Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Butler's Pantry: How to Clean & Restore Old Wood

I finally get to show y'all the "butler's pantry" today and the work I've done so far to clean and restore it!

This room, along with the entryway/vestibule, makes my heart go pitter-patter. Both these rooms hearken to a bygone time that I want to bring back to its fullness in this home. They also help set the tone for how the rest of the house should feel as we restore it.

The ceiling-height wood cabinets are simply beautiful, and I am still so over-the-moon that they were never painted or replaced for newer cabinets. The old cabinets make me want to tear out the current badly-painted white kitchen cabinets and replace them all with cabinets like these. Something like that sadly won't happen anytime soon as we have other major priority projects to tackle first, but it may happen.

Let's take a moment to just look at the details in even the cast iron latches and drawer pulls:

You'll probably hear me say this a lot in posts to come, but they just don't make things like this anymore. Everything has a more tactile look and feel compared to the fixtures of today. When you think about it, do they even make cast iron fixtures anymore? You certainly won't find anything like them in big box hardware stores.

Which is another reason I'm saddened by the bottom drawer's handle, as the front face of it looks like it got somehow knocked out. Anyone know of a way to restore it to match the others once again?

The drawers are also missing chunks of wood on their fronts, which I may leave them as they are or I will have to figure out how to fix them up. (epoxy? Does expoxy take stain?)

Otherwise, the cabinets are in a great untouched condition, and so cleaning and restoring them wasn't a difficult task.

As you can see, the shelves had been lined with a plastic sheeting. They came up easily and did not leave any sticky residue (woohoo).

All that was left now was to clean and restore the original raw wood, which looked dull and dirty even after I had taken a dry rag across them to get any dust/dirt.

Out came my new favorite weapon to the rescue: lemon oil!

I had learned from Nicole Curtis from the tv show Rehab Addict (my old house hero) that she used lemon oil to clean and restore wood in her houses. So I gave it a shot.

Tip #1: when you open a new bottle, push a pin through the seal that's under the lid - this will help you pour out only what you need onto your rag and save you from any spills. 

Tip #2: I would not recommend lemon oil for wood with a finish on it, and most especially not on antique wood furniture. Please see this article for more info.

Take a cloth rag and dab a little bit of oil into it. Swipe your rag with the grain of the wood. A little oil goes a long way, so really spread it out and work it into the wood.

Ten minutes later, this is the difference of the wood with lemon oil worked into the bottom shelf, and none on the upper.

Think it's just a trick of the lighting?

Well, another ten minutes and here's the upper shelf now also with the lemon oil:

See how much the woodgrain just pops and the healthy color it gave back to the wood?

Each time I used it I couldn't help but gasp as the true beauty of the wood started to show itself. This lemon oil stuff is magic I tell you. Magic.

Here is one of the drawers as I started to rub the oil in the middle. It was so cool to see the wood jump out like this each time.

Another comparison using the wood drawers:

It's been a little over a week now and the wood still shines and looks just as healthy and has a light lemon smell. I know that lemon oil is extremely slow to evaporate, so I'm curious to see how long the oil stays in the wood before I have to go back and give it a little spiff-up.

Want to join us in our passion for old home renovation, diy, and design? Subscribe via bloglovin' and follow along with Karl and myself as we lovingly restore our early 1900's dream home.

Note: I am still and always will be learning about methods for restoring wood, so I am in no way an expert. As Reading Rainbow says, "Don't take my word for it". ;) Please research and feel free to let me know anything you may have learned through experience. Thanks!

Shared On: thatdiyparty, makeitprettymonday, totallyterrifictuesday


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    1. Hi Peggy, I did not see your first email, so I'm glad you reached out again! Please contact me at dravenmade {at} gmail {dot} com . Thanks!


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