Category Archives: Furniture Makeovers

out with the new and in with the old

There isn’t one day that goes by when I don’t read at least one blog post boasting about an incredible cragislist score!  Deep down I am envious and a bit frustrated that I rarely have luck finding an amazing piece of my own.  I know, such problems to have huh?  You see, the odds are pretty stacked against someone living in the San Diego area where millions of people are vying for the same deal.

I spend way too much time flipping through page after page of stuff on craigslist.  Sometimes with a purpose, but most of the time just for fun.  Most people read a book in bed at night but I’m in my comfort zone when I’m all snuggled in, HGTV is on and my fingers are happily flipping through people’s junk for sale online.

Three weeks ago I was sitting in bed with my laptop, the kids were sound asleep, the husband was working and I typed “desk” into the search box on craigslist.  A ton of IKEA showed up, some very ornate desks showed up [no thank you] and then…

effortlessly restore a beat up craigslist find

bringing life back to a beat up desk found on craigslist

an old beat up desk gets some new life

choosing not to strip furniture found on craigslist

[I fell in love with the Mid-Century Modern feel of this desk, especially the legs]

 I spotted this beauty!  I know most of you reading this are probably speechless and your jaws have hit the floor.  But for $20 I just couldn’t pass it up.  I’m a firm believer that when things click and fall into place effortlessly it was meant to be.  That was the case with this desk.  I have to admit when I showed up to take a look at it I was a bit surprised at its rough condition.  But you know you’re a DIY’er when you see something like this and think, “I can strip it, sand it and re stain it.  NO PROBLEM!”

After lugging this desk home on our trailer it sat in our garage for the next two weeks.  Reality had set in.  I would sneak off to the garage once the kids were asleep, gaze at it and wonder how in the hell I was going to make this desk pretty again without spending the next year sanding it and refinishing it.  I did a little online research and watched a few clips on YouTube and discovered most old, worn pieces of furniture simply need a good cleaning and several coats of furniture oil.

stress free cleaning up an old desk found on craigslist

[I'm 100% NOT endorsed by any of these manufacturers]

I grabbed the recommended supplies [I found this dark tinted Old English made for dark woods] and started by wiping and wiping and wiping down the desk with a slightly damp Magic Eraser.

beautifying an old beat up desk found on craigslist

I dumped out at least 5 bowls of brown water before I could consider it clean.  Nasty!

no painting old beat up furniture just using oil

After the cleaning was done, I wiped the entire desk down with the original Old English.  I used a microfiber rag saturated with the oil and rubbed with the grain, making sure it seeped into the scratches.  You can see the difference before the Old English and after in the above photo.

bringing new life to an old beat up desk using oil


bringing the life back to an old beat up desk


I gave the desk two coats of original Old English and two coats of the dark version.  I have to say, even though it’s still not in perfect mint condition it looks 100% better.

As for the handles, those proved to be very stubborn.  First I wanted to determine if they were solid brass or simply brass plated.  Want to know a quick tip for figuring that out?  Grab a magnet and hold it up to any object you think might be brass.  If it sticks, you have a brass plated piece.  If it does NOT stick, then you my friend have a solid brass piece.  Magnets will not stick to brass.  I was not so lucky and my magnet stuck.

After decades of neglect the brass plated handles were so tarnished, they were black.  The only way to remove the tarnish without stripping the plating away is by rubbing it with a microfiber cloth.  After three days of rubbing, I was fed up and with little to show for it.  For those purists reading, please do not read this:  I decided to spray paint them!   I figured they are not the REAL thing, nor do they hold monetary value.

when not to paint an old beat up piece found on craigslist

I think they turned out lovely.  I dabbed off small sections after I painted them so they wouldn’t look brand new.  Here is how all that cleaning, rubbing, buffing turned out…

deciding not to paint over an old desk from craigslist

It still is pretty rough looking in a few spots and maybe one day [aka year] I will get around to re staining it, but for now I think it looks just fine.  For an old, solid wood desk that is held together with dove tail joints [no nails or glue] I think it’s just lovely.  Oh, and did I mention it was $20?

using oil to beautify an old desk from craigslist

bringing beauty back to an old desk from craigslist

choosing an ugly beat up desk from craigslist instead of buying new

restoring beauty to an old desk using oil

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Scandinavian Barstools

I’m so excited to finally be sharing this latest project with you.  It’s been in -the-works for a couple months now as I didn’t realize how labor-intensive stripping wood could be!  If you’ve ever stripped wood before you have my sympathies.  But the transformation of our bar stools are pretty amazing [I think] and I hope you like…

scandinavian inspired wood bar stools

For those of you who have been with me for a while [thank you!] you’ll probably remember these @#%&# bar stools are the bane of my existence.  I’ve re upholstered them countless times only to do it all over again within months.  The last time I touched these bar stools they looked like this

turning tradonal barstools into scandinavian ones

My last post about these guys was when I added the funky b+w fabric and “child-proofed” them with the very popular Never Wet.  I have my opinions about this product and will happily share any with you if you’d like.

how to turn your old traditional barstools into scandinavian ones

As you can see the kiddos quickly wore through the sealer and we were left with these grungy looking things.  So I decided to REALLY give these bar stools a major makeover and came up with the brilliant [she said sarcastically] idea to strip them and go Scandinavian!

stripping wood bar stools to make them scandinavian

I found this safe fume free stripper at HD and was impressed that it has a pleasant odor and strips through multiple layers, including stubborn varnish.  I think the label should also say, “Will strip through all those years of kids’ spit, mac ‘n cheese, milk, juice, etc!”  I am not endorsed for saying ANY of this-just sharing.  It has the consistency of pudding and is ready to strip within 30 minutes.  From start to finish I would say it took me apx 4-5 hours.  The varnish was very stubborn and I had to reapply it twice.  To remove the stain that just wouldn’t strip off, I had to break out the power sander.

traditional wood bar stools become scandinavian

This is what was underneath all those layers and I loved the bright, fresh look of the bare wood.  I thought it had a Scandinavian appeal and I just love that look anyway. So I just threw a coat of poly on it and called it good.

scandinavian looking barstools diy

The wood that is.  The fabric on these cushions also needed to be replaced.

change old wood bar stools to scandinavian ones

traditional wood bar stools turn scandinavian“I will destroy all that is in my path!!!”

turning old traditional bar stools into scandinavian ones

traditional bar stools turned scandinavian ones

I ordered a bolt of this off-white faux ostrich vinyl a while ago.  Ive never worked with vinyl before and have to say this ostrich print is gorgeous and very easy to cut and staple onto the seat.  I broke out the staple gun and got busy attaching it.

scandinavian bar stools from traditional ones

scandinavian inspired bar stools

After lots of sweat and numerous swear words I was left with these Scandinavian inspired bar stools.

turn old traditional barstools into scandinavian ones

scandinavian inspired bar stools from traditional ones

re purpose old barstools to scandinavian ones

changing traditional bar stools to scandinavian ones

change old bar stools inot scandinavian inspired ones

Are you laughing yet?  One down, three more to go!!!  *sigh*

change any wood bar stool into scandinavian inspired ones

Have you ever stripped before?  [hee hee]

scandinavian inspired wood bar stools


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