Little Known Insider Tips for Getting Expensive Looking Decor + Sources



Oh dear, another reader who wants expensive looking decor and fell short…


Dear Laurel,

I’m another one of your budget readers. But then again, aren’t most of us? Recently, I ordered a mirror and it wasn’t terribly expensive but oh man, when it arrived I was so excited. And then after struggling for nearly 30 minutes (felt like 30 hours), I finally got the bloody thing out of the box.

The box looked like a pack of deranged gorillas had gotten a hold of it.

The mirror, itself– while I love the design, the finish gets a solid D— Instead of a believable antique finish, it is obviously spray painted with a fairly matte even texture and barely even metallic looking.

Well, there’s no returning this thing now that the box has been pulverized by my attempts to extricate the cheap-looking mirror from its packing.

Fiona Foolzgold



Yeah, they sure do pack those mirrors up tightly. And they have to, because there’s only one thing worse than struggling with a mirror for 30 minutes to get it out of its box. It’s struggling for 30 minutes, only to discover that the mirror has a giant crack running down the entire length of the mirror.

I swear that those fragile stickers get interpreted as “let’s throw this thing around and put a piano on top… hehehe”

But… the finish. I know.

Did you ever order something online for your home and found that it looked completely different from what you were expecting?

Or did you find something at a flea market that even the fleas wouldn’t touch it’s such a mess. But, aside from that, if only…

Well, this post is an overview about:

  • working within a limited means,
  • fixing pieces so that they look amazing
  • and some pieces I’ve found that look a lot more expensive than they are and/or getting the same look for a lot less.


Let’s begin with a bad finish on any metallic piece– say an antique gold piece.


Oh, I see it all the time. Horrid, just horrid. Like, who do they think they’re kidding?

But, this works even IF the piece is not even trying to look like metal. It could be wood or plastic–anything.

We could do real gold leaf.

Anyone ever do that? I did once in a decorative painting class and aside from the noxious odors, the class was incredibly fun. One thing we did was take a piece of moulding and gold leaf it and then antique it.

I had my little piece of moulding for quite a while but don’t know what happened to it now. It was my favorite thing I made in that week. And it looked quite believably old, I think.

But real gold leaf is expensive and it’s a massive-headache to work with. I mean it’s whisper-thin and the slightest bit of breeze will have it crumple up into something unusable. Yes, I know, it’s not all hopeless, but it’s not easy either.

Here’s the One King’s Lane Connecticut House living room’s fireplace and surround. Remember we featured it last Wednesday. Over the mantel is a classic Federal mirror with an Eagle. On their site I found one that’s quite stunning.


And it’s also quite expensive @ $3,795.00 for this Federal Giltwood mirror at One King’s Lane. I’m sure that it’s worth that, but it’s not in my budget.

And I know someone is going to tell me that they found one of these at a tag sale for 15 bucks. OR you inherited one from your great, great-grandmother– along with a wad of cash.

That’s very nice. I’m very happy for you.

But not everyone has wealthy, classy ancestors. Some of us were raised by poor slobs. Not our fault!

So, what to do, what to do???

Well I found a Hickory Manor House Regency Convex mirror for less than 1/10th the price, but the finish is not very believable. It’s an obvious fake and we can’t have that!

And here, after putting it through a Picmonkey alteration is what it might look like if we got some paints and did a number on it. This is Laurel’s version of DIY. But hey, you get the idea. (I hope!)

Okay, what do you recommend, Laurel?


I knew that you were going to ask me that, so I took the liberty of gathering some products/techniques I’ve used and some others that look terrific.

First of all, it depends what you are trying to do. Are you trying to match something? Do you want it to look very distressed?


I find it very helpful to take a piece that you already have as a reference for what you are going for.


It might be an antique gold frame or even one that’s not antique that’s very well-done.

What I usually do is get a whole bunch of stuff (paints) and then experiment. But if you have a tried-and-true method/paint, that’s okay too. And if you DO, please tell us what it is!

If you are painting something that isn’t already gold, then you might need an all-over wash of gold paint. You might even need a primer. But often good ol’ spray paint will do the trick. That’s for the base color. Sometimes it’s nice to do an umber or even red. Red looks great underneath gold.

Then you’ll have an even surface of gold like the cheap mirror.

