, so we’re pretty much trying to replicate it. So far, we sanded and stained the wood surfaces and drawers, and we got a coat of primer over the body.

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There is one issue with the bottom drawer – you can see in the corner its missing a chunk of wood. We’ve brainstormed ways to fix this, and after spending a lengthy amount of time at Home Depot, I came up with these possibilities:

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I found these little pieces of trim/scrap wood, and we can use our multi tool to carve the little triangle shape we need, an then sand it by hand to match the shape of the drawer with sand paper. I also found one other shaped trim that I didn’t take a picture of…but you get the idea. We’ll see which one works best. Its not going to be perfect, but the drawer that needs fixing is the one that has the darkest stain on it so we’re confident it will not be too noticeable.

This weekend we’ll be painting and sealing the body, drilling a small hole in the back for cords, spray painting the hardware black, figuring out that drawer situation, and hopefully wrapping this project up so our very excited buyer can pick it up!

On another note, we were hoping to finish this secretary up earlier, but I lost some time by taking an amazing trip out to Denver to visit some friends who live out there, and I can’t resist putting a few awesome pictures here! We spent some time hiking in the foothills north of Boulder overlooking the Flat Irons, then had a few great days of skiing at Winter Park Resort. Being in grad school, I forgot how great vacations are!

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Weathered Gray Dining Table

Nik dragged this solid pine table out of the furniture dumpster months ago, and we finally wrapped it up on Monday. It started out like this:

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And we stained it with Minwax weathered gray stain and sealed it up:

IMG_1086The legs and table skirt were painted off white:

IMG_1085And we put it all together. One of the legs was missing the attachment bolt, so we figured out how to use some L brackets to attach that leg firmly. Here’s how it turned out:

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Entryway Chest

While Nik was home for the holidays, he worked on a chest from his parent’s entryway. Here are some before pictures:IMG_1102               IMG_1104          IMG_1103

He sanded and stained the wood cherry, and the paint was called something like Nocturnal Green. He sealed it with oil-modified water based minwax polyurethane (similar to regular water-based poly, but this is what the Lowe’s by him had). Here’s the finished product:IMG_1106   IMG_1105  IMG_1107Now that we’re back from the holidays, we’ve got lots of projects to catch up on, and a new custom project that we’re hopefully picking up tonight in Durham. We just need some warmer weather to come our way so we can work outside and make some progress!

Dumpster Dive Table #1

There’s an area in our neighborhood that people can drop off large things they want to dispose of, so Nik and I venture over there to scope it out once in a while. This past week we found a couple of nice tables that we promptly claimed and dragged home: IMG_1222        IMG_1223 The weather wasn’t too bad last weekend, so Nik got to work on the smaller table. He stripped and sanded the top, then stained it dark walnut. We used the blue paint that I had refinished a side table with a couple weeks ago, and then I sealed the whole piece up with water-based poly. IMG_1270                IMG_1268 IMG_1267        IMG_1266 I love the carved wood details this delicate little table has. It was a perfect (free!) weekend project.

Finally Finished Blue Side Table

I decided to wrap up an old project yesterday that’s been sitting around 99% finished for over a month – the little blue side table. This piece started out like this: IMG_0935

And after stripping, sanding, staining, and sealing the top and painting the body blue, it was up to this point:

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And then I was indecisive about whether I wanted to antique it by rubbing stain over the paint, or antique it by sanding small areas, so I put it on the back burner. This weekend I decided I wanted to slightly antique the edges with sanding, just to break up the monotony of the color. I’m not a big fan of pieces that have strong antiquing finishes added, but the color was just too plain on this piece to let it be. For example, look at the edge of the drawer before and after a little sanding:

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It gives it a little more depth, right? I did this by very gently sanding with 220 grit fine sand paper. Some places you can see the white primer showing through, other places there is wood showing through. Depending on where it is on the piece, some of the wood underneath is dark or light.

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I went around and did this to all sharp edges, and then I dragged it inside and gave it a good coat of water-based poly which actually helped accentuate the sanded areas a bit more. I added handles we had left over from another piece, and now it’s finally done!

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