i should be mopping the floor: Buffet Reveal: Distressing Painted Furniture with Stain

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Buffet Reveal: Distressing Painted Furniture with Stain

I finished my {new-to-me} antique buffet. Using my fail-proof method of distressing painted furniture with stain, this came together beautifully...
and it's a piece I'm super proud of.

How to take your old furniture from shabby to chic. This is an easy guide to distressing painted furniture with stain.
I've been looking on {actually, stalking} Craigslist for the last two years looking for an antique buffet. The problem was...most of the ones on there were already refinished {where's the fun in that?} or way out of my budget...or only sold with an elaborate dining set. 

And then I came across Ashley's ad. We met and instantly hit it off. She showed me her grandmother's antique 100+ year old buffet and my heart went pitter-patter. She was so kind and gave me a good deal on the piece...and even separated it from the dining set it was listed with. And now...she reads this crazy blog of mine {hiiiiiii, Ashley!}.  

She was very quick to point out a few flaws in the finish when I looked at the piece...I wanted to let her know up front that I planned to refinish it. Sometimes Craigslisters may not love the fact that you're taking a beloved piece of theirs and completely changing it up, but she was super excited about it. She was so kind and told me several times that she was happy it was going to someone who really wanted it.

And, I really wanted it. Like a two-year itch, I did. 

The gang's all here. These are all of the products I used to refinish this. The red is Valspar's Fabulous Red...and it totally lived up to its name. 

I love to use a spray stripper. I feel like I have more control that way. And I'm a *slight* control freak. I use the scraper to pull the previous finish off, after the stripper had sat for about five minutes.

No stripper jokes today, friends...I think I stretched that out a bit too much in the last furniture refinishing post and made my mom's friends all blush and call each other. 

I digress...

I have to be honest, the stripping product didn't work as fabulously on this piece as on previous ones. So, it was back to basics. Or semi-basics, I suppose, I pulled out the sander. I started with 150 grit sandpaper and worked my way to 300 sanding the top down.

It took over two hours to sand the top of it down. But, man...it was worth it. 
I got it down to the bare wood and it was so soft and perfect to the touch.

It soaked the stain in beautifully. B-E-A-utifully.
I use the staining pad when just straight-staining a part of a piece. And I still love this look of a stained top and a painted bottom. To be clear, I'm referencing furniture here.

I did four coats of stain on top. {Sometimes I just can't leave well enough alone}.
I sanded with 400 grit paper between the first two coats of stain 
{I also left room for plenty of drying time in between staining and sanding}. 

Instead of stripping the bottom, too, I used the Zinsser primer that is designed to cover anything {because I wasn't 100% sure what the original finish was, as in oil based or not?} This primer really works...I painted a mirror with it, for crying out loud.

Then it was on to the red. It took three coats. Three. But, I persevered.
Truthfully, it could have probably taken a fourth coat, too. But that would have sent me to the looney bin. Each coat took 24 hours to dry...so the three coats took three full days. And I'm just not a patient person.

After letting the last coat dry overnight, I went at the painted areas with the sander.
So many of you have chatted with me about this method, so I made a video just for YOU with the step-by-step process:

Again, to see the complete "aging with stain" process, 
watch my video on this piece, here.

After the aging, I went over the entire piece with satin polyurethane {I did the top twice and sanded lightly with 400 grit sandpaper in between coats}.

I opted to leave the hardware in the original state. I thought about using some Brass-O to clean it, but I decided the aged bronze was a bit more true to the shabby finish I gave her. And truly, I've never redone a piece in which the original hardware was in such great shape that I could use it on the refinished piece. This was a very well-cared for piece!

The only other thing I may go back and do later is mod-podge a pretty patterned paper into the cabinets and drawers {just on the inside}. 

I love how it turned out. 
The stained top with all of its marble-y goodness is my fave.

I can't wait to get her into my kitchen and really enjoy the heck out of her. Can you imagine how pretty all of the Thanksgiving pies will look displayed on this? I'm giddy. 

Do you have any furniture projects on your summer to-do list?

{I still have three more pieces in my garage awaiting refinishing...another day!}

Neglect your chores like me and don't miss a thing:


  1. GORGEOUS! I've been following your progress on Instagram and couldn't wait to see the final product! I love it! Your patience and hard work paid off. :) -Rachel

  2. Oh my heaven above, Kristi! That is incredible! Seriously, the red is perfect. But then to top it off with the stained top. Well gzz I'm practically speechless...it's that WOW!L-o-v-e it!
    Cheers to you and yours,
    Therese @ Fresh Idea Studio

  3. Beautiful!!!! You have inspired me to ge rid of the oak brown bedroom furniture from Todd's grandmother. I may need advise/ help though!! I could really see it painted/restained