I advise either removing the frame (if it were this or some other mirror) or using blue tape and plastic to cover the mirror or other parts of your piece, if you can’t.

Some of you may remember this piece that I painted two and a half years ago. If you want to see the before piece, click here.


modern masters metallic paint


Modern Masters Olympic Gold Metallic Paint

Gosh, I didn’t even add it in the post at that time. Well, I deserve a break on that one because my BFF was dying.  But this stuff is wonderful. First of all, it’s water based and there is absolutely no odor whatsoever– plus it’s easier to clean your brush.

I am very happy with the way the chandeliers turned out. We did add some real beeswax candle sleeves later on.

But, there are some other wonderful faux gold leaf products (paints) on the market for you to try.

I’ve heard good things about Martha Stewart’s Liquid Gold paint

rub and buff gold leaf metallic finish

And then there’s the uhhhh…  the gold standard – Rub ‘n Buff

Rub ‘n buff is exactly what it says. You dab it on with a paper towel and rub it in/off to get the effect that you want with a paper towel.  My two favorite shades of gold are Gold Leaf and Grecian Gold

I love the way that Jennifer Rizzo of Sanctuary Art used Run ‘n Buff to create hi-lights on an antique gold frame.

You’ll sometimes need to add darker paints to get that dimensional quality. Don’t laugh, but I’ve even used waxed shoe polish to get that effect. It mixes really well with run ‘n buff. This is a good tutorial that explains a good technique for that.


For tons of images and tutorials with Rub ‘n Buff – click here.

I very much recommend that you wear gloves too. I’m very bad about that and invariably end up looking like James Bond’s girlfriend in Gold Finger.

haha ;]

Oh dear, the post should be half-way done and I’ve only covered faux gold leafing?! But, accents with a rich antique-gold finish is one of the best ways to make a room look rich. And a really bad gold finish will cheapen a room like nothing else. You can paint – ANYTHING. So, please bear this in mind if you get something and the finish is sub-par.

I know that a lot of you love perusing consignment shops and flea markets for treasures.

But not everyone has access to these and/or wants to take the time to do so.

And this is why God invented Ebay. Remember the days when it really was only an online auction house? Now, almost everything has a “buy now” option. Most vendors also accept offers.

But before I show you more goodies from Ebay, I want to mention another favorite of mine.

circa who ming baker table
One of my fave online sources for those who don’t live in West Palm Beach Florida is Circa Who. There one can find vintage treasures from decades ago. And the prices are quite reasonable. Often, they have repainted the finish, but many have their original finish such as this Baker Opium table.

But, you have to get in there, because the great stuff only lasts a few minutes, if that. I think that if one is seriously looking for a particular piece that it’s a great idea to call them up and see if they have it or have them be on the look out for it. I’ve never worked with them, but I had a client who did who said that they are super-nice.

I love these vintage pieces–not necessarily to do a whole room in vintage style, but a great coffee table like William McLure has makes such a stylish statement.

Charming home decor of William McClure

I adore William’s blind fretwork coffee table! And he hand-painted it.  (natch– since he paints almost everything) The top has this faux something or other that is way cool!

Oh, how I love that boy’s style! And yes, yes… I know, I know… the books, the books! lol But he’s so gosh darned talented AND he’s following me on instagram— so there! :]

Oh wow! I found almost the exact table to this on 1st Dibs. Now, don’t get me wrong. I adore 1st Dibs. Who doesn’t? But I use 1st Dibs for inspiration and/or if my client is one of Forbes 500 richest in the world.

Thomasville fretwork chinese chippendale coffee table 1st dibs

Thomasville vintage Hollywood Regency Fretwork Chinese Chippendale coffee table found on 1st Dibs for $3,600


details Thomasville fretwork chinese chippendale coffee table 1st dibs
So, let’s say that you aren’t digging the wood top. If you are planning on painting the table anyway, you could have a new wood top made for table.

As for the price. I think that you could eventually find a table like this for less based on other things I’ve seen, but there’s worse.

A lot worse.

And yes, this is the real thing, I’m sure– an authentic late 18th century Chinese Chippendale serving table, probably hand-carved by Mr Chippendale himself. It should be with a price of  27 Large. It does come with a marble top from David Skinner Antiques. I’m sure that it’s quite rare and worth that, but for the 99.999% of us, that’s going to be a teensy tad out-of-reach.

