How To Score And Refinish A CraigsList Furniture Piece

Thrift stores, yard sales, and CraigsList are about the patience and the pounce. And when I saw this piece listed on CraigsList as a “dirty 20’s buffet,” I pounced! TWENTY BUCKS, people. The seller told us that “dirty 20’s” was a design era, but I think most people balked at the “dirty” description. When you search CraigsList, remember to give bad descriptions a click–the photo can often reveal something quite different from what might have been poorly described. Also, if you are searching for a specific piece of furniture, consider searching for misspellings too (like if you want an armoire, try “armoir” or “armwoir,” etc.). Something might be missed by other shoppers because the seller has misspelled the description.

One of the drawers was missing a pull, and the left & right doors looked to have replacement knobs. It wasn’t perfect… which made it absolutely perfect for me.

Enter my good friend Kilz (below). If you abhor sanding as much as I, grab some high grip primer, one that says it will adhere to a glossy surface, and you’re good to go.

[UPDATE: I’ve used both Kilz 2 and Zinsser Bulls Eye 123 Primer For All Surfaces several times over the years, and I have to say Zinnser is edging out the competition for me. This might be love.]

I partnered the Kilz with my handy dandy paint sprayer and went to work. I’ve had a Wagner Master Series Paint Sprayer for many years now. I killed one years ago by not adequately cleaning and lubing it, but I got another–it has been a go-to tool and I highly recommend it. If memory serves, it will set you back $50-100, but if you are good to it, it will be good to you for a long time and over MANY paint, stain, and prime projects!

I took the knob from an existing furniture piece and got a creamy white mixed up to match the other painted pieces in our house. I like a gloss or semi-gloss for furniture.

My hunky hubs and I carried the piece out into the backyard, elevated it on bricks on a drop cloth, and sprayed it. Read the labels on your primer & paint. Some say you need to add a second coat within a short amount of time OR wait a couple of days. You do NOT want to mess that up, or your paint will peel and you will cry. Just trust me on this one. πŸ™‚

So, after just a bit of labor on a beautiful day, you get those glorious chunky legs (below)–and all the rest of it, too–looking lovely.

I replaced the mismatched and incomplete knobs with these inexpensive glass ones (below). $15 for six.

And before you can say bob’s your uncle, you’ve got a glorious piece to relish!

Hope you’re inspired! Happy hunting & refinishing!


{Between you & me, I dream about painting it an actual color one day. Maybe something like this? Scandalous! I’ll keep you posted if we ever get that wild over here in beige-land.}


And you might like more decor {on the cheap} over at these posts:

LINK Take A Seat In Your Happy Place {my brilliant friends week}

LINK befoer & after goodwill bedside table goes powder pink

LINK before and after the craigslist china cabinet goes blue


67 responses to “How To Score And Refinish A CraigsList Furniture Piece

  1. Bee-you-tea-full! You are my heroine Gina! I have two pieces of furniture I’m dying to refinish and scared to death to do it! Maybe…just maybe…there’s hope for me yet! πŸ™‚


  2. Awesome post! That dresser turned out fantastic; wonderful return on investment for sure. We are a site that is working to build the next-generation furniture marketplace so consumers can find and restore great pieces like this one.

    Furnishly, the local furniture exchange. –

    Check us out!


  3. I love how it turned out! So pretty. I just bought a beat up hutch at a yard sale and I am researching how to best go about getting it refinished and painted. It is rough like this one. Did you do much sanding at all? How many coats of primer did you do and did you spray it?


    • I am SO not a sander. I go for high-adhesion primer all the way and skip sanding usually all together. The only sanding I might do is if there’s a really rough bit to even out the surface. Great question! come back and let me know how your piece turns out!


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  8. Hi, great post!!! Has the paint sprayer really worked out for you? Sorry, I guess you wouldn’t have posted it if it didn’t. I have been wanting to purchase one, but the reviews are always so mixed.


    • Mamie,
      Mine has worked like a DREAM. In fact, I broke my first one (my own fault), and immediately purchased the exact same one as a replacement. Just add a bit of water to thin your paint per the instructions (a tablespoon or so, I think?), and you are ready to roll. After having to hand paint my latest project (painful, tedious!!), I am more a fan of my sprayer than EVER!!


