Vintage vanity with bench.

This is what my set looked like when I bought it.  It came with a mirror, but the mirror didn’t really go with the style of this set.  The finish on these pieces was rough, to say the least.  Someone at one time tried to re-stain them and left quite a mess, dried drips from the stain and it looked blotchy.  The inside of the drawers had Lord knows what dried and stained all inside of them, but they were solid dovetail construction and still worked very well.  The legs had some rough spots from use and I thought they gave this piece a little character, shabby chic white popped into my mind.vanity before

I took the drawers out, removed the hardware and put them into a container that I use for each piece that I refinish.  I find that it helps me from misplacing and losing pieces when I’m working on more than one piece, I label each container with blue painter’s tape to keep them organized.  Plastic baggies work just as well.Vintage Vanity 1

Here is a list of what I used on the vanity and base of the bench:

  • CitriStrip Stripping Gel and an old chip brush
  • Container to put the stripper as you are removing it
  • A couple putty knives to remove the stripper
  • Mineral Spirits with fine steel wool(grade 0000)
  • TSP and water
  • Sandpaper grits 220, 320, and 400
  • Minwax Wood Conditioner
  • Minwax Dark Walnut Stain
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Paper towels and old rags
  • Minwax Polycrylic Satin Finish and foam brush
  • Behr Paint in Writing Paper( I made my own chalk paint from this)

Here is a list for the drawers and pulls:

  • Behr Paint in Rosewater
  • Pretty Wrapping Paper
  • 3M Super 77 Multipurpose Adhesive
  • Minwax Polycrylic Satin Finish(Spray)
  • Rub n’ Buff in Gold Leaf

I have already written a short How-To for lining the drawers.  You can check that out here:

How To:

  1.  Apply stripper to the top of vanity and drawer fronts, apply generously and make sure you get it even.  Wait for it to dry, it will look kinda crusty.   When the stripper is dry, use your putty knife to gently scrape the gel off.  It should just roll up your knife.  I use long strokes from one side to the other and then wipe the gunk on a paper towel in my disposal container.  This step can get messy so make sure you have something under your piece to catch any drips.  I use a tarp and thick cardboard boxes that are flattened.  If your piece has several layers on it, you might have to re-apply your stripper and do this step again. Tip:  I put blue painters tape on the inside of the drawers so nothing drips inside the drawers.
  2. After I have removed all the stripper and old finish, I use Mineral Spirits and steel wood to go over my surface.  This removes any sticky residue still left on the surface.
  3. Now, I’m ready to prepare all my surfaces for the stain and paint.  I clean everything with TSP, trisodium phosphate, and water.  TSP is a very heavy duty cleaner that is mixed with water, wear gloves and be in a well-ventilated area(some people also wear a mask).  Rinse with clean water and allow to dry.  TSP will remove paint from surfaces.
  4. I give a light sanding to the body and bench and then wipe again with clean water to remove any dust.  I use 120 grit sandpaper on the top to remove a couple of scratches, wipe dust off and repeat using the 220 grit sandpaper.  Make sure you are sanding with the wood grain, not against it.   The top is now ready for stain and the body is ready for paint.
  5.   I put wood conditioner on the top and drawer fronts, wait a few minutes and wipe it off.  The wood conditioner helps your wood to accept the stain uniformly without being blotchy looking.  You can apply the stain right after the wood conditioner since there isn’t a wait time.
  6.  You can apply your stain with a brush, rag, spray gun or staining pad.  I like using a rag, it gives me more control on the amount of stain I am putting on.  For this, I used a foam brush, they are cheap and disposable.  I apply my stain in long even strokes with the grain of the wood.  I think it is easier and goes on faster.  Apply a liberal amount of stain evenly over your whole surface.  Don’t keep going over the places that you have already applied your stain, you want the stain to soak into your wood evenly.  Let it sit for a few minutes and then take a clean lint free rag and wipe your stain off.  I like to use long strokes, just making one pass over the area and then flipping my rag around to have a clean area for the next pass.  When you have gotten all the excess stain off, I take a clean section of my rag and go back over the whole area.  This is the messy part and you should wear gloves so you don’t stain your hands!  If your color isn’t as dark as you like, you can apply a 2nd or 3rd coat of stain.  Remember that it is easier to apply more stain than take it off.  When you are satisfied with the color, you are finished and need to let it dry for several hours.  I like to let mine dry overnight just to be safe, but it depends on how much stain you used and your weather conditions.  When it is cool and damp, it will take longer to dry.
  7. While my stain is drying, I start painting.  I normally prime my pieces, especially when using light colors, but I thought that I might want to distress this piece so I skipped the primer.  It took 3 coats for full coverage.  I sanded in between each coat with 400 grit sandpaper and used a damp rag to remove all of the dust.  I like the ultra smooth finish after sanding, but you don’t have to sand if you are going for a more rustic or primitive look.
  8. After all the paint and stain is dry, I applied 3 coats of Polycrylic to the top and drawer fronts and 2 coats to the body and bench.  I used the same topcoat for ease, you can apply polyurethane to your stained surfaces but not to the painted ones.  Polyurethane will cause a yellow discoloration when applied over light-colored surfaces.
  9. I reupholstered the bench seat with new fabric and re-attached after the polycrylic was dry.
  10. I applied Rub n’ Buff to the drawer pulls after I cleaned them with dish liquid and water.

staged front bench

I love how these came out!

Here is a video on applying the stripper and taking it off:


Click here for my tutorial on lining the drawers: Quick and Easy Drawer Liners

Thank you so much for reading my blog!  If you have any comments or questions, please post them, I will answer them all.

If you liked this tutorial or know someone that this might help, please like me on FaceBook and Pin me on Pinterest!








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