Color Month

Before and After: A Basic Pair of End Tables Gets a Not-So-Basic New Look

published Jul 30, 2022
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Before: Gray nightstand with tapered legs

When it comes to upcycling secondhand furniture, pro furniture flipper Chloe Kempster (@chloekempsterdesign) has some great advice: “Vintage is great, but it’s also important to recycle the mass-produced pieces as well,” she says. “They often get overlooked.”

Chloe says not only is personalizing a big-box piece a good way to make it stand out from the crowd, it’s also an affordable, low-stakes way to get started if you’re a novice DIYer.

“It’s often hard to find genuine vintage, so if you can create the same look but with a modern piece, it’s often easier to source,” she says. (Plus, there’s less pressure experimenting with an affordable find than with a one-of-a-kind or expensive — or both — piece.)

Chloe practices what she preaches, too. Here, she made a pair basic store-bought gray nightstands look completely unrecognizable thanks to some palm leaf wallpaper, navy paint (Annie Sloan’s Oxford Navy), and decoupage.

“This was a fun upcycle,” Chloe says. She explains that she started by sanding the glossy finish on the gray tops of the nightstands to help remove some of the slickness. Then, she cut her wallpaper to size before attaching it with PVA glue and brushing Mod Podge over top.

For the rest of the piece, Chloe says she decided to keep the natural wood look of the legs for some contrast. Her final step was sealing the nightstands with varnish to help them stand the test of time.

Chloe says she loves the final look of the pair. “The decoupage has covered up all of the wear and tear and is a fresh modern update,” she says. “You would never guess these were mass-produced.”

Her best advice for sourcing furniture for future flips? “Look for furniture from all eras; everything has potential!” Chloe says. That’s certainly true of these nightstands, which went from standard to statement-making in just a few steps.

Credit: Photo: Alpha Smoot; Prop Styling: Ed Gallagher