Beginner-Friendly Furniture Refinishing Of An Antique Sideboard Bathroom Vanity

Transform an old antique sideboard into a stunning bathroom vanity with these beginner-friendly furniture refinishing tips! Includes achieving a raw wood countertop look and flawlessly painted body. Perfect for adding a touch of vintage charm to any bathroom!

Transform an old, worn antique sideboard into a stunning bathroom vanity with these beginner-friendly furniture refinishing tips! Includes achieving a raw wood countertop look and flawlessly painted body. Perfect for adding a touch of vintage charm to any bathroom!

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I love a good furniture refinishing makeover, don’t you? Especially when you land a piece to work on for free! And such was the case with today’s project. And boy did it turn into a beauty!

Here’s some of my personal furniture makeovers:

This mouldy old side table becoming one of my fav pieces!

Cutting the legs off of this beauty!

Morphing an ugly dresser into THIS!

However, furniture refinishing can be difficult, so I found a way to make refinishing this piece as effortless as possible while achieving a raw wood look teamed up with paint!

So let’s start with how I landed this piece, then I’ll share how I did the work…

2014 bathroom vanity

View the above Salvaged Farmhouse Bathroom tour HERE

My current bathroom vanity


I’ve LONG loved unique bathroom vanities made from antique furniture. I think they offer such a one-of-a-kind feature plus the durability of a solid wood furniture piece simply can’t be beat!

That said, I’ve been very happy for many years with a newer vanity that was part of a bathroom makeover challenge you can see HERE. However, it’s been needing some repairs and updates, and more counter space would be such a perk.

So when my eyes glanced over a Facebook post offering up an antique sideboard bathroom vanity for free, I took a chance! Grabbed my very strong son, we took off to pick it up before I changed my mind.

sideboard vanity before which will make a great start for furniture refinishing!

Before of the antique sideboard bathroom vanity


And what a piece! It was easy to see the massive potential. Even as-is, the dark wood makes this a very pretty piece! And the sink was absolute perfection!

Although this piece didn’t have any drawers, it did have plenty of wide open storage space, came with good faucets (although I’d like to change them), and the craftsmanship of the piece was very sound and looked easy to adapt. While double sink vanities can be nice, my preference leans towards single sink vanities for more counter space, so it was perfect! 

the back of a sideboard vanity before

The opened back for plumbing


However the biggest perk was the fact that the vintage sideboard had already been revamped into a bathroom vanity, so the wide open spaces in the back could easily allow for my own needs! How perfect is that?

Since the piece didn’t need any furniture repair, furniture refinishing, here I come! So I dove right into the makeover, with easy techniques anyone can accomplish without the tedious method of stripping all the finishes off.

Here’s how I did it:

Beginner-Friendly Furniture Refinishing Of An Antique Sideboard Bathroom Vanity


Supplies used:


General Finishes Topcoat in High Performance Dead Flat

Fusion Mineral Paint in Coal Black (get 10% off)

TSP Alternative by Fusion Mineral Paint (10% off)

Stain and Finishing Oil in Natural by Fusion (10% off) 

2″ Staalmeester One Series paint brush (no discount)

Paint scraper

Bosch orbital sander

Tack cloth

Paint frame with velour roller

(I highly recommend THIS Staalmeester velour roller set – no discount)

Small quality artist’s brush

Masking tape

vintage sideboard in a dark stain about to get some furniture refinishing

Refinishing the top


1. Scrape the top layer of varnish and stain off with a furniture refinishing scraper.

There are many ways to remove old paint, lacquer, varnish and stain. My first attempt was using a furniture stripper, but nothing I tried would even make a dent! Even sanding barely left a mark. Goodness…

So I quickly came up with a plan of scraping the top, then painting the body. And I honestly think hand scraping is my favorite way of removing old or oil finishes after trying this! It’s more non-toxic and easy to clean up.

scraping old wood stain off a vintage sideboard top

How to remove stain with a paint scraper


I grabbed a paint scraper to try. It’s outfitted with a blade, so you basically hand-scrape your first layer of varnish and stain right off.

scraping wood stain off the top of a vintage sideboard

View paint scrapers HERE

  • Hold the scraper in one hand, and rest the palm of your other hand on the end to give it more weight.
  • Pull the scraper towards you while pressing down on it.

scraping off old stain from a vintage sideboard bathroom vanity for easy furniture refinishing

With a little bit of effort, the scraper did a clean job right down to the bare wood!

scraper and sander to remove old varnish from furniture

View orbital sanders here – I suggest Bosch variable speed.

