I’ve been working on a mini makeover on our dining room these last couple months, and I’m hoping to do the full before and after reveal soon, but one of the pieces that I wanted to add to the dining room was a buffet.  I originally had my big hutch in here…


but have since sold it at a Whimsy sale.  Although I liked it, it was a bit more country than I wanted to go.  It had served our house well, and the beautiful thing about whimsy is that I don’t usually loose money  on swapping out pieces of furniture.  I have gotten rid of the chalkboard wall and added board and batten, and my plan was to find a big “window” type mirror to put on the back wall to reflect some light since there is no windows back there.  I wanted the mirror to hang above a buffet, and after convincing myself I was just going to go to a furniture shop and buy a piece of furniture….I got sticker shock!  It’s been awhile!  I couldn’t find a decent buffet that I liked for under $800, and I just wasn’t willing to pay that!

So, I had been to an auction a few weeks prior and picked up this dandy for a whopping $10!

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I wished I would have taken the picture of it before I took off the hardware, because the hardware was “special” :) to say the least!  It was huge and heavy brass that completely dated this piece.

The dresser had a real orange and honey color to it….

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and although it needed a lot of work, I saw it had a LOT of potential!  It was the perfect size for my space, it was solid wood, and it had great character under all of that shellac:)

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so out came the palm sander!  I hate completely sanding down furniture unless I have too, which usually means unless I want it for my house and am going to save $700+ dollars on a boughten piece.  And although the character is what sold me on this dresser, it was a beast to sand down.

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not to mention super dusty!

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I worked on it two different nights for about 2 hours each time, which doesn’t sound like much, but it’s just not a fun job.

Finally I was ready to bring it in the house and stain it.  It’s always trial and error when I’m trying to get a color I want, and for this piece I really wanted the gray, driftwood color that is so in right now.

I started by taking a styrofoam cup and filling it half full with American Accents “stone gray” paint.


You can find it at Menards by the spray paint:)

Then I filled the rest of the cup with water and mixed it together.  I ended up with a stain-like consistency that I could brush on and rub in with a rag, and also wipe off the excess.  I would paint on a whole drawer front and then wipe it off, but on the top I broke it into thirds and did one third at a time so the paint didn’t sit on there too long.  Here’s what it looked like when I finished that step.

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Although I liked how it looked, it was a little too white washed effect for me.  I wanted a little more depth.  So then I messed around and tried the Minwax driftwood gray stain over top of it.  It really did nothing .  I want to tell you all the steps I did because so much of furniture reno is just trial and error.  After that didn’t work I took out my Minwax Dark Walnut stain..


I used a sponge brush to brush it on and then rubbed it off with a rag.  I was nervous at first that it would be too dark, but since I didn’t the half paint/half water treatment right before, it didn’t soak much up, and almost beaded a little.  The effect it gave was just perfect though.

Here was how it looked right after with my iphone pic

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It ended up matching the new IKEA chairs I got just perfect!  I took my christmas home tour photos with it done but no hardware on it.


Since I only paid $10 for the dresser, I was able to buy the mirrors from Ballard Designs plus the dresser for the price I sold my hutch for.  The mirrors at the time were on their Bring Home Ballard special and were the best deal I could find for the size that they are!  We are still going to hang them, right now they are just leaning, but they are so heavy I have to pull the hubs in to help with that one!  I since ordered and put the hardware on my buffet as well.  Again, since I got the dresser for such a steal, I wanted to invest in nice hardware.  I really wanted the cup pulls to make it more cottage feel, but needed to different sizes that matched.  I had a hard time finding them but ended up with a great option at Pottery Barn.


these 3″ pulls were perfect for the top drawers.

and I loved these 9″ pulls for the big drawers.

Their hardware is free shipping which helped, and then I ended up buying two $10 off of $50 coupons on ebay for $3 and ordered my pulls in two separate orders so I saved $17.  All 9 pulls ended up costing me around $90, which still made this piece of furniture a steal for $100.

So, heres the before….

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and after…


I just took out my red but left the greens, because here in the midwest spring is still a loooooooonnnnnngggg way off :)

And twinkle lights help with the dark nights:)


and that’s why I love those mirrors as well, they reflect so much light!


I love that the grain of the wood still shows through..


and that there is still variation in the color.


and this hardware was totally worth the cost.


I had to show you the end of this piece because the character is so pretty!  That’s why when you see a piece of furntiure at a garage sale, or estate sale, or craigslist, you have to look past the color/hardware/stain, and look at the character, lines, ridges.  Those are the parts of a piece of furniture that makes it so pretty at the end, whether staining or painting.


So there you have it, my $10 dresser makeover.



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42 thoughts on “BUFFET — BEFORE & AFTER”

  1. Love this tutorial! & the first way your piece turned out. This is the method I’m going to use for my thrifted bedroom suit. After a month of searching for the right look and not too complicated method, Finally!!!

