One of my all-time favorite shows is DIY Network’s Rehab Addict. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and start watching! The host, Nicole Curtis, rescues historic homes that are slated for demolition. While others see hopeless ruin, she sees potential to revive the former beauty. It just takes work and a lot of it.
The way Nicole feels about old homes I feel about old furniture. I picked up this gorgeous antique vanity and a really beat up little antique dresser at a local thrift store. I got both for a steal of a deal at $25! Despite their sad state of disrepair I could see the potential. The vanity had the original handles and original wooden wheel casters which adds value. Original details are always a great bonus. Unfortunately I ended up having to remove the casters. One was missing the wheel and the others were splitting. Damaged casters can ruin floors so out they came. I sell all my salvaged pieces so someone else can restore these and add them to a project.
First, I had to scrub it clean. It was under a tarp outside the store waiting to be brought in when there was room (or to be wedged into the back of my van). The veneered top on one side was peeling and bubbling so I pulled up as much as I could then patched with wood filler. A lot of wood filler. Layers of wood filler. After lots of smoothing and sanding I had an even surface ready to paint.
While you can paint right over wood filler, I seal large patches with a coat of shellac. This helps the paint to stick with a smooth finish. It also helps seal stains so you can paint over without them showing through, which is something I had to do after discovering some red stains on one of the legs. I picked a new color from the Martha Stewart chalk paint line called “Sailor Blue”. I wanted a smoky blue-gray color and this was perfect!
I finished it with a watered down wash of white wax. I mixed about 50/50 water and white wax, brushed it on, then wiped down with a lint-free cotton rag, working in small sections. After distressing the edges and putting the original Keeler Brass Company handles back, it’s all done.
Another antique piece rescued and given a chance to find a new home. As Nicole Curtis would say, “Is it perfect? No. But it’s old; it’s not supposed to be.”