Let’s talk about the buffet again. Remember the one that we got for a steal off craigslist and parked in our entryway? Here he is now to jog your memory (sidenote: I think everyone should always pronounce jog as yog and jogging as yogging – it’s infinitely funnier).
Dude was gorgeous, but he had a few little bumps and bruises that I wanted to heal. I wanted to play nurse with the buffet, ok?
So file this under super speedy quick fixes – heck the whole thing only took about half an hour and ran me under $3. As for my materials list, here it is:
Yup, all it took was a small craft brush that I already had and a $2.99 test pot of paint from Home Depot in the closest possible color to the buffet (I brought home a ton of swatches and held them up to see which ones melted right in and looked nearly identical). Oh and the winning color was Cricket by Behr for anyone who’s looking for a soft moody green tone).
As for my technique, first I prepped the entire buffet by:
- using Gorilla Glue to secure any loose trim pieces or small wood carvings to adhere them for the long haul (I noticed some wiggly things that I feared might chip or fall off with daily use, so I stuck it to them and gave everything a full day of curing time before moving on to the next step)
- giving it an awesomely cathartic scrub-down with a Magic Eraser (there were some dingy areas that were sort of smudgy and gray, like a lead pencil rubbing, and they came up with some scrubbing, so it looks a lot less muddled)
Then it was paintin’ time…
I just used that small brush to paint wherever I saw big chunks of bare wood. First I brushed it on and then I blended things with the swipe of a paper towel. I didn’t want things to be thick or perfect, so that paper towel swipe helped to sort of “distress” that area so it blended right in with the rest of it (which is definitely not pristine at all). We love all of the little imperfections and rough spots – so this process was really just about filling in those big gaping holes where something clearly broke off or was much more damaged than a little timeworn distressing.
Here’s a little side by side comparison to help you see what I mean. I didn’t fill in all the dark spots or scratches, just the big gaps. And once the paint dried (it always looks too light when it’s going on) it looked pretty darn seamless.
Here’s another detail to show you the difference. Before:
So now she still looks old and loved, but doesn’t put out that dinged-with-a-baseball-bat effect that she was subtly broadcasting before. Boom. Quick, easy, and cheap. Oh and you might notice that our snake-riddled pumpkins aren’t up on the console in this pic (they moved outside to the porch), but I have some plans to do a little fall-a-fying to this surface soon. Oh yeah, momma’s feeling a case of crafty comin’ on…
Anyway, after gluing, scrubbing, and painting this bad girl, all that was left of Operation Buffet-mou-flage was to apply three thin and even coats of SafeCoat Acrylacq (it’s my very favorite non-toxic sealer, which comes in a satin finish so it’s not all shiny and obvious).
We like to apply it with a small foam roller so it’s nice and thinly spread (thick = gloppy).
And as for the more detailed (aka: bumpy parts) a small brush works to get into those grooves. Thin and even is the key though. Otherwise you’re veering off into gloppy territory again.
Now this baby deserves a “lovingly restored” sticker. Except please don’t put a sticker on my buffet or $herdog will get feisty. Thankfully Clara just contains them to various body parts:
Anyone else out there showing some love to old pieces of furniture without straight up stripping them down and starting over? I gotta say, it’s a nice four-hour project instead of spending a full weekend on something. Those are always nice, right? It gives you more time to gorge on candy corn and then royally regret it about an hour later. Or is that just me?
Psst- Clara’s at it again with her hilariously random conversations here on Young House Life.
[email protected] says
I think it looks great but if it were me, I would have ended up repainting the whole thing. The un-even-ness would drive me insane, but it’s a personal problem :)
This buffet is my favorite :) I’ve been searching on Craigslist for something similar. Great job!! The touch ups look great…I felt like you ‘photo-shopped’ the bare parts. ha. Regarding the sealer you used, when would you recommend using sealer over painted wood like this? Would you use it for cabinets to keep them nice?
I would always use it on painted pieces that you want to protect from lots of dings and wear (tables, consoles, buffets). oddly enough cabinet painting experts all agree that poly isn’t great (it can yellow and crack) so we have had great luck using a good primer and a paint made for cabinets like Advance by BM. Hope it helps!
