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Rustic Red Re-do

I picked up this 9 drawer dresser with great detailing and hardware off of Facebook marketplace. I'd had a few bites on it for different colors from my stockpile of unfinished pieces but finally got an order for it in a rustic barn shade of red. It was just the perfect dimensions for my customers space.

Products used for this piece:

  1. paint in Rustic Red

  2. Satin top coat

  3. Gel Stain

  4. Black Glaze

  5. Wax in Clear, Black, and Brown

  6. Furniture cleaner

I've learned a lot since I started buying pieces of vintage furniture. I am much pickier now than when I first began. I prefer to avoid repairs as much as possible. If I do find pieces in need of repair, they are usually simple, not complete restorations. Repair work can add so much time to refinishing and it is in my best interest to spend a bit more money and get better quality pieces.

I'm a huge fan of vintage hardware, there is nothing else like it. Hardware is like old costume jewelry made just for your piece. It has character and style that can never be duplicated by a modern pull. I always strive for complete vintage hardware, but on occasion its just not there and the piece is worthwhile enough, either because of price or style, to find a replacement.

Just my luck, this one had both missing hardware and some much needed repairs, plus contact paper! Ugh!! 😣😣😣

My thoughts on lining drawers: If they are clean and in good condition...leave them alone! Once a drawer is lined, it will likely always need to be lined. I only line drawers that need it to hide discoloration or damage.

My customer wanted a wood stained top. No big deal, I love them too and do tons of them. Upon stripping the existing finish off the top, I found that at some point in its life, someone else had refinished the top, and not very well. It's not very common to find solid wood tops on pieces I'm working with. After the 1950's the days of 1" thick solid wood tops are long gone, that's when veneers came into fashion.

Most modern tops are a combination of a cheaper variety of wood, pine maybe, and a more exotic veneer over that. Still all wood, just a combination of materials, very common, and still very refinishable.

During its last makeover, someone had sanded through the veneer on this top into the wood underneath. Veneers are generally very thin, fractions of an inch, and need to be sanded very cautiously, over sanding destroys the veneer. My gut sunk, this needs to be stained wood, but has a huge flaw in two spots! My first instinct was to sand them smooth, add a bit of wood filler, and gel stain over the top.

Gel stain is a thicker, more opaque option. It's sits on top of the wood, can be used over existing finishes, and can be very camouflaging. The problem I ran into was that the filler took the stain very differently and the repaired portions were still just as visible. I used mineral spirits to wipe the gel stain back off and sanded the wood filler back to the damaged wood.

I decided to use the gel stain over the damage as is, layer it for deeper coverage, and could always faux paint spots to match if needed. I did 3 coats of dark gel stain and got great, even coverage. Note to self, staining damaged veneer is better than wood filler.

There are two shades of red that could have worked for this, Barn Red is a bit more true red and Rustic Red is a shade darker. I chose the rustic red. My local retailer only had the Rustic Red in an 8 oz container, I was a bit nervous about coverage. I got two coats of beautiful coverage from an 8 oz container, with paint to spare! If you've ever painted a wall in your house red, you know that it can take several coats to get even coverage. I've found, even the scariest colors for coverage (white, yellow, red) have no issues whatsoever!

After two coats of Rustic Red, I added distressing around the edges just using my power sander, can't go rustic without distressing! The top got several thin coats of Gator Hide top coat applied with a Sponge and the body got Clear Wax. I accented the details with Brown and Black Waxes but chose Black Glaze to get into the fine carvings on the center drawers.

I was missing two small knobs. Matching vintage hardware is the bane of my existence. It is a challenge to say the least. Sometimes new hardware can be used as a great accent, a modern touch on a vintage piece. These glass knobs from Hobby Lobby were the perfect size, similar in shape to its original counterparts, and added a bit of charm.

When I delivered this piece, the vision came together perfectly. The room has a country farm table with various wood colors and black chairs so the dark stain worked flawlessly. It fit right under a window perfectly. I love seeing them in their new home and a vision come to life!

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