But… getting back to Ebay for some expensive looking furniture for our expensive looking decor.

Vintage-Henredon-Walnut-Fretwork-Square-Coffee-Cocktail-Table-Hollywood-RegencyHere is a vintage Henredon walnut fretwork square coffee cocktail table from ebay for only $599.00!!!

I would paint this baby like William McLure’s table. Oh, how handsome it would be! One thing I love about these vintage coffee tables is that they are usually lower than the new ones out there. This one is my favorite height of 16″.  Stop grousing about having to bend over a little further. It’s good for your abs!

Vintage Henredon coffee table ebay

As for painting vs leaving it wood. I realize that for many it’s unthinkable to paint stained wood. But you’ll admit that this finish has had better days. So what to do about that?


restor-a-finish for faded wood finishes

Restor-A-Finish – This stuff is A-mazing!!!

This is a very good post about this product on Centsational Girl.


Full disclosure. I’ve never actually used it. haha. But I saw a zillion before and after photos that have convinced me that this is an awesome product. And it has gotten rave reviews.


Did you know that you can get great vintage tables and other furniture on Ebay as well as Etsy and Chairish?


Those are three of my favorite sources for vintage furnishings. But there are dozens more in Laurel’s Rolodex.

And one can find some great deals for expensive looking, but not-expensive, furniture.


But you have to know what to look for.


I sometimes start by searching on those vendors’ websites for certain keywords.


And this is only a partial list.


opium coffee table (also try cocktail table)

Chinese Chippendale coffee table

Chinese Chippendale fretwork coffee table

Chinese Chippendale Ming table


But it could be anything you are interested in


And then I would try a search for some great vendors that are known for beautiful vintage furnishings:


Baker on Etsy

Henredon on Etsy

Thomasville on Etsy

etsy The Collector Loft neo - classic stools by Baker

From Etsy Vendor –  The Collector Loft vintage neo-classic stools by Baker for only $975 for the pair

These are so gorgeous and that is a great price for these classic stools.

V For Vintage on Etsy

I adore Chinese Chippendale and these handsome occasional chairs are only $575 for the pair. Sweet.


Pro Refine Furnishings – Six Vintage Mid-Century dining chairs from Henredon found on Etsy for only $687.00!!!  Whaaaa???  I mean, how can you go wrong?!? I would mix these with two complementary upholstered host chairs. Of course, they need some different upholstery, but they are only $115.00/each!

A fabulous country/rustic painted china cabinet – vintage Thomasville found on Etsy for $525.00!!!  Hold the phone Loretta!!! Like, are they kidding? That must be a typo. That’s nuts! A boring piece of unpainted furniture costs more than that!

Who knew?

Oh man… I could keep going on here for about another century. This is instead of wine for me! Here are links that will take you directly to some of the good stuff on Ebay, for starters.

Vintage Baker – Ebay

Henredon  – Ebay

Drexel Heritage – Ebay

Thomasville – Ebay

pair baker furniture french style pecan end tables - ebay
How elegant and expensive looking are these vintage Baker French Pecan side tables found on Ebay for only $895.00! No way! You can’t get a decent side table on Pottery Barn for 45o bucks!

What would you pay for this way cool French-style mid-century-in-perfect-condition sofa? $1,500 – $2,000? How does $199 – sound? 1970’s Hickory Wood Sofa found on Ebay.

There has to be a catch.

Here are a couple of terrific links over at Chairish.

Baker – Chairish

Thomasville – Chairish

Love this pair of vintage Thomasville faux bamboo Hollywood Regency chests from Chairish – Vendor, Nueve

What’s terrific on Chairish is that you can see more from the vendor as well as more like the piece you are looking at.

chairish faux bamboo chest - from Adore Mid-CenturyVintage Thomasville faux bamboo chest from Chairish, newly lacquered in Benjamin Moore Simply White– only $1,250.00 – The vendor is Adore Mid-Century. I think that price is insanely reasonable because it’s a lot of work to lacquer a large piece of furniture.


Cool Vintage Furniture from One Kings Lane, Etsy, Ebay and Chairish

The sofa up top is vintage Thomasville and only $1,500 from Chairish. What a classic and it looks brand new!