  2. This is STUNNING! Do you think it’d be possible to do on a peice that has solid wood drawers but venier on the top? Also, would it be okay to strip it instead of so much sanding? I have a 4 peice set that I don’t want to completey haha. Thanks!

    1. Yes, you could I”m sure. Just make sure with the veneer that if you do need to sand some of the finish off, you don’t sand to hard, or you’ll hit particle board;)

  3. So, you paint washed it and then right away used the stain over it? Did you use any kind of sealer? I want to do this with my bedroom furniture that is maple and it is about 50 years old. I got the furniture at 13 years old and it traveled all over VA with me!! Looks like line wash which is what I wanted!

  4. This turned out beautiful, It is stunning. I am from Ontario Canada and believe me you would pay thousands for this piece so beautifully made from solid wood. I am not sure if you have the Canadian store Urban Barn but, they have the most beautiful furniture and you could put your piece in there and no one would question it. Great job, just beautiful.

  5. Hi Allie, I just found you on Pintrest, and I’m so glad I did. Love your new room! My father just made me a large 84″ x 48″ table for my dining area which is gorgeous. The top is cedar and the legs are pine. I am wanting to try to finish it myself, and plan on trying your method. I know cedar will take the stain differently, but will test it on a scrap piece first. Cannot wait to attempt this. Thank you for your post, it was helpful.

  6. Hi I love this project! The results are great. We are refinishing a dining room table & I am wondering if we maybe need to do more sanding? Can you please share which grit of sandpaper you used with your palm sander please? Thank you :)!

    1. Gol, I”m not even sure what grit it was, just what I had around. I just made sure to get it down to the raw wood before starting my white wash technique!

  7. Found you on Pintrest. Looking to redo my kitchen cabinets. I have no problem painting. But I want to keep the grain of my shaker cabinets. Do feel the first stain is important for the look

    1. Trudi Anne Stalker

      Can you send me the tutorial on the dresser and what paint/stain you used to do it.
      It absolutely Beautiful! ❤️Love IT!!!

  8. Just found your blog-love the dresser! Would love to try this with our old pine one. Can you share what grit of sandpaper I should sand with? Thank you!

  9. Thanks for the great idea! I just did this to an old pine “orangey” dresser for bathroom storage and love the way it came out. Deciding whether to wax or not.

  10. I have a question about the process you did on your buffet table. What step did you do after you added the dark walnut stain. It looks like you added a grey wash or stain but it doesn’t say that. Can you please clarify for me because I want to dry this on 2 end tables that I just sanded at my lake house?

    Thank you!


    1. That was the last step in the process. The grey wash actually shone through from underneath when I did the half paint/half water effect to it. The dark walnut just helped to give it more depth. I did it right after the paint treatment though, so it was still wet and didn’t soak in too much. Hope that helps!:)

  11. Hi, I am new to your site, and just saw this! I love it, and this is the color I want to do my kitchen table. My question is : Since we will be eating on it, do I need to seal it ? I am new to refinishing furniture, but do not had the funds to buy new! :) thanx for your help! I love all the things you have done to your home!

    1. Thanks for your sweet comment:). I whitewashed our dining table and never sealed it, worrying it might change the color a bit. It has held up good, but I’m also not a perfectionist so little marks don’t bother me. I would suggest if you want to add some durability to use minwax’s polycrilic in a matte finish. The polycrilic won’t yellow. Otherwise you could use a wax as well and that would give it some durability! Thanks for following along:)

  12. Do you think one could do this with kitchen cabinets? I wanted to paint mine the trim of my house…but I saw this and the idea of the cabinets popped into my head. I needed the thoughts of my décor mentor. :)


    1. If your cabinets are solid wood then yes, I’m sure you could do it:) It would just take a lot of time to sand them all down, but it’s always worth it in the end if you love it! :):) Thanks for the sweet comment.

  13. The mirrors are great because they are so “Feng Shui”. It’s best on the west or northwest wall of your dining room because it will double the food on your table.

    Keep a bowl or an arrangement of fruit on your dining room table to represent continuous sustenance to your family.

  14. I just found your blog & I love everything I’ve seen & read so far!! :)
    I also love this buffet redo! You have given me great inspiration!!

  15. Just recently found your blog. All your projects are always just right and your house is beautiful. AND all with little kids underfoot. You amaze me. Thanks for the inspiration! :)

  16. Love it :) We are fixing to do a dresser the same way. Just got another bedroom set and took the mirror off the dresser. Changing our living room, dinning, kithcen to a warm GREY :) cant wait ! By the way did you get an email from me concerning the picture ? :)

    Thank, Susan :)

  17. That was seriously my dresser when I still lived at home! I bet you got it from my Aunt Brenda’s auction!! Cool! That hardware is such an improvement!! :) Love your blog!!

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