The paint touch-up looks great! But I think my favorite part of this post is the way the sealant says it’s “Doctor Recommended”– which sounds like, “Take two and call me in the morning.” ;)
Haha! Like you should rub it on wounds or something. Haha.
Sheri J says
Love this post. I just noticed the wood working on your buffet is almost identical to the bedroom suite that my grandmother had as a little girl. It has a tall boy dresser and precious/gorgeous little mirrored vanity. My mom still has the set and antiqued it for me when I was a teen(40 years ago!).
If you are still looking for name suggestions, I’m pitching Phoebe Buffay for a girl and Warren Buffett for a boy although we will have to drop one of the “t”s to get the correct pronunciation for your little dude.
That’s sp funny! You’re the second vote for Phoebe!
I feel like jumping up and down… Amazon email… YHL BOOK SHIPPED!!! Can not wait to lock myself in my bedroom to drown myself into your book!! Any talk of coming to the Kansas City area for a book signing? We have some amazing BBQ that will make it all worth the trip :)
Ahh that’s so exciting! We’d love to end up there!
Hi there, Love the buffet! Unique color for sure!
I found a really cool old arch church window (craigslist of course) that I wanted to turn into a mirror, but when I wanted to refinish it, I realized it was lead paint. Since I didn’t want to spend a fortune having it stripped professionally, I painted over it and used the glazing/stain technique from here….
Turned out awesome!
Have a great tour and see you in MN!
Wow! I never woulda thought that would make such a positive impact, but color me corrected! I have my fair share of old beat-up pieces, and you can bet that I’ll be doing something similar soon. Thanks for all the great pics of the project.
(side note: double-woot as my very own private copy of YHL should arrive shortly. Inspiration comin’ at me in the mail.)
Aw thanks!! Hope you love it.
RANDOM PLAN TOY QUESTION:
I always see your wooden Plan toys around the house/buffet and I have a quick question on where you actually FIND them? I have searched online for them, but never found a site where they were actually for sale/available. love. that. stacking. tree.
Amazon.com baby! We also have a cute local store that sometimes has them called Franklin Goose.
Erin @ FierceBeagle says
Very useful post since I have some furniture with unsightly dings, but what really caught my attention was the soft-j issue. Did you ever see the tennis final where Roger Federer beat Robin Soderling? Soderling, in his speech, said that before the match, he and his coach were “yoking” that nobody beats him 8 times in a row, and now they’ll have to “yoke” that nobody beats him 9 times in a row. My favorite mispronunciation ever, with the possible exception of Bela Karolyi’s pronunciation of humongous: he-mongoose.
Allison @ Gold Stars Double Rainbows says
The buffet looks great too, but what a cutie is that little Clara-girl of yours!
The ole buffet looks awesome! I am intrigued by the SafeCoat Acrylacq. How would you compare its sheen to Minwax’s Satin Wipe-On Poly? I used the Miniwax on a couple pieces to protect a painted finish and it looked pretty good over lighter paint colors but I didn’t like how shiny it made some of the darker colors. Is the SafeCoat Acrylacq more matte? And where do you buy it?
Yes you can buy it in a satin finish and I love it more!
I also would like to know where you guy this SafeCoat Acrylacq? I did a search on Home Depot and Lowe’s website, but no luck.
Greendepot.com or any local Eco shop.
Hi guys! I had a quick question. I have brought older pieces like your beautiful buffet home before and have had trouble with getting rid of that old, musty, dirty smell even after a good scrubbing and sealing. I love the color of the pieces and don’t want to paint them. Have you ever experienced that and what worked for you to get rid of it?
Our best trick is to sit them out in the hot sun on a warm day (heat releases odors) and wipe them down inside and out with white vinegar. It doesn’t have an odor when it dries and it really seems to naturally “bleach out” the odor. Then let it keep baking in the sun and do another vinegar wipe down if it’s especially stinky. Let it fully dry in the sun and it should be all good. Hope it helps!
Where do you buy Safecoat? I checked Lowe’s & Home Depot and didn’t see it. Thanks! Beth
We got our first can locally from a green building shop and used that for two years and when it ran out that store had closed so we ordered from greendepot.com since we knew we loved it.
