progress on the craigslist counter

Marian ParsonsAntiques, Before and Afters, Cleaning & care, Furniture Makeovers88 Comments

I did some work on the craigslist counter last week and I thought I would share how it’s shaping up.

Now, I’ll be honest…I was planning on painting it.

The wood was looking really red, the finish has some unsightly paint splatters, it was really dirty, and it seemed like such a massive black hole with how dark it was.

But, I stripped a section of the side, I painted a swatch on the side and the back, and I even painted one drawer.  It just wasn’t working for me.  The paint was flaking a lot and I didn’t like the contrast of the dark wood and the pale gray paint.  I also felt like the piece might look ordinary painted.

So, I took a step back and decided to give it a little spa day.  Buff it out, oil it up, and see how I felt about it then.

I worked with Jenn on this one, which was nice, since there are so many drawers!  I even commented that it’s a perfect piece to work on with a buddy.   We started out by lightly sanding each drawer with 120 grit paper to remove the paint splatters and the grungy build-up.

Then vacuumed the dust off…

And slathered each drawer with some Hemp Oil.

It’s like that wood was sleeping and we woke it up.

The finish looked so much better.  We also cleaned and oiled all of the metal hardware and started putting it all back on.

I even cut paper labels to put in the holders, because that little break of white from the dark wood makes a big difference visually…

I need to put on the rest of the hardware and I still have to figure out what to do for the missing side and the top, but for now, it’s looking pretty nice.

And, if I ever want to paint it down the road, well, I think I can manage that…

progress on the craigslist counter

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88 Comments on “progress on the craigslist counter”

  1. I for one am so glad to see no paint. I didn’t reply before when you asked for opinions. I think this is one piece to shine on it’s own. I think the room color/accessories will determine if it will look like a ‘black hole’. Also, I LOVE your hair long, it’s time to update your photo.

  2. Phew! I’m relieved you decided to leave it unpainted. It will NEVER be a black hole. It is too beautiful and will shine on for many more years of use.

  3. Beautiful. I love this piece- hope you can find a stone top that is reasonable! Love your hair, you should do a post on the change. I use Organix shampo & conditioner the regular coconut I love it not too much fragrance great quality that I buy at Walmart & Sams. I was using the 10 products but had a reaction even though I haven’t colored my hair in almost a year. Anyway they have all kinds of diffrent types I’m really pleased. If your interested in trying this I bought a travel version before making the commitment.

    1. Thank you! Yes, maybe I will post about it at some point. I am finally getting the hang of styling it at this length.

      1. I know this is a more modern look, but could you wrap the marble down both sides? I think it’s called a water fall edge……..just a thought for that side that needs help.

        Love how the piece is shaping up!

  4. That counter is looking gorgeous! I was one of your readers who voted *not* to paint it, and I am so pleased with how it’s turned out with some TLC. She looks like a lovely lady who just needed her dress washed and a little dab of makeup … That said, a stone or zinc top (maybe something fitted over the top so it would be removable?) would be so pretty. I personally don’t think it looks like a black hole, but maybe a lighter top would take away from some of the darkness of such a large piece? Regardless, I think she’s a beaut the way she is!

    And speaking of beauts, I have to comment on how gorgeous your hair style is! You’re just so lovely anyhow and can wear any type of hairstyle and color, but I’m loving this soft, very natural blonde color and the longer, relaxed cut. It’s just so flattering on you. You look like a hair model!

    1. Well, thank you! I have been growing it out and just in November, it got to the point where it was past the awkward length. I’m really enjoying having long hair and I’m learning a lot about how to style it, so it doesn’t take forever. 🙂

  5. I think a metal top would be awesome! I don’t know about the missing side. I guess it needs to be rebuilt -from old boards?

    1. Yeah, I think I’m going to try to find some old oak, maybe on a dilapidated piece of furniture or an old oak table top that will match. I’m not quite sure, yet!

