How To Restore Old Wood In Minutes Using One Product

A few months ago my hubby and I bought out first home, a circa 1900 American Foursquare we are currently restoring back to its original charm. One room that needs only a little work and that we loved at first sight was the pantry.
With its floor to ceiling wood cabinets and original window (because you needed natural light before electricity), it's a lovely nook.
Not to mention the beautiful cast iron original fixtures!
As with most of the house though, the piece needed some TLC. The former owners had laid down sticky plastic shelf liners over the raw wood. What I uncovered after pulling them up was this amazing 100+ year old heartwood pine boards. However, even after dusting and wiping them down, the wood looked dull and tired.

In comes my favorite wood product:
When you open a new bottle, push a pin through the seal that's under the lid - this will help you pour out only what you need onto your rag and save you from any spills.

***Please Note: I would not recommend lemon oil for wood with a finish on it, and most especially not on antique wood furniture.

Take a cloth rag and dab a little bit of oil into it. Swipe your rag with the grain of the wood. A little oil goes a long way, so really spread it out and work it into the wood.

Ten minutes later, this is the difference of the wood with lemon oil worked into the bottom shelf, and none on the upper:
Think it's just a trick of the lighting?

Well, another ten minutes and here's the upper shelf now also with the lemon oil:
See how much the wood grain just pops and the healthy color it gave back to the wood?

Each time I used it I couldn't help but gasp as the true beauty of the wood started to show itself.

Here is one of the drawers as I started to rub the oil in the middle. It was so cool to see the wood jump out like this each time:
Another comparison of the drawers below with and without the lemon oil:
It's been a little over 2 months now and the wood still shines and looks just as healthy and has a light lemon smell. Lemon oil is extremely slow to evaporate, so it should be quite awhile before the wood should need another treatment.

Truly such a simple and effective method! Would love to see your results!

If you'd like to see a tour of our home, click the link, or to see the renovations taking place as we restore our home it to its early 1900's glory, visit me at the blog (link in my HomeTalk profile). :) Thanks!
Living in a Fixer Upper
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
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  2 questions
  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Jun 07, 2017
    I haven't thought about lemon oil for years, but I used to keep it around all the time. And I love the difference it made in your pantry drawers and shelves. Question: You said you would not use lemon oil on antique wood furniture (or on wood with a sealer.) How much older are your antiques than 100 year old heartwood pine? Although, a pantry may not count as furniture, but your pantry is so beautiful. Best wishes😇

  • Ann Block Ann Block on Aug 22, 2017
    How do I get old paneling to look new again with out painting it

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  • Jewellmartin Jewellmartin on Jun 07, 2017
    I thought I had a pantry, but mine is just a broom closet compared to this one. I love the way the lemon oil made the shelves look. But the hardware is so solid looking that I would like to learn more. Gorgeous job on the pantry.

    • Living in a Fixer Upper Living in a Fixer Upper on Jun 07, 2017
      Aw thanks! I'd love to share more about the hardware - what in particular about it did you want to learn? :)

  • Roxann Roxann on Apr 21, 2021

    I am about to Purchase a home that has wood Floors. Can I Use Lemon Oil to bring back the beauty of the Wood or Something else. There is a Stain that Needs Some Attention also. Can I Use the Lemon Oil on this also?