Before and After: A Traditional Sideboard gets a Modern Makeover for Just $180

published Apr 10, 2021
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Before: a sideboard with a dark wood finish and intricate barrel pulls

It takes a lot of skill to look at a piece of furniture that’s completely rooted in one style and see it as something completely different. Take this solid wood buffet, for instance, which — with its curvy paneled doors and its intricate hardware — feels very traditional. But DIYer Melissa Clifton (Create and Find) thought she saw a modern piece beneath that she could coax out with a little sweat equity.

Melissa had picked up the buffet from a neighbor; it had belonged to the neighbor’s grandmother and was, Melissa says, “in perfect condition. However, the traditional curvy lines and skirted bottom just weren’t what I wanted.”

Melissa’s house skewed more farmhouse-meets-mid-century-modern, but she saw potential here. “I’m a huge fan of changing and mixing styles. You’re not limited to just one look,” Melissa says. “And this buffet was perfectly functional, in great shape, and I knew I could make it look more modern.”

Melissa spent a few weeks on this project, and in the process, took the sideboard from traditional and formal to something more modern and laid back. First up: removing the curvy apron on the bottom. Her husband helped remove that piece, which instantly made the piece look completely different.

Then, Melissa took to the doors. Rather than replacing them, she filled in all the grooves so that she’d have two flat-front doors. “I wasn’t prepared for how long that would take,” Melissa says, calling it the most time-consuming part of the project.

Finally, Melissa painted the buffet in a deep blue color and screwed in new hardware — a combination of gold bar pulls and crystal knobs. She also installed new tapered wood legs in a natural finish to help give the buffet a bit of height and the mid-century vibes she was after.

All told, Melissa spent just $180 on the buffet, paint, filler, hardware, and legs, which she says was much cheaper than the brand-new pieces she’d been eyeing.

“I’m so proud that I was able to make my vision for this piece come to life,” Melissa says. “My husband thought I was crazy when he saw the before. He didn’t think it had a chance of looking modern.”

Of course, she proved him wrong: “The color, the gold hardware, and those feet made it the perfect modern piece for my home,” Melissa says. “I love the piece and I can see it in my house for years to come.”

Inspired? Submit your own project here.