One can never have too much vanity

A lot of people on craigslist, I have found, oftentimes do not know the value of what they have.

I acquired two vanities around the same time. The first I bought from the original owner’s granddaughter for $25. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a before shot, but it was overall in good condition. It has a long crack on the inside and the two halves of the crack shifted, if that makes sense, so I couldn’t just stuff a glob of wood putty and call it done. In the end, I decided not to do anything since the vanity was still quite solid, and I also wasn’t planning on selling it. I had wanted a “writer’s desk” in the guest room of my house for awhile, inspired by Centsational Girl’s writer’s desk here, and it was not going to see much use anyway.

Sand, prime, paint the body, and done. I used Zinsser’s water-based primer in the blue can and probably some Valspar basic white. I stripped the top down with my sander, 80-100-150-220, and for the rounded edges I used a folded up piece of 60 grit sandpaper and went up from there. I stained the top with 2 layers of Minwax Gel Stain in Mahogany and 3 coats of polyurethane.

Vanity #1 After

Vanity #1 After with Pretty Little Chair.

Here’s the other vanity I bought in process because I again forgot to get a ‘Before’ shot. I don’t remember what I paid, but as I don’t buy things for more than a few bucks on CL, it wasn’t much.

Vanity #2 in process

Vanity #2 in process

The seller bought it from someone who bought it from an antique show or dealer, though I don’t think this would qualify as an “antique”. It was covered by a heinous paint job. Whomever spray painted it didn’t bother to sand, fill in any gaps, or anything. The drawer hardware was also wood and painted on. Eesh.

Sanding a section revealed, again, layers upon layers of paint, so Citristrip to the rescue again. I unscrewed all of the hardware from the inside of the drawers, got out a hammer and chisel, and pried them off. Here are some very fuzzy pictures from before I learned how to take a decent picture.

Drawer with painted-on hardware

Drawer with painted-on hardware

Hardware from above

Hardware from above

Around this time, I stopped into Lowes for something and behold, they were having a massive clearance on drawer and cabinet hardware. I went completely insane for half an hour since it was a weekend and I was kid-free, picking up knobs, handles, and even Euro hinges to my heart’s delight. I picked up over $100 worth of hardware for about $30.

All that is to say that these drawer knobs are from this stash, which I still have. My woodworker neighbor poked his head in one day as I was working in my garage and took a closer look at the vanity, realizing that it was constructed from a hard wood, not pine, though he couldn’t tell what species. Kewl.

So after stripping came sanding, then putty, more sanding, then finally priming, painting, and poly. Done.

Vanity #2 After

There she is.



A recent college grad sold me a desk, a bookshelf with hutch, and an antique (I think) table – I guess you could call it a telephone table. The table was solid wood, even the back. I neglected to take ‘before’ shots, so these crummy images are directly from the craigslist ad.

Desk. It was in good shape. I had to glue the support into the leg, but that was it. Primed with whatever I had in the garage – usually Zinsser or Kilz – paint, new hardware, done.

craigslist desk before


CL desk after


Bookshelf. It was too girly-girl for my taste and I just couldn’t see it that way. I pried off the current appliques with a crowbar. It was attached by pins in the back of the applique which were struck in the surface of the hutch, so I had to use needle nose pliers to pull them out one by one. New applique, hardware, and a coat of Rustoleum’s Heirloom White. Done.

Hutch before

Too girly before

Dresser hutch after

Just right

dresser hutch after, new applique


Table. You can’t see in the picture, but the paint job was heinous. Drips, unfilled dings, the whole thing. It was also on wheels, which bothered me. So I decided to strip it. I sanded a test spot and saw it had multiple layers of paint, one of them an inexplicable shade of what I’d call “dump truck green.” Introducing my first encounter with Citristrip. Boom. I love this stuff. But getting into the grooves was not easy. I did what I could with the Citristrip, then took a piece of 60 grit sandpaper, folded it, and went to town (gently because of the low grit) in the grooves. Once-over sanding, primed with Zinsser’s spray primer, painted in Rustoleum’s Heirloom White, glass knobs. Done.

Antique table before

Before. Cyclops with its missing knob.

Antique table after


My first strip job and the lessons learned from it.

(Yes, I went there). I bought this set in sad shape.

Sad peeling lawn chair, before

Sad peeling chair

2 chairs connected by a table plus one separate chair. I somehow fit this whole thing in the back of a Honda CR-V. Structurally sound, and desperately peeling. I had never sanded anything in my life and didn’t anticipate the extensive work that would go into this. I started sanding manually because I was just cheap. I am the child of an Asian engineer and married to another tightwad, after all. So I bought a 60-grit sanding block and started sanding away one night on my naked back patio slab over a plastic tarp. And started noticing all the spaces in between the boards that I couldn’t get to.

So I bought a belt sander off Craigslist (don’t judge me. No, really…just don’t), not knowing anything about them at the time, and took the whole. Thing. Apart. And stripped it. And it died 2 weeks later. It fulfilled its mission and was given proper respects. I’ve since learned to invest in tools that will see a lot of use and haven’t looked back.

I used Zinsser’s oil based B-I-N primer on one set and their water based version on another (that was over 2 years ago and I have no idea why I did that). Then spray painted them a bright cherry red from Valspar’s line. And was happy with them for a while. So I threw them on our back patio slab and ignored them and the rest of the patio for about a year.

Red chairs on a sad patio

Red chairs on a sad patio slab

So fast forward to a year later. My trashy slab with no covering was really bothering me. And looking out the window to see bright red chairs on it made my blood pressure rise slightly. Kind of literally because it was 100+ degrees all summer and red just made me feel hotter. And my son was having a birthday party in a few weeks and I hated the idea of having guests stand around on a slab. So I built some benches and a table. And will blog about that in a later post. Back to the chairs, I had a gallon of $5 oops paint from Valspar (I go to Lowe’s a lot if you couldn’t tell) just sitting in my garage. A lot more than a gallon – my husband calls me a paint whore – but one of them in particular happened to be outdoor paint and in a shade of blue that reminded me of a swimming pool.

By now, the red paint on the chair that was primed with water based primer was peeling (I’ve learned a lot since then), so I sanded, primed them all with Zinsser’s oil based primer, painted 2 coats, done. Ta-da.

Blue refinished patio chairs

Patio chairs refinished blue, take 2.