Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Justin and I had been searching for the perfect sideboard for the dining room for months. I had a vision of what I wanted: a big old farmhouse style piece with lots of drawers and antique hardware. Something with chipped paint and a well worn wooden top and pretty old bin pulls. I wanted it to be as long as possible but not too deep...and the proper height for buffet style it couldn't be too tall or too short.

Obviously shopping trips are almost always disappointing when you have SUCH a specific picture in your head. I mean...we definitely came across some cool pieces in our travels but none of them were perfect. I had just about given up the search when I found this old thing posted on craigslist...

Sure, it was hideous in its current state. It was beat up. The hardware was ugly and/or broken. It was stained a dated and depressingly dark brown. And to top it all off it was covered with a thick layer of shiny varnish.

But it was the PERFECT size. And the price was right. And under all that aforementioned yuckiness I could see my rustic dream sideboard.

After days of sanding and painting and sanding again we finally ended up with this...

I'm really glad I didn't end up comprimising and spending a bundle on a finished piece that was almost right...because this is SO much better than anything we saw.

Here's the nutshell version of what we did to refinish it:

-First we removed all the hardware and sanded the front, sides, drawers and cabinets. We didn't go too crazy. We just roughed it up enough for the paint to adhere properly.

-Then we thoroughly sanded the top. We made sure to take this part down to the bare wood since we planned on staining the top...not painting it.

- Then I gave the entire piece a generous coat of paint (except for the top!). I used Martha Stewart latex paint in Sea Glass.

-After that was dry I wiped a little bit of light-gray paint into the corners and edges of the drawers and the cabinets.

-Then I used medium and coarse sandpaper to distress the whole piece...concentrating on corners, edges, and raised areas where wear would naturally occur. I learned pretty quickly that there is a very delicate line between too much sanding and not enough. There was a lot of trial and error involved. And it definitely took a little bit of practice to get it to look natural. Luckily, you can paint over areas you don't like and start again.

-Then I put on the new hardware. The bin pulls are from Atlas Homewares. I got them in an oil rubbed bronze finish...but I ended up going over each one with a little bit of steel wool to bring out some of the silver underneath and give them a more time-worn, less consistent finish. The knobs are from the Home Depot.

-The last thing I did was stain the top. I used Behr semi-transparent weatherproofing wood stain in charcoal. Normally this particular stain is for use on decks and whatnot but there are way more colors available than the indoor variety. And the salesperson assured me that it didn't have any crazy fumes and it should work fine for my tabletop. And it did! It was super easy to control how dark it got and how much wood grain showed through. And it turned out a fantastic gray brown that looks PERFECT with the new hardware.


  1. Fantastic job! I'm in the middle of restoring our "new" house, built in 1895, and I get so much inspiration from your blog. Keep it up!

  2. You are a true talent. I don't know what your goal is with this blog, but I am sure you can make anything you want out of it.

  3. This is amazing! I love furniture projects, I recently found an ugly armoire and two bedside tables on craigslist, took them home and gave them a nice new paint job in muted teal. But I wish I had sanded them because this sideboard is perfection. I think you've inspired me to sand.

  4. Wow! What a difference from last month... It looks just like you had envisioned it would. Great job, D & J!

  5. Looks terrific Darbie! Where did you get the framed piece over the sideboard?

  6. Thanks, Erin! The long framed piece over the sideboard is a Victorian era reproduction of the Nicolls Map that was snagged out of a big old book. My mom gave it to me for Christmas when I moved to New York City. It's a super cool looking hand drawn map of Manhattan from 1664. It's basically just a bunch of trees and land with a small smattering of houses at the VERY southern tip. And I had it custom framed with an ornate antique style silver moulding.

  7. Oh Darbie it is absolutely beautiful! When you were describing what you were looking for in such detail I thought "good luck with finding that'! Better yet you CREATED your vision! Simply amazing!

  8. SEA GLASS IS MY JAM! that's what i used to paint the front room. LOVE IT DARBS

  9. AMAZING! Just found your blog through your Etsy shop (got me some awesome paper ornaments). You have a new follower! :)