Latest Project: The Phoebe

Here is my thrift store find- Actually, it came from Stephen King’s thrift store, if you’ve been reading awhile, you may recall that post. Looking at it now, I wish I had taken a picture beforehand. It was ugly, dark brown, scratched and missing it’s legs.


This is the piece that was marked as a “dresser” for short people. That’s what the guy told me- one look and I knew it was a buffet, only missing the legs. Some ninny cut the legs off once upon a time, and all I did was go to Lowes and buy six new legs and the hardware to attach them. It required a little elbow grease and some patience, and about six trips to the hardware store to get all the right pieces, but it was a good learning experience. Now I know how to put legs on things, using dowels, t-nuts, clamps and some glue. Everyone needs to know that, right?

Some cream paint, a little polish and a rubbing of the hardware… Voila, a new, country French, kinda shabby but way cool, one of a kind buffet.

I’ve decided to use it in my dining room as a major photography statement. I like it totally crowded with all my black and white photography and hydrangeas from the yard.

Next time you are at a yard sale or a thrift store- start looking at the “bones” of things- sometimes something really ugly is actually a swan waiting for a little TLC- this was one of those times. Look for solid wood, dovetail joinery, solid construction, few to no staples or brads, and at the overall silhouette- it’s amazing what a coat of paint or a little stripping and sanding can do. Give it a try.

Oh, and p.s.- this little gem cost $28 bucks.

22 thoughts on “Latest Project: The Phoebe

  1. I have been looking at garage sales all summer for a good project but haven’t found one yet- guess I’ll keep looking. Yours looks beautiful!

  2. A little elbow grease and some patience? Yeah, right. To get that thing looking so gorgeous takes some serious Tracy M magic. Let me say, again, that you are one amazing woman.

  3. Wow! That was fast! Looks beautiful! You just posted about that ‘dresser’ in your last post, and now you have a compleated project! Impressive! Even if I did find great deals at garage sales and second hand stores, I don’t have a car big enough to get them to my home…maybe someday!

  4. I wish it wasn’t so stinkin hot down here… you have inspired me to get to work on some refinishing projects that I have… but it will have to wait till the fall. Beautiful buffet… and I love how you used it!!

  5. $28.00??? Whoa!

    Could you tell me what kind of paint you used? And what kind of prep it needed. I have this really ugly dark varnished bedroom furniture that I would LOVE to paint. But I’m not sure the best way to go about it.

  6. Tammy- I wish there was a total fail-safe answer to your question… but it really depends on the kind of varnish, (it it is in fact varnish at all- and not a poly of some kind) ((Varnish is like kleenex or coke- the name as come to mean a type of thing, but is actually a specific, laquer-based finish)

    What I would suggest is this:
    Lightly sand an inconspicuous spot, then prime it with a good primer- I like Kilz brand- it will adhere well to things others flake from. Then, give it a good coat with a quality paint. Behr is a great brand, and easily available to anyone with a Home Depot close by. It may take a coat or two to fully cover.

    If you have thick, old, flaking varnish or shellac (Or even poly) a more thorough sanding might be in order. Then proceed.

    On this piece, the finish was thin, so only a fine sanding to scuff the surface was needed. Good luck! It really isn’t hard- you can totally do it! (Oh, and take a ‘before’ picture- it’s so fun to compare!)

  7. Tracy,

    My husband used a spray on poly finish. (ahem) This finish started flaking off about six months later. There were a couple of places that bubbled and then just started to flake. Not big areas, but buggy none the less.

    I so want to tackle this project!


  8. Tammy- if the poly is bubbling, any paint you put on it will likely peel/bubble as well. You need to strip the poly off- Which requires a stripping chemical (yucky- do it outside) putty knife, steel wool and some elbow grease. If you don’t want to go that route, you can sand the daylights out if with progressively fine grains- start with an 80, then go higher. You have to get all the finish off for the paint to stick well.

    It will be a little more work, but the finished project will reflect that. Of course, you could always go rustic and roll with the peeling and call it shabby chic~

  9. I’m so jealous – every time I hit yard sales I only see NASTY 1970’s pieces that honestly no one wants. I must say I love your blog and feel a connection with the artist side of you. I miss projects like this – I’ve reupholstered, made a vanity and cornice boards but not since having a baby back in January – I need to do something!

  10. Tracy, just one more question. My husband wants to know how you avoid getting brush strokes in your paint. I’m having a hard time getting him on board with painting these pieces…….he’s almost there though. :::::::keeping my fingers crossed, lol!:::::::::::

  11. Ah, brushmarks. Well, high quality paint and a very good brush will go a long way towards minimalizing them; but- you will never get rid of them entirely. A totally stroke free piece can almost always be only obtained by an airless sprayer and a professional paint booth. That, or layers and layers and layers of hand oiling/shellac. Generally as you top each coat of paint with the next, the brush stokes become less visible. They will be very noticeable with the first coat, but fear not. Let it dry and add another, and it will be better.

    I know some folks (and I have even done it myself) who spray paint their furniture. Spray paints come in nicer colors and more finishes than in the past, and if you go with a satin luster, it can look pretty professional. However, I wouldn’t really recommend this for fine furniture. If you’re not super careful, it can look really cheap and tacky.

    One thing I love to do, and did with this piece, in fact, is to take sandpaper to all the edges and corners after it dried. I scuff it up and wear down the paint just a bit, giving a patina and older, worn look. I like that- no everyone does. But it does take the pressure off for a perfect finish!

  12. T-nuts, clamps, glue, patience and elbow grease? I apparently need to take some “easy” lessons from you … I could never have attempted this one on my own. There is a reason Algebra was so much easier for me than Geometry in school 🙂 !!

  13. Ordinary mom- I had exact opposite problem! Geometry was fun, and I had to take Algebra three times. My noodle just doesn’t function that logically!

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