Projects & Improvements

Before & After: Awful, Alternating Colors Reveal Beautiful Bones

updated May 4, 2019
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(Image credit: Brittney McCray)

Featuring a color palette of pale yellow, navy blue and salmon, this desk was a mess of colors. Many people not on the hunt for such a mix of hues would probably have taken one glance and moved on. But Brittney saw past the palette to this desk’s beautiful bones, and set out to restore it back to its mid-century modern glory.

(Image credit: Brittney McCray)

From Brittney:

My fiancé and I recently moved in together and I was on a tight budget to try and make his former bachelor pad a home. My parents live in Bend, Oregon and central Oregon happens to be a goldmine for antiques and vintage treasures. I came across this desk at an antique mall in Redmond. The colors were awful and alternating, but the bones were beautiful.

With a price tag of $100 (and after inspecting to make sure it was real wood), I thought it was a steal! I actually negotiated them down further and got the desk for $80 (and no sales tax, thank you Oregon!). After spending $20 on stripping and restoring materials, I got to work. Unfortunately, we discovered there were a lot more than a few coats of paint on this desks poor frame, more like 7-8. My mother and I ended up stripping it multiple times and then sanded it down quit a bit as the paint was seeped deep into the wood grain (Dad brought out the electric sander and helped with that bit).

After about 2 days and 10 hours I still wasn’t sure it was going to come out as I hoped, but once we put the stain and shellac on, the soul of this mid-century piece came back to life. It now occupies a lovely light filled spot in our San Francisco apartment. I have to give credit to my mom who helped me find this piece and had the great sense to bring it back to its original beauty

We can’t believe what was hiding under all those colors! Great job. See more on Brittney’s blog. Thank you Brittney!