How we stripped our dining room built in

When we looked at this house for the first time, I was so excited when I saw that their was an original built in in the dining room. It had cute glass doors on the top and original beadboard inside the cabinet. I could just picture all of my beautiful, vintage dishes being displayed in it.

But after we moved in something was bothering me about it but I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was. It took me a few months to realize it just didn’t stand out enough. It blended in with all of the white wainscoting and the light colored walls I had chosen (Sea Salt by Sherwin Williams).

Plus if you know me at all, you know I’m a stripping queen (take that however you will ha) and I love nothing more than original, unpainted woodwork. It’s my love language. So it really was a win-win to attempt to strip it.

One of the things I was nervous about though was with it all being painted white, there was no way for me to tell before stripping if any of the old wood had been replaced. I very well could spend all of that time stripping paint, only to find a piece of new growth wood from Lowe’s hiding underneath the paint. But I finally decided it was worth the risk. If it all went wrong, I could easily just paint it white again.

Before I get into the nuts and bolts of the process, here is a list of supplies I used to get the job done, in case you have some woodwork you want to strip too.

Supplies:

– Citristrip (it’s less toxic smelling for when you have to strip indoors)

– Glad cling wrap (After applying the Citristrip, I cover it in Glad wrap and let it sit for at least 6 hours, sometimes overnight)

– Paint brush to apply the stripper

Putty knife to scrape off paint

Dental tool to scrape off paint in small areas like corners and trim

– Wide painters tape

Palm sander and sandpaper

– Mineral Spirits to wipe off wood before staining

Minwax Red Mahogony

– Paintbrush and rag to apply and wipe off stain

Minwax Clear Satin Polyurethane

Step 1:

I took off the doors from the top and bottom and took them out to the shed to strip. I applied the stripper and covered them in trash bags and let them sit for a few hours. I them used the putty knife to scrape off the paint. It took about rounds of applying stripper to get down to the wood. I wiped them clean with mineral spirits, let them dry and then sanded them before applying the stain.

When I started on the bottom doors my initial fear of finding non-original wood came true and I realized that the “middle” of the bottom doors was not wood at all but particle board. (sigh) This frustrated me a ton and I tried to come up with a solution…which ended up taking like 5 months. haha We finally decided on using some kind of beadboard in the doors, since the wood frame of it was original wood.

Chris found these beadboard pieces at Lowe’s and they could not have turned out better. They stained beautifully and in my opinion you can’t tell they weren’t there from the beginning.

Once we figured out that whole debacle, we stained them with Red Mahogany and wiped them off. I did two coats and once they were completely dry applied a coat of Poly.

Step 2.

Next up was stripping the trim. This was tricky because, obviously, we had to do it in place and I’ve never stripped anything inside. I was worried about the mess and the smell…and if i would ruin the walls. haha I am an effiecient worker but I am not a clean one so I think Chris was more nervous than I was.

I used wide painters tape to protect the walls and it did a good job!

I used a paint brush to paint on the Citristrip nice and thick and then covered it in the Gllad wrap. I left left the first batch sit for about 3 hours and then scraped it off with the putty knife. I then reapplied the stripper, covered it, and left it overnight. It works soooo much better when left overnight. It got off about two/three layers that time. But to my great dismay there were about 8 paint layers.

I used a paint brush to paint on the Citristrip nice and thick and then covered it in the Gllad wrap. I left left the first batch sit for about 3 hours and then scraped it off with the putty knife. I then reapplied the stripper, covered it, and left it overnight. It works soooo much better when left overnight. It got off about two/three layers that time. But to my great dismay there were about 8 paint layers.

I repeated the process again and it was ready for me to scrape by that night.

I am not going to lie to you and say it was easy to do…especially the intricate trip around the built in….it almost made me say some bad words. haha Chris helped me a TON and was so much better at the tedious parts than I was. I’ve always said hes the brains I’m the brawn. I get really mad at intricate things haha

We thought we were going to need to do another round of Citristrip, but then I had the ingenious idea to use a baby wipe (We’re parents okay. we use those things for everything ha) to wipe down the trim and it all came right off and you could see the beautiful wood!

Once the wood was dry, we ran the sander over it very lightly (um hello house full of dust) and then applied the stain. It took two coats.

Step 3:

Once the stain was dry (it took about 36 hours) we put the top coat of Poly on and stood back and admired what we had just accomplished. I was in love and I looked at Chris who said “We are never doing that again.” (ya win some ya lose some)

Step 4:

I am obsessed with green. Especially Artichoke Green by Sherwin Williams. In a few years I’m pretty sure my entire house will be covered in it. When I was picturing the built-in completed, I just felt like it needed a pop of color. The white shelves inside looked too stark next to the warm wood tones. So I took a chance and painted the beadboard and shelves green. AND I LOVE IT.

Step 5: (optional)

Fill your built in with beautiful, Fire King and Glasbake dishes. And watch your dreams come true through happy tears.

I hope this is helpful to any of you who may have dreamed about stripping woodwork in your old house. Take heart…if I can do it, ANYONE can. It’s a lot of work and you’ll ask yourself “What the heck was I thinking??” about 10 times throughout the process, but I have never regretted uncovering beautiful, historic woodwork. Not once.

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thecarolinafarmhouse

Wife to my sweetheart. Mother to four blessings. Keeper of the place we call home.

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