Welcome to my series on Furniture Renovation! Let's just start by saying this: I am a total hack. Everything I've learned about this subject has been by trial and error. I have never taken a class, read a book or talked to a professional on this subject. I just put on my husband's old cutoff shorts, cinch up my belt, and start messing around in the garage.
However, that being said, I will happily share with you what I have learned along the way! Which brings me to Part I of this series: choosing your piece of furniture and deciding what on earth to do with it.
We will take my most recent project as an example. You remember? Here it is again:
There are a few ways that I go about choosing a piece to refinish. In this case, we just stumbled upon this dresser in an antique shop. The owner wanted to get rid of it, and was willing to part with it for $100. We had no idea where we would put it or when we would even have the time to work on it. But the price was right. So, that's one way to go. If you find something and you think "This could be cool!" and the price is right, just grab it!
If you have a specific piece in mind, or area of the house you are trying to fill, my best advice is to hunt around on Craig's List or garage/estate sales. I once found a simple but pretty dresser for $20 at an estate sale (more on that later). Especially if it's a piece that needs some TLC, people are willing to practically give it to you just to avoid having to haul it to Goodwill on their own! Another option, of course, is to re-do a piece that you already have. Just be sure that you (or whoever you inherited the piece from) are brave enough to mess around with it!
OK, next. Once you have the furniture in your garage and your husband is grumbling about how his only work space is being taken up by your crap, you are ready to get started! This is the scary part. And this is also why I would not recommend spending a ton of money on your first project. You don't want to be so worried about the money you spent on some precious piece of furniture that you are terrified to touch it.
If you can, find yourself an inspiration photo (or ten). I can't tell you how helpful this was to me. As you're going along in the project, you will have to decide things like stain or paint colors, new knobs, handles, even maybe changing out a major piece like the top of a dresser (from wood to granite in my case, see this post for details). I found this photo in the November 2008 issue of Country Home magazine, and I kept referring to it along the way.
As you can see, my dresser (below) is not an exact replica, but I copied the color and the knobs as much as I could. It gave me courage and direction when I was standing in Lowe's or Hobby Lobby and hemming and hawing about all the little details.
So there you go: my first advice about furniture renovation is 1) find an inexpensive piece that you won't be afraid to play around with and 2) get some kind of inspiration photo to guide you.
Next week I will get into the actual process of manhandling your furniture. Don't worry, it'll be fun!