The coffee table on the lower left is from Baker and is on One King’s Lane for only $1,295 which is a very good price for that awesome piece. But it too is a one-of-a-kind.

For those of you who saw this graphic either on instagram or in your email from me, did you guess which piece was the most expensive? And which one was the least expensive? I know that I would’ve gotten it wrong. Yes, definitely. Definitely wrong. :]

Well, I must stop for today because my eyes have turned into squares. But there’s much, much more. I’m loving this getting the look for less thing. Hope that you’re enjoying it too!




This post contains affiliate links for products I love.


5th edition rolodex-post-graphic - November 2018 - A unique shopping guide with hundreds of sources created by Laurel Bern

  • Diane Stewart - April 10, 2017 - 7:50 PM

    One of the reasons I love your blog is because you’re reasonable. You admit most of your readers can’t pay big bucks for nice things! I love the works of many famous interior designers, BUT, it’s obvious they only work for the 1%. Yet, the rest of us love beautiful things too.

    We downsized three years ago, and had to spend big bucks updating the exterior of our new (old) home. The unexpected expenses lead me to consignment shops for furniture to fill our smaller spaces. I’ve found lots of fab furniture in the brands you mentioned, and discovered I love the chase. I bought a lovely French country table, with three leaves, and six chairs for only $425.00! I love it, but the finish is flaking, and if you look at it funny, it gets spots. Bought RAF, but haven’t gotten up the nerve yet. Thanks for all the great info!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 10, 2017 - 7:56 PM

      Hi Diane,

      Thanks for the lovely comment! I’m kicking myself that I didn’t take a photo of my little white wing chair in my bedroom.

      It was the filthiest rag at the flea market, with it’s stuffing falling out. But I saw a piece with great lines knew that my upholsterer could work his magic on it. And he did!ReplyCancel

  • Kristie Barnett, The Decorologist - April 10, 2017 - 6:37 PM

    Hi Laurel,

    I have bought many things over the years from Ebay and EBTH that I loved for their style and character, then painting them to transform them for my home or my clients. AND, I’m completely addicted to estate sales, where I find the greatest treasures. I’m a big fan of gold, and I’ve used several different kinds of paint to get the effect I want on everything from chairs to table bases. Ralph Lauren Metallics – Golden Candlestick has been my favorite, but I’m not sure they make it anymore. Restore-a-Finish is awesome, it gives a whole new life to old dried out wood!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 10, 2017 - 7:40 PM

      Hi Kristie,

      Great tips! I’ve learned so much since blogging. And I keep forgetting to mention but this is my 5-year blogiversary! It’s been like 15 years of design school.

      I must get me some Restore-a-Finish– stat!ReplyCancel

      • Rachel Liberman - April 12, 2017 - 11:07 PM

        I used restor a finish on an antique curio that had lots of crazing (cracks in the finish) I had never used it before, and the piece looks great. It refreshed the finish, it almost feels like old leather. I use the touch of orange cleaner and polish to maintain the piece. (I think i got all three on the touch of orange site). Great stuff, and saved me from having to pay for pro repair.ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 12, 2017 - 11:38 PM

          Hi Rachel,

          Thanks so much for that endorsement of the products. That’s very helpful for all of us!ReplyCancel

  • Therese Conway - April 10, 2017 - 5:03 PM

    Oh, Laurel, I love this post. Brought back memories of my mother. She used to always say “When in doubt, spray paint it gold.” We had a lot of gold things in our house. Even better than Etsy, Ebay or Chairish (not available in her days) was the side of the road, or a dusty shop (if they dust, the price goes up” she would say). She was a Formby’s gal. Thanks for writing such a fun piece.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 10, 2017 - 7:37 PM

      Hi Therese,

      The side of the road works for me. In fact, a not-so-secret way of getting some great pieces is on the streets of NYC! It’s customary for people moving to just leave their stuff on the sidewalk. (on purely residential streets)

      I remember when I moved in 1987. My then fiance, put stuff out on the sidewalk and the next time we came downstairs, it was gone. And believe me, it wasn’t anything great.ReplyCancel

