How One Designer Made Heirloom Furniture Work in Her Modern Home

published May 17, 2020
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Credit: Apartment Therapy

The Small/Cool Experience at Home is bringing 20 trends to life by 20 designers—all in less than 120 square feet. Check out the whole virtual experience online and at @apartmenttherapy on Instagram from May 15-17. Thank you to our sponsors BEHR, Amazon Handmade and Tuft & Needle for making this experience possible.

Figuring out how to make treasured gifts and other family hand-me-downs work in your home can be tricky—especially when they’re the exact opposite of your style. But there are ways to incorporate sentimental pieces into your decor without having them completely stick out. One great idea comes courtesy of designer Abbe Fenimore, who showed off a treasured item in her home during Show and Tell for Apartment Therapy’s Small/Cool Experience at Home.

Fenimore inherited her grandparents’ wood vanity, which used to sit in their guest room. “When I was a little girl I used to sit here and do my hair and pretend to do my makeup, so I loved it so much,” she says. And when Fenimore’s grandmother passed away, this was one thing handed down to her. In its original orangey pine state it looked way too traditional for her modern home, but she wanted to be able to keep it out. Her fix? Paint! She gave the wood body a beautiful blush hue, and used gold paint to highlight the wood inlays and repaint the carved wood handles.

The new paint job, which you can see in the video above, refreshes the hand-me-down piece while highlighting its most beautiful features. Now, it seamlessly blends in with Fenimore’s style and lets her preserve wonderful memories of spending time at her grandparents’ home.

Credit: Danie Drankwalter

Loving the pale pink hue Fenimore chose for her vanity makeover? Check out her full Small/Cool room design, which features similar subdued blush tones—plus sleek, modern shapes and glitzy accents.