8 Ridiculously Satisfying Make-Unders of Furniture, Hardware, and More

published Jan 28, 2021
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Before: White painted dresser

Picture it: The year is 2019. You’re scoring vintage pieces, stocking up on chalk paint in a cool color and giving those pieces a full color-blocked overhaul. Fast forward through 2020 (please!). It’s 2021 and you are now getting Citristrip delivered to your home so that you can wipe that intense paint job right off.

Why have furniture make-unders suddenly taken the DIY universe by storm? Perhaps everyone’s looking back to a simpler time when vintage pieces were simply beautiful in their original form. Or maybe DIYers have all had enough time on their hands to take on a more intense project (restoring furniture to its original glory is not for the faint of heart). Or perhaps creators have discovered paint stripping videos to be so soothing, they just have to try it for themselves.

No matter the reasoning, the make-under is an undeniable movement. Here, 8 satisfying vintage furniture redos from some brave DIYers.

A Boring White Dresser Restored to Perfection

Lauren Svacina, owner of Portland Row Studio, wrote that restoring this white dresser back to its original state was far more work than she anticipated. She worked through multiple layers of latex paint, sanded it, and sealed it with @thechippybarn natural wax. Sounds simple, enough right? 

It wasn’t. Svacina said the project took at least 12 hours and she’s not sure she’d volunteer to do it again. However, the final product is absolutely stunning and serves as a big inspiration for anyone looking to do a similar project.

Credit: Karin McLean
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A Mid-Century Hutch Gets a Toned-Down Redo

In this Before and After, Karin McLean was able to see past the bold paint color on a $125 hutch from Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore, and with a lot of sanding, some bleach, white chalk paint, wax, and a clear matte top coat, she really did manage to bring out the best in this hutch.

A Shabby Chic Cabinet Becomes a Showstopper 

“This may have been the best, worst project I have ever attempted,” writes Ashley Knie of Designs by Ashley Knie. But the transformation is a showstopper.

Knie says there were tons of paint layers to strip through, and the final product is the natural wood color that was underneath — no stain applied.

She writes, “Moral of the story, do the hard things… it’s worth it in the end.”

Credit: Liz Woodward
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A Stylish Make-Under for an Authentic Mid-Century Bench

Liz Woodward proves that beauty comes from the inside in this Before and After. She purchased this chalk-painted mid-century bench off Facebook Marketplace for just $75. Once she started sanding, she found a “Made in Yugoslavia” stamp, and knew she had the real deal on her hands.

After sanding, disassembling, sanding some more, making a custom oil stain using Odie’s Oil, reassembling, failing, reassembling, failing, buying new hardware, and then reassembling again, she and her boyfriend were finally able to enjoy this beauty.

A Dull Entryway Becomes Grand 

Jordan and Barry of the Brownstone Boys (@brownstoneboys) said they were originally planning to remove the multiple layers of old paint and then apply a fresh coat to this entryway, but once they found this beautiful wood color, they decided they had to go all natural. I mean… there was really no other choice!

They documented the process here.

A Beat-up Wooden Dresser Becomes a Dazzling Work of Art

Charlotte Smith of At Charlotte’s House said she picked up this dresser at a Restore with the intention of stripping it, but she was not ready for the glory that was underneath.

“I knew that it was made of solid wood so I was hopeful that I might find something nice underneath but definitely didn’t expect the incredible grain I uncovered,” says Smith.

She has done this process on more than one occasion, so she feels confident in her paint stripping routine that includes a lot of Citristrip, a scraping tool, and patience.

A Mid-Century Modern Chair Turned Chic

Scraping and sanding away paint all day not for you? No problem.

Clinton Avery Tharp shows that you can make small changes to help bring out the best in your vintage furniture finds.

In this TikTok, he shows his make-under process using his “grab-grabs” (pliers) and “snip snips” (scissors) to reveal the chicness that is hiding under many mid-century modern pieces.

A Surprise Copper Doorknob Reveal

One of the best things about a make-under is that you’re never really sure what you’re going to find when you remove the layers of paint that have accumulated over the years.

This was especially true for Megan Jacklin of Copper & Gold Project. 

“Upon moving into my old century home, I gave the previously-painted silver door knobs and plates a fresh coat of black spray paint. One day I went to go touch up some paint chips on them and noticed a bit of copper detailing popping out,” says Jacklin.

She said she proceeded to take off all the door plates, strip the paint off with chemical stripper and then liven up the copper plating with Brasso and Bar Keepers Friend.

“It was the best discovery I have made in this old home and it has grown to be one of my favorite projects!”