Ok, so it wasn’t love at first sight.. she was VERY ugly!! I think she had 3 knobs, all mix-matched, water spots and peeling veneer.. but look at those curves (kind of hard to see in the cell phone picture above). She had mahogany veneer, the top drawers were concave, the middle drawer was convex and the bottom drawer had a flat front. She had original wood wheels and some intact carving onlay on the front legs. What I didn’t see until I got it home, thanks to the cr*p that was sitting on top of it, was a couple of VERY deep scars through the top veneer! I love to sand flat surfaces (seriously what is wrong with me?) so I started to try to remove as many of the scratches as possible. Most of them came out without effecting the veneer, but I had two holdouts and they were deep! I wanted to keep the top natural (stained) so I first tried to fill them with a stainable wood filler.. that didn’t work.. the filler did accept the stain but it clearly was a visible scar.. HUGE visible scar! On to option 2.. first let me say that I have never removed veneer before, but I looked it up on the web and it didn’t look too difficult. So out came my iron and a piece of parchment paper (to save the iron surface). I heated up the veneer and wow it looked like it was working!! But NO.. wait.. what is this..? The veneer layer, which is usually very thin, was SUPER thick. I had only removed a very thin top portion of the veneer, the majority of it was still there!! This stuff was so thick I was not heating it up enough to release the glue from the veneer!! I hit the web again.. based on my research I concluded I needed to be more aggressive. So I went to Home Depot and bought a small butane torch, it was one of those tiny ones that looks like the ones you can get at the cooking stores for toasting your creme brulee, so I felt pretty safe… I’m not going to kid you I was scared to use it.. I wasn’t one of those kids who liked playing with fire and honestly I’m a “little” accident prone. Long story short I got it started and used it to heat up, sometimes burn, the thick veneer to release the glue. I used a 3 inch scraping knife to pry up the veneer as I went along heating up about an inch or so at a time. Did you see the top of that buffet? I would work on it a few times a day, about a half of an hour at a time. It took DAYS to take that stuff off!! I also removed the veneer off of the front of the drawers. This was much thinner stuff and very dry. I basically sanded it off with 60 grit sandpaper! One side of the buffet had some veneer that had to be removed as well, I used a combination of sanding and heat to remove it. I also had some nasty velvet (?) from the center silverware drawer to remove.. so brilliant.. I used wallpaper remover and the stuff came up so easy! I cleaned out all of the drawers with Murphy’s Oil soap and they were ready to go!

I wish I had the forethought to have taken a picture of the “beast” at this point. The wood under the veneer was very pretty. I tried and tried to determine what it was but I couldn’t figure it out! The edges of the top and the tops of all of the drawers had a solid piece of mahogany banded to it.. it looked great! At this point I needed to decide what to do with the piece.. ok so you may be thinking shouldn’t you have decided that BEFORE you spent a million years removing veneer? Yes, is the answer to that question, but a lot of times I just get into a project not knowing the exact direction I will be going… not very efficient I know, I’m working on improving that!!

Here is what I ended up deciding to do with the buffet. I stained the top and drawer fronts dark walnut (one of my favorite colors) and I painted the cabinet with a new color of Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint I had just gotten, Coco. I distressed the paint and waxed and buffed the entire piece. The top received about 5 coats of wax, which is a little excessive I know, but it came out beautifully! I didn’t have any original knobs and only 3 of the original escutcheon plates for the keyholes! So I ordered some knobs & escutcheon plates from, which is my favorite go to knob supplier, and waited.. When they came in I was thrilled with how they looked on the piece! I used 3 of the salvaged original key hole surrounds on the top drawers and the new escutcheon plates on the bottom two drawers. Sounds weird but it looked great! (Picture below is before I installed key hole changes)

After – Empire Buffet, Left Side
After - Empire Buffet Front View

She’s so pretty now!! I wished I could keep it, but it was not to be a “mine” but a “yours” (now you see what the blog title means 🙂 I listed her for sale on Craig’s List and about a week later I had a women and her young (16ish) daughter come by to look at a cabinet I had for sale. Well they fell in love with the buffet and bought it for the daughter’s room to use as a dresser. They were redecorating the daughter’s room and felt that this would be a great fit for it.. she has a huge, tall antique bed that her grandmother had given her.. lucky girl! I hope that this will be a piece she will treasure for many, many years!

Ok, so this post seemed a little wordy, but there was a lot to do on this piece! What do you think about the finished product? Did I give you too much information in the post? Thanks for looking!

Linking this post up to:
The Power of Paint Party
Crafty Scrappy Happy Me Thursday
Sisters of the Wild West
Restore Interiors

I was featured at: Apartment Therapy

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: