Why I Price How I Do: The Process of Refinishing Furniture in a Nutshell

I don’t really know the best way to title this post, but it has occurred to me that perhaps my readers may be curious about why I price my furniture pieces like I do?
Figuring out how to price a piece that is painted is not an easy task and surely I haven’t always gotten it right, BUT I will tell you you that I do price my pieces as I do and I am a believer in paying myself for the work and supplies I have put into a piece.
I don’t mean that to come off badly, but I know that some people that do what I do simply work quite literally for free…and some even at a cost to themselves.
I feel that if you purchase a piece to paint for $40 then once you finish it up and it is all painted and waxed and such that you should price it for more than what you paid.
I hope this is not coming off as snotty as certainly I am not trying to be that way, but my time is surely my most precious commodity.
I guard it to some degree and I feel it is quite valuable.
If I put my money and especially my time into a piece, I take that into consideration when I price it.
In order to better understand where I am coming from, let me take you through the process of redoing a piece of furniture.
Take this piece for example:buffet beforeI spotted this piece on an on-line Facebook sale site originally.

I could see the potential in it right away and I didn’t think it would be too awfully much work so I decided to go for it.  I messaged back and forth with the seller and chose a time to pick it up.I planned an appropriate time to go (stategically when my kids are in school as I can’t haul furniture and children in my Jeep)I drove 30 minutes out to pick it up and then 30 minutes home.Picking up furniture can be a time consuming process.I am always hopeful it goes off without a hitch.

Upon picking it up, I noticed that it needed a lot more work than I thought.It was a pretty piece, but it the veneer was chipped in spots and there were lots of scratches.  The doors has this nasty and really weird fabric-backed cardboard pieces inside.  That was a new thing I have never seen before.I could only imagine how dingy that fabric was.  YUCK.The door lacked magnets too.  Some of the dovetailing was lose and needed glue, too.Oh….and I forgot to mention that while unloading it my sweet hubby managed to break its leg.I tried to remain calm.I feared I had a doozy and just lost my $75 bucks.You see, when you buy a piece of older furniture, it is always a gamble.Sometimes you just never know what you are going to get.Until you got it anyway.And pictures can be deceiving…remember that.

There were lots of things that this piece needed just to be functional.
I spent a day or two just ministering to its needs – I glued, clamped, filled, sanded, added, and loved on it a bit just to get it ready to be redone and painted.Mind you all my supplies cost money – clamps, glue, sandpaper, wood filler, paintbrushes. There is that expense.And your supplies continually need replenished.And did I mention paint and how expensive that can be?
Milk paint is about $24 a bag with tax for example.
You can paint about 2 pieces a bag.

The saving grace of this buffet is that the top was in great shape.
I just did a light sanding on it and it restored it to its natural beauty.
I used Miss Mustard Seed’s Hemp Oil on it and it was magic (Hemp Oil is about $12 for a small bottle and luckily it does go a long way).
Once I was ready to paint this piece which was a few days after all the repairs were made and the glue was dried well, I used
Country Chic Paint on it.
This paint is out of Canada and honestly, top of the line.
I painted it in 3 coats of Liquorice.
It took about about two days to do that.

I spent the third day distressing and working on adding new hardware (I added cut glass knobs which cost about $3 a knob through D. Lawless Hardware…that is actually quite a good deal and I would recommend them highly).Putting on the knobs was a chore as the top drawers had a  curve on them and they just didn’t wanted to tighten up correctly.
I called my husband in to assist.
I call him when the task requires more patience than I have to give.
He doesn’t really like to help, but he loves me so I guess it all works out.
Sometime he grumbles too…but still, he is much more patient than I with some of these tasks.

I wasn’t sure what to do with those fabric panels though.
Something needed done!
I thought perhaps adding chicken wire.
When I tried it though, it didn’t look right.
My plan was foiled.
What on earth would work?
I considered adding fabric to the inside to add some color and disguise what would be held inside the doors.
I did some research on Pinterest and saw that fabric could be used int his way so I decided to go for it.
I raided my fabric stash and found the perfect print to use.
I stapled it on the inside of the doors (materials to include a staple gun and staples) and then glued some ribbon trim
around the inside to hide the rough edges.
I think it worked well.
Another idea to stash in my tool bag so to speak!

