Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tips n' Tricks: An Easy Way To Refresh A Piece of Wood Furniture in less than 60 Minutes

Hi Friends!

Yes, you are reading right, there is an easy way to refresh wood furniture in less than 60 minutes.   I recently bought an Antique Desk with stunning Cabriole legs and beautiful wood grain.  The finish was really old and brittle and some of it had just worn off.  So many ideas ran through my head for the table!  But, I could not bring myself to painting it.  Keeping the rustic look of the table was the best option for me.  A family member will be borrowing it for his upcoming wedding.  He will be using it as a grooms table.  He says that he is an old soul caught inside a young man's body!  My goal is to make it beautiful and just right for the wedding.  And to ensure that the table would reflect just how masculine and rustic the groomsman is I wanted to refinish it.  I wanted to embody the old form that it already is and just bring it back to its former Glory.  So, I chose an easy and fast way to do this!!!  In total honesty, I didn't know if it would work as well as it did. Stay with me...

Antique Desk with Cabriole Legs - I went with an Antique Walnut Stain & Poly
Finish is Old and Worn

Close up of how worn the finish was

What You will Need:

  1. Orbital sander - I used 120 grit sandpaper to sand finish until it was evenly dull - ((If you want - you can go back over the table with a 180 or 200 grit sandpaper to ensure it is smooth))
  2. Natural Bristle Paint Brush
  3. Foam Roller
  4. Miniwax PolyShades Stain & Polyurethane
  5. Mineral spirits to clean hands and brushes
I used Antique Walnut Gloss (its very orangy in color but used it as I wanted it to look really rustic and antique)

 This is what I did First:

I sanded it down until it looked very dull, it didn't take long

Notice that I did not strip it to bare wood.  I just knocked the shine off

You can still see lots of original stain but no will work out in the end

Now, its all ready for the fun part!

I finished sanding the entire piece in less than 30 minutes. Remember, I was not stripping the stain off I was simply dulling the entire piece and preparing it for Polyshades.  Any professional wood refinisher would raise an eyebrow to using a foam roller to apply the Polyshades.  They would suggest a natural bristle brush.  But remember, this is a 60 minute tutorial and I am showing you the fastest way to do this!

**Be sure to clean the furniture piece after sanding with a mild surface cleaner.  Must be done before applying the Polyshades**

Second Let's apply the Polyshades!

Oh yeah, its looking good!

The foam roller will start out with an orange peel finish but go right back over it to lay the Polyshades down until smooth

Here, I applied the Polyshades to half of the side so that you can see the difference between unfinished and finished

The entire piece was covered in Polyshades

Much Better!

I think Polyshades is a Winner!
 I applied one coat of Polyshades and this is the results.  It took me less than 20 minutes to apply the Polyshades as it goes on fast with a roller!!  I used the natural bristle brush in smaller areas.  I was working on this in the evening and had enough time to apply one layer because it needs long drying time.  It needs to dry for 6 hours before reapplying another layer.  I would add another layer if it were for a dining table.  However, this table will not get the day to day rough use and abuse.

I used a gloss for a shiny look...I like shiny things too!

The legs are so beautiful and was what attracted me to the piece in the first place

Ready for the Grooms Table!

I have been meaning to let you guys know that I don't benefit from recommending any products listed on my blog other than my Le Chalk..  I am simply sharing what I use and what I have found to be helpful for furniture makeovers.  You are more than welcomed to share what works for you in the comment section, I would love to hear from you!

 Well, I hope I have inspired you today!


Stay tuned this week and I will show you how to add some personalized art for your bedroom wall for less than $20


Mary Elizabeth

Monday, September 22, 2014

How to Strip and Stain a Wood Table Top - Part 2 of 2 (Step by Step)

Hello Dear Readers,

If you didn't read "HOW TO STRIP A WOOD TABLE TOP" click HERE to read all about it.

When staining wood, missing a step could cost you more work.  It has happened to me on a number of occasions and was able to document it. It all happened when I was getting ahead of myself and remembered I had not used the Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.  It was too late.  I had already applied the the first coat of stain.  At first, I kinda liked the watercolor effect it gave it but it just wasn't good work.

