Super Fast Wood Furniture Restoration

posted by Andrea | 10/24/2013

super fast wood furniture restoration

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about painting — specifically painting and distressing furniture to give it a whole new look.

I’ve enjoyed finding thrift-store furniture and then painting and revitalizing it to fit my farmhouse style. Most of all, I LOVE having unique pieces of furniture in our house that you can’t find anywhere else.

As I mentioned on Facebook a couple weeks ago, my current furniture-painting project it to turn this old, thrift-store TV cabinet ($18.00) into a lovely kitchen set for Nora’s 2nd birthday next month.

I’ve already disassembled the cabinet, primed it, and have started piecing things back together again. I also found a really cool sink to use!

Picture something along these lines when I’m finished… but no promises that it will be THIS cute!

play kitchen

I’m pretty excited — but I have a feeling there might be a few frustrations along the way :)

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Anyway, I was recently given a few pieces of furniture from my great aunt — and although they need a bit of work, I’m still not exactly sure what I want to do with them or where I want them to “live” in our house long-term.

I’m not ready to paint these items or spend mass amounts of time transforming them into something new… however, they looked pretty worn and I just knew I could make them look a lot nicer for the time-being without much effort on my part.

“Recipe” For Super Fast Wood Furniture Restoration:

1. Make sure your item is clean from dust, dirt, and debris. 

2. Mix 3 parts cooking oil and 1 part vinegar in a small bowl 

Examples:

  • 3 T. oil + 1 T. vinegar
  • 3/4 c. oil + 1/4 c. vinegar
  • 3 c. oil + 1 c. vinegar

3. Dip a soft clean rag in the oil/vinegar solution and simply wipe over the furniture, gently rubbing it in. No need to come back and wipe it off unless you have globs of oil in certain areas.

4. Let “dry” (about 30 minutes) before you use the furniture or sit on it.

NOTE: this is only for real wood furniture — it won’t work nearly as well (if at all) on laminate wood or pressed board.

Also, you can use cider or white vinegar and any type of cooking oil you have on hand — and a little goes a long way. I did 2 chairs and a small dresser with only 3T + 1T and still have a little left over.

before and after chair

As you can see by the before and after images, the transformation is not life-altering — especially not in pictures. However, it DOES make a big enough difference that the furniture looks a little newer, a little brighter, and a little less worn.

When you consider the cost (a few pennies) and the time involved (less than 5 minutes for the chair above) I’d say it’s totally worth it.

Do you have any quick, simple ways to revitalize wood furniture?

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22 comments

  1. Organize 365

    10/24/2013

    This is a great tip. I am going to try it on my bathroom cabinets.

    It would also be great when I finish professionally organizing a client’s kitchen. I wash out each drawer and shelf as I go along, but would love to be able to give older wood cabinets as quick wipe down at the end of a job as well.

    :)
    Lisa

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  2. Kimberley

    10/24/2013

    OMGosh…that kitchen is adorable!!! I can’t wait to see what yours looks like!!!

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  3. Charlene Uchtman

    10/24/2013

    When a piece of furniture need redoing, or just needs a really good dusting, I just go over it with a stain and sealer combination, wipe off, and make sure it’s not sticky before using it again. I do my old varnished wood work this way too. You can use a natural but a similar color will cover scratches, or you can even go darker. I’ve done this for many years without adverse effects. It’s a great freshener.

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  4. five4FiveMeals

    10/24/2013

    I don’t know about furniture, but mayonnaise gets scuffs out of our 60 year old hardwood floors. I can’t stand the way the stuff smells, but man it works.

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    Lisa P. Reply:

    Mayonnaise is pretty much oil and vinegar (+egg and spices, etc.). I bet Andrea’s way smells a lot better! ;)

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  5. Luba

    10/24/2013

    Thank you, Andrea! This suggestion will come in very handy soon. :)

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  6. Tricia @ Our Provident Home

    10/24/2013

    I used this method on my banister/railing and it was amazing! The wood had a lot of water damage. I think the previous owners dried clothes over it. I used a 1 to 1 ratio of olive oil and white vinegar and now it looks like new. The husband came home from work and asked if I had refinished the wood. Nope. It still has a bit of a rough texture, but the wood looks beautiful even months later. I use the solution everywhere now and a little does go a long way.

    I love the kitchen idea! Oh, if I only had little girls instead of boys. (Okay, not “instead”…) Can’t wait to see how it turns out.

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  7. Lisa Schulte

    10/24/2013

    Plain olive oil by itself works great too!

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  8. Katie

    10/24/2013

    Thank you for the tip!!! Can anyone give me a tip for cleaning the wood, with a homemade cleaner before making it shine?

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  9. Deborah

    10/24/2013

    Might be a thought to use chaulkboard paint (fridge) or perhaps inside a frame with her name on it. A great project for years to come!

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  10. Sue

    10/24/2013

    You must have great thrift stores by you.. that cabinet would be at least 50.00-75.00 where I live.. LOL

    Sue in NJ

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    Vickie Reply:

    We had a cabinet like this and my husband burned it because he said no one would ever want it. I’m going to show him this! Great idea.

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  11. Evie

    10/25/2013

    Andrea, thanks for this! In the past, I’ve rubbed my old (ancient) oak furniture with olive oil when it’s looked dried out, but it was only ever really good for a week or two, and even on the first day some parts of the old wood would look dry again. Yesterday after reading your tip I added vinegar to the mix, and I’m excited! Right away I could see that the oil was sinking into the wood better! I guess the vinegar breaks down the surface film that would block absorption. I’ve got my little kit of oil/vinegar/old tee shirt ready to go for today again. This tip is just what I needed! Thanks again!

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    Evie Reply:

    Sorry to reply to myself , but I meant to also say that I’m going to sand the tops of my furniture with a very fine sand paper (or maybe fine steel wool??) and then add a second coat of the oil/vinegar mixture. :-)

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  12. Sonia

    10/27/2013

    This worked really well for me! It also did work relatively well as a cleaning agent (I think it must have been the vinegar in the solution). It picked up quite a lot of dust and dirt in addition to polishing my furniture and shelves. Thanks so much for this!

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    Andrea Reply:

    Yay for shiny clean furniture! Thanks for sharing Sonia :)

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  13. Dorothy

    10/27/2013

    I just moved an old buffet into my kitchen and it was looking dry. I tried this an it looks so much better. Then while I was at it, I wiped down my cabinets.

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    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks for sharing Dorothy. So glad this method worked for you too!

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  14. Lana

    10/28/2013

    I tried this over the weekend, it worked great! Thanks for the tip!

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  15. kim murphy

    11/18/2013

    Sounds like a plan to win the planner…

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  16. Hannah

    07/06/2014

    Hi Andrea,

    I have a lazy susan and a paper towel holder that my now deceased father made years ago. I have held on to them for sentimental reasons despite the fact that they do not match anything in my kitchen (they are both plain brown wood and most of the decor items in my kitchen are black). Do you have any suggestions for how to “make them over” to be black? I know I could do a google search on this, but you’re the first person I thought of when I realized I could MAKE these items match my kitchen… and that I simply don’t know how. I would appreciate any tips and tricks you may have! I did search your page, but came across this post over and over no matter how I worded my search. :-)

    Thanks!
    Hannah

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Hannah,
    I’d say just paint the pieces black to match your other kitchen items. I paint things black ALL the time (it’s my favorite color for wood furniture).

    No special tips — just paint one or 2 coats of black and feel free to sand off the edges a bit if you want a more rustic look!

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