Tag Archives: mid-century modern

Mid Century Craigslist Dresser Makeover

Let me begin this post by addressing the furniture purists.  Hello, you.  You’re smart, and you have valid opinions, and I love that you’re passionate about maintaining the original beauty of pieces.  Because someone put their blood, sweat, and tears into designing them in all their glory.  So you shouldn’t mess with that.  I get it.  I feel you.  I mostly agree with you.  But this dresser… THIS. DRESSER. was too far gone, and it was paint, or get off the pot trash it.  I promise I didn’t mess up a good thing.  I made a mediocre thing great.  There were, however, some bumps in the road on this journey.  Come along with me and see…  Sorry in advance for some of the more blurry pics.

Uhhh, how long ago did I buy this dresser?  Oh right… like three years ago.  I found it via craigslist.  Three years, and I’m just getting around to giving it a makeover.  Sorry, dresser.

Mid Century Modern Dresser

This MCM dresser has a beautiful masculine shape, and great bones.  Dovetailing, wooden drawer glides, sturdy build, tapered feet, gorgeous hardware, simple decorative fluting.  Overall a great piece…


The veneer surrounding the piece was a MESS.  Scraped, chipped, scratched.


At some point, a previous owner sought to paint it, I guess, because there was a big white unfinished spot on one edge…  And the color… The color was atrocious.  If I’m spitball guessing, I’d say that someone, at some point, polyurethane’d the heck out of it, which left it with a stale, burnt, pale yellow hue.


The outer surfaces were beyond repair, so I decided to paint them.  Guys, I made my own chalk paint, and I messed up…

I used a diy chalk paint formula that calls for plaster of Paris, and when I picked out a perfect, very dark navy blue, I didn’t account for the fact that the powdery white plaster of paris would *significantly* lighten the color. I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t awful for weeks, but really, I hated it.


So when I was ready to pick the project back up, I went with a crispy bright white.  A – I thought it would look amazing and B – there was no worry of the plaster of Paris changing the color.  I used this formula for the chalk paint, and used a sample size of Valspar Polar White for the color.

I was wayyy happier with the white.  And really, despite hating the first color I picked, I loved using the diy chalk paint.  It takes some getting used to (the texture is different, even when compared to professionally mixed chalk paint).  It was almost like painting icing on a cake.  A lot of icing on a very large cake.  I recommend making your coats as thin as possible with chalk paint.  It’s super thick and has amazing coverage.  I covered the crazy blue with just THREE COATS of white.  No priming, no sanding, straight up paint on a brush, applied to the dresser.  Three coats, plus one coat of paste wax on top to protect the finish.  How’s that for a slice of fried gold?


For the drawer fronts, I used Minwax Polyshades in Mission Oak, in a satin finish.  A flat finish may have been a better choice considering the chalky flat finish you get with chalk paint, but the difference in finishes isn’t noticeable to me.  I did sand these before applying the stain to remove the existing layers of poly and general yuck.  The wood veneer on the drawers was in good condition, and it was thick, so it held up to a moderate session with my power sander.


The big plus of the polyshades product (no, this post isn’t sponsored) is that you have your stain and poly all in one step.  Efficient and easy.  Two coats, and I was good to go.


The end result?  A super handsome, two-toned, MCM dresser, upgraded from ick.  I am ecstatic with the outcome of this long-awaited (if only by me) project!  Side note – I also switched out my green window-pane mirror (which was too small for the wall) for a six piece gold sunburst set… have mercy.  What a big difference!


So what do you think?  Love it?  Hate it?  Opinions on diy chalk paint?  Do tell…


DIY Mid Century Style Nightstand

For the last couple of years, our nightstand situation has been pretty sad.  We’ve been using two mismatched tables of similar sizes that were way too short for our bed and matched zero things in our room.  For about 18 months, I searched craigslist, garage sales, flash sales and flea markets for an affordable matching pair, to no avail.  So I finally took matters into my own hands and made some my dern self!

