Delicate & Durable: An Antique Table and Chair Restoration - South Lake Tahoe faux finish studio Skip to main content

This past summer, we scoured our favorite hot spots to find a few special pieces to add to the project lineup. Last week we talked about where to find inspiration & crafty ideas, and on one of those local Facebook pages, we found the perfect little gem… a one-of-a-kind estate sale antique table and chair set.

One morning in July, I was cruising through our local Facebook pages and saw a picture of a little antique table and chair. It wasn’t the best photo but it caught my eye. I immediately contacted the seller and was on my way over to her house. Stuffed in the back of a closet was this adorable furniture set. Neglected, beat up and crying for a second-chance at life, this little beauty was leaving with me!

Delicate & Durable

When you find an antique piece that calls out to you, answer the phone & take on the challenge! It’s very rewarding to restore a piece and be the catalyst for its next chapter in life. Some pieces will need more TLC than others, but don’t let that scare you away. For this antique table and chair set, we knew it would take more time than other designs, but that only made this project more special in the end.

The Journey: An Antique Table and Chair Restoration

When working with antique pieces, it’s important to do any needed repairs BEFORE you start painting & transforming your vision into reality. Once everything is in tip-top-shape (as much as it can be), it’s time to set your restoration ideas into motion!

A Few Repairs First…

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    Perform any repairs up front & disassemble as needed.

    Evaluate the piece for any damage needing repair, loose screws, missing fasteners, etc. The table needed a few new screws as did the chair. To help ensure you get the right size, take any good screws you have to the hardware store to find the perfect match.

  2. After shoring up the table, it was time to take the chair apart. The seat needed additional fasteners to hold it better in place and it will just be easier to paint as separate pieces. No reason to try and force paint into all those little edges and miss a spot!
  3. With the age of the furniture and not knowing how it was cared for, a little cleaning is in order. I like using a vinegar & water mixture for a GENTLE wiping to give a clean surface to start from. No heavy scrubbing or stripping on this one.

Choosing Paint Colors

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    Get a little ground clearance!

    When painting smaller furniture pieces, the bottom of the legs & feet is always a challenge since they are standing on the floor. With the lightweight nature of this antique table and chair set, I used an old trick I learned many years ago. Gently hammer nails into the feet of both the table and chair to help elevate it off the floor. It’s makes everything so much easier. This will give you some floor clearance for a seamless finish!

  2. If you haven’t sat down to sketch out the design for the piece yet, now’s the time to do it. For this furniture set, a soft color palette is the only way to go. There are so many fine details in the wood that only a soft base color, a little distressing and a multi-color wax finish will highlight the true beauty of these gems.
  3. Don’t choose a color because you personally like it (or avoid it for dislike). Pick a color that will elevate the piece itself. For this project, I chose a soft purple shade. Two coats give a solid base coverage over any damage but still allows for distressing later on in the process. Lots of nooks & crannies on these pieces, so go slow and don’t miss any spots!
  4. At this point, one clear wax coat is a good idea. First reason is to seal the base coat before any stenciling or distressing. It will allow for corrections on any stencil errors as well as eliminate any sanding dust.

Let’s Add the Details

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    Dandelions blowing in the breeze is the perfect touch!

    Time to embellish! I chose two different stencil images & sayings, one for the table top and the others for the chair. I like using multiple patterns in a design to help bring more interest and ‘fun’ into the overall feel especially when going for a whimsical look.

  2. After all stenciling is completed and dry, it’s time to distress. The great thing about this set is that it can be restored with beauty but be distressed to highlight its age and durability. This set is intended to be loved & used so perfection is NOT in the design plan. The prior wax layer will control all sanding dust. Choose a coarse enough grit to sand through the wax or you’ll end up buffing the finish instead. I used 120 grit for a perfect sanding coarseness with out scratching the paint. Sand the edges to show the detail and highlight places that would get natural wear & tear over time.

A Durable Finish is Imperative

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    Paint, distressing & multiple wax colors are the perfect finish.

    The final wax coats are actually the hardest part, especially for these pieces. To get just the right amount of antiquing and durability, another four coats of wax will be used!

  2. After all painting, stenciling and distressing is finished, apply another clear wax coat. This will seal the final design and get the pieces ready for colored wax finishes.
  3. Next is time for the dark wax. Apply over the entire set, focused on the wood details and edges. Wipe off all excess dark wax with a clear cloth. You want a slight tint of color over the soft purple base but not a ‘dirty’ look.
  4. Now apply a layer of white wax. This will brighten up the purple and white accent stencil paint as well as help even out any dark spots.
  5. Once you are happy with all the colors and wax highlights, another final coat of clear wax will seal the whole deal! I chose NOT to buff for a high sheen and instead left the finish matte.

The Restoration is Complete

antique table and chair

I am nluv with this restoration! What started out as a plain white, chipped, lifeless furniture set ended as a beautiful one-of-a-kind masterpiece. The finish has the delicate touch of a soft color palette but with the perfect amount of distressing to amplify its past. This set was finished to be delicate & durable! It should be used and loved and not feared to be touched. With over a month to cure and four layers of finish wax, this little antique table and chair combo is ready for the next chapter in its life.

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