Thrifting, Antiquing and Refinishing. What I've learned So far.

Monday, January 28, 2013

It's no secret that I've given refinishing furniture a try.  Though I'm an extreme beginner and the projects I tackled were on the smaller side, it was still really fun to do and a great way to breathe new life into pieces that we already had.

For us beginners, the internet is full of inspiration and tips (thankfully).  There are several bloggers who have generously taken the time to teach us newbies tricks and methods to help us achieve the perfect finish.
I heavily relied on Kate's tips.  She guides you through the process from start to finish including what products and supplies to use.  I bought nearly everything she's listed to finish the two projects I did.

Natalie  the talented gal behind Natty by Design has also taken refinishing pieces to a whole new level.  You can see (and purchase) some of her finished pieces here.

Remember, mistakes are bound to happen but most of the time, they can be corrected with a little sanding and you will still achieve a beautiful end result.  A perfect example can be seen over on Pam's blog.  So keep at it!

Finding the perfect piece to refinish can be as simple as looking in your basement storage room.  If you don't have any pieces around the house, kijiji, your local thrift store, craigslist and antique shops are just a few of the places where you can look around.  If searching online take the time to use different keywords and do simple searches.  Too many keywords will really narrow down the search results, which you don't want.

I'm not a pro thrifter or antique shopper, definitely learning as I go and I heavily rely on my taste to guide me (and no, I'm not licking pieces as I go...the other kind of taste, ha!).  I only go looking when I know what I'm looking for or need to find that perfect piece for a specific place in the house.

Here are a few tips that I do have to share:

follow the lines:
lines are everything! looking past the current finish of a piece can be hard, but it's oh so important.  if it has good lines, then you can definitely make something out of nothing, nearly any finish can either be painted or spray painted.  the table in this post is a good example of great lines

check to see if it's sturdy:
the last thing you want is to invest in a piece and to get it home to only find that it's one touch away from falling apart. that being said, some pieces can be easily glued or screwed back together, but make sure you know how to fix it before you buy it!

you want your drawers and cupboards to open with relative ease

veneer isn't something new, it's been around for a while, a fact that I didn't know.  so even if the piece is an antique or vintage, take a close look to see if it has a veneer top. the difference is that veneer from earlier on is a tad thicker, which is good a good thing. reason being: veneer is tricky to sand because it's so thin, you can easily sand right through it.  I have yet to attempt it myself, but through reading and asking around, I have learned that it's doable, but not as simple as refinishing wood. you really need to take your time to ensure that you don't sand through the veneer.  so if you're thinking of staining vs repainting, this is something to consider

the more intricate, the more work:
usually. longer to sand, longer to paint. trickier to sand and trickier to paint.  just something to keep in mind (for someone like me, who is a tad impatient, not the best styles to attempt to refinish) 

mistakes will most likely happen:
especially when you're first starting off. globbing paint, uneven finishes, I've done it.  don't sweat it! 1- you probably won't notice in the end and 2- again, most mistakes can be corrected with a little tlc and patience

take a step back:
chances are, most people (including yourself) won't be looking at your finished piece as close up as you are when painting it.  so, take a step back and assess the finished project and test it out in it's new home before tossing it to the curb (no, not speaking from experience, ha!)

broaden your search area:
if you are in a small town (like me) and capable of driving to neighbouring cities, check their listings out too! I wouldn't have found our dining room set had I not done this

new "old" items are popping up all of the time. the key is the be consistent & persistent with your search and to stay positive. it's easy to get down when after several days or weeks of searching you don't find what you're looking for but with time, it will usually pop up. remember, stay positive!

and lastly,

pick your shopping buddy wisely:
I will not bring my husband with me as he can not see the potential in pieces. I wouldn't say that I have a professionals eye, but I can definitely see potential in pieces and so I'd be more willing to pick something up than he would.  so it's best to shop with someone who can see the piece past it's current state

I don't only search for items to refinish, I also search for items that I can use "as is".  I like the character, I love combining new pieces with old and I love how well older pieces are made.  To be honest, as much as I enjoyed refinishing pieces on my own, it's not something that I can see myself getting into as a hobby.  It will be more of something that I do when I have to, if I find a stellar piece, etc.  I'd much prefer to find a great piece that I don't have to do much to, that I can use just the way it is.

These are just a few things that I have learned so far.  Perhaps I will do a part 2 in the near future.  Now, go on...get to searching and good luck!  And if you have any lessons learned, please do share!


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