Scheming Again

By Kate Riley September 30, 2010

So it’s no secret I love old furniture.  And thrift stores.  And the paint department.  The three combined bring me great joy and make my world complete.

Like so many of you, I love to fix up older pieces with stain or paint, and give them cool new hardware.  You know, bring them into this century.   Which is why I wander around local thrift stores and spend hours on Craigslist when I should be folding laundry.  Yet again, I was out ‘shopping’ yesterday, and found a few gems I really want to bring home.

Especially when I see this sign when I walk in.

furniture 50 percent off


This antique dresser just needs a little love, but I’d never paint it.  The burled wood is just too pretty.  And a glass top too!

walnut dresser


I can hear these end tables whisper, ‘Please paint me antique white, distress my edges, and replace my knobs with some crystal bling instead’.  I may just have to heed their call, since they are only $15 each on sale.



I love the lines on this piece.  It seems everyone knows someone with this style of dresser.  Dark stain or light paint (cream or gray) either way, it’s lovely.

brown walnut dresser


Even more beauties.  Such potential!

endtables 2


How cool is this hall tree bench?  Don’t you love that hutch!  Wouldn’t it be stunning in robin’s egg blue?

hutch and hall tree


Today, I’m loving this midcentury style credenza for my office to replace the ‘pretty but not storage friendly’ sofa.  It’s weathered and the top is *gasp* Formica, so I see it painted in pewter gray with nickel pulls.  Plus momma really needs some file cabinets.  I’m kinda liking that lamp too, it’s tall and has a gorgeous shape.  It would be stunning in glossy black.




And the crème-de-la-crème.  Be still my heart.

french styel dresser


I’ve spoken to several local antique stores and boutiques who are wanting to sell my pieces.  Which is why I’m in the market for one of these.

cambell hausfeld sprayer


Or one of these.

graco true coat


Just as soon as I epoxy the garage floor.  And just as soon as I can convince my hub his parking spot in that same garage may become my new ‘shop’.   Notice how I said his  parking spot.    smiley_thumb6

What’s your latest thrift store find?  Got any recommendations on a professional grade sprayer?  Do share!



  1. OH EM GEEEEE!!! Those are gorgeous! And 50% off…there’s no way I could resist!!! You should have bought all of them…you have an excuse…its a business expense! :)

  2. oh wow i would love that thrift store!! a lot of that furniture would of come home with me! The last dresser especially!!

    wowwy! and where do you live again!?!

  3. Ok now, really? WHERE DO YOU LIVE? Because pretty much every thrift store I’ve ever been too has had ugly furniture from the 80s or from Ikea.

  4. Wow, I have never seen a thrift store with so many good pieces of furniture on one day. Is it always this packed with furniture. Ours are so small. Did you get the burled wood one? So pretty. Congrats on finding places to sell your stuff!

  5. Drooling!! I want that last piece!!! Girl, I have been stalking my Salvation Army and Goodwill for several months now for a decent (non-falling apart) dresser to make into a buffet for my dining room. No luck so far. When they do have the “make us an offer” days, the selection is usually just not there. I’m going to keep plugging away!

  6. I can’t believe you had ALL OF THOSE FINDS at one store! Where do you live?! I could never find anything of that quality priced appropriately…I did find an ok carved sideboard at the salvation army, but it had a price tag of 500$ ! Seriouly, where does a charity get off charging so much?

  7. Hi! I love all those pieces! I live in the bay area and wondering what are your favorite thrift stores so I know where to find the good stuff!! Thanks!

  8. Congrats to you!! Those are great side tables, I’m on the look out for two vintage side tables for my sons room, wish me luck :)

    Q: What are you favorite thrift stores to shop out where you live?

  9. Oh, I am lusting after a paint sprayer myself. I have been leaving (many) gentle hints for my husband about Xmas presents.

  10. Katrina and Holly ~ This is my fav place for furniture, it’s the St. Vincent de Paul in Rohnert Park. People donate the best stuff here! And the regular prices are all $50 to $200, so on sale, I can pick up stuff for half off. Yippeee!

  11. Wow, what great finds – they make my heart beat just a little faster! I too am looking at paint sprayers and trying to convince my hubby that his car really looks better in the driveway!

  12. Kate, you’ve got much better furniture at your thriftstore than we do around here. I find a few gems, but those are ALL great looking pieces. And 1/2 price! Wow, what fun. I don’t have any more room for furniture, but it would be fun to dream about it.

