I am so excited about this DIY tutorial! I adore this buffet and absolutely love how it turned out – just the way I had imagined.
I only spent $75 on the buffet and had mostly all the other materials needed to do this home project.
In this tutorial, I will break down the process in an easy-to-digest, step-by-step format so that you too can achieve this look with virtually any piece of wood furniture.
Once you know the basics of wood working, you can apply your knowledge and skill to any wood project.
My dad is a master with anything wood related. He actually owned his own woodworking business for twenty-some years, so as you can imagine, I have picked up a thing or two along the way.
Fortunately, whenever I run into a woodworking related question, he’s just a phone call away.
Now that I have started tackling my own woodworking projects, I am able to take what I have learned, including my mess-ups and re-do’s, and show you how to do it yourself without making the errors that I made.
Many times a project like this seems intimidating, especially if you have never done it before. But guess what? You can do it!
I used to think that when something DIY was outside the realm of painting and things like sanders and stain were involved, it would be too hard. But it’s really not, and it’s actually completely doable.
After using a sander, I can tell you from first hand experience, it’s not as hard as you think!
When it comes to a project like this, you just have to be willing to learn, willing to practice (if you want to hone your skill), and willing to buy the necessary materials.
So without further ado, let’s get into this tutorial!
WHAT YOU’LL NEED FOR THIS PROJECT:
- A sander (Here’s an example of one that you could use)
- Stain of choice for the buffet top (I used a combination of stains we had lying around but I love this one)
- Paint color of choice for the bottom half of the buffet (I used Rust-Olium Black spray paint and a small bit of black paint from a can of paint I had lying around)
- New hardware or paint color of choice to redo the existing hardware (I used Rust-Olium Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint)
- A small paint roller (like this one)
- Paint brush
- An old rag
- 4 wood legs if it doesn’t already have any (I used these)
- Clear coat finish (I used this Polyurethane)
- 120 grit sandpaper & 80 grit sandpaper
- A drill to disassemble and reassemble the piece of furniture
For months, I had been tirelessly searching for a cheap buffet that I could makeover. I had been checking the usual places: Craigslist, Facebook groups, and thrift stores when I came upon this gem at our local Goodwill. It was priced at $75 – a pretty good price for the size and condition of the piece.
The main issue was the buffet was too traditional for my taste and I didn’t like the way the wood looked. It had dark, speckled spots all over it, it was way too shiny, and it was not the right color.
Here are the ‘before’ photos:
I could’ve kicked myself because I didn’t grab a photo when we first bought it, when it had the doors on, drawers in, and legs unassembled.
I had already taken it completely apart and screwed the new legs on by the time I realized I needed to take a picture, but I think you can get the general idea of what it looked like completely assembled.
It was a generic buffet with poplar wood. It still has poplar wood, but there’s nothing generic about this buffet anymore!
The good news was it didn’t have any dings or dents in the wood. It really was in perfect condition. This saved me so much time and effort because I could jump into the project right away.
This leads me to the first step:
DISASSEMBLE THE BUFFET.
Disassembling the buffet includes taking off all the doors and pulling out all the drawers. Do not leave the doors and drawers assembled when you go to paint or stain your piece of furniture. It will not look professional. It’s hard to get in each nook and cranny with the doors on and drawers in, and you can easily miss spots or have dripped paint marks.
*Learn from my mistake* Per the above, I did not follow my own instructions when adding the legs to the bottom of the buffet. I should’ve painted each leg first, before assembling them to the buffet. By the time I went to paint the bottom half of the buffet, it was difficult to paint the entire way around each leg. So don’t install the legs yet. This should be the last thing you do. Don’t make the same mistake I did.
Below, you’ll see the buffet with all the doors and drawers removed and legs added. I actually didn’t do anything to the wood on the cabinet interior because it was in such good shape. While I knew the stain color was a bit different than the inside color, I knew it wouldn’t be too different in tone to make changing the inside worthwhile.
If I only had the ‘before leg addition’ picture, you could really see the difference the legs made when I added them. It really looks like a completely different buffet after I added those legs, so you’re just going to have to take my word for it. Legs took the buffet to a whole new level. So, do yourself a favor, and add legs to your buffet if it doesn’t already have some.
