DIY WEEKEND: Sanding Thrifted Furniture Finds

It's kind of funny - and ironic at times - the paths you may have crossed while in your twenties... you can find yourself referring back to again in your forties. One summer, back around 1992, I had taken a break from retailing and took on a new challenge: furniture refinishing. I may have sprayed painted a 60's pole light for my room or some old frames for a window display, but this was something new. At first fearful of holding a hand sander - I afterwards found myself wanting to purchase one. Little did I know, years later, I'd be applying what I had learned - which ironically was taught to me by the then boyfriend of my now client.

Sanding off the existing finish is the first part of this furniture refinishing process. It will allow the new finish to adhere. I'm using a 220 grade sandpaper. One sheet can be cut into two for the sander, and the two scarps are GREAT for using with fingers to get into the flutes and molding details. The inside of drawers will be left natural - but I did sand the edges to make it easier to glide on the runners (Florida humidity swells wood).

I've picked up a thrift pieces here and there (and even curb mined a three drawer chest and a 50's style desk).  But these projects were individual and timed apart from one another. This time, I'm refinishing finds - five at one time - not for me, but for my first client (I'm going to now refer her as "Vero").

The higher the grade of sand paper, the more coarse it is. To remove paint. 120 grade works well, and won't leave as many marks as a 100 grade would. The 220 is good to use to smooth out the paint sanding removal. In between the top coat (of polyurethane of a lacquer) the 400 grade is extra fine for finishing. Also while sanding, keep in mind the grain of the wood and go with it.

For Vero's home, I didn't just want to spray paint every piece espresso. Vero had mentioned she didn't want a "Rooms To Go" look, she liked the look of my space, and she wanted something clean looking - but not necessarily as clean and modern of West Elm. I searched online at one of my favorite sources for inspiration:

I wanted to give each piece a little more character and play with their lines and attributes (you can read more about these finds at Thrifting For A Client Project). At first, I was going to go for a Jacobean stain (its a black-brown), but I'm thinking I may use that stain on just round coffee table. I'm leaning towards painting the sofa coffee table black, along with the side table as well - but the drawer facing in Heirloom white.

Testing the colors first helped to eliminate the espresso - it's too red.
Black satin spray looks like the winner for the end table with an heirloom white drawer.
The Jacobean stain looked good lightly coated over the black spray - so it could work for the sofa coffee table. The stain process on their own will take too long to complete the project.

To unify both finishes in the space, I'm going to try a trio of colors on the buffet: Heirloom White for the main raised panel of doors, trim moldings in black and the main piece stained Jacobean. I'll probably also use the Jacobean stain to highlight some pasts of the dining table we picked up at Pier 1 (another steal of a deal - was $449 - on clearance for $299 - minus an extra 20% because of a few dings, and Vero had a $60 gift Card - so the table was only $180!!)

For now... back to the mess of sanding. I've been doing a piece a day - so the neighbors don't get too annoyed. I had started with the smaller pieces (the side tables) and they also had the most details. Setting up in the driveway at 3pm has been good for sanding because I get some shade as the sun heads west. When I go to paint or stain, I'll probably set up the four pieces in the morning so the sun can help dry & set the stains and paint.

After sanding tables, I'll be painting, finishing and load them to deliver to Vero. After they are out of the way, I'll be doing the buffet (there is only so much space in the garage and I really don't want to be stacking the pieces after they are finished. Online orders have started to arrive at Vero's townhome and I've colected all the detail pieces upstairs (out of harms way in an extra room.) So her project is moving right along...

Found a FABULOUS blog I'll be checking out more often about furniture refinishing and finds. She has Friday Furniture Feature parties, so if you have a project or are looking for ideas to refinish some pieces, check out this blog at:

Have you ever refinished furniture?
It's a messy process - but I'm LOVING it!!



  1. Love those furniture pieces! They are going to look great! I have refinished several items and have a few more on my list to do! Now is a great time since the weather and the humidity is low.

  2. Thanks so much for the link! It looks like you are a super busy, but very talented lady. I'm honored that you took note of my blog. :)



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