Steps To Transforming Vintage Furniture

“So, that piece you did. You just paint it, right?”  I tried not to choke and laugh all at once and instead I did some kind of unladylike snort thing.

The person was asking about a cute chair I had recently finished.

Ok.. before I go on… if you’re just joining the party this is a kind of a Part 2 to my post from yesterday, The Art Of Flipping Furniture. You can find it here if you wanna catch up, if not, continue to read on…..

https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/05/22/the-art-of-flipping-furniture/

As I’ve ventured into this interesting hobby/growing side business, I’ve learned there are all kinds of interesting variables going on.

The first being, it could be assumed that I go buy a piece of cast away furniture, run home, and slap paint all over it.

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Just another sunny day dragging home some of my prizes

 

 

That being said, there are people who do that. It makes me sad to see a gorgeous piece of furniture that has obviously been hastily painted, and before paint has even dried they have snapped photos to put it up for sale.

It’s usually still sitting on a trailer, the back of a truck, in a yard or garage on concrete blocks with random junk around it.  But my favorite was a beautiful vanity piece ( originally it was beautiful) sitting in a dirt yard on cardboard with crunched up soda or beer cans behind it and a tire to the side of it.  No hardware back on drawers.

Sigh.

I am setting myself apart with other furniture artists who invest ourselves into our pieces for the pure love and joy of it understanding we will on some occasions, not get a dollar amount equal to our investment of time and resources.

We love making things once tired, bland, broken and ugly, beautiful with a fresh new life to give.

So, I thought I’d kinda conclude this topic by sharing a little of what goes into the process so when you see a unique, old, hand painted piece of furniture for sale you can also understand the price that may be attached to it.

We just don’t take it home and slap paint on it.

Get comfy, it’s time to go on the journey.

The Hunt

The first time I called it that, my family laughed. But really, I do view it as a hunt. I have several places I stalk online and really, if there is something super cool, and if it happens to be a good price, it’s gone instantly. You have to almost see it the second it’s posted to get it.

There are so many things that I don’t want, or that are not that old or even that impressive. I know what I like when I see it. I also consider what it’s flip ability is. If it’s something I want personally, well I have a little more wiggle room ’cause I don’t mind paying a bit more for something I’m keeping.

Now I’ve learned the hard way, just because I’ve found an item I want, confirmed with the seller, set a time for pick up and got an address doesn’t mean I’ll get it.

Without blinking an eye people have sold things out from under me. I try to understand if they are that desperate for money from someone else who gets there an hour before I do… well they must need it really bad.

It is still ridiculously frustrating when that happens.

But when I find the item I want, and arrange pick up with seller it’s time to do what I call …..

Go bag the game

As a hunter, if you’re successful you get what you’re hunting for. But here’s the deal, once I score a piece of furniture it’s rarely close by. I’ve driven one way over an hour to get pieces.

All the cool stuff is a good drive away.

So, there’s time and gas going to get the prize. I’ve gone to some seedy kind of places getting stuff. I usually am the one helping load or doing it alone ( yay for girl muscles)

I take blankets or something to put down because the furniture has usually been stashed or stored somewhere, it’s old, total filth, sometimes it has an odor and desperately needs cleaned.

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Inside the 1900s gentleman’s dresser I dragged home… waiting to get cleaned

 

I’m thrilled, load it up and head home. That’s when I can officially let my ideas start forming.

I have it.

Nothing is worse than seeing a piece I want, having ideas, then not getting it.

The preparation

Usually when I get a piece home I do an assessment of it, what it’s needs are. Some pieces are pretty straightforward and don’t need much more than a light sanding and washing down to prep them.

That is really, the rare thing.

Most pieces need anything from a lot of sanding, to sucking leaves out of the inside of a cabinet and removing years of dust, dirt and grime before I can even consider painting.

Sanding. I do most of it by hand. It’s off the charts messy.. for me and the furniture 😉

I’ve bought pieces with veneer damage so I need to set aside time to do repair work before anything else can happen.

Some areas have cracks and holes that require wood filler. Once that’s placed it has to dry, be sanded, and often filled again to the area is smooth and level.

Have I mentioned my carpentry skills have increased a 100% doing this work? haha

Old furniture is cool, but age has caused the varnish to get dry and brittle and it’s often flaking off. This all has to be sanded before any painting begins.

I’m going to use this chair that I’m currently working on as an example….

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Flaking varnish and chipped legs all need sanding.

 

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Definitely some glue and clamps coming up for repair on this leg
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You can also see because the corner is loose, the support block for seat is out and will need to be put in and glued at the same time, It looks pretty bad, doesn’t it?

 

 

 

Sometimes, as in the case of chairs, the legs or connections are loose or separated and need glued and clamped to make them more secure. The seats are usually original wood and have become weak and brittle.

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After sanding and repairs, the piece gets washed down to get all dust and grime off

 

 

New seat bottoms need cut…oh but that means a trip to local hardware store to get some plywood for new seats. Time to spend some money.