      1. I know this might sound kind of crazy, but what about a piece of metal on the missing side? At least temporarily. You could also put a matching piece on the other side. You could hang things from strong magnets there. If it’s used as an art cabinet, I can imagine painting palettes and small easels hanging there or things that wouldn’t fit in the drawers. Or a big wooden “pocket” on the broken side. I’ve always wanted a place to store large poster board, large sheets of paper, or rolled maps.

    1. It would be great for knitting supplies! Those little cubbies would be perfect for skeins and needles.

      1. If you’re going to put a new top on, could you somehow use wood from the current top to fashion a new side?

        (when I have to solve problems like this, it’s usually on a dress and you can just snip a piece of fabric out of the hem to patch it!)

  6. I think it’s going to be a fabulous piece. The top will be easy to replace; what if you just continued the material from the top down the sides of the counter in a waterfall? That would take care of the missing side without worrying about trying to find oak to match the rest of the wood exactly. There are a lot of images for “kitchen island waterfall” to give you an idea of what I’m getting at. (Most of them are pretty modern looking, but I’m thinking you could come up with a genius solution.) Also, the Nester did a budget kitchen island waterfall here:

  7. Beautiful! I love the variation in the color of the wood. Your were able to clean it up and keep its amazing patina. I was actually leaning toward you painting it but I’m so glad you didn’t! Wish I could find great old pieces like that down here in Alabama. : )

  8. Have you thought of a waterfall top going down both sides, like a kitchen island? That would be heavier I think but could look fantastic and solves the problem of the unmatched sides. Would look good in marble or even zinc or similar metal.

    1. I was wondering the same thing. That or building a line of cubbies and staining to match, then attaching them and putting the counter over the whole thing.

  9. Beautiful!! I wonder how it would look if the paper labels were yellower, as if they were aged?

  10. Marian,
    I would look for a couple old oak table leaves. The old wood and some stain may work perfectly. Even if there is a slight difference in color it is part of the history of the piece. On the back write where the cabinet is from and what you add as a note to future owners (if you don’t end up keeping it forever yourself).
    I love what Hemp Oil does to wood,

  11. love the new look of your website,, the new photo of “you” and also,, very glad you decided not to paint the counter…. she’s a beauty ,, with all the imperfections,, it makes her unique…
    Blessing to you,,

  12. Marian, the Re-Store for habitat for Humanity often sells used granite and marble counter tops Inexpensively. I wonder if you could get someone to cut and re-edge them for you, for not too much? I’ll keep my eyes open for something light colored next time I go to the one in Alexandria
    The Other Marian

  13. Find the new top for it, and then cut out what you need for the side from the top before putting on the new one, and fill it in with something newer for support. It will never be seen, and the side will be the closest match possible.

  14. Just a idea
    What about a waterfall edge
    The old with new !! In marble or stone !!!
    It is gorgeous!! So jealous!!

  15. Love your work! It always inspires me!!! By the way, where is your sidekick, Christie? You haven’t mentioned her lately!

  16. gorgeous! i can see the labels with some big stenciled numbers/letters and/or stamped images! maybe textured paper or fabric on paper… gets my creativity going with how it will change how it looks. a special piece, thanks for sharing, karen

  17. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for not painting that piece! It is amazing, and I am so happy you oiled it and let that wood shine!! (I showed dd the first pic of it, and mentioned you thought about painting it, and she hollered noooooooo! She’s 12. Lol. She said the wood is too gorgeous!)

  18. Beautifully done. I am glad that you are the one that “saved” it. Do you sell hemp oil? I am having trouble finding it. Have a super nice day! Kathleen

  19. I’m so glad you decided not to paint it for now. The wood on this piece is amazing and it looks great after the work you guys did to rejuvenate it. I’m sure you’ll come up with something great for the top and side!

