A Fizzy Pink Lemonade Makeover for a Lemon of a Buffet

If you found a beat-up old buffet like this at a yard sale, you would probably think it was a LEMON and keep walking, wouldn’t you?

buffet_beforeNot us! Dave and I grabbed it and took it home.

Look at those legs! Those great curves! Never mind all of the chunks of missing veneer. (That’s an easy fix.) We make old things new again. We will make this buffet beautiful again. It’s what we do! Right?

Wrong! We should have listened to you. You were right to keep walking.

This buffet was a LEMON.

Here’s what happened …

The buffet was the perfect size and shape for a little spot in our foyer that I’ve been wanting to re-decorate. When we brought the buffet home, Dave got to work repairing the drawers and replacing the back panel. I went to town on the veneer.

Veneer refers to a thin slice of wood placed on top of the wood used to construct the furniture. The veneer is decorative and has a nicer grain than the wood underneath it. Just because furniture has a veneer shell, does not indicate that it was poorly made or mass-produced. Veneer is found on many high-quality pieces of furniture, especially pieces as old as this buffet.

If just a little chunk of veneer is missing, it is possible to fill it in with wood putty and sand it smooth prior to painting. However, this veneer had way too much damage for that trick.

I needed to remove it.

Veneer is usually glued on. An easy way to remove it is the “steam and scrape” method. Place a damp towel over the damaged section and then hit it with a hot iron for a few minutes. It will get steamy and loosen the glue so you can come back and scrape off the veneer.buffet_steaming

TIP #1: Buy an inexpensive iron dedicated to veneer steaming. The iron will get really dirty and you won’t want to use it again on your clothes.

TIP #2: Use pot holders or wear an old oven mitt while doing this because the towel can get hot. (Or just be really careful!)

buffet_stripped2I spent an afternoon steaming off the veneer all the way down to the bare wood. It looks a lot better, doesn’t it?

(Pay attention to how smooth the tabletop looks. This is important later.)

After all of that work prepping this piece, it was ready to paint a nice, crisp, elegant white.


It really looks nice now, doesn’t it? I was so happy we were turning this LEMON into … LEMONADE!

Remember that smooth top? I came downstairs the next morning to this …


Big, huge cracks appeared on the tabletop overnight. Then I noticed more cracks on those beautiful curvy legs. I’m really not sure what caused the cracks. They were not there when I was painting the piece. I think the wood was just really old. I thought about different ways I could camouflage the cracks on the tabletop, but I was afraid the cracks on the legs would impact the structural integrity of the piece.

This buffet turned out to be a LEMON after all.

I was very disappointed. I loved the buffet and we had invested quite a few hours of work in this project already.

I was almost ready to haul it out to the curb, but then I realized there are different types of LEMONADE.  There’s the classic yellow kind that tastes great on a hot summer day, but there is also FIZZY PINK LEMONADE that is tasty and a lot of fun to drink.

If my idea for a classic, elegant buffet wasn’t going to work, why not go over the top with bright colors and make it really funky and fun? 

lemonade buffet1Here’s the buffet after its FIZZY PINK LEMONADE make-over. I painted it with American Paint Company all-natural clay chalk and mineral paint. The colors are sunny yellow A-Maize-ing, hot pink Momma’s Lipstick and Orange Grove. We up cycled a piece of old wall paneling we had in the basement into a new tabletop and placed it outside of our shop, All Things New Again in Leesburg, VA.

Dave transplanted several lilies from the other side of the yard all around it.

Here’s how it looks now with the lilies in bloom. (Eventually, I plan to decorate the top with more container flowers and also plant inside the drawers, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.)

buffet and lilies1

buffet and lillies4

buffet and lillies3

It isn’t the finished project I originally had in mind, but I’m still glad I didn’t pass over this buffet at the yard sale. And I’m really glad I didn’t haul it to the curb.

I’m very happy with this LEMON’s FIZZY PINK LEMONADE makeover.

~ Cathy

Do you have any old lemons around your home that could use a makeover? Or do you really love yard sale-ing, but you pass over some great pieces of furniture because you don’t know what to do with them? We can help!
Our monthly Learn How To Paint Furniture class is coming up this Sunday, July 12. You will go home with the skills—and the confidence—to start painting furniture like a pro. (You will also go home with a cute project that you complete in class.) At $99, our class is the best deal around. Call us at 703-779-2991 to sign up today!

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