  4. It's gorgeous, Kristi! Love it! I have a bunch of pieces that I want to work on. Now I just need to find time...

    Lena @ On My Side of the World

  5. Beautiful!!!! Love the color and the wood stain top...lovely!!!

    Julie @http://www.thevintagebarnhome.com

  6. So stinking beautiful!! What a find {thanks Ashley!!} - I love it so much. The red IS truly fabulous. xoxo

  7. This piece turned out awesome! Love the bright red with the natural stained top!

  8. This turned out fantastic and I LOVE the color!

  9. OH! EM!! GEE!!! This is gorgeous! The color is spectacular and love the wood finished on top only. If you ever tire of it in your home I'd be happy to adopt it! *smiles* Looking forward to see photos in your home complete with pies and goodies.

  10. Beautiful! I have a weakness for red furniture and makeovers so this sets my heart all a-twitter!

  11. Wow! I would never have considered red but I absolutely love it! The red works so well with those beautiful handles!

  12. I love how it turned out! so much better than before! You were brave with your color choice and I love that the top is a natural finish. :)

  13. Your buffet is gorgeous! I love it! Found you through "share your creativity" party!
    Therena @ littlebitofpaint.blogspot.com

  14. Lovely! I found you through Share Your Creativity party. Randee@mycowboyswife.blogspot.com

  15. I love me a good furniture makeover!!! Love this Kristi! Pinning of course:)

  16. What a beautiful makeover! I have a blog hop that would be perfect for this post! Would you mind to link it up? Our hop goes live every Sunday night at 6 Central time & we'd love to have you as a regular! Thanks!!

  17. I am DYING over this! It is seriously awesome, Kristi! Pinning and sharing on FB!

  18. It looks beautiful, great job! I have a garage full of projects! Stopping by from Time to Sparkle Linky.

  19. This came out very nicely. I love how you did the whole process. I'm dying to see the stuff you put on it for decoration & food.

  20. Three coats in three days would have put me over the edge too! Way to stick with it though, girl. This turned out amazing! That red is HOT.

  21. Beautiful piece! You did a fantastic job. :-)
    His blessings,
    Kim @ Curtain Queen

  22. I. Want. That. Buffet. Oh my goodness! It is SO gorgeous! Pinned!

  23. Thanks for linking to Take-A-Look Tuesday over at Sugar Bee Crafts - you were featured today!

    --Mandy, www.SugarBeeCrafts.com

  24. You have been featured at Craftionary for your awesome idea.. :) Come and check it out and button up if you like!

  25. Gorgeous, Kristi! That stained top is so beautiful. I want!

  26. This is wonderful. Love the red. Love the dark top. It is an entirely different piece of furniture and so much nicer than the "before."

  27. This is beautiful! I might just be inspired...

  28. Your buffet is beautiful! I love the finished top, it really makes the piece. Congrats on the craigslist find...and for getting a follower on your blog too! Come on over to my Weekend Beautiful Blog party, I would love it if you shared this there :-)

  29. OMG...I just saw this am working on a buffet myself and in red. I would love to distress it like this, but after 3 coats of red paint I'm scared. Mine had a huge crack down the top so I am doing a stained brown paper bag mod podge on it (I saw a floor done in that style on Pinterest). Hope mine turns out this nice.

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  31. Three years!! Three years I have scoured Pinterest for distressing how-to's. Three years I have watched video after video on YouTube to figure out what the hell I'm doing. Three. Long. Years. I finally gave up. I chose to live with the natural wood dresser I loved oh so much, boringly staring at me every morning and every night. And then yesterday happened. Yesterday I saw a beautiful piece of furniture on my Pinterest feed, teasing me with the description that I could learn how to age a piece of furniture soooo easily. I took the bait. I read your blog. Watched your YouTube video, and almost started crying. Ok, so I didn't get THAT emotional. But I did catch my husband as soon as he walked in the door to show him the video. Seriously, girl! You've got skill! We're heading out to the hardware store today to get all the necessary supplies. I feel like I finally have the confidence to tackle this job...and it's a BIG job! My dresser has nine drawers. NINE!!! So thank you. Thank you for having such a bad ass blog!! One question, did you paint the sides of your drawers? I'm tempted to leave them be since I have so many drawers (did I mention there are NINE??) and the dresser is...wait for it....five. feet. long. Now can you see why I haven't given this jewel up?

    1. Robyn-- your comment totally made my day!! So sweet of you! And WOW...NINE? That's a lot, girl...but I would so go for it! I do not paint the sides of my drawers. I'm LAZY! HA! Let me know how it turns out...it sounds like quite a beauty!! And seriously, let me know if you have any questions along the way...happy to help! :)

  32. Really Nice! Thank you so much for your tutorial. I have several projects in mind for this spring and summer. I love the stained top contrasted with red.. :)