before and after

before and after: arielle’s sideboard desk

by Grace Bonney

man do i love this before & after. not only because i love retail design (i like some of my favorite stores more than my favorite houses) but because i love to see traditional furniture used in non-traditional ways. this furniture makeover comes from arielle glade of compressed pattern studio in portland, oregon. arielle’s firm found this antique sideboard and converted it into a seriously cool reception desk for the fada salon in portland. arielle and her co-designers used graham and brown textured, paintable wallpaper (in a pattern called “paintable small squares“) for the new section of the sideboard and then made a white laminate top for the desk. in order to support the corner of the desk (and house essential computer components) they made a cabinet-like leg out of maple so that it would match the floors and blend in. it’s such a transformation and i’m so pysched arielle sent this over. it makes me want to find some fleamarket furniture and start chopping. thanks to arielle and compressed pattern for sharing!

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  • Guys, come on. The original piece was a dime-a-dozen Duncan Phyfe repro-probably from the 40s or 50s, hardly priceless, rare, or even truly antique.
    I am SO all for protecting historical integrity (heck, I’m in process of having my house declared a historic property) where historicity and value exists, but the original sideboard was just old-nothing more.

  • I like it ! I think it’s a great way to give some elegance to those awful desk that most companies use !

    The maple support doesn’t bother me, it seems that the light is a bit emphasizing it on the photo, but it seems to blend in the floor. I didn’t notice it.

    I’m onboard with the choice of cool, neutral yet patterned color (think office !), and I like the wave pattern.

    I only disagree with the choice of Laminate, but I would do the same, heartbroken, for an office. I sure wish there was a wooden top instead.

  • Take functional, well-made, rather lovely piece of furniture.
    Bash it to bits.
    Attach gunk to it.
    Make sure it looks like something cheaply knocked together out of MDF.
    Shove it in office.
    Put phone and computer on it.
    Celebrate it as design.

    Yeeeaaaahhhhh, not quite there with that one.

  • Oh, I had a really fun time reading these comments! Allthough I’m not crazy with the result I find it very inspiering and quite fun. Sure it’s important to treat items of historic value with care and respect but this sideboard is nowhere near that. And as Grace said in one of the other threads, furniture has always been altered througout history to fit the owner’s taste. I would say that the final result will have ALOT more historic value in the future, there is a whole story to tell about it and in that way it will become many times more interesting than the massproduced piece that was before!

  • My only complaint is that the paintable wallpaper is so drab–I would love to see it painted sky blue or maybe apple green…

  • I’m sorry “bash it to bits”? Has everyone in this comment thread lost their mind?

    It’s a piece of furniture, not a precious child or a priceless work of art. Someone cut it into pieces and used it for something else- get over it.

    If you don’t like it, fine. But to imply that someone hacked away and created a piece of trash is ridiculous and ignorant. Whether you like it or not, someone obviously put some time into it.

    I normally don’t comment here and I certainly don’t mind disagreement, but this is just plain silly. Why do people have to belittle construction just because they don’t like the final results?


  • It’s an interesting solution, I like the idea of taking something antique and changing it. This particular look isn’t one that I personally like – but the overall concept is good. I totally dig the wallpaper.

  • Normally I don’t comment on these things but just admire from afar. But I must say, these comments seem overly harsh to me.

    I really like it. I won’t say love it but I think it’s well done for the space it’s in. I would’ve probably made a different choice on the counter top but that can be fixed at a later time. I agree that the maple cabinet is a bit distracting in the photos but probably isn’t as noticeable in person. Somehow incorporating the drawer fronts from the sideboard into that center section might unite the piece a little more. Overall though, I think it’s very nice.

    I’m not disturbed at all by the reconfiguration of the sideboard. I won’t call it “destruction” since the piece is still useful and has been given a new life. I certainly have seen enough of those sideboards to be sick of them and don’t think that every old piece that is referred to as “antique” needs to be preserved. I think modernhaus said it best – “the original sideboard was just old-nothing more”. What someone does to a piece of furniture that they purchase is their business. This one did not appear to be a collectors item and I certainly did not find it appealing in the “before” state. The “after”, however, works for me and my eclectic sensibilities.

  • I am a little blown away by the antique lovers here!
    This project did for these commentators what good design should do…it made you stop, look, disect and determine! to me that is what truly good design should do.

    But please hate it because you hate it not because the antiques of the world are on some sort of endangered species list!

    now as a designer I do need to say that ‘i would have gone a little more outrageous with the paper…it needs some color.

  • An item that is 100 years or older is considered to be an antique. Furniture that is old, but not yet 100 years old is considered a “collecible.” This is why you see so many “Antique and Collecibles” shops

  • i’m in love with this table no matter what anyone else said in the previous post. Great job. The colors, textures, and concept is all around a dream office desk for me.

  • BEYOND COOL! i expected a lot of criticism since it was about a real antique… but i found it really bold and with a wonderful result. it’s contemporary, clean full of good taste. it made a statement and created a cool atmosphere for the room.

  • I too liked the original desk, but what it was turned into is nothing short of amazing! I barely recognized the “after” as being the same piece of furniture. It is bold and daring, and though the style of the table is very eclectic and mixes several styles, that’s what makes it work. I love it!

  • The legal (read Customs regulations) state:

    Used: Less than 100 yrs; ordinary, commonly found items

    Vintage: 50-99 yrs old with some rarity or excellence

    Antique: 100 yrs old plus. (1930 Tariff Act)

    Of course, then you can get into designations such as Reproduction vs Adaptation too….

  • I love this piece. I was at the Furniture Market in High Point, NC last month and saw a lot of high end furniture that was trending in this direction – a juxtaposition of the antique and the modern.

  • Do you know, over a year later I still remember this piece, and it took me about 20 minutes to look through the before&afters to find it as I would like to replicate it for a desk at home.

    I hadn’t read the comments at the time, and am SO surprised by the negativity. First, that is not an antique. Second, great green creds for recycling something old and of little value.

    I would give it only 4/5 stars because of that cube (perhaps its just the photo and it does serve a purpose). But otherwise, I STILL LOVE IT and remember it over a year later!

  • so very sad to see a lovely piece ripped apart to make a monstrosity. i agree with the furniture equivalent of a mullet comment!

  • I think if budget constraints were a big factor in this project starting out with a solid and sound piece of furniture at near on $500 ticket price is probably a bad start. I like the ‘idea’ executed here but think it’s an idea best saved for a character but junked piece of furniture…

  • Really, really liked the concept…the execution failed for me though. Same reasons as others have noted. The light maple cabinet, the choice of wallpaper and the laminate top….all fail…for me personally.

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