18 July 2011

design project: refinish the dark woods

18 July 2011
i am so excited to share my furniture refinishing project with you today! i decided after drooling over white interiors over the past several months that our apartment, and moreover our furniture, needed a pick-me-up. if you've been reading a.n.c. recently, you probably know that i'm recently engaged and getting married next year! although we'll be receiving gifts from our generous friends and family, i couldn't bring myself to register for pricey wood furniture and since we're financing the wedding (mostly) ourselves, buying new isn't in the budget (pottery barn, why do you tempt me?).

most of our furniture are hand-me-downs and don't match. it's solid wood and the construction is great, so we didn't want to throw them away all together.


so...two sundays ago, i got the ingenious idea to refinish six pieces and couldn't understand why my fiance didn't look PUMPED to start this project at 5pm. c'mon, i said, it'll be fun! we referred to this online tutorial and "shady" at home depot for (yes, his name really was shady) for a step-by-step guide.

we did have fun, but the the process was more involved and took way longer than we expected. we officially finished the last piece of furniture this past saturday at 5pm. that being said, i'm so so happy we did it and thankful for my fiance who worked crazy hours so he could come home early and sand before i got home to paint.

there are plenty of online guides to refinishing furniture, but i thought i would impart some of the things i learned. if your wood is dark and your intent is to paint it white or another light color, i would advise you follow all of these steps. it takes a few days to complete one piece of furniture, but the result is worth it!

step one: stripping (ooh ooh!)


that's me above applying the noxious stripping agent to an end table. it literally eats away at varnish, paint, sealant etc. so make sure you wear protective gear (even if it makes you look like a minion from despicable me). we got a "safe for indoor" use stripper, but i would 1. advise you never use this indoors and 2. coat it on thick and let it sit for more than 30 minutes. the one we chose didn't do a great job of removing all the varnish and we had to rub mineral spirits (the fumes are intense!) all over to get it prepped for sanding.

let these pieces dry completely before going on to step two.

step two: sanding
my fiance did all of the sanding with a hand-held sander, using 100-grit sandpaper, until the furniture was smooth and paint and varnish gone. you will probably not be able to achieve this without an electric sander.

step three: prime + paint
this process will take the longest because you will likely need multiple coats of very thinly applied paint (ours required 3-4 coats). make sure to wait until a coat is completely dry before painting again.

we opted for a more affordable option and bought behr primer and paint in one in "pot of cream." behr has been recommended to me over and over and i'm thrilled with the results. i don't think we lost anything by combining and paint and primer because it's a high quality product. either way, you need a primer when going from dark to light.

step four : seal (optional)
we decided to apply two coats of a semi-gloss sealant to the furniture after painting. a good sealant will make your furniture more resistant to stains and easier to clean, which you likely want for white furniture.

we chose a satin finish for the paint and a semi-gloss for the sealant to prevent the furniture from looking lacquered. i'm pretty pleased with the results! i only have one "after" picture, but i'll be taking more soon!


hope you enjoyed our little project and let me know if you embark a refinishing project of your own!

12 comments:

diane @ a spot of whimsy said...

congrats on the project! it looks fantastic! i also very much love the collection of vhs disney movies over there :) :)

Chicago Cuisine Critique said...

Looks great! Well done! :)

Krystal said...

it looks awesome!!! good job :) all the hard work is so worth it when you get lovely things like that to look at whenever you walk by!

Things That Sparkle said...

It looks absolutely amazing!! thanks so much for sharing your process

jillian :: cornflake dreams. said...

what a great project! i really should stain our tv stand so it matches all the other dark pieces in our apt. xoxo jillian:: cornflake dreams

Aubrey {All Things Bright and Beautiful} said...

You are one brave girl to take all that on in one day! (c: But it looks like it turned out fantastic! Can't wait to see the rest of the pictures!

la petite coquine said...

I'm totally stunned-the process certainly seems complicated, but the end result is so gorgeous! That said, I'm not sure I'll ever get John into delicious white furniture. Oh, well!

Ana Antunes said...

dear Ashley, I just spent about an hour going tru your blog. It is sooo inspiring. I love it! It's on my favourites list! And about your project... I could use some gorgeous girl with nice legs on my tv show doing the DIY projects!! ;)))) ahahahah take care

DASI GLAM said...

It is really lovely, after so much hard work its completely worth it, very nice.

Mo Pie, Please said...

It looks great! And gives me hope because we have some dark wood bookcases and a bed that need some TLC.

Fashion.MakeUp.LifeStyle said...

It looks so good girl!!! Great diy project and thx for sharing.


<3 Marina
Fashion.MakeUp.LifeStyle

www.StarHughes.com said...

Wow I'm so impressed!!!! That looks amazing!!! Great job girl!

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