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The 9 agonizing stages of attempting to refinish thrifted furniture

We’ve all seen them; the gorgeous photos of flipped furniture, the before-and-after pictures of hideous dressers turned into catalog-worthy pieces. We’ve all heard the siren song of cheap furniture and fun projects. And we’ve all been dashed against the rocks of reality when we utter those famous last words: “I could do that!”

1. Sheer Pinterest-inspired delusion

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There it is: The before-and-after photo of a hideous golden oak chifferobe made beautiful for mere pennies. Picked up at a Goodwill, doused in an ocean’s worth of chalk paint and refitted with brand new hardware, you stare in awe at this divine creation, and then you do something extremely stupid: You say, “I could totally do something like that” and then actually take steps to follow through.

2. Complete bewilderment

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Once you get to the thrift store, flea market, garage sale or shady Craigslist posting meetup location, you realize two things pretty quickly; one, that people don’t just get rid of high quality yet hideous furniture, and two, that you will likely have to wait for days, weeks or even months for anything that isn’t a busted up Ikea LACK table or particle board bookcase to show up on the thrifting circuit. Yes, we’re calling it that now.

3. Shocked indignation

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When something finally does show up, you’re in for the next big surprise: It ain’t cheap. All of the furniture flippers on Pinterest are either lying liars who lie all the time or the luckiest people on earth. Even the most dubious chest of drawers that reeks of cigarette smoke and is missing a leg is going to cost you $80 or more.

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4. Sedan-induced denial

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Womp-womp. Your “find” won’t fit into your car. Why didn’t you think of that? No matter, you’ll just ignore irritating things like facts and jam your rat-poo filled treasure up and over the seats. Sure, you’ll rip a huge gash in your headliner in the process, and that will cost $200 to repair, but think about how much money you’re saving on your chest of drawers.

5. Naive hopefulness

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Once it’s home and you’ve found a place to start slapping it around with a paintbrush, you might start to feel a little hopeful, but don’t worry, that will be dashed soundly as soon as you realize that you can’t just paint laminate, you don’t own a tackcloth and you’re not really sure what the difference between latex and enamel is.

6. Frantic overcompensation

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After hours of mistakes, you officially throw good time after bad by forcing your way through it. Yes, the paint you’re adding is hideous. Yes, it still isn’t dry after four days. Yes, the cat walked over it and left prints and hair but you are a flea market goddess, dammit. Let no one see you cry.

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7. Blind, uncontrollable fury

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This isn’t working. Why the f*** isn’t this working? At this point you’ll probably bicycle-kick that dumb piece of ugly, smudged, smelly crap that has the audacity to call itself a chest of drawers across your garage. It’ll probably break.

8. Hysterical weeping

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Oh God, what have you done? Why did you do that? This has been weeks, maybe even months in the making. You could have fixed it! Now it’s time to sit down and weep. Weep for your dignity. Your wallet. Your ripped headliner.

9. Total nihilistic despair

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Huh. Look at that. There really is no intrinsic, deeper meaning to life. Might as well go waste some time on Pinterest, then.

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