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Refresh Old Furniture Without Stripping or Sanding

You guys know I love the thrill of taking an old and poorly cared for piece of furniture, stripping it down and giving it a new take on life. But sometimes I feel like there is a call to respect the story of a piece. To leave the dings and scratches because they are part of the story, the history of that piece and they add character that speaks to its age.

In these cases, a full refinish isn’t necessary and I often turn to a simple technique to refresh the piece and protect it so it lasts for many years to come. I think I will coin the term “stain cleaning’ for this, because that is essentially how it works.

Most recently I used this on an antique flip top desk I found on Facebook marketplace. This desk was a stunner. Clearly very old. I couldn’t find manufacturer info on it. It was in decent shape, but the wood felt pretty dry, and it was marked with various stains and scratches. This kind of desk is very unique and from what my Googling research shows, worth A LOT more than the $80 I paid for it.

refresh old furniture without stripping or sanding

To start this process I make sure the piece is clean. There was a large red stain on this piece on the left side of the top. I used a melamine foam pad (generic Magic Eraser, you can buy them in bulk for CHEAP here!) to scrub away the stain, and to wipe down he rest of the desk to remove any dirt and build up.

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