Vintage kitchen buffet makeover

We have a blank wall in our kitchen that was underutilized. We decided that a buffet table would work well there because we were looking to add some storage as it is right by our back door. After looking for several months, we found a vintage piece that we really liked at the local salvage store. Below is an overview of our vintage kitchen buffet makeover.

the buffet before the update
The buffet before the update

Unlike the more formal buffet that we restored for the dining room, we wanted to give this more utilitarian piece a major overhaul. I wasn’t a fan of the orange stain and the piece had a number of significant scratches and dents. Several pieces of the original hardware (which were wood) were literally broken and glued back together. It was in rough shape.

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The Makeover

The first step after cleaning this piece was to remove all of the hardware, doors, and drawers. Once that was finished, I used Citristrip and several plastic paint scrapers to remove the original finish. I had to use two coats to get the majority of the finish off. Once that was done and the excess product was removed with mineral spirits, I sanded everything with 150 grit and then 220 grit sandpaper using an orbital sander and some hand sanding in the harder-to-reach places. 

Once the piece was stripped down, I applied the stain. We chose to use a black stain for the first time and found that it was somewhat difficult to use. Although we used the same type of MinWax stain that we have used on several projects in the past, we found that the black stain did not go on as evenly. It might be that the color is so dark that it shows every imperfection. It might also be that I hadn’t sanded the project thoroughly enough. Either way, we were dissatisfied with the original stain application, so once it dried, we sanded it off and tried again. We actually ended up applying the stain and sanding it off a total of four times. As you might imagine, I started to get quite frustrated with this project.

Once the stain was applied to our standards, we used a Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Satin to protect it. Unfortunately, much like with the stain, the finish did not go on smoothly. Like the stain, it had to be sanded off and reapplied several times before it reached our finishing standards. I’m not sure why we had problems with this finish. We have used it numerous times before with no problems. At one point in the application process, the finish began peeling off like the plastic protective film on new electronics. It was infuriating after all of the issues I had had with the stain.

The buffet after the update
The buffet after the update

It might be that we initially used polycrylic that was left over from a previous project. It might be again that my sanding was inadequate. Regardless, I decided that this was the most frustrating project that we had ever done. In fact, I was ready to give up on it. I even threatened to light it on fire. Brian suggested that we purchased some new polycrylic and he applied the final coats of stain and finish with much more success. Eventually, we were able to get this project to a point that we were satisfied. It is certainly not perfect, but I am happy with how it eventually turned out.

Supplies needed

  1. Citristrip
  2. Plastic scrapers
  3. Sandpaper (assorted grits)
  4. Orbital sander
  5. Minwax Wood Finish stain in True Black
  6. Minwax Polycrylic in Clear Satin
  7. New hardware

We purchased new metal hardware and moved the piece into its place in the kitchen. It really is perfect for adding extra storage right by the back door. We previously updated a cedar chest for shoe storage, but this buffet is the perfect place for our keys and bags.

What do you think of this vintage kitchen buffet makeover? Have you ever been close to giving up on a project?

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