Adding to the love is what it’s all about! And…guess who got an email notice that her copy of THE BOOK OF THE YEAR has shipped…..you’re smart it’s me!!!
So excited for me, so proud of you!
Eeeeeeks! Every time someone says that I simpltaneoidly grin and sweat profusely. Haha!
Crystal @ 29 Rue House says
I like the vintage/worn look but I think you definitely improved it! My girl is obsessed with hair clips…instead of stickers all over my arm, I end up with about 20 hair clips in my hair every night!
Vicki H. says
Guess What…my pre order of YOUR book landed in my mail box today!!! Yipee…one happy Canadian fan here!My seven year old comented on many of the painting projects as she flipped through the pages while I made supper. Definitely a picture for the scrapbook.
Great job on the book it is amazing!!!
Aw thanks so much! It’s so good to hear that you love it!
I just wanted to let you know that I was so excited to hear of you coming to Wilton, CT. I unfortunately will not be able to come because of Sandy. I do hope you get a lovely turnout, but if not, please know that you have many fans in Connecticut, and under better circumstances, would be there supporting you.
Aw thanks Karen, you’re so sweet! Stay safe!
not sure if this was already mentioned, but have you tried the “Easy” button? i use it in google chrome and it’s AMAZING. you can see all the pictures in craigslist just by hitting a bookmark button: http://www.craigseasy.com
Oh yeah that’s fun but I forget about it sometimes. Haha. I’m set in my ways.
Oh man, Mary, you have completely changed my CL experience forever!! THANK YOU!
Maidless Wonder says
Do you sand between your Safecoat applications?
Nope, we just keep them super thin so they’re not bumpy or drippy.
I always liked the lines and the well-loved look of the buffet, but it was a little too ‘scarred’ looking for my taste. GREAT job nursing it back to more of an ‘aged to perfection’ look.
(It was scarring me, lol.)
Those bare parts always bugged me, too, even though I love the piece and the fact that it doesn’t look shiny and new. I love it even more now! Great job! (I also try to guess who is writing. Weird, but true.)
We are in need of a dresser. We walked into a Haverty’s and walked out frustrated. We are now very aware that we like older furniture with character, so we’re bound for thrift stores this weekend.
That buffet is outstanding. Super score.
Hey, she got a Buf-face-lift!
Looks 10 years younger! And well-rested!
Feelin’ a little rough and in the buff?
Give $herdog a call and she’ll color match your bare patch!
LARY @ Inspiration Nook says
Love this. Wish I had the space to put a credenza in this apartment!
Christina @ Floridays Mom says
I LOVE this! It really made all the difference. So happy you didn’t strip and start all over, all it needed was a little touch up and that green is perfect. Gorgeous!
Debbie Baldwin says
Okay, maybe I could have?This weekend, my project of choice is the buffet?
Maria @ Redecorate Blog says
This little project turned out great! I love that you kept with the distressed look, but still cleaned it up a lot so that it looks purposeful in terms of the vintage look! :-) So pretty!
Wow!! I cannot believe how perfectly that paint matches. It really looks like you even patched the veneer, that’s how perfectly that paint matches! I am all for painting something that’s already painted. Beautiful old oak tables, maybe not but if it’s already painted, I say it’s fair game. :)
Leslie Stewart says
Thanks for sharing these tips! Looks awesome!
House on the Way
Is there a difference between this sealer and a poly? Are their uses interchangeable?
Pretty much the same thing but it’s low-voc and non-toxic (not as stinky).
Quick question about the Safecoat Acrylacq. Doesn’t the finish on the paint offer protection? Why use a sealer in addition?
When I have an old piece I didn’t paint myself I like to seal it since over time paint’s surface can get flatter and more prone to stains (this old paint was like a sponge soaking up stuff) so scrubbing it down and sealing it keeps then out.
Susan Akers says
Isn’t it wild how little things make a hugh difference? Great improvement!
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!?! How in the world did I miss the original post on this sideboard?
