Samantha’s Mid-Century Credenza Upcycle, Part Two: Designing + Painting

credenza upcycle

In this mid-mod upcycling project, Made + Remade Creative Genius Samantha Pattillo puts her experience as a furniture designer to work on a salvaged credenza, with fabulously funky results. See more of the process on her blog and find part one — including prepping and stripping the vintage piece — in this previous post.

If you read part one of my credenza upcycle, you know that prepping your furniture by stripping and cleaning is extremely important. But now the fun part! My challenge was to use just enough paint to cover up the damaged spots on the credenza without covering up that beautiful pecan wood grain. Part of what makes Mid-Century Modern pieces so distinctive is their devotion to warm mid-tone woods. I wanted to keep what wood I could — so I went a little funky.

When I’m looking for pattern inspiration I like to shop stationery stores and art galleries, and see what other bloggers are trending. I love this angular pattern I’m seeing all over the markets right now. I talked about some of the specific images that I looked at for inspiration here on my blog.

credenza upcycle

When laying out patterns, I usually start with a quick sketch then go to Photoshop. You don’t need a fancy computer program like that to do it your self, though — just take a picture of your furniture, print it out and trace over it with a piece of paper. That way, your pattern will be to scale and you can get a realistic idea of how it will look when you’re done.

credenza upcycle

Anyone who knows me or has been to my blog knows I LOVE teal, so I knew I wanted to incorporate that in the design somewhere. I started there, and just plugged and played with other colors until I found a balance I liked. Then I printed out my rendering and matched paint colors from Valspar’s paint line (which you can find at Lowe’s). Here are the paint colors I used:

  • Coconut Milk 2007-10C
  • Everglade Deck 5011-3
  • Elegant Silk 5010-7
  • Woodlawn Valley Haze 5004-5C
  • Filoli Ginkgo Tree 5006-4B
  • Mystic Sea 5007-7A
  • Olive Suede 6010-3

Read on below to see how I designed and painted the credenza, and get tips for doing the same to your own diamond-in-the-rough furniture. Click on the corner of any how-to image to bring up a larger slideshow of the process.


Step 1

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleLay out the pattern with a straight edge. This process was super tedious since all of the straight lines were crazy hard to do with all of the angles of the drawers. I used masking tape to lay out the initial design.

Step 2

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleI carefully transferred the pattern onto the dresser.

Step 3

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleThen I took a straight edge and connected the dots.

Step 4

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleTape off and paint. This was the part that tested my patience. With all of the overlapping color blocks, I had to paint one non-touching section at a time.

Step 5

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleFor each color block: Tape off outer edge, and PRESS that tape line down with your fingernail. Nothing’s getting through that bad boy!

Step 6

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleRoll on paint and allow first coat to dry for 2 hours. Apply second coat, allow to dry for 24 hours.

Step 7

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleI know, I know. Why so long? (Tucker feels your pain.) Since you will be taping over those color blocks to do the next color you want to MAKE SURE it is dry or you will ruin all you have done so far.

Step 8

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleRemove tape (so satisfying).

Step 9

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleRepeat for ALL color blocks (deep breaths).

Step 10

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleHere it is, painted. Finally.

Step 11

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleStain wood. Since there were still some dark discolorations on the wood, I decided the best way to cover them was to stain the credenza. Normally I would sand those spots out, but when you are working with a veneered piece you don’t have that luxury. My veneer was less that 1/16” so I only sanded enough to smooth the surface before painting.

Step 12

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleFirst, I tested my stain on a sample board I made with a paint line. I taped one paint section off and left the other exposed. I wanted to see how/if the stain would affect the paint and if the tape would keep a clean line.

Step 13

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleI decided that taping off was the way to go. Now I had to tape off ALL of my paint lines so that the stain would not stain those. I just wanted to darken the exposed wood.

Step 14

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleApply the stain with an old, but clean, T-shirt or cloth. Wear latex gloves so you don’t stain your skin. Be generous with the stain; just wipe the excess when you have covered the whole area. Remove the tape when you are done.

Step 15

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleBeautiful!

Step 16

 Open Gallerycredenza update(Almost) last step! You just need to protect all that work you’ve done. Apply polyurethane finish with a high quality synthetic brush over the whole thing, and let dry two hours between coats. I did two coats. You can sand between coats with 220-grit sandpaper, but since I had painted a pattern I did not want to scuff up the paint finish, so I skipped that.

Step 17

 Open Gallerycredenza upcycleReassemble. Now the extra fun part — put it all back together again! Remember how you marked all the drawers and legs in part one? You’ll be so glad about that now!


  • Paint and primer (I went with Valspar brand latex paint/primer in one, knowing I would already be doing a ton of coats, I didn’t want to add more to the mix with a separate paint and primer)
  • Stain (I used Varathane Wood Stain in American Walnut finish. This stain is fab, super easy to work with and dries really quickly. You only need one coat to get a nice saturated color and it is dry in an hour.)
  • Polyurethane (I used Minwax Polycrylic Water Based Protective Finish in a clear satin.)


  • Foam rollers (I prefer to use foam rollers to apply paint by hand as opposed to brushes. It dries with a smoother finish)
  • Painter’s Tape (You need GOOD QUALITY tape! For something this detailed it is key that you have clean paint lines. I used 3M Edge Lock — fabulous!)
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5 Responses

  1. Daniela says:

    Nous avons eu la même idée, je vous montrerais mon meuble peint.
    Je sais que s'est très compliqué et que cela demande de la patience, bravo!!

  2. Pia Haugseth says:

    WOW all the way from Norway! What a great job you did!

  3. Weeziessister says:

    I'm new to this site – your piece came out great! Love the angles and color block!! Last fall I painted a pine cabinet with a similar method, in my favorite harlequin-esq black/orange/blue color block- It came out so nice I kept it !!- it's in my guest bedroom! I do the same kind of work with found pieces – your step by step is helpful and I am always looking for inspiration – thanks!!! Peg.

  4. Liz_HGTV says:

    I am in awe right now. LOOOVE it.

  5. merrypad says:


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