I re-sanded the drawer fronts to make it ready for the Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner & this is what it looked like after adding the conditioner.  Beautiful!
Although the entire dresser was Maple wood, the drawer fronts had a wood veneer and its grain was speckled and grainy.  Without the Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner the stain would have settled inside the grainy grain of the wood wherever it wanted.

Close up of the grainy wood veneer.

Stain settled in smoothly, consistently, & beautifully!

So now that I got that out the way,

Let's Stain!!:

FIRST - To ensure a smooth and even finish the wood should be conditioned.  I used Miniwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner.

  • Sand the wood starting with 120 grit and work up to 220 grit until smoooth!
  • Apply pre-stain wood conditioner on clean, dry, raw wood, using a brush or cloth. I like to use a clean rag or old t-shirt.
  •  Allow the product to penetrate and dry for about 15 or 20 minutes.
  •  Remove any excess with a clean, dry cloth.

I started with a dull & dirty wood plaque I purchased from the Goodwill for $2

I sanded with a 200 grit in this pic until it became brighter and prettier

Oooh!,  it did turn out bright and smooth, isn't wood beautiful!?!

I used a cheap foam brush from Harbor Freight

Apply Pre-Stain along with the grain of the wood

The Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner has been applied to all the wood plaque.  Allow to dry for 15 minutes

After 15 minutes or so, remove excess, you MUST apply stain within 2 hrs.


  • Apply the Miniwax Dark Walnut Stain within 2 hours of the pre-stain wood conditioner
  • Stir the can of stain before use
  • Apply the stain following the grain of the wood.  You can use brush or rag. I normally use a clean rag. 
  • After applying, remove excess
  • Allow the stain to penetrate and dry for 10 -15 mins.  You can reapply for a darker and richer color.

Stir Stain of your choice and apply along with the grain of the wood
A little goes a long way!
Once you get it all on, grab a lint free rag ( I normally use an old t-shirt)

Remove excess as soon as you have applied the stain all over.  This will avoid from furniture becoming sticky.
All done!  You can add as much as you want for as dark as you would like! (allow for dry time in between coats)

THIRD - Apply a protective finish

  • I use Miniwax Wipe on Poly to protect the finish using a lint free cloth - (There a  number of awesome protective finishes out there.  I just feel like this is the easiest to work with)
  • I apply up to 6 coats depending on how the furniture will be used. 
I will update with photographs of the Miniwax Wipe On Poly soon.  I used an old T-Shirt to wipe on the poly.  It's a liquid with a slight thickness to it.  It wipes on similar to wiping on a coat of vegetable oil onto your counter tops.  Very smooth!  You will need to do at least four coats or more; allowing to dry in between coats.

Refinishing the top really made over this beautiful vanity!

I hope I inspired you today!

Mary Elizabeth 

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Strip and Stain a Wood Table Top - Part 1 of 2 (Step by Step)

Hi Sweet Friends,

It is no secret that wood is trending and becoming increasingly popular in today's homes, stores, restaurants, and is the choice of professional designers.  The natural look evokes a warm sense of well being and not to mention how its neutral palette compliments every color scheme. Whether a new or refinished floor, wood framed art, a wood piece of furniture, wood gives a home a sense of emotion and nostalgia.  And bringing the outdoors inside the home is the best way to connect with nature.

via:Fleaing France Brocante Society

I really love how painted furniture looks with a refinished top.  It just gives the tables a more luxurious look to the table.  Learning how to refinish a table top will allow you to really create a masterpiece of your own and at the same time it will save you from sending it out to a professional.  You will be really proud of yourself, I promise!

I will say, stripping and staining furniture can be very intimidating.  It takes a little bit of patience and some elbow grease, but you will be rewarded with instant gratification and a huge sense of achievement.  You will ask yourself why you had not tried this any sooner.  Well, at least that was how I felt the first time I refinished a table.  For a bit of encouragement, once you try it the first time you will never forget how to do this.  So let's get started.

Pictured below are the majority of the items needed to strip your wood furniture.  If it is your very first time or if it is mahogany wood I suggest using a plastic spatula instead of the metal putty knife. You will also need a pair of gloves to protect your hands (not pictured).