I did the finishing work of distressing and sealed it in wax and then she was finally done!

French Buffet 1 - Embracing ChangeSo here is how it all broke down:
Buffet $75
Glass knobs – 8 at $3 or so a piece – $24
Fabric – 1/4 yard at $12 a yard – $3
Paint – 1/2 of a can – $18
Hemp Oil – $12 a bottle – used part of bottle so estimated at $2
The cost of other supplies – sandpaper, staples and gun, etc…not included
Total for piece and supplies – $122 total
What I priced this finished piece at – $250
So…..my profit on this piece was $128.

Sounds pretty good, huh?PicMonkey Collage Before and afterWell, don’t forget all the time I put in for pick up, prep work, painting, and finishing work…oh and I didn’t mention staging of this piece for taking pictures (which is my most favorite part by the way) and then marketing this on-line via my Blessed Nest Facebook page as well as other Facebook sale sites and Craigslist.
It also takes time to respond to inquiries about the piece for sale and then arrange for it to be seen and then picked up.
So all said and done, redoing and selling furniture is a time-consuming and costly process.
And my time is valuable to me.
I am thankful to be able to do what I love…I feel so blessed and I thank God daily for this.
Even so, my time is valuable so I try to take that into account and price accordingly.

So…what did I do with my profit of $128 you ask?
Well, I used it to purchase a few new paintbrushes and then spent the rest on groceries for my family.
And I am oh so thankful for it.
I hope that was a helpful post…I think it helps to see just what is involved in doing what I do and helping others to understand the philosophy behind pricing pieces a bit more.
There certainly is much more to it than meets the eye :)

 

 

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Comments

  1. Michaela Turiace says:

    That’s a good deal! It was worth $350.00 easy! You need to pay yourself a little more. You do beautiful work.

  2. Hi Stacey – I agree with Michaela, you should have charged more. $128.00 is not enough of a profit for all the work you did on this piece. It is beautiful piece. I love Country Chic paint too and find I can usually get away with just one coat of paint with just a few touch-ups.

  3. Sometimes people who don’t do creative projects think because they don’t posses that talent that for those folks the talent comes easier too, it also must make the task/work go faster. It’s still a process – projects just don’t whip out in record time in real life. And the pay is usually peanuts after it’s broken down. Making things by hand takes time.

  4. Jenderella's Treasures says:

    Hi, your work is priceless!! However, realistically, the items need to be priced at a figure you are comfortable with. I agree with the gals that perhaps you could have charged a little more! Your skills and attention to detail is amazing and valuable. Your time spent on these lovely pieces is something you can never get back…..we do these projects because we love to restore broken pieces….sometimes I wonder (with mine) whether it represents some healing inside of us, for our broken bits!

  5. My estimate for your incredible work of art was $400. That is the lowest price I would expect to pay for such a piece. This was a labor of love and it shows. Holy cow! Looking at what shops, who specialize in this, price their merchandise much higher. Please consider it. Talent like this should be paid accordingly.

  6. I totally understand why you charged $250, though $350 would have seemed more fair for your work. $300 would have seemed a good price, though, cause I know I like to make things affordable for people. In Hawaii, the gas alone for a 30 minute drive would have been $25!

  7. Thank you so much for posting this. I refinish furniture as well and although I’ve not had anybody question my pricing I have had a select few try to negotiate. You’ve spelled it out perfectly. Customers only see the finished product and don’t take into consideration EVERYTHING that goes into the end result. I’m so glad I stumbled upon your page!!!

  8. 350-400 would have been my lowest. I too do the same thing as you, down to the letter. If I’m putting in 10 hours of work, you better believe I’m getting more than 7 buck an hour! You have to consider that you are doing very specific labor. You need to get paid for that. 15-20 bucks an hour should be more in the realm of what you charge. That’s the way I price. And if it’s very intricate woodworking stuff (like my herringbone pieces or wood staining art) then the price doubles!

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