Thrift Store Treasures, from Scary to Sexy!

Found these beauties at Goodwill for $10 each. Looks like something that would have been in my grandma’s house very long ago. I have an idea to make them cool again!
Step 1: Cleaning
A thorough cleaning with TSP heavy duty cleaner (use gloves), and a light coat of sanding sealer to give it a fresh and smooth base.
Step 2: Sanding
Sanding the top edge to remove the old stain and lacquer before staining it to match the top.
With the edge sanded and clean, ready for stain. I’m using Dark Walnut on this nightstand.
I discovered a thin layer of vinyl on the top of the table, with a photo veneer grain. It looks great and I’ve decided to leave it on and stain the edge to match. The veneer protects the top from water rings and scratches and it’s in great shape. I didn’t notice it until I looked closely!
Step 3: Staining
Using a small foam applicator, I stain the edge with 2 coats, allowing 20 minutes between layers to absorb.
I wipe the excess off after a few minutes.
Step 4: Cleaning
I clean the dust off before painting.
Step 5: Painting
Leaving the top stained, I add the first layer of Milk paint to the night stand. I use a milk paint from Rockler woodworking, color Snow White.
It’ll take 2 coats of paint, drying in between layers. I’m looking for an opaque finish before distressing with sand paper.
Step 6: Distressing
After 2 coats of paint, I am distressing the cabinet with a 60 grit sanding block. I’ll try to give the cabinet a worn look, sanding areas that might show natural wear and tear from years of use.
I look for spots on the cabinet that will highlight the natural shape of the cabinet and feature some details in the design.
Most of the interest of the cabinet is on the front, but I want the sides to feel organic with some slight distressing.
Once I feel like the distressing is done, I’m now ready for the glaze.
Step 7: Cleaning
A good cleaning before glaze.
Step 8: Glaze
Using another foam applicator and a wet sponge, I apply the glaze to areas of the cabinet that I want to highlight and use the sponge to work the glaze, wiping it until I achieve the look I’m hoping for.
I use glaze on the whole cabinet, focusing mostly on the front and the drawer.
The applicator allows me to get into small thin spaces and not deposit too much glaze. I’m using Van Dyke Brown glaze for this project.
I spread a small amount of glaze onto the piece, and use the sponge to dilute and distribute the glaze over the surface. This step highlights the irregularities of the cabinet and gives it dimension.
I repeat until I achieve the look I’m wanting.
This is after the glaze has been applied. See how much more dimension the cabinet has with the glaze?
This step is the key to making the cabinet look authentic and full of history. I do this process all the way around the cabinet.
Once I’ve glazed all the panels on the cabinet, I come back to add more and make adjustments before the final step of finishing wax.
The drawer is very visible on the cabinet, so I want to highlight and feature the shape and design.
Before I’ve glazed the drawer. See how much darker the glaze shows on the cabinet compared to the White drawer?
Finishing up the glazing on the drawer.
Wow! It looks so much different than when first saw them at Goodwill!
Here’s a close up of the finish after glazing. It looks great!
These steps give this cabinet a whole new look! It takes some vision to recognize these thrift store gems, but I look for pieces with classic style and update the finish, hardware or use to make them feel current and hip!
Step 9: Cleaning
The final wipe down with tack cloth to remove any particles before the finishing wax.
This step makes a big difference in the final finish!
Lowe’s bought Minwax, so it’s now available at Lowe’s only. Varathane is the brand Home Depot offers now. I’m sure they’re comparable, but I recommend sticking with one brand of wax for a entire project.
Then I use cheesecloth to apply and buff the wax after it has dried.
Step 10: Finishing wax
Using the cheesecloth and wax, I rub the finishing wax over the entire cabinet.
This step will protect the cabinet and give it a beautiful sheen and dimension.
I do 2 coats, letting each coat dry before buffing.
Finally done! I’ll mount the hardware and show you the final result.

This project took about 9 hours to complete. I’ve tried to detail the steps for you, so you can attempt it on your own. The bottom line is you’ll have to get your hands dirty to really learn the technique and develop your own style. However, I encourage you to try it if your inspired by this tutorial. I find furniture refinishing to be rewarding , not just financially, but also for the feeling of satisfaction when taking an outdated functional piece of furniture and turning it into a thing of beauty and value!

Wow! I love the results. These small night stands are beautiful and will compliment someone’s home perfectly!