  • Gilda - April 10, 2017 - 10:50 AM

    Laurel, I really look forward to you posts, especially because it has the potential for giving my the one and only belly laugh I could ever ask for in a day! Your presentation is an “I read every word” type of post and I save more of your posts than of other blogs I read. This post is especially interesting as I have 2 of those Federal convex mirrors AND some Rub-n-buff SOMEWHERE around here..they do need to marry-up NOW!!! I’m encouraged..thank you for the decor FUNReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 10, 2017 - 7:34 PM

      Hi Gilda,

      Perfect Golden name! Glad you enjoyed the post. And thank you for the kind words! ReplyCancel

  • Travis - April 10, 2017 - 3:15 AM

    I love that you can appreciate a good deal Laurel! I have been collecting things to use in my home remodel project for the past several years. I love a “going out of business sale” and purchased great Graf faucets for below dealer cost as well as a vintage chandelier for 1/10 the normal price (I offered cash on spot and the owner was happy to have me take it off her hands). I also search online to find discontinued items that have been on display in retail stores and scored several Waterworks fixtures that I had been drooling over and thought I would never be able to afford–honestly, they can’t really be worth that much can they?? I also recently found I scored two Fine Art Lamps Eaton Place sconces for $250 each and they retail for $1499, a 8 Light Eaton Place Chandelier for $1875 that retails for $10,000+ on sale. The hunt for a specific item is a huge part of the fun and there are things (like the chandelier) that I thought I would never be able to own because they were completely out of my budget (I always wonder whose budget they are actually in???). It does take a lot of time and searching but it is worth it when you find that treasure. I will include the links to show you the items if you want to check it out. It is a great place for rugs, lighting, art etc. Once the item’s price is cut because it hasn’t sold they will let you make offers and then present that to the seller who will either accept it or not. Your blog is so much fun to read. Thanks again.

    • Laurel Bern - April 10, 2017 - 7:24 PM

      Hi Travis,

      Gorgeous lighting! I need to check more things out. Thanks so much for sharing!ReplyCancel

    • Travis - April 10, 2017 - 3:22 AM

      I just couldn’t resist Laurel. I went hunting because of your blog and saw this mirror and I think it could be calling out your name asking you to apply some of your gold leaf paint to it!! Is it not a cool looking mirror for a great price?

      • Laurel Bern - April 10, 2017 - 7:25 PM

        Hi Travis,

        That mirror could definitely use some gold paint!ReplyCancel

  • Libby - April 9, 2017 - 4:24 PM

    Fun post! Thank you, Laurel, for providing great resources and tips about mirrors, fixtures and furniture. Plus, your feedback on what you have used or seen done. Lots of choices for gilding. I also appreciate your evaluation of prices of used and vintage. It also helps when evaluating whether to keep a piece I already have or are sometimes offered to me.ReplyCancel

  • Antoinette de Janasz Baxter - April 9, 2017 - 3:44 PM

    Hi Laurel,
    I just recently discovered your blog – WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?!! I love your skills and your humor!

    We’re building a Spanish-style house and I bought some vintage California Spanish sconces on Ebay before we even broke ground. Another great source for furniture has been auctions. I recently purchased an old wrought iron base & 3″ thick solid wood top dining table for $250!!! I’m still looking for antique host chairs…
    You can bid and arrange shipment through, they cover auctions all over the US, Canada and Europe. I only bid on items in my state so I can pick up the items – shipping can cost more than the item!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 4:11 PM

      Hi Antoinette,

      Lol! Well, glad you found me/us! Thanks for the source. I’ve heard of it, but need to look into it further. One thing about auctions is that they make me nervous. If it’s something I really wanted and didn’t get it, I would be disappointed, I guess. ReplyCancel

      • Antoinette de Janasz Baxter - April 10, 2017 - 1:40 PM

        I totally understand about the disappointment when you don’t win an item that you really want! A couple of weeks ago I found the PERFECT 19th century antique host chairs for my dining table. Unfortunately so did several other people. They ended up going for 3 times my limit! I’ll keep looking but I also have a backup in case I don’t find them. Besides, looking is half the fun!ReplyCancel

        • Laurel Bern - April 10, 2017 - 7:35 PM

          Hi Antoinette,

          What a pretty name you have! Oh, sorry about the chairs… :[ Well, I guess it just means that there’s something even better out there for you!ReplyCancel

  • Gerri - April 9, 2017 - 12:36 PM

    I have used the Restor-a-Finish on my wood floors where the dogs have scratched them and where there was general wear. It is amazing! My floors look completely new. Just make sure you get a color that will blends into your original floor finishReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 3:35 PM

      Hi Gerri,

      I really need to get some of this stuff. I want to try it out and then maybe I’ll actually be able to do a real tutorial.