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I mean look at our old ones.  The brown one is a hand me down that needs some TLC and the black one is a $5 goodwill purchase.  They’re so sad I didn’t even give them a thorough cleaning before taking this picture… #keepinitreal

Before Adding New Nightstands

Each of them could be restored / refinished / fixed up somehow and be functional and cute, which I may just do one day.  But they won’t live in my bedroom.  They’ve been pushed to the side for our new mid-century style nightstands!  So here’s how I did it…

Wait – first, you should know that you’ll see lots of safety tips in this post.  I used power tools and chemicals when I made these bad boys, and feel a moral obligation to tell you not to cut your fingers off, sand your hand, or breathe in nasty fumes.  So you’ll have to live with that.

Anytime I take on a big project like this, I like to plan it out on paper.  It usually starts with a shabby sketch of what I want the end result to look like, and that’s followed by a series of measurements, math problems, and budget notes.  See?

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I ended up modifying my plans a little bit…  As you’ll see in this post.  Also, I have pretty bad handwriting but since you’re polite I know you’ll look past that…

Here are the materials I used for each table:

  • (2) 20″ x 20″ x 3/4″ pine boards
  • (2) 20″ x 8″ x 3/4″ pine boards
  • (4) 16″ tapered legs (by Waddell Manufacturing)
  • (4) angle top plates for the legs (also Waddell)
  • (8) 1/4″ x 1 1/4″ dowel pins
  • (28) 17 gauge x 1″ nails

Each board got an all over sanding to clean up some of the rough spots.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

As one should, I started with coarse sandpaper and worked my way up to extra fine, using my Black and Decker hand sander.  Here’s where the safety police drop in for a second…

Always be sure you follow manufacturers instructions and take ALL safety precautions when using power tools.  When I use my hand sander, I wear thick rubber gloves, my eyes (goggles), my ears (earplugs) and a dust mask.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I was originally going to try my hand at Minwax Polyshades with these guys, but when I got to the hardware store, I saw a discounted container of Watco Danish Oil in a pretty Dark Walnut and went for it.  I’d heard good things about it before and was eager to try it out.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

Danish Oil is serious stuff, folks.  Again, always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when you use this or any other varnish.  This stuff can spontaneously combust (yes you read that right) if you dispose of your rags incorrectly.  So read the package, and then read it again and then mind what it says, k?  And for pete’s sake protect your eyes and hands when you use this stuff.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I loved working with the Danish Oil.  You only need two coats of it, and it leaves a beautiful finish.  It soaks in more rapidly than stain, and you have to use a bit more elbow grease, but there’s none of that wipe-off nonsense happening.  Not nearly as messy as stain!

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

Once the Danish Oil fully cured, it was assembly time!  Dowel pins helped to keep the cubby space in place before I nailed it together.  To accomplish this, I busted out my drill.

The safety police are back!  Use protection when you use power tools!  Follow your manufacturer’s instructions!  I wear my eyes AND heavy duty rubber gardening gloves when I use my drill.  Safety is sexy!

Wish me luck as I try to explain this…  Using a 1/4″ bit, I drilled four holes on the top surface (the inside surface?) of the bottom board.  Two on each side, the first was 5″ from the front edge and the second was 5″ from the back edge.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

Then I drilled holes in the bottom of the side boards again at 5″ from the front and 5″ from the back.  From there I was able to stick the pins in the holes, which held the side at a right angle to the bottom.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I used a tiny dot of gorilla glue on the ends of the dowel pins for extra security.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I repeated the same process with the top, so it would be held in place securely when it was time to nail everything together.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I used 14 nails on the top and 14 nails on the bottom to secure the top and bottom to the sides.  The nails when in 1″ from the front edge and were spaced 3″ apart, so each side got seven nails.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I went for angle top plates as opposed to flat top plates so that the legs would have that slanted, tapered look that’s so iconic to mid century furnishings.  I secured the top plates to the bottom of the cubby space about 2 1/2″ from the sides so the legs wouldn’t stick out well beyond the edges of the table.