Sanding the top surface


2. Sand the surface using an orbital sander.

Wearing a dust mask, I suggest to start sanding with a low grit, then work your way up to no more than 180 grit, so the new topcoat will absorb into the wood.

sanding top of vintage sideboard bathroom vanity

The sanding really cleaned up the surface, removing any gouges and imperfections as well as making it smooth-to-the-touch.

topcoating furniture with natural wood varnish

Get General Finishes High Performance Dead Flat Topcoat from HERE

Protecting top with a raw wood look


3. Choose your topcoat of choice, then apply to a dust-free surface.

Because I desired a raw wood look, I searched hard for a product that would not darken the natural wood tone.

The one that worked best for me was General Finishes High Performance Dead Flat. It’s a newer mixture that offers protection without any matting agents, so all you get is clear wood grain showing through without a milky or white-washed look.

And since it’s a water-based product, no cleaning with mineral spirits was required!

Here’s what the definitions mean:

High Performance – offers a higher level of water-resistance, but is not completely waterproof.

Dead Flat – a flat finish that make the wood look raw, while still adding protection.

I ended up applying 6 thin coats to ensure I got the best water resistant furniture refinishing outcome possible.

About General Finishes High Performance Dead Flat Topcoat:


  • Exceptional product for furniture refinishing with a raw wood look.
  • This is a water-based leave-on product.
  • Additional coats did not increase the sheen.
  • The top coat goes on milk white, however dries clear.
  • Dries very quickly!

small paint brush to apply natural wood varnish

How to apply General Finishes High Performance Dead Flat Topcoat


  1. Cut in the topcoat around tighter areas with a wider artist’s brush.
  2. Load a velour roller with the topcoat.
  3. Roll on the topcoat slowly so you don’t create bubbles.
  4. Once rolled on, go over the piece one last time very slowly to pop any remaining bubbles.

If applying more than one coat, lightly sand with high grit sandpaper in between each coat, and apply until you’ve reached your desired level of protection.

protecting furniture with natural wood look varnish

Topcoat shown wet


The above is how the topcoat looks when it first goes on. The wood is darker since it’s wet.

natural wood top for a bathroom vanity

Topcoat shown dry


However that changes quickly! The above photo is a picture of the topcoat once completely dried. Wow! Doesn’t it look like bare wood?! It most certainly does!

Time will tell on how it performs for a vanity counter though. I’ll update this post as time moves on.

cleaning an antique sideboard with Fusion's TSP alternative

Painting the lower sideboard


While I would have loved the entire piece to look like raw wood, the old finish was coated with some heavy duty varnish of some kind, which wouldn’t allow any penetration of paint stripper, nor even sanding!

So I chose a paint of choice which I felt would marry our primary bathroom perfectly. So let’s paint instead! Here’s how I prepped this piece for a complete furniture restoration:

Krud Kutter Gloss Off

Deglossing the stained areas


4. Remove the gloss off of the stained areas.

To prepare a piece of furniture for painting most pieces just need to be scuff sanded so the paint has something to adhere to.

Since I wasn’t able to sand through the varnished topcoat, I used Krud Kutter Gloss-Off instead, which is basically a chemical stripper which dulls the surface vs. traditional stripping, giving the piece some ‘tooth’ for the new finish to attach to. This product helps make furniture refinishing nearly effortless!

How to use Krud Kutter Gloss-Off:


  1. Put on protective gloves.
  2. Apply full strength to a rag.
  3. Rub over entire surface until it starts to look dull.

This deglosser removed the sheen from the varnish perfectly! And it was so much easier than sanding! 

cleaning furniture with Fusion's TSP alternative to clean before furniture refinishing

TSP Alternative by Fusion Mineral Paint (get 10% off)

Cleaning the piece with TSP alternative


5. Clean the furniture with Fusion’s TSP Alternative.

Next up to this furniture refinishing is to remove all dirt so it’s ready to paint. The bucket of water was black after I had finished!

About Fusion TSP Alternative:


  • Non toxic. Wearing gloves is not necessary.
  • Easily mixes with water.
  • Very concentrated, so it goes a long way.
  • This style of ‘soap’ doesn’t require rinsing off.

How to apply Fusion TSP Alternative:


  1. Mix with water into a bucket.
  2. Wipe your piece clean with a rag.
  3. Use an old toothbrush to reach into nooks and crannies.
  4. Allow piece to dry before sanding.

