oak buffet in-the-works

Marian ParsonsFurniture Makeovers, Mustard Seed Studio, Painting & Refinishing, Tutorials

Last week, a reader left a comment asking for me to show more behind-the-scenes pictures.  It was a simple, polite request and it made me realize I don’t do that as much as I used to.  I think I always feel like the pictures have to be pretty, “Pin-worthy” images that will be liked and shared.  Pinterest, Instagram and the infamous Facebook algorithm really changed what bloggers (on the whole) share and how they share it and I am not an exception.

But, that comment got me thinking.  As a DIYer myself, I love looking at the before and afters and inspirational pictures, but I also want to know the HOW behind it.  While I’ve written hundreds of how-oriented, tutorial posts, it doesn’t mean I can’t share the latest “hows” behind what I’m working on.

For those who are new, it might be new information and, for those who have been with me for a long time, you can see what’s changed and what has worked for me for years.  So, I’ll be sharing more of the hows, whys and process pictures.

Let’s start with this pretty (and old) oak buffet…


The wood has gorgeous graining, so I didn’t want to cover it up entirely with paint.  It was looking a little dark and heavy, so it needed some brightening, but I didn’t want to lose all of the wood.  I decided to strip the top to remove the dulled finish that was sporting some water rings, scratches. etc.  I started doing this years ago and it’s become one of my signatures.  I like the play of paint and wood and I also like how a wood surface wears better than a painted one.  It’s just a preference thing, though!

I like to use a gentle chemical stripper that doesn’t have to be disposed of in special ways.  There are a few I like, but Citri-Strip is easy to find, works well and isn’t expensive.  SmartStrip is probably my favorite, since it’s a paste, but it’s not as easy to find (usually I get it from Sherwin Williams) and it’s more expensive.


Since I’m working on a flat, horizontal surface, I just pour some on and spread it around with an natural-bristle chip brush.  You don’t want to use a synthetic-bristle brush, because the stripper can dissolve the bristles.


I let it sit for a good, long while…maybe 30-45 minutes as I work on something else.  I want to give it time to work, but not so long that it dries out.

I’ll then use a metal scraper/putty knife to scrape off the finish and chemical stripper, disposing of the “goo” in a lidded container.  The “goo” in this case looked like chocolate ganache.

No lie.

Sometimes it takes two or three applications.  Once the finish is completely removed, I wipe it down with mineral spirits, scrubbing the surface with steel wool.  Then, I let it dry overnight.

A little tip – if you wipe a raw or stained wood surface with mineral spirits, it shows what the surface will look like with an oil or poly finish.  The mineral spirits will then evaporate, leaving the surface clean and dry.

See how glossy and hydrated the surface looks…?


It’s pretty amazing how the dark stain really hid the beautiful movement in that graining.

Here’s how it looked once it dried out…


I’m just going to hydrate and seal it with Hemp Oil and call it a day.

I painted the base of the piece in Farmhouse White that was mixed with a little bit of Mora and Grain Sack.  I painted a piece in Grain Sack and, instead of wasting the little bit left in the cup, I mixed Mora with it to paint the next thing and then did the same when I painted this piece in Farmhouse White.  The colors aren’t high contrast, so it doesn’t dramatically change the colors I’m mixing and prevents waste.

It does lead to a lot of shoulder shrugging when Kriste asks me what’s in a particular cup, however.


The first coat, as usual, looked pretty awful.  But it improved after the second coat.  And this piece really chipped and flaked.  It’s a pretty dramatic look and some people are going to love it and other people are going to hate it.

I’m in the “love it” camp, but you can decide when I share how it turned out tomorrow.


Speak of the “how” of getting things done, Thursday was such an awesome day, because I had a studio full of people helping me.





…and my mom…


…were all painting.  We had furniture everywhere!

My dad and Jeff were working on fixing things, like the rotted boards on the bottom of one of the hardware cabinets and the dry sink, cutting shelves for the wardrobe, and putting the finishing touches on the counter and “shoe carts” Jeff and a former youth student at our church, Charles, built for me last week.


When people do things for me and with me, especially DIY projects, it makes me feel so loved.  So, I was feeling a lot of love last week!

More on those projects and everything else to come…

oak buffet in-the-works

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