Stained Bedroom Set

If there is one thing I have learned (or more so, has been reinforced) over this past week, it's that things don't always go as planned. Actually, as I'm quickly learning, things rarely go as planned. So, unless you figure out how to roll with the punches and improvise, you've got a loooong road ahead of you, sista! To go into detail, but not too much detail...or as my best friend always says, "To make a long story short..." (but it's never short) here is the rundown... The pieces I'm showing off today really should have been done two weeks ago. They weren't. The kitchen mini-makeover that I wanted  to show off today isn't happening. Next week, fingers crossed. So whatever the reasons may be, whether it was the air was too cool and the sealer bubbled, or I was so excited to order a new rug that I forgot to measure the space (not the first time I've had a measurement error....you can read more about that here)...things are moving slower than anticipated over here! At the end of the day, life goes on, right?!    

So, whether it's now or two weeks ago, I'm really excited to show you these two pieces. And for all you painted furniture haters out there, you will be VERY excited to read this post. That's right, a paint-free makeover!!! 

I found this dresser and chest set at an auction awhile back. It took all of two days before I had a customer looking for a custom order that fit this bill. She sent me 'inspirational' pieces that were straight out of Restoration Hardware. Let's be clear, I love what I do and think I'm pretty good at it, but I am fully aware that my little gig over here is nowhere near the empire that Restoration Hardware has built. I know this, but do my clients realize this? Nevertheless, I was determined to do my best to recreate their inspiration.  

Here are a couple shots of how the pieces started.

The pieces were in great structural shape and you could tell the grain of the wood was really pretty, however it was just covered by a thick, ugly coat of varnish. It was tempting to cover it up with a coat or two of paint, but that wasn't in the cards this time around. Sadly, the paint brushes had to sit this one out and watch from the sidelines.

In order to really get a feel of the wood grain, I first wiped away the varnish with acetone. Just this one step made a huge impact and got me excited for what I had in store with these guys.

The next step was to strip all the varnish with a paint stripper. A little trick I have found helpful is to use a coarse brush (almost like what you'd use to clean grill grates) to remove the stain from the crevices and carvings of a piece.

Once the pieces were fully cleaned and sanded, I could start focusing on re-staining them and restoring the beauty of the original wood.

So that's exactly what happened. And the results were something good!

Not to get sidetracked, but how do you like that rug? Yeah, you may be seeing it again in my kitchen makeover, but just in a smaller scale. Numbers...apparently not my strong suite. But on the bright side, I have a new item to use for staging!

Anyway, back to the furniture. I just couldn't believe how the grain really came to life once all the thick varnish was wiped away.

All of the sudden, the carvings and details become so much more noticeable. 

An added bonus was that the original hardware was still in tact. I gave it a quick polish, but still tried to keep a bit of patina to it.

Hands down, my favorite feature about these two pieces is the variation in wood grain direction. I think it's cool how there is a vertical stripe down the center of the pieces.

Seeing these pieces now I'll be the first to admit, they look a lot better stained than they would have painted. Who knows...maybe I'm on to something here!