(This post is written by Kathleen, Mike’s better half and right-hand woman in the shop.)
It’s a good day when 1- You’re out at your favorite thrift store, and 2- You find a jackpot piece of furniture that you know can look like a million bucks without a ton of money or effort. Tag along to see how I turned this dark glossy beast into a farmhouse beauty!
We’d just moved into our fixer house when I realized we needed side tables in our living room. With most of our budget going towards bigger projects (like moving stairs!), I knew thrifting was the only way to find a great piece at a great price. I walked past this scratched up table at Goodwill and flipped it over to see how it was constructed. It was solid wood (YES!!), had clean farmhouse-style lines, and was a whopping $8. SOLD!
Solid wood construction meant that I had more options than just paint for refinishing. I could stain it or strip and seal it for a bare wood look. I decided to stain the top and paint the bottom half, giving it a true two-tone farmhouse look.
Here are the tools and items I used for the project:
Affiliate links are used on this page. See my disclosure page for info on affiliate programs.
Thrift Store Furniture Restoration
- Stain & Finish
Furniture Restoration – Sanding
My first step was to sand through the old finish and stain on the top of the table. You have to get back down to bare wood for a new stain to adhere properly. To do this on my table, I used a random orbit sander with 120 grit sandpaper. I’m a stickler for proper PPE, so make sure you wear a dust mask/respirator to keep from inhaling all those old finish particles!
Once I was down to bare wood, I sanded up to 220 grit to smooth the surface before staining.
Since I was painting the bottom half, I only needed to scuff up the finish slightly for the paint to adhere. I used 220 grit on my sander and a small detail sanding block for tight corners the sander wouldn’t fit in.
Give the whole piece a good wipe down with a clean cloth to remove any lingering dust particles you don’t want forever embedded in your stain and paint!
Furniture Restoration – Stain and Finish
I chose to use Varathane’s Weathered Gray Stain for the top of my table, and really like how it turned out. I used a clean scrap rag (old white sheet torn into pieces) to apply the product in small sections, then immediately buffed that section with another clean rag. I did this because I wanted a thinner stain look, and because the stain went onto this particular type of wood pretty heavily. I continued working in small sections until the top was coated in stain.
Following the instructions on the can, I waited the proper dry time and then applied OsmoOil PolyX with a clean rag, working in small sections as with the stain. I waited until the top was covered with OsmoOil, then buffed it lightly with another clean rag.
Furniture Restoration – Paint
Now, here’s where I should have primed the bottom half before painting, but didn’t. If you’re also trying to cover a dark finish, save yourself a coat or 2 of paint and use a good primer before this next step!
For the paint, I used General Finishes Milk Paint in Snow White. I applied it using a foam brush, and was really impressed at how easily it smoothed out while drying. My table needed 3 coats, but that’s mostly because I skipped priming first, which I don’t recommend.
(Side note about color choices with General Finishes- They have an AWESOME color lab on their website where you can see how to blend their stock colors to make tons of custom colors. It’s really addicting to look through and imagine what you could refinish in your house with their pretty colors! )
Since this table is tucked between two couches in a low traffic zone of our house, I felt the durability of this milk paint was sufficient. If it were a coffee table or a dining table, I would have tried General Finishes Brushable White Enamel to give it an extra layer of protection against chips and dings. (If you choose a color other than white and need extra durability, I recommend General Finishes High Performance Top Coat applied over the milk paint.)
Once everything is dry, all that’s left to do is stand back and enjoy your new piece of furniture! I love how this turned out and am really impressed at how easy it was to tackle over a weekend.
Wanna check out another refinishing approach? Check out how to restore an old nightstand!
What have you refinished with these or similar products? Tag us @woodshopmike on Instagram or Facebook so we can see your awesome furniture makeovers, too!