    And how fun you are starting a new venture! You are brave. :) I don’t think I could add one more thing to my plate. I wish you the BEST!

  13. AAAHHH! I want to move to your town! I love that thrift store! I would love to “makeover” pieces for my local antique stores, too. Am just starting out and don’t really know where to start. I just know I love doing this, and I can only put s much in my own home.. ;-)
    Do you ave any advice for me?

  14. Do you have a good local paint store that rents sprayers ? Ours sells off it’s used sprayers around this time of year….. ~ C

  15. I am convinced that I need a painted cupboard type of thingy in the family room – next to the fireplace. Reading your blog – bad idea for me – cause I cannot find one that would look good!! Actually – I cannot find any big enough – any over two feet tall!! Please, someone in my area decide to donate your stuff so I can repurpose it!!!

  16. I have a couple of paint sprayers and they are both from MAC tools. One is a siphon sprayer with a 1 qt. capacity and I also have a gravity feed. Both are wonderful. But to use either one, you need an air compressor. Which is also a great investment. I use the air compressor to pump up the kids bike tires, my own car tires, floaties for the pool, basketballs, and most importantly….painting and other home remodeling chores. I’ve painted my bathroom vanity, all of the baseboards, doors and trim and lots of furniture. Buy an air compressor and a paint sprayer.

  17. I was at St. Vincent in RP yesterday too :) Maybe we passed each other wandering around with visions of thrift store scores running around in our heads..
    Great finds indeed..I love the end tables.
    I found some great Stainless Steel Bowls at Goodwill.. I was so excited.. Total chef quality..

    we bought a Graco paint sprayer from Lowes and I love it!.. Have fun

  18. I am seriously in the market for a paint sprayer. Whenever you figure out which one to get, please do a review or let us know how it is working out for you…or just email me to tell me. I would love to hear…but don’t have money to burn to buy two or three to see which one works.

  19. Ditto what Katie said.
    The hubs is getting me a sprayer for my birthday. I think I’ve settled on a separate gun and compressor, but I’m so uncertain! There are a million different systems to choose from and everyone’s got something to say.
    The reason I’m leaning toward the separate gun is because, from everything I’ve been reading, they have the easiest cleanup.

  20. I never seem to find great things that those at my local thrift store. Maybe I need to move somewhere where the people have better taste and better stuff to throw out. I did recently find a great cream lamp for $4 and a charming little oil painting for $1.

  21. Thanks Kate – I live in Sac, so next time i’m at that way wine tasting, I’m stopping there! :) Our Local Vincent de Paul, is so so.

  22. I don’t know a thing about paint sprayers….but I hope someone does, and you tell us which is the best.
    My latest (best) thrift shop deal was a sewing machine, Kenmore, practically new, 2003, that was marked ….$4.99 because no one in the store could figure out how to get it unstuck…..I thought I would take it home and work on it……and very soon there after I had a practically new machine! I love it! I will be going back there often.

  23. Wow, I really love a few of those pieces- especially the last one!

    I was going to save this for a blog post next week, but I’ll tell you about it- heck, I’m so excited I have to tell someone!

    Last night at 1am my husband went to bring the garbage out and came back in with a smile and said ‘Hey love, someone put out a solid wood dresser out by the road down the street, come check it out’. So I did, and we hobbled it across the street, 7 houses down, and in my front door. JACKPOT! Not only is it solid wood, and has beautiful curves- but it had a tag in one of the drawers from 1959- and I’m loving mid century furniture right now. This weekend is our once year anniversary, so we’re planning on sanding, painting, and buying new hardware for it. LOVE!!!

  24. Wow – what great pieces! Those two coordinating blue/gray pieces look like they came straight from the Wisteria catalog – perfecto. And I have no doubt that you would make those other pieces just as gorg! Best of luck on your new venture!

    I love looking at Craigslist ads in Northern California – the only problem is that I don’t live in California. Earlier this year, one of my friends who lives in the Bay Area was kind enough to inspect, pick up, and mail me 8 Williams Sonoma Home silk wide stripe drapery panels (in pewter and cream with inverted pleats!) from Berkeley. Of course, as my husband likes to remind me, that doesn’t now give me a license to shop on Craigslist in other states.

