Garage Sale Refinish

My dad was in the Air Force until I was 16, and we moved every 1.5 to 4 years. When I was 8, my parents bought their first home. Homeownership gave my parents the opportunity to do things they’d been unable to do while we lived in base housing. My mom finally got to hang curtains, they repainted almost every room, they changed light fixtures, and they got new carpet.

Their improvements took them, and me, to a store I hated going to: Lowe’s. While they debated light fixtures, carpet, paint colors, and wallpaper borders (#90sKid), I resisted the urge to cry. It was so boring. I groaned every time our 1993 teal green Ford Aerostar pulled into the Lowe’s parking lot.

I knew I was officially an adult when I no longer disliked Lowe’s.

Their former slogan, “Never Stop Improving,” must have been a winner, because it comes to mind whenever I work on projects.

I love making things better. I love seeing something and knowing that it has potential just waiting to be revealed. It’s a mixed blessing. I look around my house and make a mental list of all of the projects I would love to do and changes I dream of making. It’s so much fun to see the finished project, but my husband probably groans whenever I start dreaming.

My latest project came from my grandma-in-law’s house. She’s lived in the same home for decades, and her kids recently redecorated it. The old furniture found its way to my house just in time for our garage sale. One of the pieces caught my attention as soon as I saw it. I knew it had potential.

I had the supplies left over from other projects, and decided to put in a little bit of work so that I could increase the sale price at our garage sale.

Here’s the piece before!

It’s solid wood, and I knew it had the potential to be beautiful! We started by sanding it down with a palm sander. (The sandpaper was the only thing I didn’t already have.)

It took a little bit of work to get the finish off, and I think I did a little bit more sanding after I took the last picture of the the top—at least I hope I did!

After staining the top with an espresso stain, I added a coat of chalk paint to the legs and drawers.

Confession: I’ve never used store bought chalk paint on furniture. I’ve used diy chalk paint for my last four refinishing projects. The recipe I’ve used is 1 part water + 1 part plaster of Paris + 3 parts paint.

First mix the water and plaster of Paris together. Mix until there aren’t any clumps. Next, add the paint to the mixture and stir.

Super simple, and it works well. The best part is, it’s so much less expensive than buying pre-made chalk paint. I’m a fan. I bought a gallon of Dover White a few months ago when I refinished a couple of Facebook Marketplace dressers for our master bedroom, and I still have tons of paint and plaster of Paris left.

First coat!

The first coat is always scary. It looks awful. For my first couple of projects, I thought, “Oh no! What have I done?!” Thankfully, after two more coats, it starts looking great.

After the third coat dried, I gently sanded all of the chalk painted finish until it became smooth to the touch. I sanded the corners and edges a little more roughly to distress some of the table, and after wiping off the dust, I sprayed it with a layer of polycyclic. The antique brass drawer pulls were leftover from another project, and they fit the style of the table perfectly.

Pretty much everyone at the garage sale stopped to look at this table. Unfortunately for them, it was one of the first things that sold. My almost pro-garage-saler aunt said before the makeover, I could have sold the table for $15. Thanks to a little bit of work/fun and supplies I already had on hand, it sold for $80!

I’ve already started on my next project: an IKEA Malm nightstand hack. Keep an eye out for it!


What to Do

In case you’re getting cabin fever while social distancing, here are some ideas to fill the time you would have spent outside of your house!

  1. Read! If you don’t have access to library ebooks, there are many places with free ebooks. Amazon has free ebooks available at times for prime members, and has thousands of books with expired copyrights.
  2. Get in shape. Find a workout on YouTube or download an app with exercises.
  3. Organize your closets. If you’re like me, closets get filled with all the things you don’t know what to do with at the last minute before company arrives. I always intend to clean them out, but it’s one of the last things I get to.
  4. Start a Garden. Skip a trip to the grocery store or Farmers’ Market this summer, and plant your own vegetables. While you’re at it, plant some flowers to brighten up your house!
  5. Learn to Crochet or Knit. There are lots of tutorials online and lots of free patterns!
  6. Learn Calligraphy. Have you ever printed something off of your computer because you couldn’t get it to look the way you wanted when you wrote it by hand? Guilty. Order a kit online, use your printer less often, and make some beautiful gift tags for Christmas.
  7. Organize your kitchen. This is something else that I always want to get to, but tends to be neglected.
  8. Learn to cook. If you don’t ordinarily cook, you might be in panic mode—doubled with the limited grocery options at times, and you might feel hopeless. has a search feature that allows you to search for recipes with or without certain ingredients, and some recipes have videos to go along with them. If you already cook, find a recipe you’ve never made but have always wanted to try.
  9. Play a board game. Some of our favorite games are Quiddler, Sequence, and Blokus. Do you have an recommendations?
  10. Go for a walk. Get out an enjoy the fresh air (and sunshine while you have it!)!
  11. Prepare for a garage sale. After cleaning out your closets, you will likely find you have lots of things you no longer want or need. Get them ready to sell once we’re no longer social distancing.
  12. Learn a language. Get ready to make up for the conversations you missed out on and increase the number of people you can talk to by learning another language, or at least starting to learn it. DuoLingo is a great, free app with lots of different language options.
  13. Catch up on laundry. Have a pajama day (or two), and get all of your clothes washed.
  14. Refinish a piece of furniture. Love the look or chalk paint, but hate the price? Make some with 1 part water, 1 part Plaster of Paris, and 3 parts paint.
  15. Journal. These are unprecedented times, journal them so that you can look back at lessons learned, strange things that happen, and things you want to do when you’re no longer social distancing.
  16. Plan a driveway cookout. Sometimes just seeing another person, even if it’s at a distance, helps provide a little bit of normalcy. Use the to communicate with neighbors and make a plan for everyone to have a cookout or picnic on their driveways.
  17. Check on your friends and neighbors to see if they’re okay and if they need anything. Text/call or leave them a note with your number if you don’t have their numbers.
  18. Fly a kite. Maybe watch Mary Poppins before you do it.
  19. Express gratitude. As Veggie Tales says, “A thankful heart, is a happy heart.” It’s easy to get stuck on all of the negative things, but look for and keep track of the things you have to be thankful for.
  20. PRAY. God is able and faithful. While there may not be much we can do, God is completely able, and nothing is too difficult for Him.