Vintage Washstand Makeover Keeping Wood Raw

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Being someone who repurposes furniture, you must constantly be on the lookout for pieces.  That’s part of the job.  I try to always find pieces that are close to home, and on rare occasions, I do just that. Now, onto the Vintage Washstand Makeover.

The Hunt

This piece I found scrolling through Facebook Marketplace.  It was located right down the street I live on, SCORE!  The photo was sideways and dark, so I could not see the piece very clearly.  The asking price was $20.00, and the ad stated that it was an antique cabinet that needed work.  My gut was screaming, buy, buy!  My gut has never been wrong…. yet. 

Vintage Washstand Before Makeover

My husband was a bit skeptical because we could not clearly see what kind of shape the piece was in by the photo.  I messaged the owner to get the story behind the piece.  He told me that it was his grandmother’s cabinet and had been in the family for generations.  He explained that originally, he was going to throw it away because it did have some damage to one of the doors, and the other drawer was missing.   I knew it was meant to be for me to find the washstand post.  These are the furniture pieces that I just love.  Those that other people think are junk. 

The seller agreed to deliver it for free.  As my husband helps unload the piece, I could see that look on his face again.  I knew what he was thinking.  My wife has lost it.  This is nothing but junk. 

A Washstand in poor condition

The cabinet was in dire need of some TLC.  One door was badly damaged.  It looked as if someone tried to repair it but did not know what they were doing.  All but one drawer was missing.  Sadly, the one drawer that it did have had severe water damage to the inside.   However, the rest of the cabinet was in great shape, and even had the original casters!

badly damaged cabinet door
The right door was badly damaged

I pondered for days, asking myself should I paint, or not paint.  I then decided to take a poll on my Facebook page (like here) and ask my followers how they felt.  It was unanimous.  Do not paint!  I love painted furniture, but I agreed that this one needed to be kept as close to its original state as possible. 

Restoration & Repair

Now for the construction part of the project.  My husband and I decided that we would add shelving where the bottom two drawers would have been.  Since the one top drawer had water damage, we decided not to use it.  Instead, we would make two faux drawers.

We headed off to Lowe’s to try and find wood for the shelving and faux drawers that would match the grain of the existing wood.   The decision was made to use plywood.  Its grain was very similar to that of the existing wood.

My husband constructed two shelves for the bottom, and two plywood pieces that would fit where the two top drawers would have been, making it look like there were drawers.   He also constructed me a brand new door!  He rocks! 

Washstand with new door, shelves and faux drawers
Washstand with new door, shelves and faux drawers

After he finished up, I sanded the entire piece with 120 grit sandpaper.  I noticed on each side as I was sanding, there were white specks of paint.  It seemed someone had painted it in a past life.  I decided to leave those specks and not sand them off. I then followed up with 220 grit for a smooth finish.

The Finish

Instead of staining the entire piece, I left some of the wood raw, and stained wood in other places.  I wanted it to still look worn, not like someone had just added a fresh coat of stain.  The chipped white paint added to the patina, so I was glad I left it as is.  I did stain all the new wood completely.

Washstand stained

After a 24-hour drying period, I used my orbital sander with 220 grit sandpaper and lightly distressed the piece, concentrating more on the edges where it would have naturally worn. 

I finished distressing then cleaned the sanding dust off and applied a thin coat of wax to protect the finish.  The hardware was purchased from Hobby Lobby.  I wanted hardware that had an antique look, not new.

I am so glad I decided to keep the original patina for this piece.  She found her new home in a cabin located in North Georgia and I was super happy about that!

Vintage Washstand after Makeover

 Save this project for later!

10 thoughts on “Vintage Washstand Makeover Keeping Wood Raw”

  1. Great save. This poor thing almost got thrown away. I just love these old, damaged pieces that people like you repair and re-love.

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