Before and After: An ’80s Credenza Is Unrecognizable After a DIY Makeover

published Nov 27, 2023
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About this before & after
Home Type
Project Type
Organic Modern
Skill Level
Rental Friendly
Credit: Kate Watson
1 / 4
A totally '80s credenza needed some sprucing to fit in with the homeowner's modern style,

Sometimes a piece of furniture has massive potential, but doesn’t yet feel like a “perfect” fit for your home. That’s what Kate Watson (@the.elderlymillennial) saw in a 1980s laminated office credenza. “I purchased it because of the waterfall edges, sliding doors, and different-sized drawers, but it needed work!” she says.

Watson set out to transform the stale piece of office furniture, which she had found for $100, into a modern storage solution for her two sons’ toys. “I loved this piece for children’s storage, but it didn’t fit our style,” she says. The dated credenza was her first-ever furniture flip, requiring plenty of work.

Credit: Kate Watson
Credit: Kate Watson

Pole wrap adds texture.

To achieve an organic modern look, Watson removed damaged dark laminate wood, opted for additional texture for the credenza’s front, and picked out the right stain (Behr’s water-based stain in walnut).

“I was nervous about working with pole wrap for the wood fronts,” she says. Watson hadn’t used the material before, but the oak pole wrap proved easier than expected to install — although it was pricier than she’d hoped. “[The material] isn’t readily available where we live, so I had to order it online and pay much more than I was planning on spending,” she says. 

After completing the pole wrap, Watson says reinstalling the upgraded wood fronts onto the credenza was the most challenging part. But the results were worth it, she says: “It turned out beautifully!” Inspired by a DIY on YouTuber Katie Scott’s channel, Watson completed her credenza’s modern transformation with House&Canvas chalk finish paint in Sandstone and matte black pulls ordered from Amazon. “I love how the stain and paint complement each other and how the new handles look,” she says.

Credit: Kate Watson
Credit: Kate Watson

The $300 credenza flip was a worthwhile investment.

Watson spent $300 on her first-ever DIY furniture flip. “I chose to spend a bit more on my materials because quality and long-lasting results are important to me,” she says. Watson and her family used the credenza for about a year before she sold it. “Being that this was my first furniture flip, I learned a lot,” she says. Her tip for first-time flippers? “Do your research!” she says. “I spent hours watching other furniture refinishers, researching the best quality products to buy, and testing out different stains.”