Thursday, August 4, 2011

Project Restoration

About 2 weeks ago, Mike & I decided our wedding gifts needed a better storage place than stacked on the floor.  See, our 700 sq ft condo seemed like plenty of space when we first moved.  Then we went and got married and received wonderful grown-up gifts.  Crystal goblets need displaying, the cupcake carrier needed storage itself, and deep-down I worried the cats' exploration might ruin a few pieces.

We set off to find a china cabinet/hutch/anything decent to hold our things.  It needed to be no taller than 7 foot, no wider than 41 inches, and no deeper than 20 inches.  These stringent specifications almost lead us to design a piece for $2600 at a very fancy, yet wonderful quality wood, furniture store.  We found no justification in spending that much money on something we might not use when/if we move, no matter how solid and great the wood.
(yes, many jokes can be inserted here)

So why not take things into our own hands?  (Sidenote: I consider myself mildly crafty.  I can't use a sewing machine but I can scrapbook and paint.  Mike is good at reading directions and following them.  This will come in handy later.)

Enter "Rough and Ready" a jam packed, flea-market style, everything goes second-hand furniture store.  Our neighbors referred us, as they purchased and refinished a piece themselves.  I striped/sanded/refinished a coffee table before.  I was all about tackling another restoration project.  Because a giant china cabinet is just like a small coffee table, right?
(warning: photo heavy post ahead)

See Betsy:

We assumed underneath layers of caked on paint, Betsy had fine walnut wood.  But Betsy had some other problems too:

Below that lovely felt covering:

But no worries, right?  I mean, how long can it take to refinish a giant cabinet?!

Day/Night 1
  • applied decent-at-best orange goop/paint remover (never opt for the environmentally safe stuff when you want to do heavy duty work)
  • scraped off as much paint as possible
  • 3 hours

Day 2:
  • realize that orange goop did not take off all paint
  • try spot application of more orange goop to remaining paint areas
  • let sit and scrub off with fine steel wool
  • send Mike to the hardware store for more steel wool
  • take doors off Betsy because A) 1 fell off while moving & B) it's just easier this way
  • realize that the orange goop leaves residue and read online that you need a special remover for stripper residue
  • send Mike to the hardware store for "stripper stripper" (& plastic gloves)
  • we believe all paint is gone
  • 6 hours   

Day 3:
  • realize there is still paint on certain areas
  • send Mike to hardware store for hardcore paint stripper, the kind that stinks & can eat through your plastic gloves
  • Mike also gets more plastic gloves 
  • Go to town on the remaining paint spots with super paint stripper and steel wool
  • Mike goes back to hardware store for MORE stripper stripper to remove the stripper residue. one. last. time.
  • curse at the tiny nooks on the doors where you find paint residue & attack with more stripper and then follow up with "stripper stripper"
  • buff the entire piece with extra fine steel wool
  • sand the extreme problem areas
  • apply polyurethane to entire piece
  • curse doors' nooks when applying polyurethane
  • 6 hours

Day 4:
  • ohmygodwe'renotdoneyet?!
  • apply Tung Oil to entire piece, let sit, buff
  • move piece into your home (itsaboutdamntime)
  • put doors back on
  • heave a huge sigh of relief

But next time? I'm spending $2600 on that brand new piece that I don't need to touch.


  1. What a labour of love but so worth it! It looks gorgeous! Good luck with married life! It's the BEST! love amy x

  2. It looks a mazing! You both did a FAB job!

  3. Wow vic, I'm impressed. That is hard core diy crafty. Do we get to see pics with all your crystal installed?

  4. Wow! All that hard work paid off! It looks great!

  5. Gorgeous! I think it was worth every bit of work.

  6. That's so beautiful! You guys did a wonderful job! I have to wait another year or 2 before I can get a china cabinet. We're moving. Again.


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