Before / After: renovation of a vintage 1950s buffet in its own right

Before / After: renovation of a vintage 1950s buffet in its own right

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Find a retro piece of furniture on a flea market, nothing could be simpler. But when it comes to cleaning it, repairing it, varnishing it… it's not the same story! To have some good advice I picked up my phone to make an appointment with Marie (aka Les Petits Meubles de Marie), always looking for rare pearls that she restores, pumices, paints… to give them a new life. A few days later, head to his workshop-boutique in the 10th arrondissement of Paris. Among all its pretty finds, I set my sights on a small buffet from the 50s, weathered by time, but in need of a facelift. Sanding, cleaning, varnishing, painting, making a new background ... I followed step by step the renovation of this small vintage piece of furniture in the expert hands of Marie and her young assistant Etienne.

Step 1: analysis of the furniture (5 minutes)

This small wooden buffet from the 50s, completely in its own juice, is part of a set of furniture that Marie acquired recently. If the wood is healthy (and this is already a very good point), it still lacks a bottom and a plastic tray imitation formica has been placed on the original wooden one. The paint has chipped here and there and the drawer bottoms need to be reconsolidated. After all, we will be able to get to work, but before that, Marie's last piece of advice before getting started: take the time it takes to properly prepare the furniture. It will inevitably be time saved on the last stages!

Step 2: removing the plastic tray (15 minutes)

Good surprise or bad surprise? Often, adding a tray over the original one may suggest that it has been badly damaged in the past. Only, the plastic one that was placed on my favorite buffet is not at all to my taste, nor to that of Marie. So we decide to remove it, to see what is hidden below. A flat screwdriver to unhook the metal bar which holds it, and a few minutes later, here is the wooden tray which is gradually discovered… Good news, it is in good condition! We take this opportunity to put a little hammer on the protruding nails, and here is this step finished.

Step 3: heavy sanding (30 minutes)

For this step, Etienne takes over! Using a circular sander, he removes the old flaking paint. The objective: smooth the furniture so that the next layer of paint hangs well and is uniform. Small tips from the pro for optimal sanding: always position the side to be sanded parallel to the ground and use a grain suitable for the area to be sanded (larger if the layer to be stripped is important).

Step 4: small sanding (10 minutes)

After having made the big sanding with the circular sander, it is time to tackle the small sanding by hand. With a piece of sandpaper (which Marie wraps on a small wooden board for a better grip), the handles of the drawers as well as those of the buffet are in turn sanded. We take advantage of having the drawers in hand to reconsolidate the bottom. A few nails, and voila!

Step 5: installation of putty and wood pulp (30 minutes)

The wooden tray, victim of the wear of time, cracked over the entire length. Using a spatula, Marie fills the void with putty (oak color). As for the small holes on the rest of the furniture, they are plugged with wood pulp. Then let it dry for at least 24 hours.

Step 6: cutting and laying the background (45 minutes)

To form the background at the right size, Etienne takes the measurements. He then collects a scrap of wood on which he traces the dimensions, then goes on to cutting with a jigsaw. (You can also have your background made in a DIY sign that will cut the board to measure). He then studs two battens and finally deposits the board so as to create the new bottom.

Step 7: cleaning (10 minutes)

Once the sanding is finished, the putty and wood pulp dried and the bottom installed, the furniture must be cleaned. Marie is equipped with a vacuum cleaner, starts by vacuuming the interior then ends with the exterior. You can also wipe it with a cloth to tweak.

Step 8: the choice of paint (2 minutes)

Here, the furniture is ready to be revamped! The step I prefer begins: the choice of paint! Marie prepares a color chart for me and opens a few pots for me. I let myself be charmed by a pretty green water, my favorite color of the moment.

Step 9: painting (50 minutes + 30 minutes)

Armed with a round brush, a small brush and a small roller, Marie begins the painting phase. First, it tackles the drawers by ironing only on the parts that had been painted in the past. It is then the buffet's turn to pass under its experienced brush! It starts with the feet and then paints the furniture from the bottom up. The frame is painted using the round brush while the large parts are painted with the roller. It is left to dry for 24 hours, then the operation is repeated for the second layer. Professional advice: be careful not to put too much paint!

Step 10: the varnish (10 minutes)

The nice discovery of this buffet is this wooden tray hidden for years under a plastic tray. A coat of varnish later, it's like new! Pro tip: start at the edges.
Once the paint and varnish are dry, it only remains for us to contemplate the work accomplished. I am totally a fan of the water green chosen and the wooden tray which is ultimately in great condition! I leave the workshop with a multitude of good advice, thank you Marie! Les Petits Meubles de Marie 38 rue Lucien Sampaix, Paris 10eme