The Ugly 80’s Buffet Transformation

before after buffet chalk paint

Howdy!  Tonight, I am proud to unveil the transformation of a $20 thrift shop find.  After searching high and low for a new dining room buffet- and failing miserably to find something of great quality that was unique, beautiful, AND affordable, I had an epiphany…since I can’t find (or afford) what I really want, I’ll create it!

I drove to my local thrift shop and purchased a dated buffet straight out of the 80’s for $20.  Although ugly at first sight, this buffet was thick and solid, and had great lines, I had a vision!  My inspiration for the finished product came from pieces I found at Ballard Designs, Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.  In one day, using Annie Slone Chalk Paint (in Paris Gray with dark wax), and some new hardware, I gave this buffet a new life and saved hundreds of dollars!

Drum roll please…

jordan picklee signiture

52 responses to “The Ugly 80’s Buffet Transformation

  1. Oh my gosh! I have this same buffet, and the top hutch, dining table, and chairs to match! Lucky us haha. When we brought it home we joked that it made us want to sing the “Bluebell Homeade Ice Cream” song because it seemed appropriate for the type of furniture. Anyway…I have been dying to re-do it but my husband has been reluctant since it was his grandparents set. But…now that I showed him EXACTLY what it would look like thanks to you…. he is on board! You said you finished it in one day, did you have to sand it first or just went straigt in with chalk paint? I’d love to do the table too but this would be my first project with chalk paing. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hello, I’m so happy that the buffet inspired you to transform your own! The beautiful thing about Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is that it requiures no prep work. You don’t need to sand your peice before applying the paint. In fact, sometimes sanding old wood will make the paint application uneven as sanding sometimes re-opens pores in wood. So as long as there are no chips or ruff spots in the finish (simply sand those right off), just go ahead and begin your paint application!

      Good luck =)


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  3. Hi! Stumbled across your project- looks beautiful. I am doing my dining room set in the same combo- have done two coats of Paris gray with a dark wax/clear wax combo. What color is your wall paint? It makes your buffet look grey and I’m afraid my pieces are looking on the taupe spectrum…… I wanted grey.

  4. Hi there, I have a console table I can’t wait to transform as you did here. Can you tell me the paint color of the wall behind the console. I love how the blue grey wall contrasts with the console.


    1. Hi there, I wish I could tell you the name of the color, but this was in our old house and I don’t have it anymore =( I would describe it as a medium “dove grey” though.

  5. Hi,

    I want to use this same color on a similar buffet, yours looks amazing! Can you tell me how many coats of paint you used? Did you buy the AS wax brush to apply the wax? Also, did you apply the wax all over once to achieve the look you got?



  6. I have a very similar cabinet from my Mom’s estate. It is a very solid maple piece from Tell City. I want to paint it to match my own Brohill Attic Heirloom china cabinet. This is exactly what I want to do! I have not been able to find hinges to change out the original brass ones. Do you know where your hinges came from? Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. Saw your buffet on Pinterest. I cracked up when I went to your blog page and read your story. I laughed because I have a very similar buffet (actually a complete dining set!) We bought it brand new (in the 80’s) and I remember feeling so grown up and excited over owning such a beautiful buffet and hutch to display my china. Flash forward almost 30 years later and I no longer want to see my china and hate the country feel of the set! Haha. However, I love how you changed the hardware and painted yours! So….with your inspiration, I’m setting my plan in motion 🙂 I’ve bought some paint and will be working on the transformation of my dining set!

  8. When you did your waxing did you mix the light andthe dark wax together 50-50? I have heard that that’s what you do when you want to add the dark wax.. I have heard that you put the clear wax on first, then immediately go over that with the dark in the areas you want to digress. Also ,do I sand before I wax or after I wax between the clear wax and the dark? Thanks!

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  10. While i like the look of your buffet with the halk paint, I’m highly insulted that you called the buffet ‘horrific’ with the original look. I have that same buffet (and matching table & hutch) in the original finish and they are very besutiful. No damage from age, etc. Be careful. There are many people in this world who enjoy things from other eras. Please don’t be so callous as to call those things horrific. That is a strong word.

