Continuing on with our goal of discussing affordable decor on this blog, we’ve reached the point in our “Choosing Secondhand Furniture” series when it’s time to think about if you should consider refinishing when you see used furniture.
A lot of people have a really hard time finding the potential in a piece. Also, some just ride it off entirely because they don’t find themselves handy enough. Well, here’s some tips on how to see the potential in a piece that just needs a little TLC.
Condition of Current Finish: What’s the current finish like and what shape is it in? Is it chipping, just dingy, multiple layers of paint? We discussed this some when we talked about recognizing quality in a piece of used furniture, but it definitely plays a part in whether or not you should buy. If it’s something you can paint over and you like then by all means purchase the piece. But that’s the easy answer, right? But, sometimes this might not be that easy. For instance, my Lane end tables first looked like this:
And our coffee table was way, way worse:
To some, this damage would seem too much and the tables wouldn’t be worth it. But, it was only only $30 for the two tables and I figured the risk was worth it. After lots and lots of sanding and some spray laquer, here’s the end result:
We also purchased a second end table at Room Service Vintage when they were having a sidewalk sale. It was in the same condition as the others and so Brendan gave it some TLC, too. All of the table lost their original finish, because of the sanding but I honestly love how the refinishing brought out the dovetail details ever more.
Use your imagination: What would this piece look like painted? Or stripped to the original word? Or what if you styled it right, how would it look in your space? Ask anyone who purchases used furniture and they will all tell you this, “Everything looks worse in the store”. It’s so true. So when you see a piece just stare at it and think about how it might look with a fresh coat of paint.
Professional Refinishing: If you get them professionally refinished you have to ask yourself if spending the money is worth it? For our Lane tables, it wasn’t. It would have cost a couple hundred and at that price we could purchase them in really good condition at a local vintage shop. But, for a great couch, it might be worth it. Recently, I received a pair of 1950s shellback, patio chairs. They were my grandmothers and my mom had them professionally repainted in the 80s. So, when I got them this last summer they were in desperate need of another refinishing. At this point, the cost to have the chairs properly done was way more expensive than what it would cost to buy the reproductions. But to me, these were my grandmother’s and so I loved them more than just trying to get a good deal. In fact, after talking to my mom when trying to decide if we should have them powder coated, she gave me the best advice for thrifting, “Not everything has to be a good deal.” Do I love, love, love a good deal? Hell. Yes. But in this case, the chairs and their history were more important.
Do you have any other tips or advice to share? If so, send it over! We’d love to hear your thoughts!
For the past several weeks Jess and I have been posting about things we think everyone should know about purchasing furniture secondhand. Just to recap: We wrote about why we buy secondhand in the first place here and here. Also here’s a quick recap of our previous posts.
- Obviously, Mary is the real party planner around here, and she has some beautiful results for all of her hard work. I love fancy dinner parties, or fancy any other kind of parties, but I never seem to find an occasion. Mary’s posts on the travel-themed engagement party she planned and her sister’s 30th birthday party combined with these awesome ribbons (pictured) in Somewhere Splendid’s Party Inspo: Book Club Party make for some beautiful inspiration.
- Last week, ReadyMade announced that the magazine is being discontinued by its parent company, Meredith. This week, 2Modern Blog reminded me of this great slideshow of ReadyMade DIY outdoor transformations.
- On Pinterest, I discovered this great chair swing via HGTV that I was able to trace back to a post from the Swedish blog rusta upp. What a fun idea! The whole blog looks beautiful so take a look around when you follow the link. Google does (expectedly) mediocre with the translating, but at least her instructions for this DIY made the transition pretty well.
- Got paint sticks? Got a cheap barrel shade in need of a makeover? Well, then this tutorial at Enjoying the Simple Things is just for you! It’s really brilliant and so creative. Every barrel shade I’ve seen in a thrift store this week has made me want to load up on paint sticks and hot glue (if I owned a house or wanted to replace my light fixtures). (via Apartment Therapy)
- These embroidered portraits by Danial Kornrumpf literally made my mouth drop. They are stunning. (via Swiss Miss)
- Have you seen Dear Photograph? This site makes me want to grab up all of mine and my family’s old photos. I love how you can see how much some scenes have changed and how some are completely untouched. Such a cool idea.