      Well… we’ll see… haha. They are not easy to do, because you have to photograph every step and often that means having another person photograph some parts as it’s difficult to do a selfie of oneself painting. But I guess one doesn’t have to show that. ReplyCancel

  • Susan Silverman - April 9, 2017 - 11:28 AM

    Great post (as usual)! I love thinking outside the box like that and changing things up. I’ve also done a bit of painting with Modern Masters with great results and I keep looking to change more things lol. I haven’t attempted anything large but I have my eye on a largish armoire that’s sitting in my basement in the storage area. I bought it in my previous life thinking I would grow into it but never did. I might have to get a move on and do something with it before I go into my next life.ReplyCancel

  • Ellen Shook - April 9, 2017 - 11:14 AM

    All great resources you have shared! My personal favorite, though, is estate sales. Usually the best stuff will be in the swankiest area of your city, but not always — I have been surprised from time to time to find a real treasure in an unlikely neighborhood. The website has a list of sales everywhere which can be narrowed down to how far you are willing to drive by plugging in your zip code and ticking a box. The catch is that you must make arrangements to pick it up or bring help to get it home after you go and view the piece. Some estate agents are catching on that it is a good idea to offer a service to deliver your purchase the day after the sale has closed — for a fee of course, which is usually very reasonable.

    I would like to offer one more suggestion to your list of ways to antique gold frames, etc., and that is to use antiquing wax or glaze on the pice first, then hit the desired areas with gilding wax.

    I love your blog, and it is obvious that you spend an incredible amount of time on these posts. Thank you so much!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:16 PM

      Hi Ellen,

      All great ideas. And I’ve picked up some nice things that way too and flea markets and consignment shops. ReplyCancel

  • Dawn - April 9, 2017 - 11:14 AM

    Laurel, I look forward to your post each Sunday morning. I love the idea of painting vintage items gold and thanks for suggesting products for doing so. I’m interested in painting my powder room with a metallic paint. Or should I wallpaper with a metallic paper? Any suggestions as to manufacturers or helpful tips?ReplyCancel

    • Linda Leyble - April 11, 2017 - 10:45 AM

      Hi Dawn – if you are going to paint your powder room with metallic paint, you need your walls to be as perfect as you can get. Metallic paint shows every imperfection! Also, if you use a regular roller, you will get lap lines. Modern Masters makes a special roller for metallics – it looks like a shag carpet on a roller! But it’s really good for painting metallics. I like Modern Masters metallics – love their Champagne color. I would do a glaze or an antiquing over it though…it helps a lot to minimize any lap lines.

      Another really lovely way to get a soft metallic look is to paint a color…then do a metallic glaze (pearl is beautiful) over it. I’ve done this a million times for clients in the past (former decorative artist – now doing home staging!)


      • Laurel Bern - April 11, 2017 - 11:06 AM

        Hi Linda,

        Thanks so much for the metallic paint tips. I’ve never done that to a wall, so I appreciate your experience. One time, we did a gold leaf wallpaper on the ceiling of a small bathroom is a contemporary home, but that company has gone out of business. I believe that Innovations still carries some specialty papers. ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:13 PM

      Hi Dawn,

      Thank you, I don’t have any tips off the top of my head for using metallic paint for painting large surfaces. I do believe that Benjamin Moore has a line of metallic paints. I don’t know if they are the best source. But I would research that one. ReplyCancel

  • Lynn - April 9, 2017 - 10:14 AM

    Great post as always. Another brand of very high quality furniture is Gibbard. They went out of business a few years ago. I am not sure if they ever ventured into the U.S. market. But for Canadians, people shopping on-line and those wanting to trek across the border, Gibbard is another brand of extremely well made furniture dirt cheap. I scored 4 end tables and 2 coffee tables made of solid cherry for under $500 Canadian! Laurel has provided loads of examples of how to update these treasures from Granny’s day into new chic options. Happy treasure hunting everybody!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:11 PM

      Hi Lynn,

      I need to check out Gibbard. Six tables for $500? It’s only about $375 here! WHAT??? ReplyCancel

  • McGizzles - April 9, 2017 - 10:14 AM

    I laugh out loud at least one time every time I read your posts and that’s my favorite thing about your reading your blog.