  25. All I know is that if you use water based paints for your furniture then your better off with an airless sprayer. And HVLP is good for clear coats and oil based paints. Supposedly. I did a ton of reserch before I bought mine and there were a lot of people saying that you really needed an HVLP for fine finishing. So that’s what I got. I was talking into a $500 HVLP (a Wagner something or other) that the person helping me said would be fine with water paints and give me a fantastic finish. I’ve now had it 5 years and not used it once because I’ve never been able to get it right. I’ve seen paint jobs done with airless sprayers and it looks fabulous! You just need to buy an additional tip (they are inexpensive in the scheme of things). You have more overspray and therefor use more paint but they can spray thicker paint so you don’t have to dilute (much). Of course, there are hundreds of airless and HVLP models to choose from so I don’t think this comment has been much help at all. All I know is that I’m in the market for an airless when I’ve already spend a good chunk of cash on an HVLP that I am NOT happy with. I sure hope you share your decision with us when you make one. Good luck.

  26. Did you REALLY find those in a thrift store???? OH some of those are stunning…who would donate those?? I would be unable to type because of the drool……lucky you…and yes, your business venture is a definite must and said husband should move on over, baby. ;D


  27. You have got a better thrift store than I my friend… sigh.
    I work at ICI paints and we sell those Graco handheld sprayers. They are great, BUT they will only last for about 50 gallons of paint and then they are toast. If you’re planning on painting a lot of furniture (especially if you’re selling things), I would highly suggest buying a 390 airless. They are slightly more expensive but will last you much longer. We usually just recommend the handheld to contractors painting trim and doing touch ups.
    Just my two cents!

  28. Violet, that is an amazing find! Email me pics when you’re done, would love to see what you do.

    Sandra, thanks so much for this information. I’m learning so much from you pros!


  29. GOSH! I want to go to that thrift store! I can’t wait to see what you got and what you do with them! I just scored the most beautiful blue and green mistints from Lowes the other day. I can’t wait to try them out soon!

  30. We have probably crossed paths, Kate! I’m in that store quite often. How funny. I love their 50% sales.

  31. That is a great thrift store. The only one I have found with decent furniture has way to high of prices. Probably best or I would spend WAY to much money and make my hubby even more unhappy by stuffing more into the garage. I LOVED your post. I could pretty much say “ditto” to everything you said, since you say it so much better than me!
    Excited for you to get a sprayer, it’s one of those things that I would love to invest in someday! Have a great day!

  32. Are you going to do a tutorial on the epoxy of the garage floor? I’m about to do that and never have. Any tips? That is a great thrift store! Sadly, there is nothing like that where I live (at least not that I’ve found yet)

  33. Kate. I am your biggest fan. I kid you not.

    It’s all a lil heartbreaking tho, cos I’m all the way out in Singapore where decent affordable furniture (or thrift stores that house them, if we’ve even GOT such things as thrift stores!) and hardware stores with stock of reliable supplies are elusive.

    I look at these pictures and I ache to get my hands on them and maybe fix em up half as well as you do. That kinda opportunity can only be dreamed about right now. Sads.

    Because I can only live vicariously through you and others of your ilk, please, get that Formica cabinet, and DO SOME MAGIC. For me. Pretty please?

  34. As soon as I saw that whiteboard sign, and the massive furniture room in your photos, I knew you made it to the St Vincent dePaul thrift store in Rohnert Park. Their furniture section knows no bounds, what a treasure cave for you and your creative eye.

  35. Fantastic finds!

    I’ll be curious to read about your search for the perfect sprayer and whether it is worth the investment. Why epoxy the garage floor? Is it easier to clean if you get some spillover spray?

  36. Thank you for thinking to share such treasures with us CG. I am drooling and have goosebumps just looking at the pics of some of those lovely pieces!

    As for the sprayer, you might check in with Tim, the Remodeling Guy, he has a lot of wisdom about hardware bits, or at least has some experience with said items.

    Now I have to go wipe the drool out of my keyboard.

  37. You have the BEST thrift stores near you! We don’t have any like that here (in Atlanta). Or at least not that I know of. Sad :(

    Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  38. i am salivating over the deals for those furniture pieces. I live in NY and while I do have a few large thrift stores with great selections the prices are ridiculous. Dressers, sofas, etc. start at about $200 – $300 and up!! I’m not kidding, they may as well be new retail prices for second hand furniture, used, scratched, chipped wood,missing hardware! I got a “steal” for a mint art deco wardrobe at $236 once at a SVdP. I guess it’s a blessing in disguise otherwise I couldn’t walk away from anything like in your post. I’d be the “Old woman who lived in a pile of furniture!”

