A Cottage Server: The Transformation

 I was contacted by a sweet woman named Janet about some pieces that she was interested in having custom painted.
The first piece was a Duncan Phyfe dropleaf table and the second was an adorable antique server that had been in her family for as long as she could remember.
Her Father originally had purchased it for the family and in subsequent years, she chose to use it as her children’s changing table in the nursery.
I love when a piece has such wonderful sentimental value! Antique Server BEFORE - Embracing Change

Antique Server BEFORE - Embracing Change

She had sent pictures of her piece to me so I had a good idea (I thought) of what needed to be done…she had crackle painted it sometime in the past as you can see.  I figured this wouldn’t be too difficult of a project.
Sand it all down and then repaint, right?
Sounded easy.

I should have known better.
It is just never that easy.
I got out my palm sander and got started…except the paint was not budging.
At all.
A sense of fear swept over me.

I knew what I was going to have to do.
And it was not going to be easy at all.
I knew I had to strip off all the paint.
I couldn’t just slap on some paint and call it a day.
That isn’t the kind of work I do.
I like to think the work I do is of good quality.
My work means a lot to me.
This piece had to be done RIGHT.

After I swallowed that BIG pill, I consulted with my client and got the go ahead.
I use Citristrip when stripping pieces.
And for  the record, I do strip pieces that I chose to, but not as a rule for custom work.
It is rarely worth all the time and effort involved.
Honest truth.
But when I agree to do a piece, I stand by my word.

I started right away because I had a very limited time frame in which to finish this piece…about 7 days to be exact.
The family was moving the piece to a new home in North Carolina and I had to work fast!
I put Citristrip on the day I picked it up and the next day began to removed the lifted paint.
Seemed easy, right?

Antique Server BEFORE - Embracing Change

 Round two with Cirtistrip…more scraping.
More weeping and gnashing of teeth.
It was a slow process, but the stripper worked really well.
This project consumed my entire week.
By the way,  Citristrip is an awesome product if you need to use a stripper.
I highly recommend it.
Upon stripping off the paint, I noticed at least four layers of paint…white, beige, orange and then green.
It was at this point while I was working that my youngest daughter Ana came into the garage to talk to me while I was working,
spotted the buffet and promptly said to me “What the heck?”
She was spot on.
It was a HOT mess for sure.
She totally cracked me up.

Antique Server BEFORE - Embracing Change

 Round three and then lastly four served to take off all the remaining paint.
The worst past were those legs.
Fun, fun.
I sanded her all down after the fourth stripping and as you can see, I was rockin’ now.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the piece, but it was as smooth as a baby’s bottom now.
I was getting excited to paint at this point!

My last step involved cleaning off the entire piece with mineral spirits in order to clean off all the remaining Citristrip in the event any remained.
I didn’t want the stripper to ruin my new paint job!

Antique Server BEFORE - Embracing Change

 Janet requested to have it painted in Annie Sloan’s Pure White Chalk Paint with distressing and then finished in Annie Sloan’s Clear Wax.
Good call Janet.
She is stunning now!
Quite the makeover isn’t it?

Antique Server Makeover - Embracing Change

Antique Server Makeover - Embracing Change

I added some amazing glass knobs from D. Lawless Hardware.
They are the icing on the cake for this sweet buffet! Antique Server Makeover - Embracing Change

Antique Server Makeover - Embracing Change

Antique Server Makeover - Embracing Change Antique Server Makeover - Embracing Change

 Antique Server Makeover - Embracing Change

Antique Server Makeover - Embracing Change

 I am happy to report that Janet loved it which made my heart happy.

Here is the moral of this story…
Keep saving those beautiful old pieces!
It is completely worth it.
Even if you do have to strip 😉









































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  1. I’m feeling your pain!!! 🙂 been there, done that… It turned out beautiful and was worth all your effort! Have a great day, Judith

  2. Christine says:

    I have a piece similar to that, and thankfully not painted.
    I am a Citristrip junkie and actually now enjoy stripping. The revelations are incredible. I have an antique door this very moment here in my MBR, encased in plastic bags, just waiting for me to peel back the paint.

    That said, I’m commiserating! I, too, have run into ONE thing Citristrip — and even evil, flesh-eating chemicals wouldn’t strip. Luckily, what I was able to scrape off (scrape? How 90s.) actually made this French door look very, very cool when stained over it, clear crackled (read: broke girl’s craqueleur) and waxed.

    I also wanted to remind you you’re far better off and safer to neutralize with water than mineral spirits. It’s HORRIBLE when mineral spirits reliquifies stain back into the wood. I’m here to tell ‘ya. Magenta, it turned the wood.

    Plus, why add chemicals back into a more eco-friendly product? (Even the website said water when removing stain. Paint? Why it says mineral spirits is beyond me.) I frequently use a garden hose in the yard. As you know, you need to let it dry completely anyway before smoothing it (normally!) with 220 sand paper.

    I love the fact that 99.999% of the time, Citristrip even removes the need to sand.

    You did a GREAT job with this piece. Who ever heard of non-removable paint?? You really made a silk purse out of a nightmare. Or something like that. I love your work.

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