Is your dark stained wood furniture looking a little too dark? Does it need a lighter and brighter appearance? The solution is easier than you think!
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how to make my dark wood lighter
That was the question our custom client had for us. This gorgeous dresser was in her family for years.
She loved it but said it was just too dark for their home. She also wanted some of the dark stained wood to show but didn’t want it too dark.
Some of you might be concerned about lightening up dark stained wood with, omgoodness, should I even say the ‘p’ word??
And I totally get your concern.
elephant in the room
This dresser was HUGE!! So that made the dark wood overwhelm the room she had it in.
It was the elephant in the room. And that elephant was loud!
So we decided to quiet the loud elephant.
To begin the quieting, the piece was prepped. Here are the steps I took to prep this piece:
- glued and clamped peeling veneer (only a little bit of veneer had lifted)
- removed the knobs
- sanded top of the dresser to bare wood
- scuff-sanded the framing to remove the sheen (220 grit)
- hand-sanded drawer fronts to completely remove the original finish
- sanded the decorative trim on top drawers with Surf Prep Rad Pads
- vacuumed with a shop vac
- thoroughly cleaned the piece with Simple Green
- applied one coat Zinsser Clear Shellac on the framing & sides
the ‘p’ word
While I was busy with the prepping, my client was deciding on a paint color. Yes, that ‘p’ word!
Maybe that freaked you out when I said paint! But no worries! The whole piece wasn’t going to be painted, only the framing.
We’ll talk about the wood in a minute, but let me say that painting the framing actually helps to draw the eye to the wood drawer fronts.
The drawers are framed and that helps the eye to see the gorgeous quarter-sawn mahogany wood!
marzipan milk paint
Anyway, back to the paint. She chose Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Marzipan. It’s a soft neutral with an almond tone to it.
Because I had only scuffed sanded the framing, the milk paint chipped beautifully. And the shellac that I had applied helped to create the crackling you see.
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Remember I said I sanded the top down to bare wood? You couldn’t even see the grain it was so dark!
Let’s chat about the wood surfaces now. Miss Mustard Seed White Wax is one of the easiest ways to lighten dark stained wood.
It goes on like room temperature butter with a chip brush and then buffs so easily with a blue shop towel.
You can see more about this process in this post:
I break it down step by step for you in that post!
White wax settles into all the grain and all the cracks and all the decorative trip details. The wood is still visible showing off all its beautiful grain.
The white wax brings contrast to the details making them stand out even more!
like a gazelle
This piece will no longer be the elephant in the room making all sorts of loud noises!
Instead, I like to think of this piece as a gazelle, quietly grazing while onlookers take in the peaceful view.
This piece is living in our client’s home, serving the family in a much quieter way.
BTW, my little dog, Barkly, just couldn’t stay out of the camera frame.
And he kept coming into frame and then leaving the area. That little pup doesn’t like to stay still!!
Here are a couple of posts you might find interesting:
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Want to see that hope chest I mentioned at the beginning of this post? Click here! You won’t believe how much better it looks!!
Until next time,