I wouldn’t consider myself an expert furniture refinisher. But it is something I enjoy doing on occasion. I love finding a quality piece that just needs a little updating.
My son and daughter in law were moving into their first home and needed some furniture for their bedroom. They were able to purchase a handmade dresser and night stand from the offer up app. It was made decently well but finished horribly.
The sizing was perfect for their space but the look was something to be desired. When they were purchased I didn’t have the time to do a major overhaul and they didn’t want to wait so I tried to fixed it a bit for them. The drawers of the nightstands and open shelf had craft paper glued on. Not only was it ugly it was a pain to get off. I was a little grumpy by the time I was finished. I didn’t have paint to match the rest of the nightstand so they had me paint the drawer and inside a creamy white color I had.
A short while ago they decided they wanted to add a feature wall in their bedroom and have me refinish their nightstands. The biggest problem with the nightstands was how plain they were. So besides painting we wanted to elevate them a little.
As soon as they suggested they wanted to update them I quickly put them in the car and brought them home. It was something I had been wanting to do for a while.
The top of the nightstands were plain and had no character. We decided to router the edge to add a little depth and dimension and also attached round wood feet to the bottom. By far the easiest way to update a piece of furniture is adding new handles and repainting.
Buying the product
I found most of what I needed at Lowe’s. They had the turned solid wood rounds for legs and they have a great selection of handles. The nightstands had a shelf under the drawer that wasn’t attached and as you can see from the picture didn’t fit properly. The plywood they used was also really thin so it didn’t look right. Monte and I decided adding a thicker piece of wood and cutting it to fit would make them look so much better. We purchased the thicker plywood from Home Depot. I then wanted it nailed in place and the edges caulked so it looked finished.
It is crazy how excited I get when I start a new project. It’s almost magical the changes you can make to a piece of furniture. I have never refinished antique pieces that you don’t want to paint but I do love refinishing pieces that aren’t true antiques.
We started by routing the tops and drawers. Monte did the routing while I sanded some of the existing paint off. For some crazy reason I really like sanding. It makes me happy to remove ugly paint and create a smooth workable surface. Of course I didn’t sand it off completely but enough so the new paint would adhere well. The prep work takes a little time. I often want to rush over the prep work but doing it properly makes the finished product so much nicer. When we’re working together on a piece and getting in each others way the one with the more aggressive tool gets to carry on. The sanding had to wait for a few minutes.
After the top was router and the nightstands sanded I was ready to start painting. I removed the drawer and painted the inside of the nightstands. Monte cut the bottom shelf so I could give it a coat of paint before installing. Using a short handled paint brush and small roller work the best in these small spaces.
To paint the draws I stand them on their ends. Of course removing the knobs or pulls.
Adding the feet
Because I wanted to add the turned round feet Monte had to figure out a way to make them work. If we had been building the dresser that would have been in the building design but since we were working with a finished product he had to manipulate things a little. He cut a block that the screw on the feet went into then nailed that to the inside of each corner. There was a little trial and error getting the block the necessary size.
I also painted the feet before they were added which made things much easier.
I gave the inside of the night stands a couple coats of paint before installing the shelf. It was easier to paint all the necessary area without the shelf in place. Once it was nailed in I caulked the edges and gave it a final touch up coat of paint.
I was now ready to paint the exterior. After the initial coat of paint I let it dry for an hour or so. I did this project in the early spring so my garage wasn’t incredible hot but plenty warm to help the paint dry fairly quickly. I can’t stress enough the importance of lightly sanding the entire painted surface. When you run your hand on the dried paint it feels slightly rough. Giving everything a light sanding with a sanding sponge knocks off those rough fibers and will give your finished product a smooth surface.
After sanding it was now ready for the second coat. This coat looked a lot better then the first coat which is normal.
I then let it dry and followed up with another light sanding. I always get so excited at this stage. The nightstands looked like I imagined which always makes me happy.
I did give everything a third coat just for strength. When it’s an item you will be using often like a dresser or night stand I want the painted surface to be nice and strong.
Adding new hardware to any old piece of furniture makes a huge difference. On the night stands I was able to use the existing holes but needed to drill one additional hole for each handle.
With the router top and drawer, feet and hardware these pieces of furniture look brand new. They looked so much better in their bedroom. I love working on projects with and for my kids.