If you’ve got old furniture that is looking worn, dull and dated, then give it new life with these simple steps for how to restore wood furniture. You’ll just need a couple of things that I bet you already have on hand – no chemical stripper or sanding required!
If you’re signed up for my email newsletters, you know I’ve been helping my aunt redo her bedroom. We completely remodeled her and my uncle’s master bathroom last fall. By “we”, I mean that I helped with the design and then handed it over to the contractor. My uncle’s version is probably somewhere along the lines of “Jenna spent all my money.” Either way you look at it, my aunt and uncle got a killer new bathroom that is so much more functional for them. I really need to snap some pics and show you what we did. I digress though.
The bathroom remodel snowballed into a kitchen remodel for them that should happen within the next month or so – can’t wait to show you that one when it’s done too! Somewhere along the way, my aunt got hit with the decorating bug and much to my uncle’s dismay I’m sure, we are now also redoing their master bedroom, mudroom/garage entry and she’s told me when we’re done with that, we’re moving to the living room. She’s a woman on a mission, folks.
The furniture they have in their bedroom was actually my grandparent’s bedroom furniture. And since our family’s side is a sentimental bunch, we don’t easily part well with things of that nature. Sorry, Aunt Sherry. So a non-negotiable for my uncle was that the bedroom furniture stay.
The bedroom furniture though, well it had most definitely seen better days. The finish was worn and dull and the pulls were dirty. Initially my aunt wanted to completely refinish it, but she decided she would try to clean it up first. I gave her my secrets for restoring old furniture (without sanding!) and cleaning up the hardware. She put some elbow grease to it, and boom, that 50+ year old bedroom furniture was born again.
Can y’all even believe that?! And no, she didn’t paint the hardware or use a single chemical / topcoat / whatever on the wood! She took the ‘before’ photo and I took the ‘after.’ Don’t worry, I’m going to have a talk with her about photo angles. 😜
I’ve used this furniture refinishing trick a few times now and I’ve had the same results – it’s really like magic.
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How to Restore Furniture
Remove all items from the piece of furniture including the hardware. Wipe the piece clean with a damp cloth or a tack cloth to remove any dirt or dust. If you use a damp cloth, let the furniture dry completely before proceeding.
Mix 1 part white vinegar with 1 part vegetable oil. I generally do a cup of each.
Using a clean, soft cloth, rub the mixture onto the wooden furniture.
To be on the safe side, I suggest testing the solution in an inconspicuous spot on the furniture first, then proceed if all goes well. I’ve never had an issue with this mixture, but if you’ve got a priceless piece of sentimental antique furniture, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
As you apply the mixture to the furniture, most scratches will disappear and shine will be restored!
As I said before, I’ve used this solution for refinishing wood furniture before and I’ve gotten great results. I’ve done it on both dark wood like this, but also on light wood as well and it worked perfectly on both.
Related: Need to remove paint from furniture and then restain it? Then read this post on restaining furniture.
Did you also notice how well her brass pulls cleaned up?
How to Clean Old Brass Hardware
- Brass Polish (Brasso is what I use) and/or Bar Keepers Friend
- Two Cloths – one for cleaning and one for polishing
Depending on how dirty your hardware is, you may be able to get by with brass polish alone. If the hardware is really bad though, using Bar Keepers Friend will often drastically cut down on cleaning time.
To clean the hardware, simply wipe on the Brasso or create a paste with the Bar Keepers Friend and scrub until the grime is gone. I wrote a whole post solely on how to clean brass hardware using Bar Keepers Friend right here.
Use gloves because this stuff is rough on your hands!
Once you’ve removed all the tarnish and grime from the hardware, rinse it well, then polish with a clean soft cloth.
I’m so glad she was able to bring this bedroom set back to it’s former glory!
Can you share any tips on how to restore wood furniture without sanding?
Looking to save yourself more time on furniture makeovers or cleaning things up? Here’s a few of my tricks…
Velvet Finishes Paint – the no priming, no topcoat way to paint furniture! And yes, I’m serious.
Waxing Furniture Tips – the easy way to wax furniture if you prefer to go that route!
Vinyl Seat Cleaner – the best way I’ve found to clean vinyl upholstery.
How to Clean Copper – restore copper to its original beauty in a fraction of the time!
How to Remove Rust from Chrome – yes, you can salvage that chrome furniture! Try this trick before tossing it!
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