A bit of Midcentury table success!

So as of late, I’ve been working on restoring my newest crushes…

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My Goodwill mid-century tables.

And I’m excited to announce that I’ve actually made progress on one of them!  Granted, it was pretty easy.  But still… nothing like a hint of success to lift the mood and get things rolling around here.

I haven’t finished the coffee table yet, but I will say that those of you who recommended an orbital sander deserve a huge thank you. That thing rocks. After sanding the top, and a fast-lived attempt at hand-sanding the base, I’ve decided to try my hand at using stripper for the rest. The larger side table will also need to be fully stripped, since the finish on that is worse than the coffee table.  I’m not even sure if I’ll be able to stain it, to be honest.  The top is THAT bad.  I haven’t actually gotten around to stripping yet (Ahem! Stripping the tables.  THE TABLES.)… It’ll be soon, though.   I get the distinct feeling that Joey’d like the use of the garage back at some point before he’s grey.  Heehee!  My bad.

Anyways, the guy in question for today is the smaller side table….

Ya think I would’ve learned to get the ENTIRE piece of furniture in the shot by now.  Well, I showed you. 😉  Anyways, after cleaning it thoroughly, I realized that there was a chance that the original finish could be salvaged.  The damage was a lot less than I’d previously thought. As a refresher, here’s some of the damage…

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When I examined the damage on the top tier closely, I realized that the finish was still intact for the most part. These were just water-rings. I remembered reading something on Pinterest about using mayonnaise to remove water rings from wood finishes, so I looked it up and learned that you simply schmear mayo on the offending stain, wait a few minutes and wipe off.

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So, I did that.

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And it helped a lot! The stains were MUCH less obvious.  I only left the mayo on for about 2 minutes or so, but I suspect that if I’d left it on longer, the rings would have vanished even more.   And I must point out that the remaining damage actually shows up more in the pictures than they did in person.  I was really impressed by how well this worked.

After removing the mayo, I wiped down the table thoroughly with my go-to water/vinegar spray and tried my hand at applying a little Restore-A-Finish plus Feed-n-Wax.  It absolutely worked wonders in unifying the finish and bringing it much closer to it’s original state.  You can still see some darker areas where the damage had been, but I like it that way.  It adds character and tells the story of the life this little table lead….

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I wrote a full tutorial for how to use these products back when I found my beloved mid-century desk chair, so check that out if you’d like more details on how to use them.

I can’t even tell you how absolutely thrilled I am that I was able to keep the original finish on at least one of the tables.  And I’m even more psyched that it was the table that I wanted to keep the most. So, where did he end up, you ask??

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That’s right. He replaced the little black cabinet in our front room. I never really liked that thing anyways. For now, I’m hiding our modem and all the wires in the painted basket beneath the table. I’m hoping to move the modem somewhere else sometime soon so that the table can stand alone, but in the meantime, I can deal.

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I’d love to do something different with the large storage cabinet now that my newest mid-century love is in the picture, but I haven’t quite figured out what yet. And don’t even get me started on that light fixture. It came with the house and although it isn’t a bad fixture in general, it definitely doesn’t suit the style of the room. It’s on the list as well.

So with that, Part One of Mission: Midcentury Tables is complete. Now, it’s onto the other two. What I do with them will depend on whether or not the smaller end table is stainable.  I definitely want those two to match each other. So, fingers crossed that the damage isn’t all-encompassing. And seriously, wish me luck!  I’ve never used stripper before, so I’m hoping I don’t mess this up. Any tips I should know before I begin?

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TDC Before and After
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Be still my midcentury-lovin’ heart

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Wipe your chins.  No need to drool.   But, I know, right?? 🙂

These are the tables that I found at Goodwill recently. I saw their mid-century lines from afar and practically trampled people ran up to inspect. Upon opening their sturdy, dove-tail-jointed drawers I discovered this…

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Which I googled on my phone only to realize that these are bona fide antiques, and that similar tables in great condition go for pretty decent amounts.  Now, to clarify… these were NOT in stellar condition, so I had no illusion of grand fortune. I mean, there were scratches….

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And issues in the finish…

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But, for ~$25 bucks a piece, I decided to take them home even though we really didn’t have the space for them.  I figured, at the very least, I could fix them up and sell them if I couldn’t find them a home with us.  Even if I made little profit, I still felt it was my duty to give them a little TLC. Because their midcentury lines are killer. Those brass accents rock my socks. And I love them. And I do crazy things for love.

Once I got them home, I had no game plan whatsoever since I had no idea how bad the finishes really were. The tables were filthy. So, gameplan = CLEAN them. I used a damp dishrag with water only, and began to wipe down the top of the coffee table. This white mottling started happening immediately…

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Which made me think that waxy polishes must’ve been used on the table in the past.  I gently scrubbed with the damp dishrag and then went to a VERY mild mixture of water with a few drops of castile soap….

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And discovered that this alone was removing the glossy(ish) finish. Wow. Once I got the tabletop clean, I realized that the finish was still pretty bad (I hadn’t touched the legs yet in the photo below)…

Just to see it if would work, I gently wiped the top down with a magic eraser to remove any leftover waxy build-up and applied some Restore-A-Finish (which you can read about here or here). Unfortunately, the Restore-A-Finish was no match for the tabletop’s damage.  It still looked like this once I was done….

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My guess is that the household that previously housed this furniture had either cats or very small dogs. The scratches are numerous and very thin and deep and I question what caused the black spot in the photo above (as well as a similar spot on the larger side table) as the finish was actually eaten away rather than simply having colored marks in the finish.

So, this is where I left off for now.  I’m still deciding how to proceed.  I’m thinking of lightly sanding the top to neutralize some of the scratches (VERY lightly as the table has a thin wood veneer as seen here)…

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….But, I question exactly HOW to sand the top as each inlay has the wood-grain facing a different direction.  I thought about using Polyshades to give them a deeper stained look (and dubbing the deeper scratches “character”) but I suspect those dark patches will still show through.  Or possibly filling the deeper holes and then priming and painting the tables and leaving the beautiful brass accents intact.  I do think these would look stunning in a crisp white, although I’d hate to cover the beautiful details on top.

So, I pose this question to you beautiful people… Has anybody worked with similar pieces??  What did you do?  Do any of ya’ll have any advice or thoughts regarding the fate of these tables??  I’m open to any and all suggestions.  Please.  Help me.  🙂