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Painting Blonde Furniture | Table Makeover Saving Original Stained Finish

Painting blonde furniture can be tricky. I wanted to save the vintage blonde finish while modernizing the table. My answer to the problem was to paint just part of the table and refresh the original finish on the other part!

Lost Atlantis Valspar paint color 2

I returned home from a trip to Arkansas with a piece of furniture that belongs to my Aunt. Aunt Marzee lives across the road (street, for you city people) from my parents. She is my Dad’s sister.

vintage blonde furniture from the 1950s drum table

The blonde drum table has been hidden under a tablecloth at my Aunt’s house. When we raised the tablecloth to get a peek at the table, I started smiling. What a beauty. Not what I expected to see at all.

Aunt Marzee sent a Facebook message a few weeks ago that she had a project for me. I admit I get a little nervous when I see messages like that. I mean, you never know. My Aunt and Uncle have owned the table since shortly after their marriage. I did a Google search for similar tables, and I think it was manufactured by Mersman in the 1950’s.

blue and white floral chairs

When deciding on a plan for the table, we thought it would look great between the pair of floral print chairs. It’s taller than the round table in the spot now. The blonde finish also matches the light tan color in the chair fabric.

vintage blonde drum table

The top of the table is a little rippled, and the blonde finish is discolored in places. The plan is to sand and paint the table top and clean the pedestal bottom. The blonde finish is so perfect I don’t want to cover it all up.

solid wood furniture

The table is all wood. They don’t make furniture like that anymore. It’s solid, too, with no wobbles or loose joints.

rippled wood table top

A closer look at the tabletop. It was a mess for sure, and since I’m not into refinishing, plus how to get the blonde look again, paint it is.

Painting blonde furniture can be tricky.

I made a quick trip to Lowe’s and gathered a few paint chips so we could decide on the perfect color. The winner is “Lost Atlantis”, a Valspar paint color.

I love the deep turquoise color and the contrast with the blonde wood should be really pretty. I brought the table home with me to work on it in the workshop. No rush job!

Well, I painted the table, and I have to say it’s a beauty. The color with the blonde finish was perfect.

Vintage Blonde Table Makeover

My Aunt seemed very pleased with it. I always worry when I do custom work for relatives, friends, or anyone, but I’ve never had any complaints. Thank Goodness. The table is the centerpiece between a pair of armchairs.

1950’s Table I Painted For My Aunt

We did a good job of selecting a paint color to match the chairs. The shade is perfect, not too light or too dark.

sanding the table top

The reason for painting the table top is because the veneer was crackled and slightly rippled. I sanded the top by hand with 100 grit sandpaper.

I wanted the blonde table makeover to be something special and I didn’t mind going the extra mile.

stain spots on veneer

The finish was discolored in places and had a few dark “age” spots.

stain spots on furniture veneer

Some of the spots were easy to remove and some were stubborn and are still there.

cleaning with Simple Green

I used Simple Green to remove the “age” spots and then applied a coat of Howard’s Wax in Golden Oak to pep up the finish.

Glidden Gripper primer tinted gray for furniture project

For the top, I applied two coats of Glidden Gripper tinted gray. There was one area where a bit of the veneer was loose, and a little wood glue took care of that.

I used the tiny clip to hold the veneer down while the glue dried. I knew it wouldn’t take much of the Lost Atlantis latex paint for the tabletop, so I had the paint mixed in a sample size of Behr Ultra in Satin.

Vintage Blonde Table Makeover

Now you guys know I’ve talked about changing plans midstream, and you know I’ve done it countless times. This is one of those times. Don’t feel bad if it happens to you too. That’s just the way it goes.

My Aunt and I talked about painting the raised wood pieces on the side of the table a pale green. I thought that would be a nice compliment to the blond finish and also pull another color from the chairs.

Well, I painted the details and kept looking at them,, thinking I didn’t care for it. What did I finally do? I texted a photo to my sister. This is what she said: “Not a fan, sorry”. I got out the Simple Green again, and some 220 grit sandpaper and slowly and gently removed the paint from the four raised wood details (two on the back side). It took a few hours. But I was much happier.

1950's table I painted

I also changed out the turquoise knob I first chose for the project and went with the glass and gold knob from Hobby Lobby. And that’s it!

Have you worked on a project only to have it turn out wrong…..or not what you envisioned? If you keep asking yourself if you like it….there’s a problem. Make changes until you can look at the project, and it makes you smile.

vintage blonde table makeover

That’s all from me. This project first appeared on Petticoat Junktion in February 2017. Sadly, my Aunt has since passed away, but the table is still in the family.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you think of the table. To read all of my Arkansas/Alzheimer’s Stories, click here…Arkansas Stories.

I’ll see you tomorrow. Kathy

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. It’s a regular primer but my favorite. Now it is called PPG Gripper I think. I always like to have my primer tinted gray because just about any color covers gray well whereas white is sometimes hard to cover.

  2. I’m not a fan of blonde wood, but the table turned out awesome! Just that little pop of turquoise really brought it to a whole new level!

  3. This was totally 100% the right way to go with this table. It freshens it while still respecting it. Perfection.

  4. A beautiful job and I’m sure your Aunt Marzee was delighted that you blessed her with your talent. I’ve never been “commissioned” by family to paint their furniture, but I have bestowed painted rescued pieces which were all well received. Love the color you chose together !

  5. I’m sure your Aunt was very happy. I love the turquoise color. Different shades of turquoise are my favorite color. You made the table look beautiful especially between the 2 armchairs. Thanks for sharing.

  6. Great job. I love how this beauty fits between the armchairs.
    Love your blog sooo much.
    Regards from France!