A “New” Buffet – Getting Started


Several months ago, in oh…about May…. I had been keeping a close eye on Craigslist for a buffet or hutch for a certain spot in our dining room.  It had to be a smaller sized piece so it could fit nicely without extending under our pony wall.


Well I finally found one!  We rented the Home Depot truck and picked it up.  I should’ve looked it over more closely when we picked it up and probably negotiated the price.  The thing is abso-stinkin-lutely-filthy!  And it has a couple of minor cracks here and there.  But we were on the Home Depot clock with that truck, so I was in a rush.

Here are the two pieces showing how functional they are 😉

IMG_2087 IMG_2086 Actually, the buffet does have some neat stuff going on, as far as functionality goes.  The skinny pull out thing at the top there pulls out to extend the serving area.  And the two cupboards, two drawers, and the nifty wine racks are all nice storage features as well.  I plan to get some glass cut for those doors, too.

It sat in our garage until last week, when we had finished the cabinets and I decided it was time to get going on the buffet/hutch so Hubster could park his car in the garage again 🙂

The plan: 

Clean the bugger.  Sand the stain off and the paint as much as possible.  Re-stain the wood portions to match our fireplace mantel (dark) and repaint the painted portions to match our kitchen cabinets.  Poly the whole thing.

Disclaimer:  I’ve never refinished furniture and I hope to avoid using paint stripper at all costs. (!)

I’m also just tackling the buffet at this point.  I’ll work on the hutch some other time because I really only want the buffet inside for now…and I don’t know what I’m doing or how well it will turn out 🙂

First step: Clean it.  Formula 409 didn’t even touch the “dirt” on this thing.  I did find some rather large, dried orangey-brown splatters that looked something like perhaps baby food…and I got those off ok.  But all of this is another story:

Inside cabinet and drawer areas:

IMG_2265 IMG_2266


The cabinet doors:

IMG_2271 IMG_2274 IMG_2270

I’m actually starting to wonder if the “dirt” all over this thing isn’t actually a really sloppy glazing job?  Like maybe the glaze was just sprayed all over the thing (including on the inside) and only wiped off on the outside?  My other suspicion is that perhaps the furniture lived in a heavy smoking household.  I worked on repainting the inside of a house once where the former owner had been a smoker all her life….and let me tell you…..trying to clean tar and smoke out of walls/paint is very difficult and VERY disgusting!  (I’d spray TSP on the walls….wait a few minutes….and then the orange drips would appear and start to roll down the wall looking like something out of a scary movie.)

The other lovely thing about this guy is that the inside of the cabinets and drawers smell like some vintage Old Spice cologne was spilled in them.  Hopefully the Kilz will address that, as I’m not super wild about my placemats etc smelling like a man’s cologne 🙂

I can just imagine Thanksgiving dinner….”Wow, do your mashed potatoes taste like cologne too?”

I don’t think there’s any salvation for those drawer tracks, and I’m going to look into replacing them.  They just gross me out.  In fact, they gross me out so much that I haven’t gotten in there yet to remove them.  I guess I should do that…soon 🙂

As far as the dark stuff, I tried hard to sand off what I could, and now I’ll probably just have to cover up the rest with Kilz. 

I used our new orbital sander for the sanding.  It took several passes and a pretty coarse grit (followed by a finer grit) to sand off the stain and poly from the top of the buffet and the couple of shelves.  The bottom of the buffet and the inside back will just have to be painted because I can’t get in there with the sander well enough to strip the finish.  Hubby thinks I should make an extra effort to strip and restain the small portion of the bottom that sticks out, so I’ll think about that and how I could sand that the easiest (perhaps the Dremel tool….).

The top still needs some attention I think.  It feels totally ready for new stain, but as you can see, the top does still have darker areas.  I don’t know if that’s ok or not, since I’ll be using darker stain, but I’ll probably go over it again just because.


Here are the two shelves and the two wine rack pieces.  I only sanded the areas of the wine rack pieces that will be visible from the front of the buffet.  Sanding is hard work peeps!  I think maybe if I had a detail sander, things would be a lot easier.


I did my best to sand the painted areas to give them some extra tack for the primer to adhere to.  Between sanding, wiping the dust off, disassembling the various pieces, trying more 409, wiping again, then scrubbing, then sanding again….it’s been 3 evenings and I’m still not quite ready to get out the primer. 

Next steps:  remove the drawer tracks (eww) and take them to the hardware store.  Look pathetic until someone offers to help me.  Come home and employ Hubby to help me flip over the buffet and sand the legs etc. 


Then I SHOULD be ready to start staining and priming.

It’s gonna turn out great…It’s gonna turn out great…It’s gonna turn out great



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