Friday, December 5, 2014

MMS Inspired Hand-painted Empire Buffet~Trash to Treasure

 Yesterday, one year ago, my sister-in-law texted me as I was working in our one rental house. She had seen something out for garbage pick up that she thought I might want. Since I was not in the area, she conned her hubby (my hubby's brother) to help her load it and get it to her garage. It was an antique empire style buffet.
To fully appreciate what it looks like now, you need to see what I started with.
When my DH and I went to pick it up, he and his brother tried hard to discourage me from taking it home. But, if you've been around on the blog any length of time, you know I love a makeover challenge.

We brought it home and it sat. And sat. And DH threatened to burn it because it was occasionally in his way and he couldn't see the vision. :) This fall, I finally started in. At first glance, it didn't look too bad but upon closer inspection, it was really rough. It was covered with dirt. It has veneer that was badly chipping and peeling. The top was splintered and in pretty bad shape.
The first thing I did was use DH's air compressor and take the first layer of dirt off. Then I got the garden hose and a scrub brush and scrubbed it down. After I let it dry, I made a plan of attack. The top was too far gone so I tossed it. Where the veneer was loose, I scraped it off. Then I filled in with Bondo (yep, the car body stuff) and wood putty. After sanding it down and cleaning it again, I painted it with MMS milk paint in Shutter Gray.

This particular buffet was rather plainly styled and I felt it needed some 'fancying up'. Using this buffet for my inspiration, I sketched a design for the doors and drawers. I then traced it off and using white craft paint, I painted it on. Finally, I finished it with MMS white wax. For a top, I found thick slabs of pine at Menards. It was too big so DH cut it down to size using Uncle's fancy saws. I wanted to keep it light to match the soft, light look of the body. I also wanted to minimize the yellowness of the pine. I used Minwax Early American stain which is a nice brown without being too dark. I did one coat of stain and then 2 coats of MMS furniture wax (after the stain was dry). I painted the interior white and lined the drawers with scrapbook paper. The bottom of the bottom drawer was really sagging and splintered so I replaced it. I finished the buffet off with new knobs from Hobby Lobby and now it awaits a new home.

And a side by side:

Linking to:

From the Farmhouse,


  1. Great rescue! It looks beautiful!

    P.S. I love Bondo too! It has saved me a number of times.

  2. Love it!! I so wish we were neighbors, what fun we would have!! I think it looks amazing!

  3. Absolutely beautiful! I love the piece and the paint job is perfect!

  4. Rachel, you did a terrific job. It's just gorgeous. I have an empire dresser in my garage, complete with mirror. Having seen the light touch both you and Marian have achieved on empire pieces, I'm inclined to go in that direction. Have a great weekend. Ann Marie @ Iris Abbey -- www.irisabbey.com

  5. All I can say is....WOW. That looks so beautiful!

  6. Wonderful job Rachel.You should be proud!

  7. What a transformation you did on this-it is gorgeous now and I love the painted details!

  8. WOW!!!!!.....that is incredible!!!!.....so beautiful!!!!!

  9. I Am Amazed. I would have been like your husband and want to burn it. And look what beauty you would have missed.

  10. That looks gorgeous and so professionally done!! Great job! I can't believe you free-handed that design on there.


  11. A huge makeover but so pretty. your hand painting is very pretty and neat. cheers fiona x

  12. This is an amazing save! I love seeing something that most people would consider trash turned into something gorgeous. It gives me hope when I bring home pieces, and then later look at them and wonder 'what was I thinking?!' But your piece is proof that almost anything can be refurbished! Now if I could only get brave enough to try the bondo thing ...

  13. This turned out absolutely stunning! Thanks so much for sharing it at the Vintage Inspiration Party - I'm giving you a shout-out on my FB page here - https://www.facebook.com/KnickofTime

    You're being featured at the party tonight as well!

  14. Oh my buffet/dresser has a twin :(



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