Before and After: A Sophisticated Custom-Look Sideboard for Less Than £60

updated Aug 14, 2020
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Free furniture is some of the best furniture. Because: free. Of course, sometimes those $0 items require some DIY work to get up to snuff, and that’s exactly what Anita Russell (@we_are_the_russells) gave to a media unit that her friend gifted her gratis during a move.

Anita loved the piece’s mid-century shape, but its previous coat of drab, gray paint was chipping a whole lot, and she didn’t feel like the color fit in with the rest of her UK home anyway. Basically: “It needed a bit of TLC,” she says.

After sanding the old paint coat, Anita and her husband applied a primer to help give the next coat of paint an even base. Then, they painted the piece in Anita’s favorite color, the much more dramatic blue-black of Farrow & Ball’s Railings.

The biggest change to the unit, though, might be the custom leather handles the couple added. Anita and her husband removed the item’s old wooden pulls and filled in the remaining holes with wood filler, then made new holes for attaching the leather. To make the pulls, they ordered leather belts per meter on eBay, then cut the leather into pieces and punched holes in it for screws. Voila: more texture and more depth!

Anita calls the makeover “quick and cheap”—she says the couple spent approximately £55 total on the wood filler, primer, paint, leather, and screws. “I love that it really fits in with the rest of our home now,” she says of the unit.

Anita’s advice to anyone else redoing a piece of furniture is that “it’s all about the preparation.” Focus on sanding and primer “to make sure you get a good and lasting result,” she says.

Inspired? Submit your own project here.