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

Three coats of Polycrylic later, this little guy was ready to take his place in our room!

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

Now let me be real with y’all for a minute… As I was nailing the top board in on one of the nightstands, the board split.  Womp womp.

See how the board I laid on top of it doesn’t lay flush in the middle (white arrow)?  That’s because the 20″ x 20″ board it’s sitting on is split all the way down the length of it on the inside and is hanging by a thread (yellow arrow).  Major sad face.

Broken Table

I had a little cry about it, and then took a few days off from the project to focus on other things and clear my mind.  The truth is, I noticed the crack as I was sanding it, and thought that if I handled it extremely carefully it would be ok, especially once I got some Polycrylic on it.  The crack was so small that I couldn’t even get wood filler into it.  Sadly, it didn’t survive.  You can’t win them all, though.

DIYing wouldn’t be any fun if there weren’t bumps along the road.  I like challenges and the nightstands were one of the bigger ones I’ve taken on recently.  I’ve bought new boards to replace the broken cubby, and am excited to complete the second nightstand soon, hopefully successfully!

But enough about all that, here’s a good ol’ before and after for ya:

DIY Mid Century Modern Style Nightstand Tutorial

I think it turned out great!  Exactly as I had it in my head.  Nice and simple with a mid century modern vibe.  Way better than it’s predecessor!  We just got a new duvet during West Elm’s online bedding sale, so I’ll post an updated picture when that comes in (it’s on backorder right now – boo).

So what about you guys?  Have you built your own nightstand or table?  Or maybe you had a huge setback like I did?  Did you cry, too (humor me)?  Do tell…

Craigslist Catch: Mid-Century Dining Set

So I’ve been really busy the last couple of weeks between my 9-5 and home projects… I’ve got a really fun DIY to share with y’all soon!  In the interim, I thought I’d show off another of my Craigslist Catches.

I’ve posted about a couple of my gems from Mr Craig’s list, like my mid-century style dresser

Mid Century Modern Dresser

…and the file cabinet that I painted.

File Cabinet Redo After

This find, I am particularly obsessed with proud of. Check out our dining set:

Mid Century Dining Table and Chairs Found on Craigslist

In reality, it’s those sexy cantilever chairs that tugged my heart strings.  Note: we have clearly added a jute rug and rearranged the living area since I snapped the above iPhone pic.

Mid Century Wooden Cantilever Chair Found on Craigslist

The table itself is your standard rectangular dining table. The supports for the leaf somehow became damaged so the previous owner bolted it together underneath, meaning it doesn’t expand any more. But I doubt it would fit in our dining area if it were any longer than it is.

Back to the chairs. These things are in about as good of condition as secondhand furniture comes. There is a bit of paint on one of the chairs but methinks it will be easily removed.  Here is an obligatory detail shot.

Mid Century Wooden Cantilever Chair Found on Craigslist

I’ve spent hours (seriously like 12 total) trying to find information on these chairs online. There isn’t a maker’s mark on any of them. I have only ever found one set exactly like them online, and what I found was an outdated sales listing.  And it only listed them as “mid century style cantilever chairs” which, sadly, was not new information to me.  So these chairs are either extremely rare, or so irrelevant that no one has put anything online about them.

Mid Century Wooden Cantilever Chair Found on Craigslist

But even if that is the case, that’s ok, because I didn’t buy them for the value or their relevance in the design world.  I bought them because the instant I saw them I was in lurrrve.  Are you ready to hear the price?

(drumroll…) $40.  Yep, that’s $8 per piece, folks.  I actually paid $50 for them in the end.  I saw the listing last October (yeah I’m a bit behind sharing this…) when we were in New Mexico on vacation. I offered the seller $10 extra to hold the set for me until we got back to town. Worth. Every. Penny.

