The Longest Refinishing Project Ever!

DSC07284Today I am beyond proud to reveal the longest refinishing project ever! Even my husband commented, ” I’ve never seen a project take you this long.” It may have been his nice way of saying get that mess out of the garage, but still he was right. Let me share with you the back story (excuse.)

I pulled this before photo from my Instagram feed and yes the upper right hand corner says posted 60weeks ago. It has officially taken me over a year to finish this project. So long, that I have actually lost my “real” before photos. Let’s settle on this one and I will tell you the long harrowing tale.IMG_0079

It starts with this friendly enough looking cabinet which I purchased from the thrift store for only 80€($90.) You can see it had a really dark finish that was pealing of on the left. From the interior of the cabinet I could see it was pine but the outside looked like an oak veneer. I thought easy, a little stripper to clean up the the finish and add new coat of polyurethane or wax and it will be good to go. I had recently bought this piece which also had an oak veneer in perfect condition, this was my goal.


Well, that is not what I got at all. I took the piece home and got it started fairly quickly, but I soon realized this was not the project I thought it would be.

I’ve bought and resold furniture for years and for resale a big project is not worth the effort, so normally I am a pretty good judge of how much work I will need to invest. If the piece is something I am going to keep I may be willing to invest more time but I hate a full stripping project, Unfortunately this is what my new (old) cabinet was going to turn out to be.


As I started the stripping process I realized the cabinet was not oak veneer at all, the cabinet was actually entirely pine with an oak grain tooled into the soft wood. Worse still the golden color showing trough the stain was actually a layer of paint applied to help simulate the oak finish. I have seen some pretty pine pieces here in Germany so I figured it wasn’t a total loss, just a lot more work and a full strip job. I was not excited about this but figured I was going to keep the piece and it was a good solid wood so I would put in the effort.

Fast forward through lots of stripper and even more scraping and sanding only to find not very pretty pine full of knots and filler.  This is where the wheels screeched to a halt. There the half stripped cabinet stood in my garage for months. Winter came and it got too cold to work in the garage so we just stepped over it and worked around it until I finally decided enough was enough. This job has to get finished!

I had my husband help me drag the cabinet into the basement so I could finally finish the thing once and for all. One of the major reason I had stalled on painting this cabinet was my concern that what was left of the orange paint would bleed through if I tried to paint it a light color. I had originally wanted a pale gray but didn’t want to get half way through he paint job only to have the orange start bleeding through. I had ran across some vintage pulls that gave me just the inspiration I needed. I decided instead of fighting the orange to just go with it and the orange became my friend.DSC05539

With a little white accent on the recessed panels and my vintage orange and white pulls everything came together perfectly and the orange and white really made the green stained glass pop where you barely noticed it before.

DSC07278I’m pretty sure this little number will be the inspiration piece for my son’s room at our next house.

DSC07287But no matter where it finds a home next, one thing I know for certain, I’m glad to finally have this project complete!


  1. You made lemonade out of lemons! The orange looks so cute. love the pulls!

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