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And it’s sporting a new seat.. thanks hubby for cutting that 🙂

 

Can’t have my potential customer falling through, can I ?

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Shhhh a sneak peak of the new project. It’ starting to look a bit different now

Ah! And now, we get to paint! The chair has been sanded down removing all old flaking varnish, I’ve glued and repaired legs and support bar, washed the piece, air dried then sprayed with a Matte shellac to prevent any bleed through from dark areas.

Once that set, the chair got it’s first coat of slate blue that I love. Once it dries  ( chalk paint has a fast dry time) it will get touched up in areas that were missed, allowed to dry, lightly sanded, then I will clear wax it and go back with a dark wax that will accent and pop all of its unique details out. While that settles, I will take it’s new seat, add the new foam and fabric I purchased to make a bright cushion for it. All that will remain to be done will secure the seat back to the chair ( fortunately it had all it’s original screws)

After that, it will finally, be ready for a new home.

Other stuff in the process

 

Sometimes, on furniture a piece of hardware or fixtures are missing so I have to hunt it down which depending on age is tricky, again another cost involved in process. The perfect piece has all of its original fixtures.

Oh speaking of the hardware… all that is usually tarnished and dirty from years of neglect so it needs taken off and cleaned. Sometimes, it’s an easy job, other times it’s time consuming and frustrating.

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This 1900 cabinet has all of it’s original hardware which is stunning. It’s also been quite a challenge getting it cleaned!

 

Some pieces have bad veneer damage and I’ve made the decision to take it off.

Can you say, work? It’s a ton of work scraping off glued on veneer. However, if the surface is especially bad it’s worth the time to get to a fresh smooth surface underneath it.

Other times, I’ve tackled the veneer damaged and focused on repairing it, especially if I’m painting it.

Some pieces like a desk I did recently, require being totally sanded down, which I do by hand.

One table I recently purchased, it’s so cute, it opens up and the closes back to a half table. I wanted to try and sand the top down and re stain it and perhaps do a color on the table. Hubby got a good start on it but I’ve been working on all the edges this week, Do you know how tedious it is, sanding those edges? Or how careful you have to work with the veneer so you don’t chip or crack it in the process?

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So close to finishing the sanding on the top!

 

This is just a slow, time consuming process, but the end result will be so worth it.

Some recently finished work…..

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So back to that original question….

“So you “just” paint it, right?”  Well, as you can see the painting, new stain, or whatever look it gets, is really the last part of the process.

It’s the fun part.

Picking up and purchasing the piece, cleaning, repairing, sanding, prepping, painting, then top sealing with wax or a poly top coat, cleaning hardware, making new cushions etc. are all a part of the unique process of renovating antique or vintage items.

Besides the cost of the actual piece, the time and gas to get it, the supplies needed to do the job, and the hours  and labor the artist puts into it may help you understand better the pricing on a unique, one of a kind, piece of hand painted furniture that you won’t be able to find at your local furniture store.

Thanks for hanging out with me in this two part special! I hope this gives you a little more insight into the topic of “renovated” or “upscaled” old furniture. I hope that it has also given you a better idea of the labor of love it is for so many of us.

Do you have any hobbies or projects you enjoy that you do as a “labor of love” and enjoyment?

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Monday Musings

So another Sunday evening and I’m attempting to unwind after a long evening and a busy week. I have coffee by my side, my warm solace, as a sit here letting out thoughts from the day and  the week gone by.

I may regret all this coffee later, but for now, it’s delicious and soothing, an enjoyable way to end a rather long day.

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Speaking of my day. My daughter has decided she wants to start cooking a meal during the week and Sunday is the day she’s chosen.

Is that ok with me? Huh? Say what?? Food I don’t have to cook? I’m down for that. Soooo down for that.

I actually think she’s showing off her potential future wife abilities to her boyfriend who enjoys her efforts.

It’s like he’s studying and taking notes… “Can cook, check.”

Anyway, it is nice to sit down and eat and not have to do it. It actually gives me more time outside in the lovely afternoon working on my projects without stopping to make dinner.

In the process of watching all my kids ( who are adults) roam in and out of the kitchen and put dishes in the washer, I am semi-amazed to watch them barely crack the door open and work their plate or cups in without pulling out the rack and doing it you know, the easy way.

Like, “Hey, we paid full price for a dishwasher that completely opens to allow you to easily put your dishes in!”

I’m not complaining, I mean at least they are making the move to not leave them on counter.. but still I find it amusing…

Stupid things heard in the news this week….

Well, truth be known, I’ve heard a lot of stupid things in the news. I’m left wondering “did someone read that out loud before they decided to use it?”

For instance… “ The foods you choose to eat can impact your health”

Like really Susan? You mean if I choose to eat Cheetos, cheap convenience store hot dogs and wash it down with a Big Gulp Diet Coke followed by a King size candy bar for dessert it’s not the same as having a Salad loaded with colorful veggies and grilled chicken breast or having a whole grain sandwich with a side of fruit ??? And that will have an impact on not only my health but my ability to wear skinny jeans?

