before and after

before & after: for all the wood-lovers

by Grace Bonney

i can think of no better way to kick off before & after day than with a gorgeous makeunder from d*s reader lauren g. for all of the people who panic whenever wood is painted, this one’s for you.

lauren was lucky enough to inherit some beautiful mahogany furniture from her neighbor but was bummed to see it had been painted over with a green antiqued finish that was chipped and worn. determined to reveal the beauty of the original wood, lauren stripped and refinished each piece to bring back the natural shine of the mahogany. even though i’m not in the “never paint wood camp”, i am firmly in support of projects like that where someone puts time and effort in to restore something to its original glory. well done, lauren!

[have a before & after you’d like to share on d*s? just shoot me an email right here with your images!]


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  • Whoops, Correction! I meant to say that the gel paint stripper is called marine, then there’s the liquid paint stripper.

    Also I wanted to mention that the antique and historic quality of the wood is still apparent in the furniture, when I showed my elderly neighbor the finished product she was in tears saying that it looked just like it did when she bought it in 1941. She even noticed that the cigar mark from her first husband was still in the top of the dresser! The original sticker from the when the furniture was delivered is still intact on the back of the dresser. :-)

  • Lauren, I appreciate the context you included, that the furniture was from your neighbor, and that you’re an amateur who wanted to restore it for your own personal use. The results look beautiful enough to be in a professional mag! And you still preserved the history of the pieces. Way to go, girl, and thanks for inspiring us!!

  • Absolutely amazing. It looks brand new, great job! Just curious… any estimation as to how long the whole project took?

  • I myself have seen this furniture in person and the pictures do it justice but not as much as it truly deserves…it is beautiful laur good work!

  • I myself have seen this furniture in person and the pictures do it justice but not nearly as much as it truly deserves…it is beautiful laur good work!

  • The entire set took me the whole summer to complete, working on it a few days a week for a few hours every day. The set included dresser, head board, foot board, vanity, two mirrors and a vanity chair. The detail in the wood and the many steps were time consuming but totally worth it!

  • Wood is good. My mother refinished a beautiful red maple set for me when I was sixteen, still love it (and the love she put into it). She said, ” the wood is like your clean face in the morning, shining and full of life”. Now I always look at wood that way.

  • Although I prefer the look of the pre-refinishing (but that is just my personal preference) I have to commend you Lauren on such an amazing, amazing transformation. My tastes aside, it’s a great makeover!

    Ps., and i love the story about your neighbours reaction when she saw the pieces! So sweet!

  • I, too, loved the green color before it was stripped. That said, she did an excellent job.

    If I bought those pieces I’d probably paint them right away though – beautiful wood or not…

  • This is way longer but Lauren if your still reading this, I just want to say that I originally saw this and today as I am restarting to refinish some chairs I searched it back out. I love your careful detail directions and hearing how long it took you. It makes me feel a bit better. Thanks again!

  • What a lovely dedicated job Lauren did…I sit firmly entrenched in both camps:)
    I love wood in all it’s glory AND a whimsical painted look…there’s a time and place for both.
    Lauren did a beautiful, beautiful, job.
    Thanks so much Lauren for the tips.

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