Fusion Mineral Paint in Coal Black to paint a bathroom vanity

View Fusion’s Coal Black HERE / Fusion’s Extender HERE

Get 10% off all Fusion products HERE

Or use discount code: funkyjunkinteriorsfmp at checkout

Painting the cabinet


6. Paint the lower half of the furniture with Fusion’s Coal Black.

Fusion Mineral Paint is a high quality furniture paint with an extremely durable finish once cured. It has a built in primer and topcoat, with the option to add other top coats for added durability if desired.

Learn all about Fusion Mineral Paint in my own review post HERE

adding Fusion's extender to paint for more open time

View Fusion’s Extender HERE (10% off)

Adding an extender to the paint for more open time


Fusion Mineral Paint dries very quickly, especially darker colours. So if you brush the paint a little too much, you may end up with brush strokes on top of the setting paint.

If you add a little Extender, it delays the drying time so you have more time to work the paint without the risk of brush stroke build-up. Here’s how to use it:

How to use Fusion’s Extender to avoid brush strokes


  1. Pour your paint into a paint tray.
  2. Pour a few drops of extender into the paint, then mix.
  3. Roll or brush on the paint as usual.

This was my first time using Extender, and it worked so well! The paint went on smooth as silk, and I was able to blend all the brush strokes together before they started to dry. I truly believe this helped to achieve a flawless finish!

Staalmeester synthetic One paint brushes perfect for furniture refinishing

Choosing a high quality brush for furniture refinishing


7. Paint your piece with a good quality paint brush.

I’m a true believer in the higher quality brush you use, the better your furniture painting results will be. These brushes are silky smooth, capable of leaving a flawless finish.

I chose to use a high quality Staalmeester 2″ One Series brush (bottom left, above) to apply the paint since there were so many nooks and crannies on this piece. 

Each small section of the furniture was painted one-at-a-time to ensure I was always painting against a wet edge.

How to brush on Fusion paint to leave a flawless finish:


  1. Load a high quality paint brush with paint. 
  2. Working with the grain of the wood, apply paint with brush in long gliding strokes.
  3. End each brush stroke application with a full side-to-side swipe of the brush, without stopping in between.
  4. Paint in small sections so you can maintain painting against a wet edge, which helps reduce brush strokes.

Video tutorial – How to hand paint furniture with commentary


Because hand painting is near impossible to show in still pictures, below is a short and informative video clip with commentary of the hand painting process I use to achieve a flawless finish!

The complete video including all the steps to finishing this piece is at the bottom of this post.

protecting paint with Fusion's Stain and Finishing Oil

View Fusion’s Stain and Finishing Oil HERE – get 10% off

Topcoating the paint with SFO


8. Topcoat the paint if desired.

While Fusion has a built-in topcoat, it leaves a matte finish so you may find fingerprints can show up on dark tones.

So I chose to use one coat of Fusion’s Stain and Finishing Oil in Natural (well known as SFO) on top of the paint, to raise the sheen level a little for added durability, and no fingerprint potential.

Note: Fusion Mineral Paint takes 30 days to fully cure. You don’t need to wait that long to apply SFO, however the longer you wait, the better it is for the piece. I waited more than 30 days since this project wasn’t being rushed.

About Fusion’s Stain and Finishing Oil:


  • Easy to apply – wipe on – wipe off
  • Floor quality
  • Low odor, can use it indoors (my fav perk!)
  • Dries quickly
  • Adds a satin finish to start
  • More coats will increase durability and sheen
  • Easy to custom-mix colours of choice

wiping on Stain and Finishing Oil onto a painted antique sideboard vanity that offers durability for furniture refinishing

How to apply Fusion’s Stain and Finishing Oil


  1. Pour some SFO into a container
  2. Dip a rag or brush into the oil
  3. Apply with woodgrain, or just all over if on paint
  4. Coat well and allow to sit for a few minutes
  5. Remove excess off with a clean, lint-free rag
  6. Allow to dry overnight
  7. Re-apply more coats if more durability or added sheen is desired

painted and stained wood bathroom vanity from an antique sideboard

And here’s the piece topcoated! I only applied one coat leaving the piece with a much smoother, wipeable feel. With no fingerprints in sight!

But there’s one more thing to do…

cleaning up antique hardware to original lustre with vinegar and water

Refinishing original antique hardware


Even though the original hardware was quite weather-worn, I opted to clean it up vs. getting new hardware so the piece could maintain its originality.

