Tag Archives: furniture makeover

Curb Finds: Refinishing a small dresser for Tami

Turning thirty might have triggered a lot of self-reflection and deep thoughts, but it also brought the best present ever…a carefully-orchestrated surprise visit from Tami.

What a sneak.  She and Read secretly schemed to plan a visit from Oregon, and she flies in this week! When I found out I texted her a hundred exclamation points, which I felt appropriately conveyed my excitement.

Tami’s visit inspired me to spruce up our spare bedroom. A couple weeks ago on my morning walk with Sam, bleary-eyed and cold, I passed this wooden dresser out on the curb.

P1020010Ten minutes later I sort of registered what I had seen – an extremely ugly, but nonetheless apartment-sized piece of solid wood furniture. FOR FREE. In the time it took me to circle back someone had stripped off all the hardware. Weird. But I lifted and limped it home all the same. I ended up with two big hip bruises, but by god I got it up the porch steps (I imagine that in times like this I resemble one of those burrow-dwelling ants, slowly dragging something backwards into the front door).

What was under that hideous and non-ironic olive green? Yesterday, armed with paint stripper, gloves, and a scraper I found out…

The green paint bubbled and puckered and scraped off to reveal a dusty rose.


Under THAT was a layer of shiny varnish. Geez this thing was like a gobstopper.

The little neighbor boy wandered over, curious. “Is that boring?” he asked, and I had to confess (to him and myself) that it’s actually incredibly satisfying. I like to pick things and pop zits and scrub grime. So an afternoon with a can of paint stripper is great fun. After a few hours I had gotten it down to this:
P1020026And then I brought in some rough sandpaper and took off what remained of the old varnish.

After running tackcloth over everything I applied a dark walnut stain, waited 5 minutes, and rubbed it off. The wood grain was really starting to shine through.

I added about $20 of new burnished brass hardware and rubbed Pledge furniture oil over everything. How’s that for a curbside makeover?