I’ve loved palettes since I first opened a ReadyMade magazine back in, oh, say, 2004? They have so much potential! I’ve found it hard to explain that potential to my less imaginative family members but I think the charm of these palette shelves is undeniable. (via HomeTownGirl).
On memorial day weekend, I embarked on a project I’ve been trying to find the time to do since before we moved into the house — refinish some cabinets in our kitchen. My mom found these for us at an estate sale in probably September and we stored them at the house we rented while we remodelled and then moved them here where they were put to use. They probably have found a home in about 4 rooms of our house since we first moved them into the kitchen (below) but finally we were ready and that green color had to go.
I started the process by preparing them for paint. I set them outside and stripped their hardware and then gave them a good cleaning with mineral spirits.
As you can see, these shelves had gotten very dusty and the mineral spirits did a lot of good getting them cleaned and ready for paint. I then had a few spots that needed sanding. I sanded to a nice smooth finish and ended with cabinets that were ready to paint.
At this stage, we moved inside. It was so hot that day that the heat of the cabinets combined with the sun was causing my primer to partially dry when it hit the surface. I shook out my drop cloth, spread it out in the kitchen, and took over the eat-in side of things.
As you can see, the primer went on a little streaky. Painting ultimately meant one coat of primer and two coats of paint. I think that the paint would have covered better on the first coat if I would have used a better brush when I primed. Next time I paint furniture, I’ll probably be a little bit pickier on the priming process. We’ll see if I get different results.
On July 22, 2011, I added this to Modern Country Style’s paint party link up! If you’re coming from there, check out the rest of our site! If you’re from elsewhere, check out the paint party link up. There are so many fun projects.
- The Kim Jong Il Looking at Things tumblog featured a photo of him looking at cookie jars this week (above). This tumblog makes me delightfully happy because I read the new posts and then I think “Ha! Kim Jong Il is always looking at things!” and then I realize that this thought is really very true and I laugh more. I probably don’t even need to point it out: I’m a strange woman. I’ve been enjoying Kim Jong Il Looking at Things for a while and I have to say that these little kitchen wares seem to have him happier than anything else I’ve seen him look at.
- Yesterday, on my way back from lunch, I passed an old man enjoying a cool post-rain afternoon on his front porch. Combined with this Design Candy: Swing’n From the Rafters feature at DiggersList and the tree in my backyard that is begging for some kind of swing, I might be investigating outdoor chairs in the next few days.
- Finally, I want to point your attention toward Joana Vasconcelos’s Contamination in the recent post of Photos from the 54th Venice Biennale, Part 1 on HyperAllergic. The textures and colors are beautiful!
- Remember how awesome friendship bracelets were to make? Well, over at Honestly…WTF they are bringing them back with a tutorial and everything. These are so colorful and pretty, and I love the idea of grouping them together. Also, how awesome would these be as headbands? I think I’m gonna play around with that idea.
- I don’t know when it was that I realized I loved airport art, but on my trip to Japan two years ago I took so many pictures of the art in Houston Hobby on our layover which slowly turned from 2 hours to 5. So you can imagine that I loved this post about the San Francisco International Airport’s new terminal design over on Apartment Therapy. The egg chairs would definitely help deal with a several hour layover a bit better.
- Alright, I admit it. I’m in a relationship with a total nerd, a nerd who loves the idea of planning for what he’d do during a zombie apocolypse. So, when I saw KWK Promes’ safe house featured on Home DSGN, it made me smile. At first it looks like just a stone warehouse, but when the walls are retracted and the large concrete shutters are opened it’s quite stunning on the inside. Also, the lush grounds with the stark contrast of the man made concrete structure is beautiful. (via Apartment Therapy)