  39. I don’t know a ton about paint sprayers (yet)… but I do know that when I buy one it will be gravity fed. I am secretly hoping that husband does most of the research for me and then just hooks it up to his compressor so I can use it :)

  40. I saw that same antique dresser but I have no place to put it. I’ve been looking for a desk (table style) but saw a small desk that was similar to the dresser but the top needed some work. Can you give me any suggestions on how I could make it look better without painting.

  41. what beautiful finds! i can’t wait to see you new space in the garage. i too have a very nice space carved out for myself in the garage. what i’d give for a basement!!

    Happy Friday ~ Elizabeth

  42. How exciting for you! I can’t wait to hear all about your new adventures. You’re so talented and will do well!

    Sounds like that St. Vincent de Paul’s is a great place for furniture finds. WOW!

  43. Oh the fun you could have with a sprayer!!! Kate, your comment this week about me giving you a kick in the pants gave me the biggest laugh. As if! I get tired just reading about all that you do! Have a great weekend, my dear!

  44. Fabulous finds-furniture sales makes my heart pitter patter- Doesn’t True Value sell sprayers? I’d probably ask the pros for their recommendations!

  45. Funny that you are considering a paint sprayer- I lust after vans in which to transport such finds. I joke that my dream car is a Dodge Sprinter van, or the new Ford Transit connect… how do you schlep all your finds around?

    My darling husband has suggested that I rent a storage unit around the corner from our house in order to start storing and selling my finds from there rather than have our house littered with random furniture…

  46. Is this at a Goodwill type store? I swear you find the BEST furniture! I’d gladly buy a piece you’ve redone if I were in your area! I am on the hunt for a dresser for a nursery and a smallish dresser for our front room, but I never seem to have the luck that you do (or the skill perhaps).

  47. I love, Love that hall tree bench. I’ve always wanted one of those, and as soon as I have an actual hall to put it in, I’ll be on the lookout for one.

  48. I may have missed the basics in an older post, but can you tell me what you recommend for primer before painting. Does anyone have a favorite soft white to recommend? Thanks, I’ve “found my people” right here!

  49. I may have missed it in a previous post, but what is your recommendation for a good primer before painting? And does anyone have a favorite soft white paint to suggest? I’m so happy I just found this blog today, I’ve found my people!

  50. I would definitely second the advice to get a separate sprayer and air compressor. I’ve done some research on the airless sprayers and one person said “They’re good for dribbling paint on the ground, taking apart and giving away.” Plus the air compressor is great because it can be used with many other tools like a nail gun or stapler for upholstery (which I just purchased). I got my equipment from Harbor Freight Tools. Just be sure that the compressor is capable of producing enough PSI for the tool you buy.

    I also love the paint sprayer idea because it not only because it saves money on spray paint (and fumes!), but it also eliminates all those nasty propellants from polluting the air.

    Be sure to post about what you end up getting (I’m sure you will!) and how you like it.

  51. OH MY GOSH!!! Why could I not live closer to you?! My daughter has the 4-poster bed and tall dresser that matches your night stand and that wide French dresser. I’d snap both of ’em up in a HEARTBEAT! Ours are refinished in Restoration Hardware’s The Right White (tinted in oil-based Ben Moore), and I had the holes for the handles filled so I could use the crystal knobs from RH instead. Every time I see her dresser, I smile.

  52. So crazy — I just rescued the exact same set of end tables (from the second pic) from my mom’s basement and we’re using them as night tables. They were in my grandparents’ house for who knows how many years.

  53. I was wondering what the names of the thrit store, I just moved to this countrry and have no idea where to look. I would greatly appreciate it. You have done such Beautiful work!! Thanks

  54. I found two adorable sconces in a thrift store that were actually a matched set! They had a turquoise colored glass bubble on the front. I’ve never been a fan of turquoise, but I brought them home, sprayed the shiny brass fittings with pewter finish, and added new shades. We actually mounted them to the high headboard of our bed in the master bedroom, and they look beautiful! I changed up a few other things in the room to accommodate the new turquoise color, and tone that down by mixing in some other blues that go well. The biggest surprise? Each of these gorgeous lamps was marked at $2.88, but I got them half-price because it was senior citizens day! Woo hoo!

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