A Touch Beyond Shabby-Chic

These simple and elegant side tables were designed for the dump when I saved them. Like many of the discarded pieces I find, they struck me with possibilities.

Sadly, my enthusiasm got the better of me and I didn’t take the before pictures I usually take. Here are some after the initial cleaning, where we can start to see the different woods and laminates used to enhance the clean lines of some beautiful craftsmanship.

Before Scandanavian Side tables

The choices were clearly deliberate when the carpenter chose his woods, as he has the grains going in perpendicular directions and the smoothly cut and sanded surface is more solid than one could imagine. The pieces aren’t heavy to look at, but are very weighty to carry.

When I first saw them, I thought I was looking at a Scandinavian design, but there are subtle elements in the construction that makes me think this artist also loved Mid-Century Modern lines (the legs are slightly narrower than the top) and the simple strength of Shaker construction (due to their massive weight).

After cleaning them, I did my best to remove the multiple layers of shellac on the surface. Some parts proved too difficult to remove by sanding alone, and when I wet wiped the dust, I found myself enjoying the distressed feel and look of the spaces where some shellac remained. I finished the drawer fronts with s clear finishing wax and the rest with a darker finishing wax, to bring out more of the grain in that different wood, which I believe to be teak.

Dimensions: H- 24″ (61cm) x W- 15″ (38cm) x D- 11″ (28cm)

Price: $250 for the pair.


A Sideboard Transformation -Simple To Sexy

Design That Inspires A Gentle Touch

simple sideboard- before

I couldn’t resist the call to do something with this little piece. Salvaged from a moving sale, “priced-to-go” pile, it sat sad and unloved. Still in pretty good shape. The legs needed tightening and the surface needed a good dusting, but otherwise it looked good… Well, actually the tune-up returned it to boring, but something about it really moved me. I just wanted to love it.  For the most part, this sad little piece remained unremarkable. So what the heck could I do with it?

sexy sideboard table

Where To Take The Piece?

The Danish simplicity of the design pushes us to look for what aspects are the most attractive. Simple colours and crisp lines mean we can use it in almost any decor setting and it will offer a little contrast, as well as a base for more eclectic decorative choices:  bright glass or ceramic bowls, vases full of vibrant flowers, wild paintings or tapestries hung above it, or a touch of lovely fabric draped over it.

Now I needed to decide on the changes that would retain the versatility of the piece within any given decor and bring out the most beautiful aspects of its design. In my view, the elegance lies in the elongated lines of the design. It’s a relatively small piece, but looks long enough to become a focal point in a minimalist decor setting. So, I set to exaggerating those lines.

sexy sideboard table 2

Gently hand-sanding the old varnish off the solid-wood surface, I cleaned it again with warm water & vinegar, to raise the grain a little. I struggled with whether or not to paint the drawer front and decided to keep it unpainted, because I liked the grain on it. I also felt it drew the eye up, thus further elongating the legs. I chose a blackboard paint for the paint, because I felt the matte contrasted with the subtle finishing wax covering the wood. The finishing wax left a satin, semi-gloss finish and softened the grain of the wood.  I’m happy that I was able to use an old pewter knob, reclaimed from the growing store of odds and ends in my shop.


  • Original Materials: Solid Pine.
  • Refinished With: Charcoal Black Milk Paint and Clear Finishing Wax.
  • Dimensions: a) W – 28″ (71cm), D – 12″ (30cm), H – 28″ (71cm).
  • Retail Price: $200.00


Minimalism With A Twist of Lemon

Bauhaus Minimalist Set

  • Original Materials: Laminated (pine veneer) plywood, with pine legs.
  • Refinished With: Charcoal Black Milk Paint for the drawer faces & sides, Canary Yellow Furniture Paint for inside the drawers, the shelves, and legs.
  • Dimensions: a) Sideboard W – 42″ (107cm), D – 13.75″ (35cm), H – 20″ (50cm); b) Side tables W – 21.5″ (55cm), D – 13.75 (35cm), H – 20″ (50cm).
  • Retail Price: $500.00

I almost didn’t take this set of sideboard and side tables, because it lacked pizzazz. Something told me there was more to it and since they were small, I grabbed them to see what I could make of them.

