Before & After: A “Free Section” Craigslist Buffet Goes to the Dark Side


Kevin struck Craigslist gold with this buffet. It had all of the proportions and details he was looking for and it was $Free$. He turned the buffet into a striking piece that brings out the best of the original features while adding some extra style.

(Image credit: Submitted by Kevin)

From Kevin: I found this buffet for free off Craigslist. The landlord of a building in Chicago had posted it, saying his previous tenants had left it when they moved out. The buffet was worn and pretty beat up when I got it. There was hardware missing and some of the detailing and veneer at the bottom was coming off.

I love antique buffets with long legs and detailing on the drawers and cabinets. I had been wanting to restore a piece like this, but usually they’re listed on Craigslist for a few hundred dollars. When I came across this on the free section, I just had to have it! I enjoy bringing old, beat up pieces back to life.

(Image credit: Submitted by Kevin)

First I removed the finish and stain from the top of the buffet with a stripping agent and power sander. The stripping agent worked well, so I didn’t have to sand it down much to expose the bare wood for staining. Then I repaired some of the detailing at the bottom of the buffet. I removed and cleaned all of the existing hardware using tarnish remover and a wire brush. I painted everything except the top using chalk paint and a paint sprayer. I put two coats of paint on, then sanded the edges and detailing to give it a distressed look. Painting was the easy part; distressing took a few hours due to all of the details and edges on the buffet. Next I sealed the chalk paint with a wax finish, and stained and sealed the top using a walnut colored stain. Finally, I added the finishing touches by installing the old hardware on the cabinets and the new handle pulls I purchased off Etsy.

(Image credit: Submitted by Kevin)

(Image credit: Submitted by Kevin)

I love the contrast between the black chalk paint and the exposed wood on the top and distressed parts of the buffet. It gives it more character than just painting the entire piece one color. The one thing I would do differently is take more time with adding the wax sealer. Sometimes I was careless with applying it, and put too much on. After I buffed the piece, some parts shined more than others due to more wax in these areas. I had to remove the excess wax with steel wool, and rebuff.

(Image credit: Submitted by Kevin)

Kevin’s words of wisdom: I HIGHLY recommend using a paint sprayer for projects with a lot of detailing. Spraying the entire piece only took around 10 minutes, as opposed to a few hours with a brush. Also, the paint goes on evenly with no visible brushstrokes. I purchased an inexpensive but effective paint sprayer that plugs directly into a wall socket and does not require compressed air.

Thank you, Kevin!

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