Before After Nightstand Transformation |

Intermediate Level DIY |

Several years ago I discovered a 40 year-old nightstand in my mother’s basement. In need of something that would fit the narrow space between my bed and wall, I gladly adopted it. It wasn’t much to look at then, but it’s certainly taken a beating since. Recently during my MAYkeover I decided it was time this nightstand got a little facelift.

Stripping and Refinishing Nightstand |

First I cleaned it off with TSP before sanding it down. Some of the research I did indicated that stripping the finish was the best method and to avoid sanding until the end. Other information I found indicated that sanding before would be fine if it was light. Personally I’m glad I sanded first because this thing had been stained with a thick varnish on top, so I think this actually sped up my process.

Next I stripped the piece. The can I bought said this would strip the finish as fast as 15 minutes, so I left in on for 20. The wood becomes super soft when the stripping agent is soaked in so be careful not to gouge the wood if you try this yourself. Here’s what the piece looked like after two stripping processes.

Stripping Nightstand with Klean Premium Stripper |

Though I had done two processes, it was obvious I needed to go further. I bought a second can and this time left the stripping agent on for 30 minutes. This made a huge difference. Here is the nightstand after a further two stripping processes and sanding.

Stripped down and sanded Nightstand |

Much better right?

For cleanup in between stripping and sanding, I recommend using medium grade steel wool. I went through about 2 of them with this project. It’s also a good idea to use a microfiber towel to dust the piece off before applying the stain.

Staining was pretty straightforward. You can wipe off the finish as it’s developing to prevent it from getting darker, however I decided I’d let the stain process through since I wanted a deeper color.

How to strip and stain and old nightstand | Minwax Dark Walnut |

Staining with Minwax Dark Walnut Finish |

I wanted to do a combination of paint and stain for this project. I’m a wood purist at heart, but felt my room was a little too neutral with the grey walls, grey closet, and grey carpet. A pop of color would also tie in my orange chair on the other side of the bed (pictured below).

Next I moved on to the painting. The pattern I ended up with took me awhile to settle on, but eventually I came up with this pattern.

Geometric Pattern with Washi Tape |

For the lower shelf I decided to do a simple pinwheel design.

Pinwheel design on nightstand |

The colors I used were Glidden in Pink Salmon, Golden Brand in Bronze, Liquidex Basics in Copper, and Martha Stewart Pearl Multi-Use Acrylic Paint in Tiger Lily.

For a final touch, I bought a new drawer pull (same used in this project) and sprayed it down with Rustoleum gold spray paint. Overall this design and use of color definitely put me out of my comfort zone, but I think I’m starting to dig it.

See how I stripped, stained, and painted an old nightstand in this before-after transformation |

Materials for Stripping and Painting Wood Finish |

Materials Used:

Ryobi S652DK Sander ($29.97), 60 Grit Sandpaper ($3.97), Glidden in Pink Salmon, Golden Brand in Bronze, Liquidex Basics in Copper, and Martha Stewart Pearl Multi-Use Acrylic Paint in Tiger Lily, Medium Grade Steel Wool ($3.98), Microfiber Towels ($9.98 for 24 pack), 2 cans of Klean Strip Premuim Stripper ($6.28), Semi-Gloss Behr Ultra White ($14), Drawer Pull ($2.79), Rustoleum Metallic Gold Spray Paint ($3.76), Skil Drill for new drawer pull, washi tape ($2); MinWax Wood Finish in Dark Walnut  (purchased 8oz size for $4.78), Deft Clear Wood Finish ($5.98), mask ($19.97 for pack of 10), chemical protecting gloves ($5.97), putty knife ($1), and goggles ($2.97).

Total costs excluding tools: $85.43

Time Spent:

30 minutes sanding, 1 hour taking off old finish with stripper (not including wait times), 25 minutes staining and sealing, 2 hours taping patterns and painting. 2 minutes drilling new holes.

Safety Notes:

The gloves I used during this project were really thin and the stripper burned through them! Make sure you’re using THICK PVC chemical safe gloves when using this product.

The stripper and spray finish must be applied in a well ventilated area. I applied them in my garage and could smell the chemicals two floors up. Ideally you want to apply this stuff outside.

  • Sunshine

    Thank you for the great step-by-step instructions. I especially like the “sunburst” pattern on the bottom shelf, but the whole night stand is quite eye-catching!