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So if you’re looking to refinish some furniture, I’m sure you have looked through a million blog posts, but I bet they didn’t make as many mistakes along the way as I did! 😆
I confess, I fell out of love with my bedroom furniture a LONG time ago (we’ve had it 10 years), but it’s a solid wood set, and all the furniture sets that I loved were WAY out of budget! I have always had expensive taste, so I decided there HAD to be a way to transform my furniture into something that resembled Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware!
After scanning through a bazillion pages on refinishing furniture, I knew that:
1. I didn’t want to paint them. (Although that would have been SO much easier!!!)
2. I was not going to sand the entire thing. Ain’t nobody got time for that!
I decided to try stripping the finish and stain to minimize sanding. A few people recommended the CitriStrip Stripping Gel. After removing the hardware (GOOD RIDDANCE!) I put a glove (yes, singular… couldn’t fit a glove over my ginormous cast!) , I spread a layer of the gel all over the finish, and covered it all with saran wrap to let things “gel” overnight.
The next day, I was so excited for that finish to just melt right off! WRONG! Parts had somehow dried, and everything was thick, sticky sludge. I tried scraping, and it was just NOT working. I was so frustrated!
After a lot more Pinterest research, I decided a regular stripper would do the job. After wandering the aisle at Lowe’s, I asked for the best stripper. (Hahaha, I know I’m suuuuper mature!) We decided on Kwik-Strip Fast Paint & Varnish Stripper.
This one was a thick liquid, so I used a brush to apply it to the stain. Within minutes it was working, and I used my scraper and it started gliiiiiding off! Hallelujah!!! I grabbed an old Gladware container to collect the goo as I scraped along. After I took off as much as I could with the scraper, I put a little more stripper on the areas that needed more work. Then I took my new best friends, this wire brush and this smaller one, and scrubbed off the excess stain and finish from all the nooks and crannies. Most parts came off in little flecks, and pretty much did the work of a scraper and sander, in a fraction of the time! I was SO excited!!!
Finally, I finished, and I made sure to rub it down with some Goof Off Stripping After Wash to prep the surface for the stain. I did sand the larger areas with a high grit sandpaper to even it out. I only spent a few minutes on this. That was honestly the only sanding I did! Yassssss!
The hard part was finding out how to stain and finish this! I swatched a few colors, and decided on “Briarsmoke” by Varathane. It has the beautiful neutral grey, with warm brown undertones. SOOOO stinkin’ gorgeous! I brushed it on, then immediately wiped it off so it wouldn’t be too dark. This was probably the quickest and easiest part of the process!
Now, I didn’t just do these two nightstands… I did my ENTIRE bedroom set! Two nightstands, two huge dressers, and a king-sized sleigh style bed. By the time I got about halfway through, the stain started coming out MUCH darker and much more grey! Of course, I was rushing to finish all of this the week before my husband got home from deployment, and I ended up having to redo one of the dressers AND the bed TWICE!!!
After playing mix-master, I found a way to dilute the thickened stain to match the original nightstand color that I fell in love with. If you’re trying this, I would HIGHLY suggest doing a test area first, and you may have to start mixing the “Briarsmoke” stain with a light, golden natural colored stain!
Once everything dried, I really struggled with how to finish these off! I’ve only used a poly finish in the past, but I REALLY wanted to preserve the rustic, matte look of them! I decided to be brave, and try a finishing wax for the first time. I ended up using Valspar Sealing Wax and applied it with this Minwax Stain Pad, and it was definitely not what I had expected! It wasn’t firm, and I was able to brush it on. I followed the directions on the can, and did two coats. I love that it felt smooth and dry without being too shiny or polished looking!
I took so many detours getting to the finished product, but I could not be happier with the end result!!! On the other hand, I am not looking forward to doing this on the rest of our gigantic bedroom set! My goal is to finish my master bedroom makeover as a surprise before my husband returns from deployment, and I can’t wait to share the end result! Feel free to ask any questions!