Help! Amateur needs advice on how to update a very old washstand!

Mary McDonald
by Mary McDonald
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My mother could have had her own business recovering and refinishing all the antique furniture we had growing up in our one hundred year old house. All I remember about refinishing is coming home from school to see Mom scraping and scraping and always staining the wood. But I know there are many other options out there, but I haven't a clue where to start. Please help me bring this piece into 2017. icon Thanks in advance!
q help amateur needs advice on how to update a very old washstand, how to
My grandma's old washstand
  17 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 25, 2017
    What is your decorating style and how much effort do you want to put in the piece?Staining-painting-stripping?

    • MK McDonald MK McDonald on Feb 27, 2017
      Hi, yeah all I know is how much I really don't care for yellowish colored wood. Our home is warm coloured with chocolate brown and peanut butter. And a lot of my decor are different metallics. I guess it's modern style with no other antiques in the house.

  • M. M.. M. M.. on Feb 25, 2017
    It's adorable with the lil old fashioned casters on it! Have you thought about sanding it, painting it something bright, polishing up the handles and adding a piece of marble/granite for the top? There are less $$ tiles, formica that look like stone, too. Your piece isn't that big, you might even be able to get a spare piece leftover from a bigger job. It depends on what style you're trying for. My daughter and I pained an old desk a very bright pink (I was doubtful) and bright white with some gold accents - it's very over-the-top, but becoz' it's such a small piece and the rest of the room is fairly neutral, it looks very special and "authentic". I looked into getting a piece of glass cut for the top but she didn't want that. I may glue down some leather for a writing pad area. What ideas have you had? Do you ever do rough sketches?

  • Jan11063943 Jan11063943 on Feb 25, 2017
    Although the old handles are charming. I think if you paint it in a color you love that would work with your kitchen, some more modern looking handles would bring up to date for sure. You can look on line for drawers handles--there are so many choices. I am a semi retired designer and think just paint and new handles would look great. Goog luck with your project.

  • Nancy Nancy on Feb 25, 2017
    I WOULD JUST USE A SMALL HAND PALM SANDER AND SAND OFF ALL THE OLD FINISH DOWN TO THE BEAR WOOD. THEN STAIN IT A COLOR OF YOUR CHOICE WITH.....OR PAINT IT WHITE, THEN STAIN WITH A COLOR WOOD STAIN LIKE A BLUE, OR RED STAIN THE MAY BE OTHER COLORS. I DID A BLUE STAIN ON WHITE PAINT ON A TABLE. MY OPINION

    • MK McDonald MK McDonald on Feb 27, 2017
      thank you, I hadn't thought about being able to restain it in any other colour but a brown colour! See how inexperienced I am?๐Ÿ˜

  • Hillela G. Hillela G. on Feb 25, 2017
    I would say, if you want to paint, use chalk paint. You can skip the sanding and priming

  • Liz Liz on Feb 26, 2017
    Click on the MinWax site and look at the various color stains. From the pic, your chest door appears to be a different wood than the rest of the chest. A darker stain would unite the woods and make them look the same. Just lightly sand over the piece and then wipe off any wood dust before staining. Look at the metallic spray paints at a local store, find one you like and spray paint your existing hardware. It's such a quaint, unique little wash stand!

    • MK McDonald MK McDonald on Feb 27, 2017
      It is! Very observant! My mom made that little door like 40+ years ago. Thanks for your ideas

  • Last year I re-did this commode, (you'll need to copy and paste this link in your browser, the links aren't working on Hometalk currently) simpledecoratingtips.com/2016/04/25/antique-dry-sink-re-do
    I also have links on that post on how to restore the stone top and how to restore the rusty old hardware! :)

  • Amanda Amanda on Feb 27, 2017
    Chalk paint is easy to use and requires no sanding. I watched a couple YouTube videos on instruction, searched Pinterest for colors I liked and had such a great experience with it I ended up painting 5 pieces of furniture (first time attempting) in a 2 week period! I'm so pleased with the outcomes I can't wait for more projects. I'm looking around the house for more things to paint! I enjoyed the color used with the clear wax and dark wax to give it an aged appearance. We also live in an old house and have lots of random furniture. This ties them in nicely to various rooms in the house. It made old stuff look shabby chic and added character and everyone comments on the pieces. It's an enjoyable process you might look into. I tried antique white, napoleonic blue, teal, gray, and I used Annie Sloan wax and blue- the others I got from Home Depot and target. All worked great!

    • See 2 previous
    • Mary McDonald Mary McDonald on Mar 02, 2017
      Thanks, I guess sanding before painting with chalk would give it a sleeker look, even though cleaned pieces can be painted without sanding, right? Hmm. If thats the case, then I probably would sand first. ..Thanks Reggie!

  • Amanda Amanda on Feb 27, 2017
    Here's my first chalk paint project and it only took about 3 hours or so. It was very satisfying to take an old plain dresser and turn it into a pretty buffet!

  • MK McDonald MK McDonald on Feb 27, 2017
    Omigosh, I love it! Looks so regal!

  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 28, 2017
    I would stain the piece in a rich black and change the handles to make it look more contemporary. Min Wax has there own website for color exploring.

    • Mary McDonald Mary McDonald on Mar 02, 2017
      Thanks Janet. That's the word I was looking for! Contemporary. Black can fit in almost ..almost anywhere in my house. Then add or paint shiny gold or silver colour. :-)

  • Amanda Amanda on Feb 28, 2017
    There are some really upscale looks with the chalk paint as well. If you only use the clear wax over chalk paint, for example, it gives a beautiful patina. There are metallic colors you can incorporate as well. One I did off white with clear wax and I stained the top in dark coffee and it looked very nice. I'll post a similar photo to mine (it was my inspiration piece I found).

    • Mary McDonald Mary McDonald on Mar 02, 2017
      Oh, wow! See I would never think so far out of the box. I should cause that is a beauty! Thanks for your help๐Ÿ˜Š

  • Mary McDonald Mary McDonald on Mar 02, 2017
    Just want to say you all have been super helpful and I have drawn up a plan. Thank you and we'll have to have coffee soon ...kidding!๐Ÿ˜€

  • Amanda Amanda on Mar 02, 2017
    Me neither! The contrasting stained top gives it such a classy look, doesn't it? Glad you like it. Hope it helps!

  • Cvp Cvp on Mar 03, 2017
    Chalk paint and wax. I did an old oak cupboard.

  • Mary McDonald Mary McDonald on Mar 04, 2017
    Did you distress it? You must love it!๐Ÿ˜Š

  • Stephie McCarthy Stephie McCarthy on Dec 09, 2021

    Have you seen the lady who uses Easy Off oven cleaner to remove a finish? I'm going to try it for sure. Her style is raw wood and she has a very elegant home with lots of it. She sprays the piece, then hoses it off with water. Her page is "My Vintage Porch" and she's also here on HomeTalk.