Making something old look…older

When I moved into my new place, I was seriously lacking in furniture. It wasn’t like I didn’t have any furniture—I had a few very nice pieces actually—but the square footage I was trying to furnish had expanded and the space was oriented very differently. I had a dining room, and an extra bedroom, and just a whole bunch more space. So with all the extra space, I was grateful for any extra furniture that came my way, even if it was something I never would have picked out myself.

Enter this little three-tier stand/table:

tiered stand before

(Apologies for the awful picture. This is project is pre-new-camera.)

Another random Mom gift. She picked it up at a rummage sale. It kind of screamed 1980s plant stand. Or maybe something you’d put in a bathroom. In any case, it was bright and brassy in the most cheap-yellow way.  But, as with the lamp, Mom saw the potential hidden by the ugly and suggested I paint it or something.

Now, I’ve been eyeing brass for awhile. I usually associate it with really horrible cheap light fixtures. (I’ve been an apartment dweller for over a decade now. I know cheap brass light fixtures.) But it seems to be making a comeback, especially when it comes to true vintage brass. Look at this beautiful antique bar cart:


I mean, I know they are worlds apart, but the dark brass is gorgeous and it has three levels. So I decided to go for the antique look with my little ugly stand, mostly because I was desperate for a little table for the living room.

The first step was to dress up the garish bathroom-appropriate mirrored shelves. I used Krylon Looking Glass spray and a water vinegar mixture to get an antique mirror finish.

tiered stand during

Luckily, this project took place when it was still warm because this stuff is smelly. I worked out on the front porch. First I cleaned each shelf, then I lightly sprayed with the vinegar/water mixture, and followed that with a light spray of the Looking Glass. I let it sit a few minutes, then I blotted gently with a paper towel. Then I sprayed even more lightly with the vinegar mixture and more heavily with the Looking Glass. It took a few more repetitions before I felt the glass looked suitably antiqued. I recommend using the layered approach—you can always add more patina, but it’s hard to get it off. I blotted one last time, let it air dry for a few hours, then very gently buffed it with a paper towel before I reassembled the stand.

tiered stand glazing

While that was drying, I tackled the job of making the bright brass look a little more antiqued. I used a Martha Stewart metallic glaze in bronze, a sponge paint brush and a paper towel. I was pretty generous with my glaze applications (just light enough to keep it from dripping). I’d let it dry a few minutes, then wipe off the excess with the paper towel. Then, after it dried a few more minutes, I did another coat. The glaze is very transparent, and it took me between three and four coats to get the effect I wanted. Those twisted wire legs were quite a pain! But, you can see in this picture that after a few coats the brass was starting to look more like dark antiqued brass.

I let that dry for a few hours as well, then brought it in and reassembled it:

tiered stand finished

Voila! It’s not the antique bar cart of my dreams, but it’s a cute little table that’s perfect for holding a candle, picture, or drink. I love how the antiqued mirrors turned out. They’re mottled, but still pretty reflective (as you can see by the upside down horse head).


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