The new dining set replaced our old one, a World Market set that we got at a garage sale. It was scraped up, a bit wobbly, and even missing some of the seat slats, so I’m glad to have this sturdy, classy new set in its place!

World Market Folding Table and Chairs

World Market Folding Table and Chairs

I am thinking I’ll refinish the chairs in a slightly darker stain (something in the walnut family), and possibly even paint the table a punchy color, a la this, this and this.  Either way, what we’ve got right now is definitely an upgrade to what we had if you ask me!

Mid Century Dining Table and Chairs Found on Craigslist

Craigslist can really be a great source for secondhand treasures, but it really takes some dedication.  It’s true that I’ve had some great successes with Mr Craig but there have been countless times where my searches have been fruitless.  The key is patience and low expectations, kids!

So, what do you think about this Craigslist Catch?  Love it?  Hate it? Votes on what color I should paint the table?  Do tell…

Craigslist Catch: Mid Century Dresser

One of my favorite pastimes is browsing Craigslist for secondhand furniture. If you put in the time, use the right search terms and exercise patience, you just might get lucky enough to get your hands on a gem! And so it was for me with my most recent Craigslist Catch.

I’ve been searching Mr Craig’s List for some quality Mid-Century pieces for our bedroom for months now, and haven’t had much luck. Most of it has been out of my budget and the pieces that I could feasibly afford we’re either way too far away or gone by the time I replied. The Atomic Era, she’s popular. But recently the stars aligned. See, both of the fella’s jobs require uniforms (meeeow) which means he has tons of shirts and undershirts. And someone in the house won’t let go of any of her concert shirts and painting clothes. Yeah that’s me. Anyway, the fella gave the green light to look for another dresser on Craigslist and lo and behold:

Mid Century Modern Dresser

I know its a muddy pic, but isn’t she wonderful?! The sleek lines… The original hardware… And my newly found furniture source let this beauty go for only $160!

Turkish (head of quality control in our household) tells me the dresser passed all of his quality tests, so obviously it’s a keeper…

Turkish Conducts Quality Testing

Now what to do with it?  It’s wood veneered.  I really would like to stain it but since its an older dresser I’m afraid of killing the veneer by sanding, even if I go verrrry easy on it.  I’ve been playing around with the idea of painting it green.  Remember that fabric I bought for the bench that didn’t fit?

Retro Style Fabric

I used it for something else in the room, and that’s what steered my brain to green.  Here are the three main colors in the room.

Current Bedroom Colors

And here are the colors I’m currently crushing on.

Greens for Dresser

I’m on vacation as I type this, so I have plenty of time to mull it over in my brain.  I’m just really loving that a green hue is fitting to the style of the piece and also ties in with that great fabric!

Anyone out there have any thoughts?  All opinions are always welcome!  And who else has a story about a Craigslist Catch?  I know I’m not the only one who spends an hour a day on that site.  Do tell…

About a Bench

I have to admit, I’m a little extra-jazzed about writing this post.  This project was one of the most difficult ones I’ve tackled, but the payoff was SO worth it!  I’ve wanted some upholstered seating at the end of our bed for a while now, and have been ogling pins like this, this, this, and this.  But I was mostly inspired by pins like this, this, and this.  I plan on using mid-century touches throughout our entire house.  The atomic era – she speaks to me.  Since mid-century furniture is way somewhat out of our current budget, it’s time to get creative…

Disclaimer:  This post is not intended to instruct you on how to build a bench.  I crafted my plans for this bench in my head and just went for it.  While I am ALL FOR getting creative and going with an idea that you’re passionate about, I would urge folks to make sure they double check measurements and safety specifications before building anything.  Especially when it comes to furniture onto which humans will sit, stand or otherwise weigh down somehow.  Seriously.  Be smart and be careful.