    Well, that, and I learn a sh*t-ton. 🙂

    OH! And I just have to share that right before Christmas, I found 2 floor sample (like, from the photo shoot) Ralph Lauren, Hudson River Valley (Henredon) arm chairs on ebay and bought both for $2500. They look brand new. It’s my favorite find EVAR.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:08 PM

      Hi McGizzles — That’s awesome and great price for those chairs all spiffied up.ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly Lista - April 9, 2017 - 9:46 AM

    Awesome post Laurel, and as always, you are right on the money! I love finding that diamond in the rough, and these are some of the tricks I have always used to weed out the junk~ The highlight of my week is having my coffee on Sunday while reading your post! It’s a gift. Thank you!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:06 PM

      Hi Kimberly,

      That is so sweet. I need my coffee but slept in and wanted to get tot he comments first!ReplyCancel

  • Parnassus - April 9, 2017 - 9:20 AM

    Hello Laurel, I can personally vouch for Rub n Buff, at least for spot repairs it does a great job; I never tried it on an entire piece. It also comes in some non-metallic colors. I’ll have to check out Restore a Finish–I have a couple of pieces it might be perfect for. Don’t forget plain Old English scratch cover, as well as wood pens, markers, etc. which can sometimes work miracles.

    About inherited pieces, we got a fancy rococo mirror from an aunt who was downsizing. The movers smashed the delicate carvings, but by removing a bit more gingerbread for balance, we discovered we liked it even better in its plainer form.

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:05 PM

      Hi Jim,

      In a pinch, I’ve used shoe polish, eye shadow (with water) and mascara! A girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do! lolReplyCancel

  • GL - April 9, 2017 - 9:01 AM

    Well, Laurel, I agree with you that paint is the way to go. But for gilding, I wouldn’t break out the spray paint, which will give too uniform a finish. And too-heavy antiquing can be very nasty, as I found when I bought a frame at a flea market: it was gilded all over and had been so heavily antiqued that it simply looked dirty — when I cleaned it, I found it wasn’t honest muck but dishonest fakery. It doesn’t look that way any more, with the sides painted verdigris, the mouldings left gold but de-antiqued, and the coved sections cream over red. I know that sounds a lot of variety, but it does actually work quite well.
    I’m addicted to re-finishing frames, whether for mirrors or pictures. If I want the gilded effect, I start by painting a coat of dull red as the base, then a thin coat of Libéron’s liquid gold (which comes in a variety of shades), then a very light distressing if necessary, followed by silver wax if I want to knock back the gold a little. The longest part of doing this is the drying times — each step takes about 5 minutes, well worth anyone’s time and effort. So I hope this helps your aspiring fictitious mirror owner!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:03 PM

      Hi GL,

      A red undercoat is a great idea. I didn’t go into the techniques in the post so much because some are in the links and I figured that you guys would also give your methods. So thanks for that.

      I think it’s helpful to try and copy something and use different paints. But I should’ve said to be careful with wax and/or oil-based and water-based. They don’t mix. But oil or wax can go over a water-based paint.ReplyCancel

  • Jerri - April 9, 2017 - 8:56 AM

    Another source for vintage pieces is EBTH Everyhing But the House.ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:01 PM

      Hi Jerri,

      I’ve heard of that source. I need to look into it. Thanks for mentioning!ReplyCancel

  • Mary - April 9, 2017 - 8:46 AM

    OMG, I have that baker opium coffee table. Sometimes I love it and sometimes I hate it, mostly because I don’t like the color. Mine is black over red and looks burgundy. It looked great back in the 80’s when i was in to traditional cherry furniture but my tastes have changed. I want to give it the William McLure treatment, only I can’t decide on the color. I vasilate between going light, like a sea grass rug or dark in a farrow and ball blue black. Do you think I get away with painting it myself or do you think I should have it relacquered? The finish on the table is one of its best features–it’s indestructible–you could tap dance on it and not hurt it–and I kind of hate to loose that. Any thoughts?ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 12:00 PM

