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Rescuing The Bella Buffet

Updated: Jun 11, 2018

How to chalk paint furniture
Beautiful painted buffet, rescued and refinished!

When I first learned how to paint furniture with chalk based paint, I fell in love mostly with the transformations. Sometimes the best part of my job is the satisfaction of rescuing a piece of history, even if it be a small piece of history like a vintage buffet. Antiques have stories to tell, and unfortunately, when I found this undercover beauty, its story was a sad one. Here's MY story of how I found the buffet I call "Bella" (I typically do NOT name my furniture, or call it a pronoun, but this one made the exception and so it may start something new for me) and how I transformed her into having a beautiful new finish, and a loving new owner, sparing the undeniably grim fate she was otherwise destined's what I mean....

When we first met, poor Bella had a heavy coat of gloppy, glossy white paint and, saddest of all, a piece of tacky laminate had been glued to the top and a piece of fake foam wood was glued to the top rear, simulating some kind of architectural detail in a cheesy way. I could see it was a solid hardwood buffet, walnut most likely, with solid construction and tons of life left, but in this condition, what kind of life would that be? in someone's garage?? I had to step in.

STEP 1 - removing the junk

First things first, the faux wood and laminate had to GO! Unfortunately, that stuff was not lightly tacked on, but glued with thick paneling glue. I had to scrape and pry the laminate off the top and to my horror, the veneer top was coming off in chunks and where was nothing that could be done to stop it.

I considered repairing the veneer, but too much was coming off. At this point, the entire top needed removal so that was unfortunately the next step.

STEP 2 - Removing the damaged veneer

After getting the entire laminate strip and loose veneer off, I had

to remove the original veneer, no small feat mind you. It took about 4 hours to completely remove the top layer and sand it smooth to bare wood.


With a new smooth top, it was time to sand the gloppy paint, This was the hardest part in my opinion. There was so much gloppy paint, i had gone through almost 2 PACKS OF SANDING DISKS!

I removed the doors and hardware, sanded down all door and drawer fronts along with the interior of the cabinet storage space, top bottom and sides. All painted areas were wiped down....

STEP 4 - Priming and catch coat

Now everything was prepped for a coat of flat primer, which took several coats and sanding in between to smooth everything down. Once that was done, it was starting to take shape!

Step 5 Chalk Paint

I used a pretty blush color and envisioned a lovely stencil or decoupage on the setback areas because they seemed the perfect invitation!

Yes, that is the dog's frisbee - he is determined to photo bomb one way or another! In total, there are two coats to the chalk paint on top of the primer.

Step 5 - Applying the designs to the drawers and doors

For this step, I decided to go with more of a color feel than an image feel, so I looked for a large image that complimented the color, and even though I was afraid of doing "RED" anything, the image I found was screaming at me "PERFECT"... so I went with it.

I used a gel medium because the paper was thick and I didn't want bubbles, so I wanted to go with an equally thick product.

It took a fair amount of smoothing to remove the bubbles. but this was going to get a satin finish sealer so i needed it to be completely smooth.

Step 6 Distressing, and seal coating

With a SUPER light touch, i did a fair amount of distressing to the top coat of paint. I wanted it to look like it has been around the block (or world, without falling in to the hands of an evil laminate topping owner!!)

I applied a satin coat of water based sealer to the entire piece, inside and out, including on the design areas. I wanted to ensure a durable finish that would last a while and stand up to heavy use.

The final touch was the mercury glass gold knobs to add a bit more drama, elegance, and sparkle. And the result? See for yourself!

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