I am a devoted second-hand furniture shopper. I’ve always enjoyed picking up some piece with potential, bringing it home and making it sing with beautiful paint, stain and fabric. I’ve had some pieces for more than 30 years, reluctantly passing them on when I’ve upgraded to more expensive furniture.
Recently I completed a table that had been sitting in our garage for more than five years. I would periodically move it out and sand on it for a week or so, then push it back when life got complicated. My idea was to finish off the very distressed top with a cap made of sheet metal. Masking the rough surface and making it easy to clean and food safe in one swoop. It currently holds a large vase of sunflowers and a host of family photos.
There are many good furniture makeover books that offer advice and suggestions on what to look for when shopping for an item to “makeover.” Barb Blairs new book “Furniture Makeovers” is an especially good one. She describes restoration techniques and offers tips on making small furniture repairs. Then goes on to show step-by-step and before and after photos of finished projects. The explanations are clear and complete and she offers tips for beginners on what to look for and mistakes to avoid. The book has lists of tools and offers her favorite products that get the job done. Another tool she shares is to actually counsel us on how to choose furniture that is actually worth rehabilitation.
One of my favorite tricks when rehabbing around the house is this tip on stripping old, painted over doorknobs or hooks. Use a soaking solution to restore the beauty of doorknobs and hooks covered in paint. In an old saucepan (one no longer used for food), mix four tablespoons of baking soda with one quart of water. Place hardware in the pan, then simmer for 20 minutes. Once water has cooled, remove pieces.
Gently scrub stuck-on paint with a brass brush or steel wool. Repeat process if necessary.
Susan Woody has been a home and garden writer for over 20 years and is an advanced Master Gardener.