Update Old Wood Stained Furniture – Easily & Quickly

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Today I have another quick and easy project for you all.
A great way to update old wood stained furniture … and one that won’t wear your arm out from sanding OR take you a week to finish.

Remember this post? –>  Super Easy Way to Update Wood Stained Furniture or this one? –> Old Thrift Store Coffee Table Transformed with Chalk Paint & Polyshades?

Yes, those were super easy projects that ended with majorly transformed pieces.
I’m all about easy AND quick for a fun new, updated look. Who wouldn’t be?

And both of these products below do just that!

The table I’m going to talk about today is one that I got from my mother in law about 17 years ago. When I got it, it had been in storage and the top was a bit messed up. I sanded it (the old fashioned way), stained and put a few coats of poly on top. The legs were fine so I just matched the stain and refinished the top only.

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

It was a beautiful table and well loved for many years after.

But I wanted to revamp it up a bit.
So, a little bit of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint & Minwax PolyShades later……

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

If you’ve taken a look at the 2 posts I linked above, you’ll know that I’m loving the dark stained wood lately. So I decided to darken up the top on this piece and paint the bottom section in Old Ochre .

I actually completed this little table many months back but just recently got around to taking the finished pictures to share here with you on the blog. I’ve had so many projects going on, as well as some personal things, so it’s been a bit tough to take & edit photos AND write the posts for them. But I have a ton of stuff to share with you (and I can’t wait to show you all that I’ve been up to around here).

So be on the lookout for it. (plus some fun Christmas crafts/projects and decorating coming very soon too, can you believe it’s almost here?)

Below is the table pictured ‘before’ (well, after I refinished the top 17 years ago but before I hit it with some fab Minwax PolyShades — love that stuff)

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

Not bad….just not in keeping with my current decor.

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

To begin to update old wood, you want to first give it a light sanding….with fine grit sandpaper. (always stay with the grain)

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

I painted the base first….not the usual choice and I don’t remember why I did now.
Just keep in mind, it would be best to refinish the top first and then paint the base last.

Here it is with one coat…just to show how easy it is to give a slight color change and a nice shine to old wood stained furniture with the Minwax Polyshades product.

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

I decided I wanted it darker …so went darker for the next couple of coats. (I used the same shades as in the posts I linked up at the top of this post)

Be sure to very lightly sand in between coats for a nice smooth finish. (very fine grit sandpaper) Be sure to clean dust, etc, well before applying your next coat.
And, as always, it’s best to use a high quality bristle brush to apply the Polyshades for the best results.

I finished up the base with 2 coats of Old Ochre Chalk Paint, a very slight distressing and Clear Wax.

All finished. What easier way is there to update old wood than this?

Want to know about 26 other chalk style paints?
I’ve got the low down for you right here! >>> 26 Types of Chalk Style Paint For Furniture

Look at the gorgeous shine on the new, deep colored top and those lovely colored legs.

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com


Side view….

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

Like I’ve mentioned before, nothing beats a real sanding/staining/poly job BUT this is great for the home DIY-er or someone short on time, skill…or just patience! ;)

Not at all describing myself on that last one. Nope.

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

All prettied up…… (oh, big sneak peek on the faux board & batten walls we did a few months ago…post coming soon on how we saved a bunch doing it this “faux” way)

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

One more…. (and why yes, that is a Chalk Painted lamp in the photo – Pure White over Oil Rubbed Bronze Spray Paint– a $5 garage sale find)

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

What a difference, right?

So quick….so easy….REALLY.

PIN this for later so you can update old wood furniture pieces too! :)

Update Old Wood Stained Furniture The EASY Way!! artsychicksrule.com

Have you tried either of these products to update old wood? Think you might give it a whirl??

Be sure to check in later when I share how I gave this old Craigslist hutch a brand new makeover!

UPDATE!! See it now, here!


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  1. This looks fantastic! I found your link on Twitter. I myself am in the middle of a furniture makeover using the Minwax PolyShades. Glad to see the results from someone else who’s used it!

    1. Thanks Amanda! I love the PolyShades…it certainly makes for an easy transformation! :) Will have to stop to see yours!


  2. Love the new look! Everyone is talking about and using chalk paint these days but although I paint and/or refinish pieces all the time, I haven’t tried it yet. Does it hold up well (5 grand-kids, a cat and a very large dog take a toll on everything!) and with the wax finish, how do you dust or clean the surfaces?

    1. Hi Heidi,
      Thank you :) I have used much latex over the years painting and refinishing….yes, the Chalk Paint is a whole different thing. It was something to get used to definitely. I wasn’t even sure I was liking it much when I first used it BUT once I got the feel for it and figured out the wax, etc, I loved it. It does give a slightly different look than latex painted items, in my opinion. Not better, not worse, just different. I like the look, love the colors, love the ease of use (once you get the hang of it). I still have a bunch of latex paint and do use it occasionally but I tend to reach for the Chalk Paint much more often! And to your question, well, I have at least 3-5 pieces (among other smaller items) of furniture in each of my rooms painted with chalk paint. All have held up to regular daily use without fail. :) I even painted my kitchen island with it a few months ago. (there is a post here about it) I painted the rest of my kitchen cabinets at the same time (also chalk paint). Will be posting about those soon. :)
      Hope that helps!