I ordered four 14″ tall tapered hairpin legs from www.hairpinlegs.com.  Ooh pretty…

Hairpin Legs

After they arrived, it was off to the hardware store to pick up the lumber.  Originally, I was only going to use one 16″ x 48″ x 3/4″ craft wood plank for the bench seat.  The associate at the store was very concerned that the bench wouldn’t be strong enough to support two humans.  I’m not certain he fully understood my explanation of the design my bench, but he put enough doubt in my head for me to go ahead and buy two planks.  They were only around $10 apiece anyway so I figured better safe than sorry. So now I had the task of securing the boards to each other to create a 1 1/2″ thick base for my bench seat.  First, a few swirls of Gorilla Glue and clamps to hold them together nice and tight.

Clamps on Planks

I let the glue set for about 8 hours while I tended to my social life.  Then my handsome fella screwed the boards together for me with ten 1 1/4″ wood screws.

Wood Planks

I measured 2″ in from each edge at the corners and used a pen to mark where I would drill the holes to bolt my legs to the wood.

Measuring in 2"

Remember – measure twice, cut drill once!  I “measured in” instead of just attaching the legs to the corners, because I wanted the legs to be recessed a bit underneath the bench.  I just prefer that look since the legs are tapered.

Marked Holes for Drilling

After I drilled all of my holes, I simply attached the legs with bolts!  Easy-peasy lemon squeezy!

Hairpin Legs Bolted Into Wood Planks

Hairpin Legs Bolted to Wood Planks

If I’m keepin’ it real though, I’ll tell you that I wasn’t really thinking straight when I bought my 2″ bolts.  Clearly, you must use bolts that are at least a bit longer than the thickness of what you’re putting them through so that you can secure a nut on the other side.  My doubled-up wood planks and the metal base for attaching the legs came out to about 1 3/4″ thick.  File that under “ditz moment”.  The bolts I used in the end were 2 1/2″ long.  They stick out a bit on the underside but no one sees that except Turkish pup.  And he’ll just have to deal. On to the upholstery! I bought 3″ thick upholstery foam from JoAnn’s – they will cut it to whatever length you need, but you have to cut the width yourself.  I used my mom’s electric carving knife.  Fancy!  Check out my “concentration face”.  Winner!

Electric Knife Electric Knife

To secure the foam to the bench (and give the seat softer edges and corners) I wrapped the foam and wood in batting and stapled it to the underside of the bench with my staple gun.

Stapling Batting to a Bench

Let’s throw it in reverse for a second.  I fell in love with the bold, bright colors and semi-retro style of these two fabrics when the bench was just a plan floating in my brain.

Retro Style Fabric

I bought a yard of each and decided that I’d let the fella choose which I would use for the bench.  While I’m sure you can guess that he picked the one without any pink in it, it didn’t matter, because I ended up making the bench larger than I originally planned to, and the fabric didn’t fit.  Womp womp.  No matter though, I have plans for that pretty, pretty fabric! So after some window shopping, discussion and deliberation, we landed on a cognac-colored faux leather.  Another round with the staple gun and the bench was done!

Attaching Faux Leather to a Bench

I’ll pause while you take a look at this Instagram and do your best wolf whistle.

Mid Century Modern Bench

I’m not sure I can explain to you how much I love this bench.  For serious, you might get creeped out if I were to try.  It lives at the end of our bed on top of a blue striped flat-woven rug from IKEA.  And it is as sturdy as a tree trunk – really glad I went for that extra plank, even if I might not have needed it.  I added some baskets for storage underneath but they may get switched out for larger bins at some point.

Bed with Mid Century Bench

I think if I added the total time spent putting this thing together it would come to less than 2 hours, not counting my Gorilla Glue dry time.  Not bad at all!  Factor in the fact that I only spent about $100 on materials and I’d say that’s a slice of fried gold!  I can’t wait to post about the other projects for our bedroom that I’m working on!  Until then…  Who else has conceived a project that turned out exactly as they planned?  Do tell…