PAINT THE HARDWARE.
After disassembling the buffet, I decided to reuse the hardware and just repaint each piece. I did two coats of paint and let the first coat dry completely before I sprayed the second coat. I used oil-rubbed bronze spray paint for the hardware and I really like how it turned out. Obviously, you could go with a silver or gold hue if that’s the look you’re trying to achieve.
PAINT THE DOORS & DRAWERS.
I painted each door and drawer before painting the cabinet. In many cases before you paint, you should take a sander to the piece of furniture. In this case, because the doors and drawers have so much trim and so many nooks between each piece of trim, I took an 80 grit piece of sandpaper in my hand and sanded the wood.
I couldn’t use the sander for this, as it was way too big to do the job on the doors and drawers.
Hand-sanding the doors and drawers worked out fine and the paint stuck well. Just like the hardware, I did two coats of paint, letting the first coat dry completely before doing the second coat. I used black spray paint for these.
Here’s what one drawer looks like after being painted:
PAINT THE CABINET.
For this, I made sure to tape off the top of the buffet as best I could. I used spray paint on most of it so it was especially important to tape it well.
I didn’t want any paint to get on the top, as I was planning to sand and stain the top. So, I grabbed some old newspaper and masking tape and completely covered the top.
As I did before to the doors and drawers, I used two coats of paint and let the first coat dry completely before doing the second coat.
To paint the small sections that are semi-inside, I used a small paint roller and paint from a leftover black can of paint. It was just easier to quickly roll these sections than try to spray paint.
Here’s the progress so far (without the top done):
SAND & STAIN THE TOP.
I debated leaving the top as-is (or ‘as-was’ in this case), but I just couldn’t do it. There were a million of these small dark spots all over the top and it was driving me nuts every time I looked at it. I decided to go-ahead with my initial plan to sand and stain the top. After all, I planned and still plan to have this buffet in my house for the next twenty years. I wanted to do it right.
I used a sander to sand the top of the wood. This removed the wax and finish that was on my buffet. It’s a must if you’re planning on re-staining it, especially if you’re going with a lighter stain color.
When you’re using the sander, first use 120 grit paper to take off the top layers of wax/finish. Keep steady across the wood when you’re using the sander and you should be fine. If this is your first time using a sander, practice on an old piece of wood first so you can get the hang of it.
*Tip* You should also test out your stain on a piece of wood that isn’t part of your project. If you happen to have the same type of test wood as your project wood, that’s even better. This buffet happens to be poplar wood, so we were fortunate that we had another piece of poplar wood laying around so we could test our stain color.
When you’re done your first round of sanding with 120 grit sandpaper, take that paper off your sander and put the 80 grit sandpaper on. You’ll do this because the 120 grit is so tough that it will take off the finish or wax and you won’t need as harsh sandpaper to finish the job.
After you’re done sanding, you can begin staining. This is when you’ll need to use an old rag. I ended up mixing a couple stains we had lying around from previous projects until I achieved the desired color that you see before you. As I noted above, you should test out your stain on a piece of wood to ensure you like the color before you use it on your project piece.
I ended up doing two coats of stain, letting the first coat dry before I put the second coat on, because the first coat wasn’t quite dark enough. Make sure to use an old rag and rub the stain with the grain of the wood, to ensure no streaks.
Here’s what the top looked like after sanding and staining:
So much better than the speckled wood that it was before!
ADD A CLEAR COAT FINISH.
Last but not least, I used a paint brush to apply the Polyurethane clear coat. I painted everything (except the hardware) with clear coat. This protects the cabinet from scratches, as it’s the first layer that will get removed if scratched. The paint and stain will stay as beautiful as when you first did it.
After it’s completely dry, reassemble all pieces and you have your ‘brand new’ buffet!
*Side note* In the midst of the buffet makeover, I also redid two plant stands that I had bought from Craigslist for $5. They have the same black paint and same stain as the buffet, so they look like a matching set. I have them and the buffet in the same room, and I absolutely love the way it all turned out!
One plant stand sits beside the buffet and the other I am using as a side table.
I hope you enjoyed this post. Please let me know if you have done a makeover like this one and how it turned out.
If you liked this makeover, you may also like my whitewashing brick tutorial.