      1. Thanks Nancy! I just painted my kitchen cabinets too and wish now I had tried the chalk paint but maybe starting with a smaller project is a better idea! Always have plenty of those in line. Just finished transforming an antique window into a mirror for over the fireplace and have another one to do, maybe that’ll be a good place to start! Looking forward to your kitchen posting! :)

  3. Wow, that table is gorgeous! I have so much furniture that is the color of your table before the makover. I want to change up some of the pieces, but I am so terrified of screwing them up. And there are some I just won’t change. Like the grandfather clock my father built for my wedding. And my piano. They are all the darkish oak color because that’s what I was into when I got all those pieces.

    One of these days, I am going to get brave enough to make over a couple of pieces! After seeing your table, I will most likely use the PolyShades, and of course, the chalk paint is a no brainer!

    Thanks, Nancy!

    1. Hi Karen :)
      Thanks so much!
      I totally understand about not wanting to paint certain things. I have a few of those too that I would never paint! This little piece was not a family piece (although my mother in law used it in her home for a bit before giving it to me).
      I think you’d be fine doing the poly or polyshades!

  4. You honestly have such a way with furniture, Nancy ~ you are so talented. I wish you could rub some of that off on me.

    Thinking of you ~ hugs, Mary Beth

    {pinning of course!}

  5. Gorgeous transformation Nancy! I just completed my first chalk paint makeover: a very old telephone table that had been stained that “orangey brown and been given a decent coat of polyurethane. I used ASCP in Old White. The product really is amazing. It was my first time painting furniture and after I pocketed my growing anxiety I simply let my inner artist fly. Chalk paint is an easy peasy, instant gratification process. I think the most difficult part for me was knowing when to stop distressing. It really helps to stand back every so often and view your progress. I used Minwax natural paste wax – the finish is smooth and the shine is very subtle. I think after breaking the chalk paint ice I’m ready for more! Thanks again for the inspiration and great tips Nancy!

    1. Thanks Terri!
      Oh awesome!! Yours sounds great! So glad you tried it…it is fun, isn’t it? Instant gratification, yep! And you are so right on having to step back and take a look, I do that too. :)
      Can’t wait to hear about what else you paint…it is addicting for sure!


    1. Thanks Abby! Yes, you can make your dining room table darker…although I have not done a piece quite that large with the PolyShades. Yes it should hold up well…but I would probably still do that one the “old fashioned way”. :) That’s how I did mine (sanded down, restained, poly’d). But for these smaller, accent pieces, I love the PolyShades.

      Hope you have a great weekend!


    1. Hi, thanks so much. The PolyShade I used was a blend of Antique Walnut and Espresso. I’m a big “contrast” girl too! ;)


  6. I have a queen table I’d like to do this too. I am new to staining, do you stain underneath the top of the table or paint it??

    1. Hi Alicia,
      Is the table stained now? If so, you would just lightly sand, clean all the dust away, and apply the polyshades.
      Good luck!

  7. First, I love your blog! I’ve used ASCP for a couple of years (only on family items – nothing to sell) and I love it! Right now I have an old drum table sitting on top of my kitchen table. I painted the base with Old White and I am going to stain the top with a dark walnut. Actually, that’s the same thing I did with my kitchen table. When staining furniture before, I sanded and stripped them completely. I was not really wanting to do that this time and especially after reading some of your posts. Let me just say that I am married to an amazing man – who happens to be a retired engineer. He tends to do things in ways that I would probably not choose to do

    1. Hi Karen!
      Thank you so much! :)
      If the top is in fairly good condition and you can do a light sanding, you can just use something like this product. PolyShades, to refinish. (if it’s dark, you won’t be able to lighten it however. But you can darken and/or refreshen the top to a similar color)
      Good luck!! :)

  8. I loved this table! I can’t wait to start working on my sofa and end tables in a very light creme yellow! I have been puzzled for a about a year trying to decide how to finish these two tables to make them match my living room. I decided on a light creme yellow after reading this blog. I even know how to finish them now thanks to you Nancy!!!! Been really enjoying both your blogs!!

  9. It sounds like you used 2 different shades of stain. Does that add more depth? I’m about to refinish a table in the espresso but I want the wood grain to stand out still. Thanks!

    1. Hi Stephanie,
      For this one, I started with one shade and decided to go darker. I wouldn’t say that added depth in particular, just a change of mind for me. BUT, the Espresso is quite dark on it’s own. I would suggest, if you want to see the wood grain, to mix it with something lighter like Walnut, etc. Otherwise, I’m pretty sure you won’t see much of that grain. Also, when mixing, it’s best to test it out on a scrap piece to make sure it’s how you want it before applying to your table. :) Hope that helps. xo

  10. Hi… I’m about to try using polyshades on a dresser for my niece’s nursery. I’m wondering how long before the smell dissipated form the polyshades? I heard it’s really stinky and takes forever? Does the polyshades cover any uneven sanding and wood filler (since I’m changing drawer hardware)?? thanks so much

    1. Hi Linda,
      Any kind of stain and poly that is oil based will be stinky. How long, just depends. It should be mostly stink free in a few days but fully stink free after a few weeks.
      And not really, no, the stain won’t cover that sort of thing. Polyshades is a good choice if you have a pretty decent finish that just needs a touch up or one that you want to change the color on. In a case such as yours, I’d either paint or sand all the way down to the bare wood and stain/poly the old fashioned way. :) (which, there are water based stains now and then you could finish with a water based poly …. both of which would be “stinky” a lesser amount of time) Hope that helps.

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