      Hi Mary,

      I would research it carefully, but with something like this, it’s always better to go with a pro. OR, just look up other people who’ve painted furniture online. There’s a lot out there that’s helpful.ReplyCancel

  • Cathy Dickson - April 9, 2017 - 8:31 AM

    Happy weekend, Laurel. Another great and helpful post. I love to find a deal and have it reupholstered, or I repaint it or… you know, whatever it takes to make it fabulous. I’ve heard a lot about Rub and Buff but you can’t buy it in Canada. BooHoo. So I use different gold paints and smooth and stroke and wipe till I get the right look. I love the chandelier you touched up 2 years ago. I LOVE that room even more. Your style speaks to me.Thanks for taking the time to give us such great posts – they make my day! CathyReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 11:58 AM

      Hi Cathy,

      Boohoo is right! It’s funny. I’ve been using rub ‘n buff for nearly 20 years but never heard anyone talk about it until I started reading blogs.ReplyCancel

  • Erin Heilig, Realtor - April 9, 2017 - 8:12 AM

    Another great article Laurel! Thanks for taking the time!ReplyCancel

  • Lenore Spinelli - April 9, 2017 - 7:27 AM

    Hi Laurel,
    I discovered Chairish for my current client. Great stuff! Found a chair, art, a pillow, and a tray. The first 3 items were perfect. The tray was a big disappoiment and I sent it back.

    The one thing you might want to mention in the future is that although the pricing of items can be good for the budget, the shipping could blow it out of the water! It may be best to initially search for items you can pick up locally and expand your search from there.

    Love your post!

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 11:56 AM

      Hi Lenore,

      Ahhh… well shipping for EVERYTHING is expensive! And those companies that say “free shipping,” — well, we’ve been through that.

      But you’re right and I have to remind my clients too that shipping AND sales tax has to be figured in and it can be as high as 20% of the cost– over-all.ReplyCancel

  • debra @ 5th and state - April 9, 2017 - 5:51 AM

    you always deliver laurel!
    never thought to look at eBay or etsy for furniture
    another source is amy howard’s line. their “gold leaf” is a dutch metal and is really great, super easy & cheap. i will go over it with waxes to darken and age it. also has silver & coming out with copper. love their furniture paints too.

    thanks for all you do!

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 11:52 AM

      Hi Debra,

      Oh, Amy Howard’s paints are great. I need to look into that one too.

      McCloskey is also very good. I could’ve done the post on JUST gold paint, but naaahhh… that would be too easy. haha.

      But I did sleep in today. :]ReplyCancel

  • Cyndia Montgomery - April 9, 2017 - 3:03 AM

    Lauren, now you’re speaking my language! There’s nothing I love better than searching out fun pieces and putting my own spin on them! My favs by far are lamps. Pottery lamps, glass lamps, even wood lamps. They almost always get new wiring and shades, and may need a little sprucing up on the metal parts too. As for furniture, I’ve used RestorAFinish for years; in fact, I taught the woman I worked for at a local consignment shop about the product, and she was able to raise her prices because her furniture was so much better. It’s so exciting to see those old, tired woods come to life again. And if they don’t, paint is my friend. I’m looking forward to trying some of the golds you mentioned. I’ve got a couple of mirrors waiting on some inspiration!ReplyCancel

    • Laurel Bern - April 9, 2017 - 11:51 AM

      Hi Cyndia,

      I’ve learned about two life-times of information since starting this blog. It really is like going to a type of school, because I have to research most topics.

      If a client had a worn piece of furniture, it went to the refinishers. But when I found this product I went whoa! I need to get some of that and tell everyone else about it too!ReplyCancel

  • Ann - April 9, 2017 - 2:17 AM

    Thank you, again! for this richly informative post.
    I want to buy nearly every one of the vintage items shown. Beautiful pieces.ReplyCancel

  • jeri calle - April 9, 2017 - 12:39 AM


    I read every word that you publish as soon as the email arrives. It has been very useful as I tackle the design concepts for my new home.

    But alas, I am at a crossroad. I have looked at your past blogs and and found a topic that does not seem to have been addressed as of yet ….mirrors. Mirrors for bath, living room, fireplace, well…just about everywhere. Seems that there are a limited number of manufactures and the styles are well, rather mundane. Your insight is much appreciated.ReplyCancel