I found this pair of vintage nightstands at the Pasadena Rose Bowl Flea Market. They were in very rough shape, but I loved their classic, mid-century Regency lines, and their solid wood construction. They were $150 for the pair, and I knew it wouldn't take too much to bring them back to life. The drawers still opened and closed smoothly, which is sort of a bottom line rule that I force myself to adhere to...if the drawers are wonky then no matter how much I love it it's "Back away Rosa. Walk. Away."
I forgot to take a proper before photo, but here are my lovelies after a bit of sanding.
The original finish was kind of a funky two-tone black fading into red, but I had a glossy solid color in mind for them. They were terribly scratched up, but that's easily taken care of with wood filler...even sizable chunks of missing veneer don't scare me away because I know my trusty wood filler and orbital hand sander will leave a smooth smooth surface.
If I'm painting a piece, I definitely don't worry about sanding the finish all the way down to bare wood...I just want a surface that is smooth to the touch. Small hand-held orbital sanders cost $50-100 and make furniture refinishing a breeze! HIGHLY recommended if you like your vintage furniture finds as much as I do.
To repair chipped veneer, rebuild a splintered edge, or just fill in the holes left by old hardware, I use a 2-part wood filler, which does the best jog. You mix some of the paste with a dab of hardener and apply it quickly before it starts to dry and set up.
I was pretty liberal with it here because I wanted to build up a strong edge...once it dries it's as solid as wood and will stand up to the sander while you smooth it out.
These solid, heavy knobs came on the nightstands, but they were totally oxidized and blackened. I thought polishing them up with some Brasso would reveal a nice brass finish, but they surprised me with copper instead! Pretty, but not quite what I wanted, so I resorted to a bit of Rustoleum Brass spray paint (*hint: buy their "Brass" color, not the "Gold," which has a pink-ish undertone.) I keep around an old electric toothbrush around for jobs like this, when you need to get funk out of cracks and crevices.
The drawers got a once over with the sander to make their edges and surface really smooth, because glossy paint will highlight imperfections in the wood's surface.
Now this is the part where I indulged in a little luxury that comes with my trade. I was already sending a large furniture piece to the professional restorers to be lacquered, and so I lucked out with being able to piggy-back these guys onto that spray job for just $50 apiece. But do NOT despair...you don't have to have a cozy relationship with a re-fininshing shop to accomplish a project like this! Normally I would (and have many, many times) just use the pre-mixed Rustoleum Enamel paint that Jenny from Little Green Notebook recently wrote all about here. It's easy to brush on and provides a beautiful, smooth, glassy finish.
Behold, the finished product:
I love, love, love them. Have I told you? It's kind of a decorator's secret that every room needs a touch of black. It adds a dash of class that you just don't get any other way...like the little black dress...there's kind of no substitute.