Thursday, July 19, 2012

Refinishing my Sideboard: An exercise in uncertainty

Last year, when we moved into our new home, we bought this antique sideboard (was told it was a Welsh sideboard...anyone know?) for our dining room.

I had always intended on refinishing it, mainly because there was a lot of damage to the finish, and I wasn't too keen on the dark, thick, chipped stain.

Now I know that a purist would leave it as is, since it is an antique (again, was told from late 1800's but I have no way of confirming this, although it is constructed using square nails) but I wasn't loving the way it looked. Also, I don't think this is a valuable piece (at least we didn't pay much for it!).

I was unsure on the type of wood the sideboard was made of, since the old stain was so dark and thick. I spent days stripping off the old goo. This is not a job I enjoy...stinky, messy, not fun!


The stripper worked great, but smells a wee bit like vomit, which is rather unfortunate when you're working in the heat!

The wood ended up being oak (I think) and very grainy-not what I had hoped for.

Now I was really unsure what to do. Should I just paint it? Afterall, I do love painted furniture, and happen to have a few cans of chalk paint. On the other hand, I also love wood, particularly when an antique piece. Should I just get over my Oak snobbery?

I decided to apply 2 coats of Tung oil and live with it in place for a while.

I may still paint it (I'd likely leave the top stained wood), or the wood look may grow on me. We shall see!

I hope to one day replace my dining room table and chairs, so they aren't a factor in my decision to paint or leave well enough alone.

So, what say you????

Would you:

1. Leave it as is

2. Paint the bottom (likely a cream or warm grey colour which would fit in best with the surrounding decor) and leave the top wood

3. Stain the whole thing darker, but not paint it

4. Other suggestions?

I'm all ears!

Linking to my Favorite Parties!


Margie said...[Reply to comment]

it's a very beautiful piece! i'm not a purist, so i love what you've done to it so far! a few months ago we repurposed an old vanity that was my hubby's grandmother's. i'm sure some people would cringe at what we did, but we LOVE it, and it's now usable to us, instead of sitting in our attic collecting dust. reminds me, i must do a post on it!

anyway, i think it's beautiful as is, but i do like the painted look myself and i would probably end up painting it white or cream!

Deb said...[Reply to comment]

I'd leave it...

Sandy A said...[Reply to comment]

I think it is just lovely the way it is---but with a creamy paint on the base and the top left wood I think it would be gorgeous. I happen to be one of those people that love painted furniture unless it is an antique of value either monetarily or emotionally. Keep us posted on your decision...

marty (A Stroll Thru Life) said...[Reply to comment]

Oh I love it. I think I am almost burnt out on seeing so much painted furniture. Seems like everyone is painting everything in sight. Love the detail and carving on this piece and you can see it so well left natural. Hugs, Marty

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...[Reply to comment]

Look at that detail, Andrea! I had to scroll back up to the first pictures because I didn't even notice it until the "afters"! It's beautiful, but if you think painting it will fit in better with your home, I say go for it. There are those who will say leave it and those who say paint it, but you know, it's in your home and you have to live with it. You could paint the base and stain the top and have a little bit of both. I did French Linen ASCP on two night stands in our guest room and stained the tops with a gel stain. I was really pleased with the way they turned out and it was the first time I split furniture like that between paint and stain.

Cheyenne said...[Reply to comment]

I'd definitely leave it-but it's all personal opinion. I think it's absolutely lovely! It's not garish honey oak from the eighties----it just looks warm and beautiful! What a treasure!

Blondie's Journal said...[Reply to comment]

You did a beautiful job, I wish I had your patience and skill! It is so hard to say what I would do with looks so timeless as it is. I agree that you should wait a bit.


Julie said...[Reply to comment]

Well I think it is beautiful and think leaving it as is would be fine. I think the second choice is the best. There is so much lovely detail that I think painting would highlight. Due to the grain, I don't think you really notice the fine details right now, J.

Strawberries and Sweet Love said...[Reply to comment]

It's a nice piece, and if your not happy with the grain I'd paint it! And if it turns out you don't like it painted you can always strip it... I'm not crazy about painting every piece of furniture but I think one piece in each room is nice. Good luck!

May said...[Reply to comment]

I love it just as it is. I think it is Eastlake style as shown in details like the carved vine/leaves and the ridges that run along the drawers. I think it does have value and that painting it may well lower that value. Gorgeous!

I would save my paint for a beat up old dime a dozen piece.

Windlost said...[Reply to comment]

i can't believe all the work you did. i need to email you for some advice on a table i have! vomit?! yay! not.

i like the natural finish. i think you should live with it for a while. it is quite lovely. i think painting would make it too generic, like any old pine thing you could paint. i am keen to re-stain many things a very dark mahogany, so maybe think about that eventually.

or you could lime wash it or whatever that gray treatment is called. how in heck do they do it? more noxious chemicals likely. you should wear a respirator when you are doing this...

xo terri

Suzan said...[Reply to comment]

I know how difficult a decision like this can be simply because of the age of the piece. However, it has been stripped which would negate most monetary value and you don't like oak. I say paint it and let the details come out. I am about to paint a piece of furniture that dates from 1798. Some fool stripped it and then sanded it and it looks horrid. At least painted it will be pretty so I have no qualms about hitting it with chalk paint.

trek said...[Reply to comment]

I'd stain it darker to match the frames and maybe use gold leaf or something similar in the etched leaf design.

