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Friday, March 30, 2012

How I Learned to Stain From An Ugly Office Credenza

I found an old ugly office credenza at Goodwill for $9.99.  I brought it home and it was ugly, I mean really ugly and worn out with sun spots and water damage, but still it had good bones.  It was sturdy and practical so I used it for several months as a work table in my garage.  Pulling out dresser drawers to sand and paint, the ugly office credenza was just what I need to put them on.  The height was perfect.  You can imagine after several months, it looked even worse, covered in paint, scratches and more.

Until, I had a gentleman come to look at another piece of furniture I had in my garage, but “I really need something for my home office with file drawers.  Do you have anything like that?”
“I do have this old thing,” I said, pointing out the ugly office credenza in the back of the corner.  I kicked at the base like a used car salesman kicks at the tire of a lemon car.  The gentleman pushed on the ugly office credenza and tinkered around for a minute, opening each drawer and I could tell he was wondering how such a junky piece of furniture could ever become what he needed in his home office.
Finally, he said "I think this could work, I like it."
“I could paint it what ever color you prefer,” I suggested, but he cut me off.
“I’m colorblind, so I’m really not into picking out any specific color.  Can you stain it back to its natural wood?”
I am a people pleasure through and through.  If you asked me to make pecan pie out of egg noodles, I’d try it just to please you.  It’s just my nature.

So, I said yes, knowing all to well I’ve never stained a piece of furniture in my life, let alone an old worn-out painted over piece of junk like this credenza.
Still, a promise is a promise and I told him it would be done by the end of the day because I had nothing else to do but take care of my kids, work on about 10 other projects and clean my house.

I started by sanding off the paint from about a dozen different projects.  It’s funny how spray paint flies.  I was sanding off paint even on the bottom drawers.  I cursed the fact that this piece of furniture was so dirty from my own demise.  Regardless, I worked away and finally remove the gloss to find the wood (so sorry I don't have a before picture, but I never thought this piece of furniture would be blog worthy).
Bri-wax, elbow grease and self-determination and I had the most beautiful piece of wood furniture I’ve ever seen.  
I even spray painted the brassy chipped up sun-faded fixtures black.
I can’t believe this is what was hiding underneath decades of wear.

I really shocked myself.
I called the gentleman back to tell him his credenza was ready and it was gorgeous.  I was ready to start bragging, to go on and on about its transformation.  
"You can come pick it up anytime," I said with the same enthusiasm my 4 year-old son had demonstrated earlier in the day when he finished building a Lego tower.  I was somewhere between disbelief and gloating.
“Sorry, I found another one and already purchased it.”
(Yeah, that whole part was a bummer and a bad ending to this story.)
Still, I thanked him for suggesting it be restored because I am love with staining furniture.
Here it goes on craigslist and let’s hope I get some interest in it, although I'm very fond of it and could look at it and sigh with disbelief for another few days.


  1. Did you say you did that in one day??? So, did you sand the entire piece down to the wood grain? That's a lot of work. Even with an electric sander! And, then what...a stain & then briwax? It really does look amazing.

  2. I would love to read a tutorial on this! Its so impressive. I'm so in love with all your paint projects that I was surprised how much I like this stained

  3. Looks gorgeous! I kinda wish I could buy it from you, if only I had the room... You did a great job!