How to restore brass antique hardware:


  1. Mix ½ cup vinegar with ½ cup water into a cooking pot.
  2. Place hardware into the solution, then heat on the stove.
  3. Slow-boil the solution with hardware for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove hardware, then scrub hardware with an old toothbrush or steel wool along with Bar Keeper’s Friend until the pieces reach your desired effect.
  5. Buff with clean rags.

I chose to leave the hardware slightly darkened so it didn’t look completely brand new.

wood bathroom vanity from an antique sideboard21

The completed antique sideboard bathroom vanity


And the end result is an incredibly gorgeous antique sideboard turned bathroom vanity with an all new look that I cannot wait to get into my primary bathroom!

Once I land a tap set and hire a plumber to get it working in my primary bathroom, I’ll add a Part 2!

natural wood top on a bathroom vanity

The natural beauty of this piece really stands out through that wood top now exposed. The hardwoods truly look like raw wood! It contrasts so lovely against the deep black paint.

View some rustic metal bathroom vanity accessories HERE

antique buffet bathroom vanity legs

And those table legs! The mix of curvy and straight lines are showroom gorgeous, and offer a nice balance of simple and ornate without being over-the-top.

Perhaps just enough room to build a custom crate or two to fit underneath for added storage or trash? It will be so fun to add just the right decor to make this piece truly shine once it’s in its final home!

View some jute area carpets HERE

vintage sideboard in a dark stain



So while this piece was pretty to start with…

wood bathroom vanity from an antique sideboard with wood top



… this finished version is stunning, and will coordinate with my primary bathroom floor so nicely!

And that is the beauty of DIY. We get to choose our finishes, and if they need touch ups, we already have all the right supplies on hand!

Isn’t customizable furniture just the best? Especially when they are solid wood bathroom vanities that are real antiques of course! A furniture refinishing project that was totally worthwhile.

Video tutorial – All steps to makeover this antique sideboard vanity


Visit above to watch how all the steps to this furniture makeover was accomplished!

wood bathroom vanity from an antique sideboard with wood top

Beginner-Friendly Furniture Refinishing Of An Antique Sideboard Bathroom Vanity

Funky Junk Interiors
Transform an old antique sideboard into a stunning bathroom vanity with these beginner-friendly furniture refinishing tips!


Refinishing the top

  • Scrape the original finish off with a paint scraper.
  • Sand the top until smooth.
  • Protect the top with General Finishes Higher Performance Dead Flat, painting on with a velour roller. Add a few coats for more water resistance.

Painting the lower cabinet

  • Degloss the original finish by washing it with a deglossing product until dull.
  • Clean with TSP Alternative by Fusion.
  • Add Fusion's paint Extender to Fusion Mineral Paint's Coal Black.
  • Brush on paint in long, sweeping smooth strokes from end-to-end without stopping in between. Apply 2 coats lightly sanding in between.
  • Once cured, (the longer the better, I waited 30 days), wipe on then wipe off a layer of Fusion's Stain and Finishing Oil in Natural to provide more durability and water resistance.
  • Treat piece with TLC for up to 30 days until all the products have properly cured.


Visit the full tutorial to watch two helpful videos of the process at:
Did you try this tutorial?Share it on Instagram and tag @funkyjunkinteriors and include #funkyjunkinteriors so we can check it out!

Pallet stenciled side table with log storage

Other unique furniture makeovers:


Pallet-style side table with fire log storage

From antique dresser to instant coffee table

Ugly IKEA dresser to crate-style for paint storage

Check out ALL my unique furniture makeovers HERE


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Categories: All Cool Projects, DIY, Furniture, Junk Drawer, Reclaimed wood projects
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5 thoughts on “Beginner-Friendly Furniture Refinishing Of An Antique Sideboard Bathroom Vanity

  1. It’s stunning! Love, love, love the raw look top.
    Just gorgeous Donna.
    Can’t wait to see Part 2!

  2. I have the same Bosch sander but I’ve had no end of trouble with sanding discs not sticking for the last few years. I bought it when I was in Australia and used it SOOOOO much, I love it. But at one stage it began flinging sanding discs. So I got a new plate. The problem was not fixed. I just bought a new plate for it on Amazon and now I am beginning to think its the discs… I think that I was probably buying Bosch sanding discs originally and havent been able to get them over the last years, hence I’m using other brands. I’m wondering if you’ve had the same issues and if it IS the discs themselves. Maybe Bosch discs have different ‘sticky’ stuff on them? I’m about to order some original Bosch discs to see, but when I saw you had the same sander I had to ask!!!

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