Little story: when my in-laws eventually downsize from their farmhouse to a small little modular home in the next few years, my husband and I will be gifted the family dining room table. It’s been in the family for over 70 years and while it isn’t my style, I am happy to have it because of it’s history.
Anyway, for a wedding gift my in-laws said, “we found you a side board that matches the table!”
Your craigslist find? I have that exact same piece in my dining room. They found it at an auction 2 years ago and it looks brand new. It doesn’t QUITE match the table like they thought (I didn’t have the heart to tell them that….), but seeing the new look to it has got me thinking!
Thank you for sharing your find!
Ooh, love it! Just the right amount of touching up. Love a quick fixer-upper!
This is just gorgeous!
Jeanna Walton says
Lovely!!! Now she’s a stately grand dame :)
Wow, that paint color is perfect!
We have two antique dressers (they were my grandma’s when she was first married and they were passed on to me – they’ve been my dressers all my life) that are in dire need of some lovin. We may not get to it until spring (winter is setting in here in upstate NY) but the plan is to refinish them sometime within the next year.
Ahhh much better…. and WOW ~ that paint matched perfectly.
house Crazy Sarah says
great job! Perfect match ont he paint!
love these upcycling posts, old babes getting some love.
and, is clara going to be a tattooed girl? or is she working it out with stickers?
I don’t know… she loves fake tattoos too…
It looks awesome! But when I read that you brought home a ton of paint chips and tried to match the closest one, I almost gasped out loud. We learned this trick at our first house – if you need to match an old paint color, peel/scrape/chip a chunk off and take it to the hardware store. They hardly need any surface area (maybe 1″ square?) to do a color match. We’ve taken chunks out of drywall to do this.
Oh yes I just grabbed about six swatches and if they didn’t match I would have lugged one of the drawers in for them to match.
Sarah V @ Crafty Waffles says
Great job matching the colours. Looking at the close-up is looks like the door pulls are on upside down. It might be worth loosening the screws and flipping them right ways around if you can.
Wow, nicely done. The retouching blends in really well, and I love that you used Safecoat on top. One thing I found is that brushes leave behind brush strokes. It’s been maddening for me on a project I worked on this summer. Then I found a Purdy brush with extra soft bristles and suddenly everything looks amazing. Some gentle wet sanding once it’s dry and that’s that: no visible brush lines/strokes, and the surface was beautifully smooth and protected. :o)
Amanda @ The Scacchi House says
LOVE it!!! I hope we can find awesome pieces like that when we build our house. Looks great!
Sherry, I have a dining table that is very pretty but was a painted thrift store find. Some of the paint has chipped and I haven’t found a paint to match it yet, but its really in need of some sealer. If I put sealer on it, am I am able to ever put any paint on those spots again? Or is the sealer going to prevent that? Thanks!
After you deal it you’ll have to sand the sealer down and might have to repaint the whole thing for a seamless look. Hope it helps!
Michael Coline says
This project looks really great! Amazing how you did this alone and managed to refresh the old furniture. I’m definitely gonna use some of the tips that you’ve mentioned.
Looks great! Do you prefer the Safecoat to Minwax Polycrylic (and do they do the same thing?) I used the Minwax when I repainted a dresser, per your How to Paint Furniture post, but want something less toxic when I refinish a rocking horse for my daughter. Can I use it over stain instead of paint? Is it available at Home Depot/Lowes?
Yes, they’re both great for results, I just love Safecoat for the less fumey/non-toxic finish. They both work well over stain or paint. You have to find it at a local eco shop or order it online from greendepot.com though. Hope it helps!
Nice job! It’s a great colour match, and it still looks vintage/distressed, rather than “in distress”, haha!
thank you, thank you, a million times, thank you! i have this amazing antique bedroom set that i plan to use as my baby girl’s “big girl” furniture someday. i always thought i would have to strip it and repaint it because of the condition it’s in, but it looks so awesome as is, and the gorgeous turquoise color is so dreamy! now, i realize that i can do exactly what you’ve done here, and it will not look quite as beat up, and will be safely sealed for my little girl. great project, great post! :)
Thanks Anne! Good luck!
Awesome job! This piece looks great and I would love to have it in my home.