Saturday, April 12, 2014

Antique Highboy goes Industrial

I'm really good about seeing past the ugly.  Pieces others scoff at and turn away I snatch up knowing they can be beautiful again.  Well, most of the time.  Usually when I buy a piece I have a pretty good idea what it can look like.  And, sometimes not so much.  This is when I get home and have buyers remorse, thinking, "Why in the world did I haul this thing home?!"

When I was shopping around I saw this guy.  The first thing I do is check to see if all the drawers work.  They slid beautifully and I noticed they were mahogany lined and in perfect condition (very rare for an antique).  Definitely a bonus.  BUT, I could not get past the blocky shape and lack of detail.  So, while I was standing there pondering Craig walks up and says, "Hey, I had one just like this growing up right down to the ugly handles."  Well, that sealed the deal!  This puppy was coming home with me!

In comes the previously mentioned buyer's remorse.  It sat in my garage for weeks and I worked around it.  As if putting it off would magically  make it disappear. ;)  Yesterday I knew it was time, so I pulled it to the middle of my garage and then it all came together. Love when that happens!!

I started by scuff sanding the whole thing and then giving it two coats of shellac because I hate nothing more than bleed through!  



I am still so excited!  I love this warm medium gray (it's a custom color so I can't give you a name, sorry!), the simplicity of the stripes, the brassy color of the pulls, and the wood top all together.

I opted for the stripes in keeping with the original.  These are just more modern. 

Hardware can make a piece and it's what pulled this one all together.  It was still a little blah until I put the knobs and pulls on.  
Tip: I always buy the same screws and then paint the heads to match the pull.  For these, I sprayed a puddle of Oil Rubbed Bronze on a piece of cardboard and then used a small craft brush to dab the paint on the screw heads.  Voila! :)

The grain in the top is just stunning.  I was going to paint it, but when I started sanding I knew there was no way I could cover it up!  I sanded it down to the bare wood (being careful because it's a veneer), then stained it with Java Gel from General Finishes, and gave it 3 coats of a satin poly. 
I've had questions about applying a stain gel and it really is easy peasy!
1.  Prep your surface.  Working on clean, bare wood gives the best results.
2.  I apply the gel against the grain with a chip brush.  But, you don't have to, it's just the way I do it.  You can also wipe it on with rag.  Wear gloves-it's messy!
3.  As soon as your surface is covered wipe off in the direction of the grain.  I use heavy duty shop paper towels. You do not want the stain to dry on your surface, it will be a nightmare to wipe off.  If you discover it has dried too much to wipe off easily go over it with more stain (it "rewets" it) and immediately wipe off.  Make sure all the stain is wiped off.  If your paper towel comes away fairly clean then you've done a good job! :)
4.  Let dry and then use a protective top coat to seal.

Look at him glow!  So happy to not be ugly anymore! ;)

He's spectacular!! :)

This piece will be available at my upcoming Refuge Home Decor Event on April 26th, 10-2 @ 
254 Miramar Dr, Allouez, WI

My email is not working right now.  I can read them, but cannot respond.  Please, if you have any questions leave a comment on my blog or message me on my FB page!!  Thanks!


  1. That looks stunning!!! Im still confused when I see that people are able to stain a veneer. I always thought if it were a "fake" laminate then there was only partical board underneith. I never would have looked at that before and thought you could even stain or sand, I guess I keep thinking it has to be solid oak or pine. Still so much to learn! Thank you for all your tips and advice!

    - She Re Purposed It

    1. Thank you Christina! A veneer is simply a thin piece of wood. Manufacturers use veneer to save money. They will build a piece out of a lesser quality wood (say pine or poplar) and then use a pretty veneer (say cherry or mahogany) to cover it. Veneers have been used on furniture for many decades. The more recent veneers have gotten much thinner than older veneer. Laminate is not the same as veneer. Laminate can be made to look like wood. It can be painted, but not sanded and stained.

    2. Ahhh I got it now!!! Is it easy to tell the difference between a veneer and a laminate? I think ill have to do some googling! Thanks again for the advice!!

  2. Love this redo. Simplicity at its best.

  3. The pulls and the stripes really make this one special! Nicely done!

  4. Industrial class! You really have the touch Lisa!


  5. That top is amazing! The whole piece looks great. I love the bin pulls on it. Best luck at your show!!



  7. I would never have envisioned this from the before photo and I can usually see the potential! You always inspire me! Gorgeous! XO

  8. My thoughts: seeing the before pic ...oh one of those. Not my fave. Seeing the after....what?!? Wait...What?!?

  9. Lisa you did a great job on this makeover and I have no doubt it'll sell quickly at your Refuge Home Decor Event. I know what you mean about sometimes having buyer's doesn't happen often but when it does, those pieces get tossed to the side for weeks on end, as did your dresser.
    Marie @ The Interior Frugalista

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