You don’t say.

Ah, there are so many other cheesy things. I need to keep a journal and write them down. I don’t know, maybe the world just lacks common sense and the news needs to remind us of that.

So yeah, whole colorful healthy foods are better for you than colored Cheetos AND your fingers won’t turn orange either…

In the ways of things that make me laugh….

I like to laugh. I love people who can make me laugh. We can be friends if you do that easily. If you happen to have my off beat, quirky sense of humor, that’s even better. Sometimes I find humor in the most unexpected things.

For instance, I was randomly trolling a online site looking for my next potential furniture project when I came across this photo….

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Photo bombed by a leg… no it’s not mine.

Ok, my first thought was, ” another poor  victim of that awful blue paint”. But then I was thinking, why on earth is her leg just stuck in that photo? Certainly she is aware that her leg is in the photo before she posted it, right?? Like, how do you miss it?

So I read through the brief description of table for sale. At the end it says “it goes to my knee”.

This dear reader, if you’re not following yet, is her unit of measure.

That is how tall the table is.

It goes to her knee.

I happened to have taken a sip of coffee the day I saw this and almost choked on it from a very un lady like outburst of laughter that was more like a snort.

I’m giggling sitting here writing this thinking again how insane that is… I mean.. my knee to floor ratio is like… 22 inches.

So, I don’t even know how tall you are Karen. How the heck am I supposed to know the length of your leg from floor to knee to know how tall that table is and if it would work for me ? IF I did want it in that awful color….

you’re laughing, right ? 😛

New things I’m perusing….

I got this book recently. A friend was reading it and I thought it sounded interesting so I grabbed a copy.

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One of my fun spring time pleasures… coffee and reading on the patio at my fav coffee hangout

 

 

I am in the first chapter. He talks about the hierarchy of order in creation. He talks about lobsters of all things. Do you know if a lobster loses a fight with another lobster he not only loses his confidence but something more extreme happens. If a dominant lobster is defeated its brain basically dissolves. Then it grows a new, subordinates brain one more appropriate to it’s now lowly position.  It’s original brain just isn’t sophisticated enough to manage the transformation from king to bottom dog without dissolution and regrowth.

Isn’t that crazy?? Yeah he does have footnotes to support that although I haven’t, you know, checked his sources.

That’s all I have to offer now on it. Lobsters can grow new brains. Ha who knew?

So the guy writes in a fun way that is already making me laugh ( see above how I feel about that) while getting his point across.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes life is busy and sometimes it is chaotic and well, rules are good to help keep balance, right? So I’m slowly picking my way through this when I’m not running.. or working on one of my many furniture projects…

Speaking of….

Hubby tells me today on his way out… “Now no new projects ok?”  Of course as he says it we both know…well yeah… he’s likely to find something new soon… haha

I however, smiled and told him probably not….I mean… unless something reallllyy awesome showed up 😉

Ok so, he’s  a pretty cool guy and he really does encourage my shenanigans. He is my creative carpentry assistant when I encounter something that I can’t fake or learn on the fly… like.. building in the lower part of a drawer on a 1930’s vanity I scored last month.

Belle, as I named it, is almost done and will be ready for her debut soon and I’m so excited at how it’s turning out.

Not only did hubby create the bottom half he had to do some dovetailing on it ( that’s what you get with older furniture, those cool interlocking drawer pieces.  Check it out…

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the light board is what he did… pretty cool eh?

 

 

So now Belle has a repaired usable drawer. I’m always amazed at the stuff he knows how to do…. Nifty right?

I also got to spend some time outside enjoying our emerging spring weather working on my antique Sligh dresser I got last weekend. Poor baby, it’s gonna need a ton of work. It’s pretty low on my project list right now, but I am going to try and do little things on it mixed in with my other stuff.

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All that hard bumpy stuff is old paint that needs scraped. The smooth part is it’s original finish.

 

 

And I did get a new piece this week. The sweetest night stand that matches my project dresser, a real fixer upper, Eleanor that I mentioned in previous posts.  https://sassyfitnesschick.com/2018/02/26/monday-musings-5/

In the beginning, I totally wasn’t feeling the love with Eleanor and almost considered flipping her in “as is” condition. I got it for 50.00 and in serious need of lots of veneer work. I’ll say this… I’m now done with the repairs (yay) and she’s ready for her new look and I am totally in love with it now.   Both are a French provincial style and both will be painted the same colors.

Just look how cute this nightstand  is…..

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And I’m pretty thrilled it doesn’t require any repair work,  it’s just ready to have it’s face lift 🙂

What about that cute little door on it? I love it.

Alrighty well that’s a wrap on my musings, thoughts and various fun projects. I can hardly wait to show you some more of my transformed sad pieces in the upcoming weeks.

Tell me how your week went. Have you read anything interesting lately? Are you enjoying spring weather yet or are you still trying to escape the clutches of winter?