Here' the List of the Items You will Need:

  1. Citristrip Gel or Spray- I like this stripping gel because it is not as harsh as other strippers and it smells like oranges. Environmentally Friendly
  2. Mineral Spirits - (You can also use odorless Mineral Spirits) Used for Clean Up
  3. 0000 Steel Wool (not pictured)- To remove and loosen any remaining residue or finish
  4. Razor Scraper - this is usually a no-no because it could gouge wood but it's small and great for beginners, just be careful
  5. Metal Putty Knife
  6. Nylon Brush Set or 0000 Steel Wool - You can also purchase these from Harbor Freight
  7. Cheap Bristle Paint Brush
  8. Miniwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
  9. Miniwax Stain
  10. Orbital Sander (you can also use sandpaper alone if the project is small enough)
  11. Miniwax Wipe On Poly
  12. Sandpaper - 100 grit, 150 grit, and 220 grit.  (You can buy a package with various grits)
  13. Dropcloth 
  14. Dust mask 

To get an idea of what the job will look like:

Citristrip had been applied, finish had bubbled up, and I had begun scraping and then catching the crumbled finish in wax paper
I had just stripped half of the finish
I had just completed stripping the entire piece
Stripped Vanity

  • Start with a well ventilated area and a drop cloth on ground if you want to protect your floor
  • Pour Citristrip onto table.  (start with half the table so you are not overwhelmed)
  • Using your cheapy brush, brush an even coat of citristrip
  • Allow to dry until you see bubbling up, or when it looks glazey and soft looking
  • Grab a shoebox or wax paper to catch the old finish
  • Gently scrape the finish in a gliding motion going along with wood grain being careful not to gouge the wood and slide it right into the shoebox (may have to repeat to get all the finish off)
  • Use Nylon brush or steel wool to get into grooves that your spatula cannot reach
  • Use Steel Wool and Mineral Spirits to remove or loosen any remaining finish (you may have to repeat several times before it is all off)
  • The wood should be clean and dry before staining and sanding
  • Begin sanding with a 100 grit sandpaper and slowly move up to a finer grit sandpaper 220 grit until super smooth and ready for stain
The very best advice is to be patient.  Getting in a hurry can put you back to square one.  Give yourself a couple of days to do it right and when it is finished you will be able to sit back and enjoy the fruit of your labor!

Don't miss out on the second part of this two part series!  

Click HERE to read "How to Stain a Wood Table Top".

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Fleaing France Brocante Table Inspiration comes by many sources.  Media, travels, a magazine, walking out your door, music, nature, and from someone you might admire.  I get inspired from all of the above!  I am sure you do too.  Lately, I have been staring, gazing, and wishing for all the sweet things that you can find at the Fleaing France Brocante Society.  I visit everyday in hopes to indulge my eyes into something new that Simone may have found.

via:Fleaing France Brocante Society
via:Fleaing France Brocante Society
via:Fleaing France Brocante Society

via:Fleaing France Brocante Society

via:Fleaing France Brocante Society
My kitchen table was inspired from Simone's hypnotizing site..

via:Fleaing France Brocante Society
I love the wood top and chunky chippy white legs in the above photograph.  The chairs are so dainty and quaint and I would love to have all 6 of them!  You can tell that the table has served many family and friends for a long time.  Going to France to buy a similar table was out of the equation.  A few months ago I stumbled across a table very similar.  However, it wasn't so charming at first glance.  What I did like were the bones, once you get past all the ugliness one can see the potential clearly.  Chunky legs and a thick slab of wood for the table top....oooh my...  The previous owners had no idea!.....

The legs were an awful white color and the table top was marked up with markers and crayons.  It was halfway stripped when I thought I should save a before photograph.  The table top is maple and normally you would leave the color of Maple as is because it becomes a little finicky when you are trying to dye her skin.  Maple doesn't like to change colors...but I talked her into it.  I made sure to condition it prior to staining for that extra convincing.

The table honestly didn't want to be stained

But if there is a will there is a way....
It took several tries..
Now, a warm brown maple top...
I chalk painted the legs and chose not to distress the legs.  I love the rounded turned legs.

The table top is a really thick slab of wood and was very heavy bringing in the house.

I feel like I brought Fleaing France into my home.  Stop by and say hi to Simone!

Mary Elizabeth