A Bunch of “Before’s”—Refinishing (repurposing) Furniture—What do you do?


Now that I am starting to recover from girls camp (yes, it’s been a few weeks…I am a wimp), all of my projects that have been on the back burner are clamoring for my attention, and I’m having a bit of ADHD jumping around from room to room and wanting to get it all done now. Now that we have been in our home a full year, it feels like it should be a little better organized, furnished, and decorated. But when you do it all yourself (and have small children and tons of other distractions) that takes some time.

I realized that I have amassed a large number of furniture refinishing/painting projects that I am anxious to get started on. And believe it or not, I keep looking for more on Craigslist. Dh and I debate a bit about the best ways to approach these, so I have been doing some research on all of the fantastic blogs that inspiring these makeovers and will share some links at the end of this post. I also have been asked to teach a class for the ladies at my church on furniture makeovers in Sept., so I really need to experiment with the methods I plan on sharing before I teach them!

Here are some of the main projects I need to do:

1: (top photo) This small table came from Grandpa’s house (so was free!). Whether you believe in furniture painting, or not, this is in need of some TLC. It would be most simple to paint it black, but I am leaning toward staining it a very dark brown (walnut), like lots of my other furniture. I will probably start on this one, since it is small, and I don’t think I will hurt it too bad if I mess up.


2: This dining table. It was free (my favorite price) from some friends. You’ll remember I posted about these chairs before, and you all gave me some fantastic ideas about what to do with them, but I didn’t end up with the other matching chairs, so I am thinking I will get rid of these and get a new (to me) set of chairs…just as soon as I find a set of 6 or 8 chairs on Craigslist that I love (like these—any one know how to fix the weaving), that are super cheap, that preferably don’t come with a table ( unless it is one I like even better).


I actually really like the table. It is solid and sturdy. Unfortunately it is really sticky on the top, so I plan to strip it down. Again, I’m leaning toward the dark walnut.

The other 3 chairs will be painted and recovered, and make their way to other spots through out the house.


3: I got this cedar chest on Craigslist for $20. It is old and a little rickety, but it is real cedar wood. Again, it needs some TLC. It is functioning as a coffee table/kids costume storage currently.


I’m tempted to paint, but dh (a.k.a. BSB), has a bit of a love affair with natural wood. This will likely end up the same dark stain (kind of our compromise).


It has some fun details.


4: After a few years of debate, it has been decided that these will be painted a creamy white. I think it will be very Pottery Barn-esque. We bought these solid wood bookcases from some friends for $40, shortly after we were married. They are in my girls’ room. The wood piece you see in between is from our IKEA Markor ent. center. It was a shelf that didn’t fit with our TV, so it will get painted and form a desk between the bookcases. I have a piece of molding to put on the front to help it blend better with the book cases.



5: This bookcase will go in between the girls’ beds and will be painted to match the big book cases. Again, creamy white. I am also maybe going to get some old headboards from Craigslist for super cheap that would be painted the same color.

Are you still with me? I know…lots to do! I need to figure out the easiest ways to do these projects, because my husband and I are both recovering perfectionists and have an uncanny ability to make every job more difficult than it needs to be, so what do you do? Spray paint or brush/roller? Primer? How much sanding really needs to be done? Should we invest in a power sander? Gel stain or liquid stain? Sealant? Can I do any of it indoors, since it is a furnace outside right now?

Here are some furniture makeover posts that are inspiring me, right now:

  • Becca from Blue Cricket says if you use an oil-based primer, you don’t need to sand
  • The Nester used a Behr paint product with primer in it. (Do you still need to sand). I love her ingenuity when it comes to the paint tray!
  • Fascintated by The Remodeling Guy’s comparison between brush painting and spray painting. What do you do? Does everyone spray paint so neatly. One shelf we spray painted didn’t come out so well, but I’m pretty sure we should have used primer.
  • Jennifer from The Magic Brush is a Pro. In response to my comment on this post, she emailed me her insider secrets, which I will have to ask her if I can share with you all, but they involve gel stain and “light sanding”. Does light sanding mean you don’t need a power tool?

Now, please share your favs (especially with how-tos!)

Thanks! You all are the best!

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  1. Those are going to be wonderful when they are done!

  2. Ann Marie says:

    My favorite furniture refinishers are Infarrently Creative, Thrifty Decor Chick and Centsational Girl. They have lots of great befores and afters, and lots of helpful tips! I tend to give everything a coat of spray primer, then spray pain, usually black. But that's just me. 🙂 BTW, I also have a bizillion refinishing projects waiting around here and there for me to someday finish. Are we like separated twins or something? 😛

  3. Jeff and Ashleigh says:

    Love all of your ideas. I'm a novice in the refinishing business myself. I learned recently, however, that if you're going to spray paint (or otherwise paint) something that will be in use (like the table, chairs, or bookshelves) you should put a clear coat on afterward to avoid all the scratches, chips and wear-through spots. I painted the legs of my barstools and the bottom half of my kitchen table last summer, and have been sorely disappointed with the way the stools have worn through to the original light wood color. I plan on repainting them, then using a clear coat sealer or wood finish to seal it all up. The jury is still out on this one, but it makes total sense.

