How to Upgrade an Estate Sale Find
Breathe new life into a piece that's been loved for generations.
There's nothing like finding a gem at a local estate or garage sale—but striking gold doesn't necessarily mean accepting a piece as-is. Martha Stewart Living home editor Lorna Aragon saw big potential in this estate sale table's underpinnings. The grand turnings mimic English Jacobean furniture from the late 16th and early 17th centuries, and the brass-and-glass claw feet up the ornate ante. "It looked like something Martha might have at Skylands," says Lorna. "It just needed a little modernizing."
So, she disappeared the dowdy original cherry finish with a coat of glossy black lacquer for a crisp, high-end result (bright white would have worked, too). Originally described as a "library table," this piece and others like it can serve as spacious desks or accent or dressing tables. Make one over, and it'll look at home in your entryway, bedroom, or reading nook, stacked with a few worthy volumes.
As for how to pull off a similar estate sale upgrade? You'll need to begin, of course, by scavenging for a piece to make over. On your search, keep an eye out for a sturdy antique server with lines you like (this one's curvy turned legs were a standout feature to Lorna).
After you've sourced your table, sand it by using a rotary tool—we like the Dremel 4-Volt Lithium Ion Variable-Speed Cordless Rotary Tool ($50, homedepot.com)—to handle the legs, then wipe it down with a tack cloth. Spray on a coat of primer and go back in with your sanding tools (sand and wipe again!). Apply a coat of black lacquer spray paint, such as Rust-Oleum Specialty Lacquer Spray Paint ($4.25, homedepot.com). Let everything dry, then lightly sand and wipe it down before following up with a second coat.