Monday, June 02, 2014

Refinish or Refurbish an Antique Dresser?

I've had the itch to refinish a piece of furniture for quite some time. I love taking something that needs refinishing and making it better. It's even better when I find something for pennies on the dollar, like when I found our she-monster antique desk for $14.99 at Goodwill. Or when I found an end table for my daughter for $5 or the grandkid's play table for our rec room for $12.99.  Those were the days. I've noticed it is sooo much harder these last couple of years to go to a flea market or thrift store and find a treasure at a good price. Too many people have learned the art of refinishing furniture, I guess.

Anyway, last week I stopped by a few flea markets and thrift stores in town looking for a dresser that I could refinish and that only cost $2. {A girl can dream, right?}  I found a dresser I loved, but it was much more than I wanted to spend, so I moved on. Friday I mapped out a trip around town and sacraficed my beauty sleep to get up extra early to go to garage sales that noted they were selling "furniture." Nada. On Saturday my husband and I got serious and drove up to Ft. Collins {the flea market / antique store meca in Colorado} to check out some stores up there. The only thing we ended up with was an overwhelming desire to hose ourselves off with Clorox once we got home. Seriously, what is it about antique stores and flea markets that make you feel like you are walking through and inhaling decades of germs? {shudder}

 Our trip, however, was not a total waste of time. We stopped for lunch at Cafe Rio...


All this made me reconsider the antique mission style dresser I had seen at a flea market in town earlier in the week that was perfect but more than I was willing to spend at the time. After looking at similar dressers in Ft. Collins that were more than double in price, I decided it was a sweeter deal than I had originally thought. We headed back to Longmont and bought it.

Today I started refurbishing it. Originally I'd wanted to buy a piece that I could refinish and paint, but after purchasing this little number I decided to keep the original finish and just refurbish it instead. The outside is in beautiful condition. I absolutely love the clean lines of mission style furniture.This particular one was probably made in the 1910s to 1920s.

It has a beautiful mirror that attaches to the back of the dresser. It is in need of repair, but once the "stitches" are in place it should heal nicely.

Although the outside of the dresser is in good shape the inside of the drawers need some work. This is where my hubs will come in. He'll fix those up in no time. He's handy like that...

The drawers have original locks and pulls...

I began by wiping down the dresser with a distilled water and Dawn dishwashing soap mixture (one capful of Dawn per pint of distilled water). I applied the solution with a clean damp cloth and rubbed a small area at a time. This helps take off the grime, dirt and wax that has accumulated on the piece.

You'll see your progress by the dirt on the rag as you clean it. I washed my rag out and refreshed the solution often. I found that most of the build-up was on the top surface of the dresser. 

If necessary, wipe all the excess detergent off with a clean barely damp rag and let it dry. This next week we'll be fixing the drawers and the mirror, and then I'll apply some furniture wax to the dresser and drawers. I'll report back on the finished project!