Cassie said...[Reply to comment]

I do love a good painted piece of furniture...but this is just stunning! It turned out beautifully and looks fabulous in your vignette. Leave it for a while until you know for sure what you want. And when you're tired of it altogether, email me!! I LOVE it!

Jennifer said...[Reply to comment]

You did a great job and it was well worth the effort. I wouldn't touch it further. It looks fabulous as is!

Between Blue and Yellow said...[Reply to comment]

Paint it! you can alwasy strip it in the future if you don't like it anymore. I recently batteled with myself over painting a piece. I chose not to and tried to resell. It sat for months. As soon as I decided to paint it, it sold in 4 days :)

Rita said...[Reply to comment]

you have such an amazing piece of furniture now. I wouldn't touch it as it looks perfection as it is to me.
glad to have found your blog.

Sandy said...[Reply to comment]

Wow, you did a great job refinishing this piece! Only I think it's chestnut , not oak, it has a finer grain, lovely! I think, if it were mine, I'd stain the top and paint the base. Have fun with it!

Beth@Makemeprettyagain said...[Reply to comment]

I think you did a fab job. I agree on it being oak. And a nice oak piece at that. If after a while you decide you want to paint it, I would give it just a subtle dry brush wash of what ever color you like. Leave the top.
It's a very nice piece.

Kelly said...[Reply to comment]

That piece is really pretty! I can see why you love it unpainted. I love painted furniture, but also a nice warm wood piece too. I would just leave it alone and if you decide to paint it, you can always do that down the road.

elenanatx said...[Reply to comment]

You did an excellent job! That piece looks fabulous and unique without paint.

Sami Pat Felmet said...[Reply to comment]

I can't verify the Welch but I like the idea since that is my heritage. To me, it has a Scandavian look. I would add a couple of coats of handrubbed paste wax to give it a luster after the tung oil rests a bit. That is probably old school but I'm that too.


Jane said...[Reply to comment]

I think it looks gorgeous as is!!

sweet violets said...[Reply to comment]

This is a pretty piece of Eastlake furniture, probably late 1800 to early 1900. It is oak and was stained so dark for a reason, as you discovered when you stripped it!! This is a piece of "cottage furniture", and they did not use the best grains of wood for it, however is still a sweet collectable. I would paint the bottom portion a light color such as the gray or cream, sand it down a bit and let that beautiful design work show up when you wax it.....and leave the top stained, I think that would look very smart....and the cute backsplash could be painted too and sanded and waxed. Really a nice piece for the dining room as a server.....let us know what you decide!!! hugs...cleo

Keeping it Cozy said...[Reply to comment]

I think this looks beautiful just as it is! I do love painted furniture but sometimes I think an antique piece left in its original state is just breathtaking. You did a great job stripping it.

Whimsical Perspective said...[Reply to comment]

Oh! Please leave it. I am a furniture painter and I wouldn't paint it. That is a show stopping piece as is. I would buy that "as-is" for my house.

Dear Lillie said...[Reply to comment]

It looks lovely Andrea! I am torn - but leaning towards the idea of painting the bottom a cream or gray as you mentioned.

thistlewoodfarm said...[Reply to comment]


Your sideboard looks amazing. I would just leave it like it is! Your photography is so pretty!

Have a blessed and wonderful week!

Loree Clary said...[Reply to comment]

Leave it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is one of the most beautiful pieces I have ever seen. You made it gorgeous so just leave it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's perfect!

designchic said...[Reply to comment]

I think it it beautiful just the way it is...great job!!

Debt Free Mommy said...[Reply to comment]

It's party time over at Debt Free Mommy's blog! You are invited to join the party by linking up anything related to making your space a better place for you and your loved ones. Please join us at Making Space Mondays at Link up starting at 9:00 (central time) tonight. Hope to see you there! -Tabitha

Anu@My Dream Canvas said...[Reply to comment]

I love it the way it is :) I am hosting a Giveaway to win a 50 dollar gift card to the store HomeGoods. It would be great if you stopped by and entered. Thanks Anu

teaorwine said...[Reply to comment]

I love tung oil finishes, the only way I finish stripped pieces. The patina is so released when applied.


Between Blue and Yellow said...[Reply to comment]

Looks great! Totally worth all the hard work. You should try Citrastrip, it smells lovely and is better for the environment. Works great too!

pansyollie said...[Reply to comment]

It certainly looks better than the original finish. But I think the carving on this piece would look beautiful with an Old White undercoat followed by a French Linen wash with AS Chalk Paint. In my eyes that would be perfect. But I'm not a big fan of this oak look -- too reminescent of an Antique Mall in my own opinion.

Blogger said...[Reply to comment]

I've just installed iStripper, so I can watch the best virtual strippers on my taskbar.