  20. So glad you picked this route, (for now!). It looks fantastic already. What about replacing “both” sides with tongue and groove paneling stained to match the dark oak? And, your hair is envious!
    Cathy Whiteway, a/k/a “Chici’s Cottage Style” 🙂

  21. It’s gorgeous! I know everyone keeps suggesting marble or stone – and I agree. Slate or soapstone would also be great options… Or for something different you could also consider concrete. Thanks for all the amazing inspiration! (And I love your hair too!!!)

  22. I think that this piece looks great!! I’m curious as to what you search under on Craig’s list?
    Love your new photo

  23. Put me down as a “Heck, yeah” vote for your hair. Very pretty. On you.

    I also join the concurrence on leaving the counter naked. Thanks for describing your testing process for deciding whether to paint.

    The paper inserts are brilliant for lightening up the tone of the piece, while at the same time emphasizing the pattern created by the grid of drawers. It’s the rows of identical little drawers with their “accessories” (hardware) that save the piece from being too visually massive.

    For me, the nostalgia value of leaving the piece unpainted is tough to overstate. It reminds me of the counter at the old general store in my rural village when I was a little girl.

    Great job!

  24. This thing is so beautiful. It’s a good thing I don’t have a car or my poor little condo would be full of furniture waiting to be repaired and there’d be a standing inch thick layer of sanding dust. I get the urge to jump on Craigslist every time I look at your blog – so inspiring!

    Come to think of it, that’s probably why my significant other has resisted getting a car for so long…

  25. Looks lovely! I love the new website, too! You are one of those women that can wear long/short hair. I like it both ways! Nice new pic!

  26. Love it Marian, but do think the contrast with the sharp white labels does nothing for the piece. What about a soft white…or even an ecru….or whatever soft colour you choose, as you are so good at that. By the way, why don’t you ever wear rubber gloves when you work? You can buy surgical gloves that are very tight fitting, so that you can still ‘feel’ what you are doing….I am amazed that your hands and nails look so good. I am sure that they must get very dirty with all of the sanding, stripping, oiling, painting etc….

    1. Actually, the labels are an ecru linen paper! They just look really white against the dark wood, more so in the photograph than in person.

      I do have a stash of blue latex gloves that I wear when stripping or staining, but otherwise I am a “hand’s on” kind of person. I like to be able to feel what I’m working with!

  27. I think a nice wood top to match the basic color of the piece, and then a piece of glass to protect the wood top. The glass would be iinvisible for the most part but it would be enough of something there to distract/soften the wood top not being a perfect match, and of course it would protect the top.

    I personally think the marble thats readily available now for countertops would be too thick a slab and make it look too much like a vanity from the home depot.

  28. OK, I was wrong. It looks great. I’m looking forward to seeing what you do with the top and the sides.
    Christie’s expecting ! I must have missed that. Congratulations and God bless them both.
    And if I had such pretty hair I would always wear it long! ;0)

  29. Love your hair, it’s awesome! And the cabinet is turning out great, too. As much as I love painted furniture, and I really, really do, this one fulfills something I read about art – that there is an integrity to pieces when the sum of all the parts are equally done. You kept the integrity intact…that’s why that little voice inside kept stopping you, you are so good at art it just becomes instinctive.

  30. The consensus seems to be that you made the right choice. I agree. If you put a white stone/marble top on it, it will never be too dark. Beautiful!

  31. A painted top would be really interesting until you decided what you wanted to ultimately settle on!
    I do love the idea of a metal top – it would lend to the authenticity of the piece too.

  32. Obviously this piece got a ton of use, the dirt and grim, skin cells…..etc. I can only imagine what you cleaned off of this thing. Been there, done that. I am glad to scrubbed it and oiled it though. It looks great. That quarter sawn oak is gorgeous. The beautiful grain really comes through now. Enjoy it for a bit. What great storage.

  33. Glad you did not paint this grand dame. Regarding the missing wood: a large canvas covered board, with a painting of your dog curled up on his bed at the base of the canvas . Similar to the photo you took of him near the white sofa? Real conversation piece.

