For a little while there I was having a serious furniture dry spell. I had one piece in the Carriage House that was waiting for warmer weather and for Ken to perform some handy-man miracles (Ken is very susceptible to the cold). Other than that, the Carriage House was empty. Yep, you heard that right. I am not one of those furniture re-vampers who has a storage facility full of pieces waiting for their moment in the sun. I actually get a little twitchy when I have too much stuff being stored. I prefer to turn pieces over quickly.
But the downside is that sometimes I run out of furniture to work on and there is nothing available on Craigslist. And when I say nothing, what I mean is nothing that meets my criteria of not too far away, not too expensive, and with lots of potential.
As usual though, when it rains, it pours. I went from finding nothing to spending three evenings in a row picking up pieces. I came home with a three dressers, a bed, a desk and this washstand.
I paid a little more than I normally would for this piece. Why? Because it was crying out for a rescue from its 80’s style makeover. Just check out those grape cluster decals. Gack! And those horrible knobs. Ugh! I have to tell you guys, one of my pet peeves is when people put two knobs in the holes that were originally meant for a drawer pull with two screws. I get why they do it, but every time I see it I cringe a little inside. It’s just not right.
But if you look past the bad knobs, those awful grapes, and that really splotchy orange-y stain, this is a gorgeous little washstand. Such pretty details, right?
The prep on this piece started with stripping the top. The wood was so lovely that I wanted to show off some of it. While the stripper was doing its job, I scraped off those decals. They came right off with a sharp razor blade.
Next I dealt with those pesky knobs. I was really hoping that I had 4 matching vintage pulls that I could use, but no such luck. I did have a pair of absolutely gorgeous pulls that I have been saving for special piece though. And it just so happened the holes on the upper drawer were spaced exactly right for them.
So I decided to use those on the upper drawer and just simple single knobs on the two lower drawers and the door. To accomplish that on the drawers, I had to fill in the existing holes and later drill a new single hole in the middle. Filling holes like this is really very easy. Put some tape across the hole inside the drawer so that as you add wood filler from the front it doesn’t just escape out the back. Then, fill the hole with wood filler. I used Elmer’s Pro Bond Wood Filler in Walnut on these drawers, mainly because that’s all I had on hand. The walnut was a bit dark, but I was painting over it anyway. All of the wood fillers claim to ‘resist shrinking’, but I find that they all shrink. In other words, when your fill dries it will recede back a little. So go back with another application of fill. Sometimes you’ll even have to do this a third time (I did with this piece). But you want that filler to be nice and flush with the surface of the drawer, not sunken in at all, or they will show later.
I let my stripper and my drying wood filler sit overnight. The next day I scraped the stripper off the top and gave it a good cleaning. Then I sanded the body of the whole piece lightly and gave it a good cleaning too. I decided to use my method for perfect chipping again on this piece (more details on that method here), so I added a little beeswax to all of the edges.
Then I painted three coats of Miss Mustard Seed milk paint in Marzipan.
See my little photo bomber? My cat Lucy is hiding underneath the washstand. I couldn’t get her to stay out of my photos.
I was initially considering staining the top of this piece, but the wood was so pretty in its bare and natural state so I waxed it with Homestead House furniture wax. But that brought out a little too much of the golden hue of the wood, so I toned it down by adding some Homestead House white wax over that.
Not so golden, and definitely no longer orange!
What do you think? Did I successfully rescue this washstand from the 80’s?
This little charmer is for sale while it lasts. Pieces this size make a perfect bedside nightstand! Check out my ‘available for local sale’ tab for more details.