Pearls and Marbles … They Don't Go Together!

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It’s always so delightful to see furniture in a home that has remained first in the family. From chest of drawers, dressers, dining table and chairs and bedroom suites, some family’s pass down their most treasured pieces because of this one reason – it’s always been in the family. So, before it finds a a new home in a niece’s apartment loft, or a grandson’s college dorm … long before it graces a new breakfast nook for a happily wed couple, or stores linens for a nursery, it first had its place “in the family.”

Pieces that are handed down are more than that – they are treasured through time. In our own home, Rip and I have tucked in almost every room a treasure that first had its home in either his grandmother’s kitchen or my parents family room; either in his dad’s guest room or in my grandfather’s sitting room.

But what do you do in order to preserve them? Does refinishing the piece with hours of sanding and more hours of staining and even more hours of sealing HAVE to be the task required? Not necessarily. Painting is always an option. But that can be tricky…from chalk painting to oil based, to water based stains and paints … the options are limitless and the time needed can be daunting.

However, what is important when considering how to refinish, is to stand back and just look at it. Look at with a fresh coat of white – look at with a deeper stain – look at distressed or painted in a soft hue of green or blue.  Try to see the finished piece in your mind and definitely use Pinterest or Google images to help you. Photos can save hundreds of mistakes and mishaps!

Here’s a great rule of thumb – if it is a highly traditional piece (like ball and claw dining set) I would not paint it white. Not pure white. Or try to paint and distress it. This is why – white usually takes a piece of furniture  in either 1 of 3 directions –

  • French Country  II french country white chairs


  • Farmhouse  II farmhouse white chairs


  • Contemporary
  • II contemporary white chairs










But to take a traditional piece like ball and claw and paint it white, or any color and/or try to distress it … (with all the ornate wood carvings) …  it will not come out looking like any of the above options. It will come out looking more like these in the photo below.

(Bless ’em…they tried! But the gold, and pink and deep gray balls just got me! And you just don’t “distress” ball and claw. It’s like taking a beautiful strand of pearls and adding kids marbles to the string. I love pearls and I love marbles, but on the same string? No. Pearls and marbles … they don’t go together. Painting highly traditional pieces just looks a little odd … to me.)

ball and claw collage

So, what can we do to refine our family’s “firsts?” We can do something as simple as sanding it all down…and sealing it. One growing trend right now is just that – to sand off as much of the stain as possible, and not being necessarily neat about it, and then sealing it. Walking away and living with it … just like that!

Here are some photos to inspire you..some of the wood is oak, some is poplar, some is pine…but it all varies in how it originally absorbed the stain, how it will look after it has been sanded down.

A beautiful heirloom sits in a foyer having been sanded to its raw wood….gorgeous and elegant!



A sofa table and an armoire….looks great, right?

II refinished furniture 4

Another table with 2 great finishes!!

II refinished furniture 5

Nothing but beautiful with this piece!! It had been stained and painted and now rather imperfectly sanded down.

II refinished furniture 6

Even with the sliding doors that everyone seems to love now….you don’t have to paint them if they are the wrong shade of stain. Another option is to simply sand them down. Seal them and enjoy all the movement of wood grains!

II refinished furniture 7

This is exactly what Rip did to a piece he brought home from TN and it now sits in our dining space –

Before …

corner cabinet BEFORE


corner cabinet after

We added some feet and a strip of trim across the bottom that we need to lightly stain and then let it sit for 48 hours, before sanding it off. Just need it to color the wood just a tad. But as he sanded, we noticed the different varieties of wood that this one piece had in it…and I loved, absolutely loved how funky it turned out.

I still haven’t decided if I want to change the knobs….what’s your thoughts?

Here is where this little treasure now has a new home …

II Cupboard in dining space



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lisa rippy


  1. Carlene Brown on March 18, 2017 at 6:49 pm

    In one of our videos you mentioned that you chalk paint and that you were doing a video on chalk painting …. I’d love to begin chalk painting and would LOVE to see your video on the subject, but I can’t find it.

    • Lisa Rippy on March 28, 2017 at 11:54 am

      I will post a new one within the next week 🙂

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