Whether you have inherited a buffet from a Grandparent or found what looked to be the perfect addition to your home, maybe even the ideal challenge for your next DIY project, a lot of thought should be put into it before taking any steps.
In other words, the vintage buffet is likely a classic style and in no way appears to be modern. Is the piece for your home, or do you plan to redo and resell it? If for your home, will it remain a buffet or turn into a needed item such as a vanity or dresser?
If you are modernizing the piece to resell, consider the area you are in, and your thoughts about modernization. Would it be best to strip and restain or purchase some of the newer paints on the market?
When it comes to Antique furniture, it is a difficult choice to make. There are many times that if alterations have been made to the piece of furniture, the value will not remain the same. At least from a financial standpoint. However, from an emotional standpoint, stripping and painting the buffet could be the difference between selling the piece or keeping it due to its sentimental value.
Another consideration is the amount of damage to the piece. How much time and effort are you willing to put into this piece to bring it back to life and once again make it a showpiece for your home or someone else’s home?
Scratches all over the buffet
These scratches could virtually come from normal wear and tear to the buffet. They could also come from moving the buffet.
Most often scratches can be fixed by gently sanding the wood down or by using a wood filler to fill in the scratch marks.
Hardware is crooked, broken or missing
Some hardware can be repaired, while others may not be able to be fixed. You may have to consider replacing the hardware if you cannot locate replicas of the original hardware that is on the buffet.
There may be Antique shops that have hardware available or you could be lucky enough to find some at a thrift store, on another piece of furniture.
Gouges or divots in the wood
Gouges in the wood or divots can be repaired in a similar fashion as scratches. Depending on the depth of the gouges or divots, you can use wood putty or wood filler to fill the area, then sand it down and continue to refinish the buffet.
Colour is worn off in many areas
The color worn off in one or more areas is probably a minor situation. If you are refinishing and modernizing the buffet, you will need to strip off the colour that is currently on the buffet.
This can be done by you personally, or you could decide to take the buffet to a professional and have it stripped by them.
The drawers on vintage pieces have generally taken a beating over the years. Depending on the amount of skill you hold, the drawers could be easily repaired and made functional once again. However, even if you do not have the type of skill needed for major repairs, you may be able to solve the issue yourself with a little effort. If you do not have the confidence, do some research and locate a woodsman, someone that works with wood for a living, he or she may have very little trouble repairing the drawer or the doors.
Many of these vintage buffets have dovetailed drawers. These may look difficult to repair, but they can be easily fixed with the right knowledge.
If in the worst-case scenario, the drawer cannot be repaired, the person who works with wood should easily be able to make a new drawer or at least fix the majority of the original drawer.
Needs a cleaning
You may gaze at the vintage buffet and wonder if the previous owner ever cleaned the buffet while it was in their possession. It may be so covered in dust, dirt and even a greasy layer that you are unsure that you would be able to clean it.
Rest assured that there are many gentle cleaners available that will remove the dirt and even grease off the buffet. It actually may look like an entirely new piece of furniture altogether once it is cleaned.
Method and Steps
As with any task, there are always steps to take before you get started on the modernizing aspect. This is not an activity where you can just throw a new coat of stain on or paint it with a new type of paint, this is going to entail some cleaning and possibly some elbow grease.
Remove the hardware
The first step, after removing the drawers and doors, is to remove the hardware from each. In order to not strip the screw that holds the hardware on, be sure that you have the correct size of tool needed. Set the hardware to the side, complete with the screws so that no piece is lost or misplaced. These will need to be cleaned also. This will be easily done with a gentle soap and water mix.
Clean the entire buffet, inside and outside, top and bottom. Most people will just look at the outer shell of the buffet and think that is all that they need to clean. The entire buffet needs to be cleaned. This will remove the dirt, smell and grime from the entire piece of furniture.
Once you have completed the top, sides and back, gently lay the buffet down and wash the underside of the item, also be sure to get inside where the drawers fit. This will eliminate any musty odours, cobwebs or clumps of debris and dirt.
The next step is going to be to remove any varnish and stain that is remaining on the buffet. There are many products on the market that will allow you to do this. Most will take some time and depending on the style of your buffet, there may be some areas that you will need to use a small brush to spread the remover in. Use a plastic scraper to remove the gunk that develops when you use a stain remover, and again, you may need a small brush to take it out of the nooks and crannies of detailed wood areas.
Many vintage buffets have spindle decorations on the front, these are not often tight spindles, so using a cloth and soft brush will remove the old stain easily. Once the old stain or paint is removed, you need to allow the wood to dry completely before you do any further work on the buffet. This will also give you the chance to examine closely for any gouges, or raised areas that should be sanded down. This is the time to also work on cleaning the hardware you removed.
In general, dish soap and warm water should remove all dirt and grease buildup on the hardware.
Once the buffet has dried completely, it is time to decide if you are going to stain the buffet or choose a colour of paint to coat the buffet with. There are many new types of paints that are garnering plenty of attention from those who refinish products.
Stain or Paint
Since you are modernizing the buffet to fit into your home, choose a neutral colour that will allow the buffet to work in any room you choose. Unless you already know where you want to put the piece then you can use the choice of colour you would like.
Classic or Modern
Is there a way to modernize a buffet and still keep it in its classic appearance? Yes, depending on the paint you choose. You could also restrain the buffet and it will look new again. The decision is up to you.
Contrary to popular belief, classic never really goes out of style. A basic stain can and will match any colours of the remaining furniture in your room. Combining a classic style with more modern pieces will actually give the room a sleek appearance.
Mix and Match pieces
You may think that you have to have all stained furniture or all painted furniture to bring a room together. This is not always the case. Many high-end interior designers will tell you that if you mix and match the right pieces, you can bring a totally modern and sleek look to any room.
If the truth is told, mixing the classic style of days gone by with the modern looks of today is one of the most sought-after schemes that are popular right now. Do some research, talk to people in the know and you too can combine the old with the new and make it all work together.
However, for those that do not seem to think the two styles can combine properly, painting is the next best option. To fully modernize, visit your local home improvement store and pick out some new hardware. Be sure to find similar sizes so that there is no major work to be done to fit new hardware on your vintage buffet.