If you’ve followed me for long, you know that I love working on washstands.
These pieces make perfect bedside tables. And really, they are very versatile. You can also use them in a foyer, next to the sofa, between two chairs, in the kitchen, add a vessel sink and use it in the bathroom, and on and on.
So when I saw this washstand on Facebook Marketplace I jumped at it.
I think the ad had been up for 27 minutes when I responded. Lately it seems like I have to be quick to be the first in line. I inquired on five pieces last week, and I was only able to purchase two of them (you’ll see the other one down the road a bit). There are plenty of these out there that aren’t selling quickly, but they are the ones priced at over $100, even as high as $200 or $250. When pieces are in my price range (as this one was), they go fast.
Anyway, the person selling this was not terribly knowledgeable about furniture. It was listed as “table, with drawers, likely 70’s built”. Hmmmm. Not exactly.
I remember the 70’s, and this is not what they looked like.
I wouldn’t exactly call it a table either. However, it does have drawers. I feel fairly sure he was looking at those drawer pulls when he decided this was from the 70’s. In fact, I am betting that the previous owners refinished this piece in the 70’s and added those pulls at that time. As I cleaned it, I found telltale traces of paint. So I know that at some point this piece had been painted, and then stripped and refinished. Don’t you love it when these things go full circle? Possibly multiple times. Perhaps 50 years from now someone will strip my paint back off again.
I also love it when these pieces have their original labels on the back.
I like to do a little google research when I have this sort of info, and I discovered that Crescent Furniture Co from Evansville, Indiana went out of business in 1939. So that reinforces my opinion that this piece was not built in the 70’s.
My first task was to figure out what to do about hardware. I knew those 70’s colonial style pulls had to go. So I dug through my stash and came up with a pair of pulls with the right look for this piece. I wish I had four of them, but I only had three. So I put two of them on the top drawer and then filled the holes on the other two drawers.
I found three wood knobs in my stash for those two drawers and the door.
After coming up with the hardware, I decided to sand down the top to see if I could go with a lime waxed top. This was made possibly by my acquisition of a FlexiPort Power Tool Hose Kit from Dust Right (I purchased mine at Rockler Woodworking and Hardware). One of my favorite customers had told me about this kit (thanks again Susan!) which basically allows you to attach a hose between your hand held electric sander and your shop vac. You run the vacuum while you use the sander and it sucks up all (well, most) of the dust. I have to say, it works pretty slick and was only an investment of $34.99. Now I can sand indoors in the winter, eureka!
I sanded off the original finish, and decided that this was the perfect candidate for a simple waxed finish. Now, when I say ‘perfect’, I don’t mean to imply that this wood top is now in perfect condition because it isn’t.
The person who refinished this in the 70’s left some pretty deep orbital sander marks in the top, and there were also some deep scratches. But I’m OK with leaving those marks alone on a waxed solid wood top like this one. I think they add character and age. All I did for this top was sand off the old finish using 80 grit sandpaper, follow that up with some 220 grit paper, vacuum and wipe away any dust, and then rub in two coats of Fusion’s Lime Wax.
Today’s q tip: when lime waxing (or white waxing), apply your wax by rubbing it on against the grain of the wood. The wax will get worked into the grain giving you a lighter look.
By the way, sometimes I kind of cheat a little bit when I’m doing a stripped wood top like this with a painted base. Rather than trying to strip the finish off the curved edge, I just paint right up to the flat top.
It can be a real pain to get the finish out of those crevices. It’s so much easier to just paint that part, and I think it looks perfectly fine on the finished piece.
OK, so now that I had my hardware figured out, and my top situated, I was left with the decision of what color to paint the base. I debated a lot of options. Black? Putty? The night before I started painting, I went to bed having decided to paint it green.
But then in the clear light of morning I second guessed that decision. Why? Because I wasn’t sure green would sell well. I wish I could say that marketability was never a consideration for me, and I always just go with my artistic vision, but that would be a lie. I don’t have a lot of storage space for finished pieces, so I can’t have them sticking around for months on end.
So, I painted it in my go-to warm white, Dixie Belle’s Drop Cloth. I did go out on a little bit of a limb on the inside though. In a nod to the actual 70’s, I painted the interior of this washstand in a color from Dixie Belle’s new Silk Paint Desert Collection called Mojave (FYI – these colors are not available on the Dixie Belle website until February 9).
I have to admit, I never would have thought that I would paint something in this sort of goldenrod/dark mustard color. Who else remembers the iconic Harvest Gold? That screams 70’s to me.
But everything comes full circle eventually, including Harvest Gold. Dixie Belle sent this color to me along with a few of the other new colors so I thought I’d give it a try.
And you know what? I love it paired with the Drop Cloth.
The drawer bottoms of this piece had their share of unsightly stains, so I just went ahead and painted them all.
I really think this color is perfect for the interior of this washstand.
The beauty of the Silk paint line from Dixie Belle is that this paint has a built in primer and topcoat, so it’s perfect for interiors like this. Two coats and you’re done.
You’ve probably already noticed that I added a transfer to the door on this piece.
This is from the IOD Label Ephemera transfer.
One last detail to note, I added vintage casters to this piece.
This washstand had clearly had casters at some time. The caster sockets were still in place. Luckily I had four matching wooden casters in my stash that fit perfectly.
Some pieces just look like they were meant to sit up on casters, while others clearly do not. Who else remembers this dresser?
That one was definitely not meant to have casters, although it came with four of them.
But I think this piece was meant to have them. The legs felt a wee bit squatty to me without them.
So what do you think? I gave this one a little bit of the 70’s on the inside, but the outside remains neutral and firmly ensconced in the earlier part of the 20th century.
This washstand is for sale locally, so be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page for more details if interested.
P.S. Speaking of the Mojave, I realized recently that being retired means that I can travel whenever I want to. My mom pointed out that it’s much warmer where she lives, and I was able to get an airline ticket using my frequent flyer miles and paying only the $12 tax. So for less than what it would cost for dinner out, I’m going to visit my mom next week (she’s in Las Vegas, which is in the Mojave Desert, get it?). So if any of you locals are interested in this one, be sure to reach out to me by Friday!
Thanks to Dixie Belle Paint Co for providing the paint used in this makeover.