Abstract Painted Nightstands

I picked up these two nightstands/end tables while I was going through an indiscriminate collection phase.  Indiscriminate because potential pieces at basement prices don’t seem to come up too often in my area so I tried to get a hold of anything I could and figure out its potential later.  The seller explained that her mother got them in the 60s second hand even then, so they are old, but I’m not sure how old.  They showed it. In fact, when I finally pulled these out of my stash, I thought that I had bitten off more than I could chew.  I figured that even if I couldn’t get these to where I wanted them, it would at least be a good learning experience in repair work, of which I have little.

Detail work was damaged and missing in some sections, the veneer was water damaged and pulling up.  One table had been refinished with a heavy coating of a topcoat (but I’m not sure if it was shellac, lacquer, polyurethane) but the damage to it had not been addressed and so that damage was simply cemented in.  The other one in its original finish had more damage but was easier to repair, although this would come back and bite me later in the process.

Eek, pretty bad, right! So much of the veneer was pulling up on one of the shelves I decided to remove that whole panel of veneer, but it meant that I could patch the veneer elsewhere where entire removal wasn’t possible, like on the top.

I’m really proud of how the veneer patches turned out!  Using a utility knife I cut around the damaged portions in straight lines, traced the shape onto a piece of paper to make a template, then used that to cut out a matching piece with the salvaged veneer scraps. Wood glue, clamps, wood putty, and lots of sanding make a seamless repair.

 Once all the surfaces were sanded, I painted them in a funky abstract design.  The front of the tables are a pale minty blue which fades to minty green to the back.  And here’s where things went off the rails.  I didn’t use primer because all my paint has primer built in.  But, the minty two tone idea was a change at the last minute and I’d forgotten that those paints didn’t have primer.  The paint still adhered fine, but the original reddish tone showed through.  The original finish table had it the worst because the topcoat on the other that gave me so many problems earlier actually sealed the reddish tone in. Figures!  So, I had the two paint colors matched in a premium paint/primer combo but after repainting the red tone still bled through.  Ugh!!  So, back to the store to pick up a spray shellac which finally solved the problem, but having to do the paint effects three times was a bummer.  However, once completed I am in love with the design.


The drawer interiors were pretty funky.  Stickers, sticky stuff, damage to the veneer from the sticky stuff…you see where I’m going with this.  But once clean, I covered the drawer bottoms with a fabric from my stash.


I decided to use the original knobs.  I like the metallic element they add, and I even daubed gold paint onto the red portion of the design.

It was a marathon project but I’m glad I stuck with it!


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