One of the things I’ve been working on here at our new home is updating our furniture, in particular, re-finishing a buffet. I was gifted a piece of furniture from my sister many years ago. It’s a buffet her grandmother owned. I’ve used it as a changing table/dresser for each of my children. It’s held towels and clothes and in our last home it was both a kitchen counter and cupboard. I stored our dishes in it.

Now that we’ve moved I wanted to give it an updated look, clean it up and make it “new” again. I love this piece.  I really do. I love that Grandmother Hunter owned it. I love that my sister, Charlsye, used it, and I love it that we’ve used it for many years in many different ways.


As you can see from the picture above, it is tired and needs a face lift. This buffet is solid wood without any veneers and is extremely sturdy.  My thought was that we would paint the exterior front and sides, leave the interior alone, and stain the top of the buffet with the espresso stain (which is almost black).

So, my daughter, Lauren, and I spent some time cleaning it, sanding it, removing the fixtures, and just making sure it was scrubbed clean.

To do this project, we used the following items (contains affiliate links):

  • Palm Sander
  • 80 grit sand paper (for the initial sanding)
  • 220 grit sand paper (for a fine sanding)
  • Espresso Stain with sealer (glossy finish)
  • White spray paint with primer (satin finish)
  • Vinegar/water cleaner
  • Rags
  • Freezer paper
  • FrogTape

Step #1: We cleaned the cabinet with the water/vinegar mixture to remove any gunk and build-up (and believe me, there was a lot of gunk on the top – just sticky stuff that was not easy to remove).  We also removed the knobs and fixtures from the doors and drawer.

Step #2: We scrubbed and sanded the top, removed the drawer and cleaned it thoroughly.

Step #3: we wiped away the sawdust from sanding and then used the 220 grit sandpaper to make it really smooth on top.

Step #4: I scrubbed the fixtures and knobs in a mixture of warm soapy water and a scrubber. And, for those tough, caked-on spots, I made a baking soda/water paste and scrubbed. We had originally thought we would replace the fixtures with new ones, but after scrubbing these clean, we kept them (and I’m so glad we did!).

Step #5: We stained the top with 2 coats of espresso stain. We let each coat dry in-between.

Step #6: The front middle door had not been on the buffet for well over 10 years (the screws had been stripped and once we had removed the door we never put it back on … until today). Johnny was kind enough to get bigger screws and using wood glue and a screwdriver, he installed the middle door back on for me. It looks so different with the middle door back in place!

Step #7: Using frog tape and the freezer paper, I carefully covered the top of the buffet so that I could spray paint the bottom portion without ruining the top.

Step #8: I used 3 separate coats of spray paint, but it finally came together. We waited until it dried and then put on the clean hardware and removed the freezer paper. And now, this is what it looks like!

re-finishing a buffet

re-finishing a buffet

re-finishing a buffet

re-finishing a buffet

I love the way it turned out! I really like the hardware. It’s dark and textured and really brings the top and bottom together. Most of our home is darker wood and white/lighter furnishings. This will look awesome in the new home. We moved it in and placed it behind the couch. It now houses all of our family photo albums (which are now out of my closet!). It’s a win win!

Even though we now live in the city, I’m still finding ways to reduce and re-use. Just because a piece of furniture is outdated or old, fix it up, make it new, and use it!