How to Refinish a 1930s Bedroom Set

Written by lisa east hunter
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How to Refinish a 1930s Bedroom Set
Refinish your antiques (retro noir 1950"s bedroom image by Paul Hill from

Do you have furniture from the 1930s that you are considering refinishing? Give this some careful thought. When done by a professional, some furniture can be more valuable once they're refinished. However, if you do a poor job refinishing the bedroom set you may end up with furniture worth far less than if you hadn't touched it. Of course, you may intend to use the furniture in your own home and don't care about its resale value. Refinishing your bedroom furniture is a great way to update your bedroom without a lot of expense.

Skill level:
Moderately Challenging

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Things you need

  • Steel wool
  • Vegetable oil soap
  • Toothbrush
  • Scraper
  • Paint stripper
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Oil stain
  • Rags
  • Lacquer spray

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  1. 1

    Clean the furniture well. You may find that this brings back enough of its original finish to make it look great again. Use a vegetable oil soap, like Murphy's Oil Soap. Rub the furniture gently with the soap and a soft bristled toothbrush and 0000 steel wool. Be careful not to apply too much pressure.

  2. 2

    Strip the existing finish from the furniture. Apply a good quality stripper and allow it to penetrate the furniture's surface. Stripper can take up to 30 minutes to begin softening the finish. Test the stripper to see if it has worked by scraping the finish with a putty knife. If the stripper is not yet softened, apply a second coat of stripper and wait an additional 30 minutes.

  3. 3

    Remove the softened finish using a paint scraper or putty knife. These tools will work well on flat surfaces. For the spindles and over curved areas, use a stripping pad to work into the grooves to remove the finish.

  4. 4

    Clean away stripper with denatured alcohol and 0000 steel wool. Rub gently to remove all traces of paint stripper. Let the furniture dry overnight.

  5. 5

    Apply oil stain to the bedroom furniture, which provides a good, consistent colour. Apply it with a brush or rag. Wipe the stain onto the furniture and rub the excess off with a clean rag. Choose a colour that is slightly lighter than the final finish. Add more layers of stain if you want a darker colour, and allow it to dry.

  6. 6

    Coat the refinished furniture with lacquer spray. It dries quickly and gives a good finish to the wood. Spray the lacquer using a steady back and forth motion. Work methodically from one section of the furniture to the next to ensure you don't miss any areas.

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