Use a solution of three parts oil to one part white vinegar to give the old finish a mini facial. It can make old furniture look new.
Sometimes you can’t paint a piece of furniture, because it’s too pretty, or someone you love likes that old brown dresser just the way it is.
You don’t have time or space to refinish it, and you’re tired of staring at that beat up old piece.
Make Old Furniture Look New … Without Paint
Painted Furniture is great, but too much of it in the same room looks, well, bad. Balancing out your painted pieces with good old fashioned brown furniture is the key to evolved, old world style French/Swedish/English Country style interior. It’s fun to play around and find just the right mix of different paint colors, finishes, and old brown pieces with great patina.
Speaking of patina, wood furniture can be charming, antique furniture, or it can just be old wood furniture.
I think it was Annie Sloan who said that the French would paint any wooden furniture, unless it were very special, indeed. That is pretty much my philosophy.
If something is just old wood furniture, it’s better off being painted with a lovely, interesting finish. But if you’ve got something truly special, even if it’s just special to you, that’s a different story.
He Likes the Wood Look
Painted furniture can add so much charm and interest. But, you will run across that furniture piece that you just can’t paint, for whatever reasons.
In my case, my boys don’t want painted furniture in their bedroom, not really. They prefer the wood look.
And then I also have a few things that have come down from grandparents. Nothing fancy, but I have a feeling if I were to paint them, I might make some people upset.
I have never stripped, sanded, and refinished a piece of furniture. I don’t have the time, and I’m scared of the chemicals.
All-Natural Refinishing to Make Old Furniture Look New
If you feel the same way, but you’re sick of staring at that old finish, try this all-natural furniture refinishing solution: three quarters cup oil (I used olive oil) and one quarter cup vinegar (I used distilled white vinegar).
I got this tip from Miss Mustard Seed in her book, Inspired You. It’s tucked in there, just like an offhand remark, but it’s really brilliant. It might not be full on furniture restoration, but it can be as exciting a change to your old piece as a fresh coat of paint and furniture makeover.
I recently gave this a try on a beat up old dresser from the 60s and set of nesting tables from the 40s.
They’re both good quality, solid wood. I was really pleased with the results for such a minimal effort. The wood on these old pieces now looks silky smooth and moisturized. They’re both a bit darker and a bit shiner. It really did make old furniture look new.
This little mini facial didn’t remove any stains or imperfections, but it did perk up my pieces and make them look cared for and shiny.
Here’s the video I made about treating furniture with this oil and vinegar solution. If you like reading better, I wrote it all out and added the pictures, just below the video.
He Doesn’t Want It Painted
Did you ever have a piece of furniture that you just didn’t want to paint?
Or, that your little boy or husband didn’t want you to paint?
That is my situation with this dresser. it’s an old pine dresser probably from the 60s. We’ve had it for many years and as you can see it’s very dirty. It’s got grease spots and watermarks, all kinds of stuff.
I have suggested painting it many times and my husband and my son always say, “no no no no I love that dresser!” Now it’s going to be my son’s dresser. So what to do?
Oil and Vinegar Facelift
Hi, this is Kathleen from Old World Farmhouse and today I am going to take a solution of oil and vinegar and try to clean up this dresser. I like to make old furniture look new, but I do not want to get into refinishing. I just don’t have time or patience for all of that mess.
I read in Miss Mustard Seed’s book, actually, that you could take a solution of oil and vinegar, if your wood furniture isn’t in too bad of shape, and just kind of rub that in to clean it up, instead of going through the whole mess of refinishing.
Old Pine Dresser Looks New
I thought I’d give that a try today on this old pine piece and see what happens. Okay so here I’ve got three quarters of a cup of olive oil and a quarter cup of white vinegar. I’ve just got this little blue microfiber cloth that I’m mixing into that. It feels very oily and it doesn’t smell that great. I’m just gonna – I’m just gonna get started and see.
I hope that this is a “good enough for mom” solution.
Here is the finished result after I wiped it down with one quarter cup vinegar and three quarter cup of olive oil. It’s definitely looking happier now. It didn’t take away these little weird marks that I have no idea where they came from. But of course, I wouldn’t have expected that. The wood looks less thirsty and miserable than it used to for sure, and you can see a little more of the grain coming out.
The sides look great.
By and large, I’m pretty pleased with how this turned out.
It didn’t take away the markings on the top. The water stains, so see like there’s a big ring stain it did not take it away.
But it definitely looks better than it used to, especially from the front.
Really Old Tables Look Silky Smooth
These wood nesting tables are really old. They’ve been passed down from my grandparents to my parents and now to me. As you can see, they’re very worn, they’ve got water stains and i was thinking of painting them, but somehow I just can’t bring myself to do it. I guess because they’ve been in the family and I don’t want to make anybody mad.
Also I have sentimental memories of seeing these in our house growing up. I’m going to try the same technique on these tables that I did with that dresser upstairs. I’m going to take my solution of a quarter cup of vinegar to three-quarter cup olive oil.
Here are my nesting tables after being rubbed down with a solution of vinegar and olive oil. They’re definitely looking a lot happier and less thirsty now.
This is how the tables look after 48 hours of drying. After I wiped them with the oil and vinegar solution. Wow the difference is remarkable. They’re darker and just less tired out looking and they’re like, smooth and silky to the touch.
Now I’m gonna go upstairs and see how my dresser is doing after being let alone for 48 hours. Let’s go. The pine dresser 48 hours later.
It’s no longer wet like it was. It’s still a little greasy to the touch but I think that it’s going to absorb in time because in other spots it’s perfectly dry now.
Let’s look at the top. Still pretty gnarly, but just soft and silky, less thirsty, and all in all I’m enjoying its worn and weathered look, instead of thinking that it just looked sad before. It’s like i gave it a little facial, a little maybe not even as much as a facial. I just bought it some nice moisturizer.
Thank you so much for watching this video. if you found it helpful could you help me out by giving me a thumbs up down below and please check out my blog at oldworldfarmhouse.com for resources on French, English, and Swedish country styles as well as old houses. Thanks again.
More Resources For Dirty Wood
If you’d like more resources on cleaning wood, check out my post, Can Mineral Spirits Clean Waxed Floors?. If you’d rather make over your wood furniture by painting it, check out my posts, Get The Swedish Country Look With Chalk Paint, and Khaki Green Paint Colors for French Country Style.