  4. Can't wait to see the finished project, only I like the mismatched chairs and love the look of things not being so matchy.. but great ideas and again, good luck with you endeavors!

  5. Susan Crabtree says:

    I love the dark walnut for your dining table! I don't know what your color scheme is for your girls room but it might be fun to paint the side table in a fun color between the white headboards for a little "pop" of color! Can't wait to see how it all turns out!

  6. Create in me a clean heart O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 says:

    I'm in the middle of my first re-hab project (coffee table like Thrift Chic). Can't wait to see what you end up doing to all of the pieces. I especially like the Pottery Barn-esq concept for your girlie's room. Very intruigued too by the idea to stain the kitchen table, that will look fabulous!

  7. Create in me a clean heart O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 says:

    I'm in the middle of my first re-hab project (coffee table like Thrift Chic). Can't wait to see what you end up doing to all of the pieces. I especially like the Pottery Barn-esq concept for your girlie's room. Very intruigued too by the idea to stain the kitchen table, that will look fabulous!

  8. Create in me a clean heart O God, and put a new and right spirit within me. Psalm 51:10 says:

    I'm in the middle of my first re-hab project (coffee table like Thrift Chic). Can't wait to see what you end up doing to all of the pieces. I especially like the Pottery Barn-esq concept for your girlie's room. Very intruigued too by the idea to stain the kitchen table, that will look fabulous!

  9. knittingknirvana says:

    I suggest keeping the mismatched chairs and painting or staining them the same color to bring them all together. I love that look and am going for it myself! 🙂

  10. somehow happened upon this post, and thought I would comment since I have messed around with finishes for awhile now. For painting, I wouldn't spray paint the larger pieces. I have yet to master the even stream and always end up with a slotchy finish. I have found the mini spronge rollers work really well. They are meant for doors, and anything you want a really smooth finish on. I have refinished two sets of kitchen cabinets, and lots of furniture with them. I would highly recommend using a good primer. I have had friends that didn't prime their kitchen cabinets and had chipping after a year or two with simple bumps. Mine were still going strong after 5 years. A light sanding between each coat of paint will give it that nice extra smooth finish. I just have a simple "mouse" sander that is about $25. As for painting outside, don't if it is to hot. The paint will dry to quickly and leave awful blobs. Happened to my kitchen chairs. I haven't tried the protective clear coat, but I plan to. My chairs have several little dings and they don't look shabby chick in the least with them. I also don't think I primed them. If you are going to restain, you can also get a varnish stripper. I've used it before and it turn out well. My friend who restained her her table and chairs used it, and they turned out beautiful. A couple of thoughts on staining before I end my novel of a post. I would suggest staining with two or three different stains. It adds depth. I'm staining our banister in our new house that way. I started with a golden pecan, then a walnut, then a cherry wood. It really brings out the different grains. Pottery barn in one of their catalogs showed that that is how they stain there furniture to get those great finishes we know and love. One final though, Lowes carries and tinted polyurithane that is made I believe by Minwax. You just paint it on. It lets the woodgrain show through, but changes the color of the finish. Of course you have to go darker then the beginning finish, but there is no sanding or stripping. I did my bookcase, armoire, and banister(in our last house) in it. Just be prepared to do more than 2 coats to get the finish you want. PS, my husband has the same love affair with wood. He acts like it is a cardinal sin anytime I think of painting wood. We just bought a new house that had several rooms in wood paneling, and I told him if we bought the house, it was getting painted. He is holding out in his studio, but the the rest of the house is mine.

  11. Wow! Thanks so much for the input, everyone!

    I have considered the mismatching chairs, but the ones I have don't seem to work so well together. They are a pretty different scale. Maybe I'll find a cool bench or two. Must keep Craigslisting.

    Jenny, thanks for sharing all of your experience. I had never heard of the tinted polyurethane before, and now am dying to try it on my banister and mantle. I'm not sure dh will be thrilled, but we will see.

    Susan, you've got me seriously considering turquoise for the bookcase. I guess it will depend on what I end up with for headboards. I really appreciate your detailed advice. I think it might be time to buy a sander!

    Yeah, AnnMarie, after all the similar parties and projects, I'm convinced we must be the same person.

    Thanks, everyone!

    Feel free to share more inspiration!

  12. Oops! That sander comment was supposed to go on the paragraph to Jenny! Anyway, thanks again, for your great advice!

  13. If you want, I can email you a picture of how the banister turned out with the polyurethane stain. Didn't see an email address anywhere.

  14. Yes, please, Jenny!

    Send it to kendrascreations {at} gmail {dot} com.


  15. MiriamR says:

    I love re finishing/ painting furniture. You have some beautiful peices there. We are actually just in Rio Rancho which is just NW of Albuquerque. Where did you grow up? I just stumbled upon your blog today for the first time and love it already! Thanks for doing it.

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