  34. I think the wood is chestnut which looks similar to oak. A blight in the early 1900’s wiped out most of these once plentiful trees. Love your work!

  35. It shouldn’t be too hard to find old oak. A guy who takes down old barns just brought some old oak boards into my shop yesterday and I’m sure there are people taking down old barns near you too! And to echo everyone else, I LOVE your hair!!

  36. I love the restored wood! I like the idea of a zinc top. How about using old tin ceiling tiles on the sides, trimmed with stained wood to match the existing wood?

  37. Personally, I’m so happy that you have not painted that piece of furniture. With the TLC that you and your assistant gave it, it is just beautiful!!

  38. Wow, I love what you’ve done so far. I hope the top and side come together nicely for you. I noticed your hair too. It is super flattering for your pretty face.

  39. Marian, this piece is gorgeous! So glad you were able to wake up the sleeping wood!

    Also, your new hairstyle is lovely!

    Have a blessed day!

  40. Hi Marian,
    I love your new profile picture and have for many years followed your blog.
    I have seen many pieces like that, painted a dove grey or even a slate gray. They’ve looked great.
    Having said that, it’s interesting, the piece left unpainted. Even though you’ve cleaned it up and oiled it, it hasn’t lost precious ‘patina’ and ‘story’ 🙂
    I think it’s rather dark, still. I’m wondering if a copper top with a thick-ish overhang would work to highlight the lighter striations in the wood itself. (I’d coat the copper so it doesn’t go green.)
    I wonder if a white marble top would be too much contrast?
    *wave* Audrey from Australia 🙂

  41. Wonderful counter. Just my 2 cents…. I would skip the stone or marble counter and go with zinc. I just designed a counter for my old farmhouse, that has a zinc top. I love it. I antiqued the zinc, with a product that gave it a vintage looking patina. It instantly looked like it had been used for a long time. I think that your counter would look wonderful with a similar top and you could use the same zinc for the sides. You might consider adding a grey/silver white wash to the hardware and add numbers to the drawer fronts to add interest to the counter and take the eye away from the large surface darkness . So many possibilities. Have fun.

  42. I worked in a school system that sold a couple of its older school buildings. Some of the old built-in oak cabinets were removed to be auctioned or reused in remaining schools/offices. I had a beautiful old cabinet in my office (sliding glass doors/cabinet on top, small drawers similar to yours on the bottom), but because it was formerly a built-in, it didn’t have finished sides. Maybe that’s the case with your cabinet? I love the oiled finish! So much character.

  43. LoVe this piece (and i am not a natural wood lover, i paint EVERYTHING!) – but this looks amazing with your sanding & hemp oil facelift. And I agree – you look so pretty with your new, longer hair-do!

  44. That piece of furniture its so big and bold…but so useful…it would go so well in a big farmhouse kitchen with a large piece of granite or white marble and it would make a fabulous island!

    ps Marian I am loving your hair…it makes you look so young…not that I am saying you looked old before but perhaps I should have said younger!

  45. Very nice! I know you like a certain look but one side and the top in a color would add a sort of modernism twist. Or stainless kind of industrial. That might be kind of expensive though.

  46. I am another one that didn’t comment before, because I cringed when you said you would paint it. It was obvious, though in bad shape, the quality of the wood and craftsmanship would really benefit from a rejuvenation. So, thank-you for not painting this beautiful-useful piece. Sandi

  47. I was excited to see this piece!! I have a similar cabinet which is NINE feet long and has 40 drawers!! I bought it at a thrift store for $600 (including tax and delivery). It was a large dollar commitment, but I am glad I made the purchase.

    It spent a year in my garage (much to my husband’s chagrin). I scrubbed it and moved the bottom section into my den and the top section into my son’s bedroom. Mine also has a reddish colored stain. I don’t relish the idea of stripping “The Beast” as my husband lovingly refers to it. I believe I will try your much simpler solution!! Thank!!

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