Mid-Century Modern Magic

Mid-Century Modern Magic
If your heart weeps a bit when you see a good mid-century modern piece buried under a sloppily slapped-on coat of cheap paint, dry those eyes.  Or .. heart.  Or whatever. 

Because today I am sharing a few MCM lovelies that have been brought back from the brink of destruction.  Stripped and sanded, salvaged and saved! 

First up, this formerly navy and maroon nightstand from Renee at Upscaled and Upcycled. Even if it wasn’t a shame to paint over the solid maple, I don’t think I could ever get behind that color combo. It’s like the official color of bruise. She sanded it down, (no chemical strippers involved!) stained it with a natural wood stain that highlights the grain, and repainted the handles a complementary gun-metal gray. So much better!


Remember when I mentioned cheap paint jobs?  I hope so, because it was like 12 seconds ago. Well, this is what I was talking about. Yikesness.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about spray paint, we are like high school sweethearts and everything, but I can’t imagine what possessed the previous owners to take a can of basic black spray paint to such an incredibly beautiful dresser.  Luckily it eventually fell into the hands of Sarah at Trevi Vintage Design, who restored it to it’s rightful glory.

But! There is no rule that says you can’t EVER paint MCM furniture. I say go for it. Just go for it carefully. For example, I wouldn’t go replacing this dresser’s handles with antique glass knobs, giving it a distressed chalk-paint job and and tracing a vintage soap ad on the front. That would be like Lady Mary Crawley shacking up with Greg Brady.  Awkward for everyone involved. But a fun outline of lime totally jibes with the dresser’s modern vibe, and boy, did she do a fantastic job restoring the wood too. Also from Sarah at Trevi Vintage Design.

So, what if you really dig the look of MCM furniture but don’t have any of your own?  Pssst: you can fake it.  I won’t tell.  Like Better After reader Sally who had this kitchen table for 21 years and was thoroughly sick of it.  She didn’t like the chunky farmhouse legs, the apron, the rounded tabletop edge, or the color. Basically it was the right size, and that’s about it.  
Well, that was more than enough to work with, and after trimming, sanding, re-staining, and re-legging (what?), she’s got a perfectly modern table, good for another 21 years or more.

And lastly, check out this amazing side table project from Hank at Toshmahal. If you live in Dallas and have a need for furniture restoration, I would look Hank up.  And if you live in Dallas and don’t have a need for furniture restoration, I would look him up anyway just to give him a high-five. 

PS: Would you be interested in a free month’s worth of advertising on Better After?  Then enter to win Andrea’s giveaway over on Project Simple Home!

Do you have a before and after project to submit? Please share! Betterafter(at)live(dot)com

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  1. April 12, 2013 / 6:06 PM

    All beautiful, and the second one is incredibly gorgeous! High fives all around!

  2. April 12, 2013 / 6:21 PM

    I’m such a sucker for MCM and want more of it in my house! These were all amazing, especially that farm house table. Never would have thought of that! And thanks for always making me laugh. It would have been 12 seconds if I hadn’t have been scrolling up and down so much between the blue and maroon disaster to the amazing after. Wow! (I love your blog.)

  3. April 12, 2013 / 7:25 PM

    Look him up anyway…..you are hilarious!

  4. April 12, 2013 / 8:20 PM

    I’m not sure these items looked that good when they were new! The refinished wood is gorgeous and the green paint on the dresser is just enough of a touch of color with out taking away the natural beauty. LOVE!

  5. April 12, 2013 / 10:08 PM

    My heart is breaking a little about that table and chair set. It would have been gorgeous redone, but not taken apart (

  6. April 12, 2013 / 10:08 PM

    My heart is breaking a little about that table and chair set. It would have been gorgeous redone, but not taken apart (

  7. April 12, 2013 / 10:54 PM

    I see bloggers paint quarter sawn oak all the time. Beautiful oak. Why not refinish and sell it to someone who appreciates it? Get some junk wood pieces and paint ’til you are blue in the face.

  8. April 13, 2013 / 12:01 AM

    LOVE that top one! And the dining set is awesome. WHERE do people find those hairpin legs???? MCM has a special place in my heart!

  9. April 13, 2013 / 12:37 AM

    Okay, first of all love all those makeovers. I have a mid-century side table and dresser in my basement just begging for some love!

    And a month of advertising here? On you? That would be like winning the lottery!!! I’m heading over to enter.

    Have a fabulous weekend!

    🙂 Linda

  10. April 13, 2013 / 1:29 AM

    love all of these! I would love to have some authentic mid century modern furniture in my home, it’s my favorite style. the makeover with the green turned out so well! it sounded weird until I saw it and then I loved it!

  11. April 13, 2013 / 2:38 AM

    These are all AMAZING but the transformation by Trevi is the most spectacular transformation I have ever seen!

  12. April 13, 2013 / 1:41 PM

    These makeover-restorations are so beautiful! I’ve been secretly wondering lately if all the painted furniture DIY pieces so common now on blogland will be ever wind up in the What Were They Thinking department 10 years from now.

  13. April 14, 2013 / 2:56 AM

    I think a great balance of paint or make it look great by working with what is their…letting a piece talk to you is important.I have a desk at the shop that is sitting and not being sold why because I refuse to paint beautiful wood…I have see sadly vendors leave because rich exquisite European piece not selling but painted going out the door every day…so again appreciate the look of balance

  14. April 14, 2013 / 5:50 PM

    All lovely redo’s for the most part. Green frame around the one kind of broke my heart. FYI: the first piece is art deco not mcm.

  15. April 16, 2013 / 4:13 AM

    Love all these redos. (Especially the pieces that were saved from a previously, over zealous paint job.)

  16. June 6, 2013 / 6:28 PM

    That green-trimmed dresser was in the Etsy email today!

  17. June 9, 2016 / 7:25 AM

    I get MCM pieces all the time…for pretty cheap, too. But there’s a reason for that. Typically, the veneer is peeling here or there. I have had a few I was able to restore by replacing veneer, but that gets expensive…and I’m not into losing money, so I usually sand, stain, and seal either the drawers or the base, depending on which is in the best condition, and paint the other. They come out beautifully…and the best part is, they sell!!

    I agree, nothing wrong with painting an MCM piece if it’s needed – unless you are wanting to restore it for your own home. Just my 2 cents 😉

  18. trish
    July 5, 2016 / 12:16 PM

    I stumbled upon this as I was searching ‘how to paint mid century modern’! I just bought a mid century modern hutch and thought it would look good painted white with colorful dishes on display. I was about to head over to Lowes to buy a can of flat white paint!! After reading this and seeing the examples I am going to reevaluate my plan! Unfortunately, my hutch isn’t a deep, rich wood but rather a more blonde tone that the seller said is maple.

  19. shari
    December 5, 2016 / 6:41 AM

    Great post!

  20. Pingback: Arm Chair Blog

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