Monday, September 6, 2010

Familyroom Furniture Makeover.

Good Monday morning everyone! I hope y'all have had a great weekend and are now enjoying your (hopefully) extra day off.
I have been refinishing furniture since I was 15 years old. After 35 years, I have been able to redo more than sixty pieces, ranging in size from a small side table to a large buffet and dresser. It is one of my favorite things to do.
More than two years ago I developed calcific tendonopathy in both of my shoulders. I was unable to move my shoulders as they both froze at virtually the same time.  Over the first year of dealing with this ailment I saw one surgeon who wouldn't do anything. Over the second year I found a wonderful surgeon who operated on both shoulders, right shoulder at end of October 2009 and left shoulder end of April 2010.  He removed calcium deposits, scar tissue, bone spurs and shaved off the end of the shoulder bone (so when calcium deposits come back they won't be stuck between top of arm bone and end of shoulder bone). He also saw a partial thickness tear in the rotator cuff of my left shoulder. He did not repair it, but left it to heal on its own. So, now after many months of healing and physio therapy I am once again beginning to work on some furniture. 
One day I was glancing through an old Laura Ashley Home catalogue and fell in love with their line of "Bramley" furniture. I have included a small pic.
I really liked the way the natural wood tops and shelves of this line blended with the painted bases. It gave the furniture a sophisticated country look.
Shortly after my shoulders froze I came across a coffee table and two end tables in our local Salvation Army Store. I paid $65.00 for all three pieces. They were very sturdy pieces made by the Kroehler Furntiure Company, probably in the 1970s. We used them as I found them until I had enough strength to "work my magic" on them!!

My hubby and son moved each piece one at a time out to the wood storage area of the barn. This is where I had set up a work area where I had lots of ventilation but was out of the weather. I had them elevate the pieces on top of old wooden shipping boxes, so I could work on them with out causing myself further injury. The first thing I did was wash the whole piece with a solution of TSP and water and then rinsed it with clear water. This removed dirt and furniture polish. Next step was to strip the finish from the table top. I used Heirloom brand Paint Remover (Fast Acting...not the Robust one).

I painted it on with an old "natural bristle" brush because if you use a synthetic bristle brush, the chemical stripper will make the bristles go all goo-ey. YUCK! (been there, done that!). Now don't be in too much of a hurry....let the chemical work for you. I often apply a second coat on top of the first depending on the heat of the day. The second coat just makes it all work better. Then, while wearing special gloves which will not dissolve in the stripper (They are stripping gloves and they do begin to dissolve after a few hours of use, but they do protect your hands from serious chemical burns!!), I used No. 3 or No. 4 steel wool to wipe off the "crap". I cleaned it down to the bare wood.

I then neutralized the chemical stripper remaining on the wood by wiping it down with Methyl Hydrate that I had poured onto an old towel rag. This step removes the "sheen" left behind by the stripper and helps to even out the colour of the wood.

I left the table alone for a few hours for all the chemicals to evaporate, then I sanded with 250, then 400 grit sand paper and wiped with a tack cloth to remove the dust and grit.
Over the next few days I first stained the top (used Minwax brand "English Chestnut" colour) one coat, let it dry for 24 hours then gave it 5-10 coats of oil-based poly-urethane in a satin finish. Urethaning the tops actually took about four days for each piece!  I gave the coffee table 10 coats and each of the end tables 5 coats. You must wait for each coat to dry thoroughly or you will literally "gum-up the works!!"    I sanded with 400 grit sandpaper between each coat and wiped with a tack cloth to once again remove dust and grit. Sanding and using a tack cloth is essential to obtaining a smooth finish. Now while the tops were drying I wiped the bases with Paint thinner to prepare them for painting, then painted them with two coats of CIL brand Melamine paint in my "Laura's Signature Cottage White".
After about two weeks of work, I am proud to introduce to you, my "new" familyroom furniture.

I have since, revamped the TV credenza also, as you can see in the pic below. I will post that job, later this week.

I love the way the tables now stand out from  the  ash floors and how the tables look beside my shabby cottage chic rose sofa. (It's down-filled with a possible "Shabby Chic" slipcover. I paid $25.00  (that's right, twenty-five dollars!) for it at my local Salvation Army Store!!)

A few moths ago, I bought a three piece bookshelf/wallunit for $100.00 at St. Vincent de Paul.  You can see it in the background here. I am in the process of redoing these shelves also. That will be another post when I get them finshed.
Since I have started redoing furniture again, my arms are getting stronger and my stamina is improving greatly. I am hoping to be back to work (I am an RN in a cardiovascular recovery unit) sometime in November. Yippee!!!

I hope you have enjoyed your visit today.
Stay tuned for more adventures with Laura!!!
Warm hugs to everyone!!


  1. Great post on the refinishing! Love the new look. Hope you continue to improve. So glad you found a surgeon who could help.

  2. Laura you are enjoying yourself I see. I love to redo furniture too. It is such a cheap and rewarding fix. I am so glad you stopped by and gave me your really is great for someone new to see it all and try to understand what is goings on out here. It truly is a positive place to be:) Have a wonderful day. Debbie

  3. Laura,
    That is wonderful. I love the way you refinished these. I love Laura Ashley. Can't go wrong copying her. Your sofa is gorgeous too. Wonderful work.

  4. Love your 'new' tables and the couch too! They would fit into my place just fine! You got yourself some deal there, girl! I'm glad you found a surgeon who could work on your shoulders. Thanks for sharing your wonderful transformations.


  5. Wow Laura, what amazing transformations. These pieces really do look wonderful and it must be a thrill to see them after all the hard work. Delcie