    1. Valerie, that was Jordan’s opinion of the buffet. Your opinion is that it’s beautiful in it’s original state. IMO, the buffet was also horrific! We are all entitled to our opinions. BTW Jordan, it looks gorgeous!

    2. Thank you Valerie, I understand we all have our own opinions of what’s beautiful & what’s not. I changed the word to “dated”, which might be more appropriate.

  11. Hilarious … must have been tons of these in circulation. Just bought the same one today from Goodwill (made my Kling) — solid mahogany and in tip-top shape. Found your makeover on Pinterest while looking for inspiration for mine! Love what you did with yours. Still have it? You should do an updated photo for fun if it is “dressed” differently!

  12. This is beautiful, it’s the exact color/ look I was looking for. How many coats of Paris Gray did you use and does it have to be completely dry before you put the wax on? Also you used a dark wax, would a white or light wax be ok and what would be the difference?

      1. Love this. Did you distress or Sand before applying the wax? I’m going to use this as inspiration for some furniture I love the way the dark wax looked and want the same finish.

  13. Quite deceiving when u say ‘In one day’ when it’s the whole setting (not just the buffet but walls and floors) are different. Makes one not trust your blog.

    1. …”in one day” clearly refers to the task of refinishing the dresser (which is the topic of the article). The after photo is taken against a different wall in a more staged setting. FYI, this is is common practice, I’m not really sure what you’re trying to imply?

      1. I love it !!! It looks amazing !!! Funny 30 yrs ago everyone was the sanding the paint off doors, floors, trim and furniture to reveal the wood now we are doing the opposite lol I love it, stunning piece and no sanding…..bonus !!! Well done !!

    2. why are people like this, yes we are all allowed our own opinion but please why be so bitchie, before and after shot of the buffet is what we like to see, what people do to make it look nice in there home or to do a photo for their blog it totally up to them….their blog ….their choice

  14. I love it! I know it’s been years si ce you post this but I love it! It’s my first time using chalk paint any recommendations?? I’m not sure if I should use clear wax or dark?

  15. So I inherited this entire set… it has been a source of many “discussions” between my husband and I as he hates it and it is not our style. I am going to try to make it over as it means so much to my dad to see us use it. Wondering if anyone else has the hutch and table… we do not plan to use the chairs and I thinking fabric chairs instead?

  16. Love this!! I want to do the same with my dining room set. What is the name of the dark glaze you used? What did you distress furniture with before glaze?

  17. I love what you did to your buffet….. I have inherited my mom’s maple hutch. I want to chalk paint it, and I have been doing a lot of research… I am concerned about the polyurethane or laminate top where the hutch meets the base, and the paint not holding up on the surface. I have read where the chalk paint can wear or wash off…. What should I put on the surface to keep this from happening? I want it to last a long time, so I don’t have to redo it later… Thanks for your help!

  18. It seems like I too have the very same hutch, along with large oval table with 2 leaves, and 6 chairs. Although mine is from the 60’s. It was my parents set. I’m very sentimental about the set, however I’ve been torn with thoughts of it needing to be updated. I have a new coastal style home and been thinking about “redoing” the set. LOVE what you did with the buffet. My question is, what would you suggest for the table & chairs? All the same color? I definitely love the idea of changing the hardware to brushed nickel. My diningroom is very bright, lots of windows, white wainscoting & trim, and aqua blue walls. THANK YOU!!

  19. I’d like a list of supplies. I read wax, dark, light, chalk paint, etc., but no clue what is applied first. I think I’m creative but this is something I’m trying for the first time.
    Great job, by the way.

    1. Thank you! You would apply the paint, then clear wax to finish…after that you can blend a bit of dark wax to give it the aged look. It’s as simple as that! 🙂

  20. Thank you for posting. I have a server just like this and also a fireplace that I want to repaint with out sanding them. I am going to try the Annie Sloan chalk paint and hopefully it comes out as beautiful as yours!

  21. I was looking for ideas to paint this identical buffet and came across yours. Mine belonged to my parents, and I have pictures of it going back to 1968/69. I guess the style lasted to the 80s. It had a matching corner hutch and the dining room table. The only thing I kept was the buffet because my mom loved it. Thanks for the inspiration!

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