It helped greatly that the owner told me the story of their origins: his uncle was a master cabinet maker who came to canada after the Second World War to make a house full of beautiful furniture for his much beloved and soon to be married brother. While simple in design, it is crafter with the precision of a German Engineered car. The hand of the artisan is felt in every joint and hinge. Even the glass tops seem to be hand polished and beveled.

As usual, my wife loved the simple design of them and urged me to work on them right away. By know you know that means, she wanted to keep them somewhere in out home (a.k.a. The Gallery) . So, I started with a good sanding.

The wood came out crisp and clear. It was also clear how thin the veneer was, as the 120 grit sandpaper went easily through it. So, not I had the challenge of making it look clean. I started with stains and finishing waxes, but nothing masked the ruined veneer for me. Oh, well, I’m a perfectionist. Then the voice of un-reason called out to take more chances with it, and I started testing new Chalk paints on them. It turned out even better than I expected. Now they need a new home! Will it be yours?

The Funky Sock Set Of Drawers

Well, where else would you put your funky socks?

Old side table commode

This little guy may have been left neglected in some basement for years, but it practically shouted out what it wanted to become when I saw it on the side of the road: “I want to be loved and I’ll even be a special set of drawers for your socks!”

I wonder if it knew I had an obsession with crazy socks that drives my all too understanding wife to question my taste in clothing.

  • Original Materials: Solid Maple Wood
  • Refinished With: Robyn’s Egg Blue Milk Paint for the drawer faces & Peach Furniture Paint for inside the drawers. The wood is coated with MinWax Dark Finishing Wax. The drawer handles have been replaced with brushed nickel knobs
  • Dimensions: W – 15″ (38cm), D – 13.75″ (35cm), H – 26″ (66cm)
  • Retail Price: $225.00

I couldn’t find any branding marks and the remnants of the old label was faded beyond recognition. It appears to be from the early half of the twentieth century, however the handles that I found on it don’t appear to be original either. They are cast brass in a craftsman style. It’s conceivable this little dresser is much older.

Despite it’s obvious state of  neglect, it was without water stains, dents, or chipping of any kind, and the inside of the drawers were clean and dry. Someone at some time loved this little guy and kept him healthy.

I think it would also make a fun and unique little side table with a crazy lamp on it to contrast the simple elegance of it.



Art Nouveau Meets Shabby Chic

Well, It’s Sort Of Rococo with a twist…

Modern Rococco Display Tables 2

  • Original Materials: Solid Mahogany Wood, with a walnut veneer (only the tabletop)
  • Refinished With: Bubblegum Pink Furniture Paint and Glossy Black Polyurethane
  • Dimensions: W – 19″ (29cm), D – 19″ (29cm), H – 27″ (69cm)
  • Retail Price: $250.00 each or $400.00 for the pair

Someone somewhere had some fun designing this melange of styles. At first glance, the Spanish Modernist lines weren’t very clear to me, so I decided they needed a little push to bring them out.

Before - Rococco Display Tables

It felt like the craftsman lost his vision when it came to finishing the piece, so he added a some extra Art Deco ornamentation and an oddly Mid-Century Modern veneer to the table top. The whole thing felt a little hodge-podge to me.

The owner said it was brought over from Eastern Europe during the first world war, but that felt a little off. They said it belonged to their Mother and she told different stories about it, so they felt it may have some dubious origin. The underside was sanded clean of all marks and only the evidence of the whole thing having been hand-carved remained. It apparently lived in the Mom’s bedroom, or as one of the owners joked, her boudoir. Well, that joke planted a seed for my design choices. The fact that after hours of sanding off the shellac, I could not clean the whole piece to my satisfaction. Then there was the strange veneer on the top that just looked terrible when sanded. So, I decided they needed colour.

I found this thick and delicious bubblegum pink furniture paint. It was glossy and wet looking, even when dry, and I knew it would make these pieces totally unique. The high-gloss top is all polyurethane.

A perfect finish for any trendy cafe, restaurant, hair salon, or gift shop. Or the focus piece in an adventurous home.