A Stunning Stenciled Top Restoration

A friend acquired this piece of furniture that was about to be tossed into the trash; it was in pretty bad shape, I’m not going to lie. The doors where falling apart, the piece itself was literally coming apart, the legs were rotting so it wasn’t level anymore, it had been bandaged up so many times it was just a mess, and I don’t know what the heck was going on with that paint job or what they were thinking when they painted it. She asked me if I could do anything with the piece and I’m always up for a challenge so without even really looking it over, I said “of course”. Then I started looking it over and thought, what have I gotten myself in to! This was bad…really bad. I didn’t have a plan and knew I wouldn’t come up with one until I got in there and got my hands dirty. It was challenging and a lot of work; but, every minute of the restoration was fun, and as always, I was surprised with the outcome. Looking at the materials list you may not need everything that I needed for this restoration; this is all just to give you an idea of what you can do, what is possible, and how I had to go about getting this bad boy back in shape. Sometimes you may think there is no hope left for something and it’s better off in the trash; but with a little patience and love it can become something beautiful and functional again; it may even become your favourite piece of furniture.



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First things first, I ditched the cabinet doors and gutted the inside shelving. This piece needed to be open and I couldn’t achieve that with the terrible doors that were on there. I also removed the old top because it used to have something attached to it that was missing and had a big gap at the back of the old hardware.

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I wasn’t going to strip all the paint off, it would have been too much work with the paint job that was on there. So, I decided that I was just going to smooth the surface by sanding it with an 80-grit paper to even out the crackled paint effect.

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The legs were uneven due to rot, so I had to cut a bit of them off in order to make them all the same length. Measuring from the top down each leg to a desired length, I made a mark and cut each leg off evenly using a circular saw.

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Then I had to cut out a new top, bottom, and middle shelf. I cut this out of plywood using a table saw. The top was easy because I only had to cut it out the same size as the old one; but, I had to measure the bottom and middle. First, I measured from the back of the piece to how far I wanted it to come to the front, and then from side to side.


The bottom and middle shelf had notches that needed to be cut out on all the corners, so it would fit perfectly inside. To measure for a notch, I placed the tape measure from the back to the end of the corner extension. Then, from the side to the end of the corner extension and then transferred those measurements onto the corner of the plywood. You need to do this for each corner because the measurements could all be different.


Cut the measured notches out of the plywood using a jig saw.

For an extra finish, I added a matching banding strip to all the edges that would be visible on the piece. This stuff is great because it gives the illusion of a solid board instead of plywood and is very inexpensive. Just iron it on until it is set in place. Once cooled, use a trimmer to cut off the excess. Perfect.

Now, all the plywood can be sanded down with a 180-grit paper until smooth.

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To add an embellishment to this piece and make it stand out, I stenciled a design onto the top piece with white paint. Once it’s dry, stain over it with wood stain (I used Provincial from Minwax) and you will get a beautiful antiqued effect on the wood. Also stain the bottom, middle shelf, and interior of the piece.

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Once the stain is dry, top coat it with the polyurethane. Let that coat dry, sand everything down gently with a 320-grit paper then add a second coat.


I painted the outside of it in a light grey. This was, after all, going to be a farmhouse inspired design and I had been doing so much in white lately I wanted to change it up and go grey. The colour I used was Grey Tweed by Cloverdale Paint.

Now, everything new can start to go in its place and get installed.


I thought the handles were still kind of cool and didn’t think I needed to buy new ones. So, with a spritz of brass spray paint it gave them a new life.


Gorgeous! I love this! And I’m so proud and happy to know this piece can live again and make a home beautiful!

Cami TannerComment