Prepping A Smelly Washstand

Jul 20, 2018 | Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint | 0 comments

I absolutely love being one of the merchants at Morgantown Market.

Seriously, I really do.

I remember back when Marc and I decided to take Eight Hundred Furniture full time, I quit my job in education and started working for a local Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockist. The gig was a great stepping stone and as time went by, it became obvious to me that I needed to branch out on my own and have a space that was uniquely mine. As I begun the process, I inquired with an incredibly sweet owner of a local antique shop regarding renting booth space.  While she didn’t have any room in her co-op, she directed me to her buddy’s shop, Morgantown Market.

That was almost 2 years ago, and I’m incredibly happy and blessed to be a part of the Morgantown Market family.  In addition to learning the in’s and out’s of the antique business, the owner (Stacey Thompson) and I have a good working relationship.  Essentially I bring her coffee and she brings me furniture.  (I’m kind of kidding.  We help one another out more than that, but I really do bring her coffee and she really does bring in pretty pieces of furniture!)

One day, Stacey told me that she had 4 or 5 gorgeous wood pieces of furniture that she pulled out of a house.  My ears perked up and I cocked my head to the side.  She had my interest.

“Be warned though,” Stacey said.  “The previous owner had cats and they weren’t taken care of very well.  They urinated on the furniture and it smells pretty bad.  All of it needs to be cleaned.”

Now I’ve seen and smelled a lot of gross stuff when it comes to furniture.  I’ve found dead mice, cleaned out animal poop, killed my fair share of spiders, found granny panties, etc..  The threat of ammonia-laden cat urine didn’t phase me.

“Okay, just know that I warned you,” Stacey cautioned.  She then gave me her keys and I went outside to survey her pieces.  She definitely wasn’t kidding about the cat smell.  It was the strongest that I’ve ever encountered!  The smell should have turned me away, but the pieces she had were in fact, really pretty.

After I pulled out 3 that I wanted, Stacey gave me a good deal and I took them home in The Marshmallow, certain that I could remove the urine odor.

Well I had a major case of false confidence because no matter what I tried, it didn’t work.  I used shellac, Murphy’s Wood Oil Soap, Dawn dish detergent, letting it bake out in the sun, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day spray, Febreeze, dryer sheets, etc.

NOTHING worked.

So I went back to Stacey and asked how she cleaned off her pieces.  She informed me that I needed something called an enzymatic cleaner.  I did some research online and discovered that these special types of cleaners contain enzymes that penetrate into the surface of wood, drywall and fabric.  The enzymes actually eat the bacteria in the cat urine, which are the culprits of the gross odor.  They keep eating up the bacteria until they’re all gone and then the enzymes die off because they don’t have any more food.  All you’re left with is a surface that smells fresh as a daisy.  Enzymatic cleaners work because they remove the source of the source of the odor as opposed to simply covering it up with fragrance.

Side note – I know this subject is a little gross, but it’s incredibly practical for someone like me.  I literally feel like I just won the lottery because I was ready to pitch all of the pieces that I bought.  I couldn’t, in good conscience, sell furniture that reeked of cats (much as I love mine).

So what is this “magic” cleaner, you ask?  It’s Nature’s Miracle Cat Advanced Stain & Odor Remover.

I bought this large bottle at my local pet store, because I had 3 pieces that were in desperate need of treatment.  I paid around $30 and immediately started cleaning my stinky pieces.  First, I vacuumed them all out and poured some of the cleaner in a bowl with a sponge.  (You don’t dilute this product.)  Then, I put on a pair of gloves, got the sponge saturated with the cleaner and start wiping down my pieces inside and out.  I got every single square inch.  Believe me, no surface was left untreated!  This cleaner has to penetrate deep into the substrate in order to work, so I read online that I didn’t need to be afraid to really wet down the surface. 

Once the pieces were soaked down with the cleaner, I let them dry, keeping all of the drawers out and all the doors open.  If you can let your pieces dry in the sun when you use this cleaner, even better!