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  11. Just bought a rough looking buffet off Craigslist yesterday, as i absolutely LOVE what you did…. You are my inspiration to make this piece of furniture beautiful again….


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  17. I have an old piece painted black that I want to paint bright aqua blue but Im dreading sanding it. Can I really just use that miracle primer and I dont have to sand? It seems so scary to skip the sanding.


    • if it’s already painted and the paint is in good shape, you can just paint right over it anyway, no primer needed (just don’t try to paint latex over oil paint–disaster!)


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  19. I was about to head out and purchase a Wagner Power Painter but then I read a number of really negative product reviews. I”m hesitant to purchase one if it won’t work. A lot of clogging complaints… I welcome feedback prior to my purchase.


    • I’ve never had a single clog in all my years of use. Not.One. And when I accidentally broke my first one (I didn’t properly clean and lube the parts, so the metal moving part heated up and got permanently wedged in the plastic tube), I loved it so much that I went out and bought an identical second.

      I always water down my paint and primer per the paint can directions (it’s never much, maybe a tablespoon per pint or so?).

      Hope that helps with your decision! Happy spraying! πŸ™‚


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  22. I have a sideboard that is very similar to yours & will be doing exactly what you have done very soon, I too would love to do it turquoise but my husband disagrees, so white it will be. Mine is an old Australian piece with a pie crust edge & loads of character. I was lucky enough to acquire it on a local Facebook garage sale site but paid $80 for it, I still think that’s a good buy.


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  24. love love love it! BEAUTIFULLLLLLLLL!!!! I like the blue but will the “men in your house” be okay with it? LOL! My hubby does these Craigs List-ers for me these in black. Incredible work Gina!


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  26. Oh my goodness! I have a super similar buffet like this craigslist one. It’s my grandmothers and I’m missing two if those dangling knobs! I’ve looked EVERYWHERE for them.. I know this is an older post, but if you still have them, I’d love to buy them if you are willing. Feel free to email me and I can send you a photo of it. I love how you refinished it. I was looking to refinish another buffet I have and was shocked to see it! Anyway…I like your blog and glad I found it..thanks


  27. Love the idea of painting the interior of drawers a surprising color! LOVE! I didn’t see an answer…what did you do where veneer had peeled? (We had that exact sideboard when growing up…wish I had it now!!)


  28. How is it holding up for you? I have a similar project I’d like to do for my daughters’ rooms but I want to make sure the paint won’t chip too easily…those little boogers are tough on furniture! Love it!


    • It is holding up beautifully, as are so many other painted pieces in our home, most notably the boys’ dressers, which take a lot of abuse. The oldest dresser’s paint job is almost ten years old and going strong. πŸ™‚


  29. what do you do when that piece from craigslist has part of the old fashion lament wood chipping off like most of them do that are like the buffet you just showed in white.


    • If you don’t mind a little unevenness, sand it down a bit… Or, bondo, the stuff used to fill in car dents, is a great furniture filler πŸ™‚


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  33. Hi, loved the way this turned out! I about had to pick my jaw up off the floor! This is the exact same sideboard that my Grandma always had. I ended up with it and ended up storing in an unheated storage unit for years. Looks JUST LIKE THIS NOW! Never, ever occurred to me to just grab the cans and go to it. And this beautiful light color, versus the older darker look it has always had for me is just crazy! I have always loved the bottom and thought the storage was unique and cool. Kinda like pulling up bushes and flowers! I am so tickled you showed me the finished pic. Been so attached to the thing, and was having the dickens of a time getting hubby on board. You rock girl! Thanks again!


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  35. Did you tint the primer or just put the screamy white over the primer? I have an old school desk which I’m turning into a vanity and side table I want to redo for my bedroom. But all my furniture is black in there so they would need to be the same. Can you help me with some tips?


    • For my creamy white pieces, I just used the straight white primer, but if the color you are painting is darker, you might want to have your primer tinted. πŸ™‚


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  38. Another DIY post on Pinterest had this exact same piece! She kept the original hardware and scrubbed off the patina… Yours looks good too!


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