From Curbside to Bedside: How to refurbish a street find

Below is a pic of the great little nightstand I found abadoned on the curb when neighbors down the street moved out: It was a great find, because my guest room presents some difficulties. It's a small room, 12 x 14, made even narrower by a closet that juts out into the room. In it, I have a queen bed, which is too large for the space. However, I already owned the bed when I moved in with Thomas, I love it, it was relatively expensive, I didn't want to get rid of it, and we often have couples staying in the guest room. My intial decision with the bed placement, below, was to shove the bed into the corner to preserve floor space, and I used a small bench as a nightstand, both because of its diminutive size and because I really didn't have another home for it. Neither solution really worked; it was awkward crawling over another person if you shared the bed, and the stool offered no storage.

One day, while walking Cleopatra, the sweetest ,cutest dog ever, I stopped this little cutie on the curb. Sure she was a little battered, but at a little over 12 sq. inches, she was the perfect size, and the deco styling was a sure fit for our 1930s house. Furthermore, It was solid wood construction, and the veneer was intact except for a couple of very small chips around the edges.
The first thing I did was to thoroughly clean the piece with a 0000 steel wool pad soaked in mineral spirits to remove dust, gently sand down imperfections, and give a clean working surface. think of it as a gentle wood exfoliant. In the pic, you can notice the imperfections in the varnish on the top (the lighter patches of wood).

Next, I used a stainable wood filler to fill in the chipped door edges.

After applying, I sanded down the filler.

Next came multiple layers of stain and polish. I planned on keeping the finish in a similar tone to the original finish, but darker. This was for a couple of reasons. One, stain is like haircolor; it's easier to cover variations, mistakes, and inconsistency if you go darker. Second, while I didn't care if the nightstand's finish matched the bed exactly, I did think a darker finish would be a better complement.
First step, after patching, was to spot stain the worn areas in the finish, the stratches, and the putty with sedona red (which I already had left from another project) in order to blend the lighter patches with the rest of the finish.
Second, I lightly sand with superfine steel wool, and then did a couple of coats of a mix of Minwax Polyshade Special walnut mixed with Colonial Maple (the mix was also left from another project). I used the polyurethane with stain because the piece had originally had a laquer layer that had worn through in places. By using a poly, those unprotected areas would be given a layer of protection. I also needed the mixed colors to get exactly the color I wanted: a reddish tone with darker brown undertones. If you are looking for a certain effect or trying to match existing finishes, mixing is the way to go. Just remember to write down proportions as you are experimenting so you can recreate the perfect stain in larger quantities.
Third, because I wanted the piece to have a more authentic finish, I again sanded the entire piece with steel wool, and applied 3 coats of dark wax with a steel wool pad.

The piece in progress, after blending the lighter areas:
In place:
Since the stool was also narrow, I was able to squeeze it between the bed and the window to create a second nightstand. It's a little snug moving between the bed and the closet, but the benefit to having two nightstands is so much greater.

It's the perfect size for an alarm clock, a couple of books, and a small bouquet.
It was missing a pull, so I found a co-ordinating pull, painted it to match the original and added a broken beaded tassel for interest:

And for an extra touch, I lined the bottom drawer with a remnant of a favorite fabric:
Since I already had the stains and other materials needed for the makeover, my total out of pocket cost was $1.57 for the clearanced drawer pull. Considering the fact, I just saw a similar piece for $75 in a consignment store, I think it was a good deal.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I love littel surprises like that-- the fabric lining the drawer. Nice touch.