I really wish my blog had smell-o-vision because there isn’t even the slightest hint of cat urine smell left in my pieces at all!  The odor is a fresh and clean scent that is really pleasant.  My entire workshop smells amazing and I feel confident in selling these to customers.  I would put my clothes inside them now, so if I feel comfortable using these for my belongings, I feel good about selling them.  (Because who wants to put their stuff in smelly gross furniture?)

So now that I’m back from Haven, it’s time to start working on furniture again.  I cleaned out this little washstand before I left, so I began prepping it the other day for Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint.

This sweet non-cat-smelling piece has great bones and is really  sturdy.  It has drawer storage and cabinet storage underneath.

The backsplash is also still attached, which is nice!  Often, that part is missing by the time they make their way to me.  Washstands make fantastic nightstands/bedside tables and they can look quite charming if they’re a bit mis-matched.  They are also great inside of bathrooms for storage or just inside your front entranceway as a catch-all.  Plop a big ‘ol ironstone bowl on top for keys, dog leashes or mail that needs to go up to the mailbox and you’re all set!

The original finish on this piece was oil based and it had begun to “gator”.  See all of the bubbled spots on the surface?  That’s what I mean by “gatoring”.  That’s what happens when the original oil based finish expands and contracts with temperature changes over time.  I absolutely love natural gatoring on old pieces, so naturally I was totally geeking out over the texture on this one.

I propped the washstand up on two scrap pieces of boards with a towel underneath.  This is my typical setup when I’m painting furniture.  Keeping a piece of wood or wax paper under the legs of your furniture helps prevent your paint from sticking to your drop cloth or towel and getting fuzzies in your paint job.

Once the piece was propped up, I made a minor adjustment to make the piece more functional.  The right door didn’t have any sort of catch to keep it closed, so I added a roller ball catch.  The left door already had a functioning latch, so I left it alone. 

You can pick up these roller ball catches at any hardware store, and they come in large packs.

I buy them in big packs like these and I go through one every few months.

Once the gorgeous original handles were removed, I grabbed 100 grit sandpaper and began scuffing the surface.

Now I wanted my MMS Milk Paint to come out chippy, so I didn’t press really hard or make sure I scuffed every square inch of the washstand.  I simply did a quick once-over to rough up the surface a little bit.  Here’s what that looks like:

Can you see how I didn’t get every single spot?  That’s what a typical Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint scuff should look like if you don’t mind your piece chipping.  You don’t have to go all out and get it down to the raw wood.  Oh, and make sure you wear a mask when you do this part.  Protect those lungs from unnecessary particulates!  These little guys do the trick just fine:

I buy this exact box from my local Home Depot.  Not only do I use them personally in the basement workshop, but my customers wear them when I host painting workshops.

(I’ll save you the embarrassment and tell you that the metal part goes on your nose.  The first time I used them, I wore them upside down for like 2 weeks until I saw the box and noticed I was doing it wrong.  So don’t be a dork like me!)

Here’s what the washstand looked like once it was all scuffed up.

Then I used the vacuum to get all the dust off.

And that was it!  The piece was all ready to receive a proper chippy MMSMP makeover.  I’ve decided to copy a custom color recipe that I saw from one of my fellow MMSMP Retailers, Amy Pike of The Shabby Shrub.  Here’s a sneak peek of the color:

Isn’t it fabulous?  You can follow along with Amy on her Instagram feed.

I’ll keep you posted on how this project progresses.  I have a sneaky suspicion that it’s going to turn out really cool!  For now, I’m getting ready to host my next “Paint Your Own Piece w/ MMSMP” workshop tomorrow at Morgantown Market.  I’m sold out, so it’s going to be a full house in the workshop room!  If you’d like to get a feel for what my workshops are like, you can watch this promo video from my last “MMSMP 101 Workshop”.

I’d love for you to join me at my next event!  Come see what I’ve got going on in the next few weeks here.


Welcome to my happy place!
I'm Jenn Baker - Milk Paint lover, photographer, blogger, and QVC Guest Host. Click below to learn more about me and my creative business.  LEARN MORE ABOUT JENN

Latest Posts on Instagram

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This