before & after: alejandra’s desk and julie’s chair

when this first before & after came into my inbox yesterday i just smiled. finally, a great piece of wooden furniture that wasn’t painted, but was instead restored and waxed to its natural beauty. most of the time i don’t have any problem with painting furniture if it’s in poor condition, but this piece from d*s reader alejandra was over 100 years old and belonged to her great grandmother. alejandra sanded the piece down a bit to remove the damaged varnish and then used a transparent wax to seal and protect it. for a little extra touch alejandra added a bit of flowered fabric that belonged to her grandmother (such a sweet touch) to the inside of the desk. i love all the generations of women present in this desk- it’s such a great piece to have in your home. thanks for sharing, alejandra!

[have a before & after you’d like to share on d*s? just shoot me an email right here with your images!]


this lovely chair makeover comes from julie at hazel & hunter. she used one of my favorite fabrics from heather at skinny laminx to spruce up this junk shop sewing chair. the frame was in great shape so julie made a new cushion for the back, scrapped the old worn vinyl and recovered it with heather’s fabric. voila! a great new chair. if you’re interested in buying julie’s updated chair, it’s for sale on etsy right here. thanks, julie!


  1. Tanya says:

    Gorgeous desk. The wood is so much more amazing in a natural look. Love that little lantern on top as well!

  2. Thank you, thank you for restoring the antique desk to its original glory. It is important to honor its history and those that used it before!

  3. Sarah says:

    thank you for not painting this desk!!!! when i opened up D*S today, i saw the before photo at the top of the page, and had this sinking feeling in my stomach “oh my god,” i thought, “somebody just painted,papered, and ruined a beautiful beautiful piece of furniture…” I scrolled down, and Voila! WOOD! you’re my D*S hero. somebody’s gotta stand up for wood!

  4. marii muniieka says:

    super cute desk and chair….i would def…buy the desk! :)

  5. Wow, what a nice surprise to see my Duikers print here! It was just a week or so I sent the fabric off to Hazel & Hunter too. Love this small world.

  6. Emily Kate says:

    The desk is lovely! Great job!

  7. The intricacies of that desk must have been some task to refinish, but thank you for not taking the easy way out with paint! Beautiful!

  8. Jill J says:

    I am in shock that the desk wasn’t painted! It looks AMAZING!

  9. Jolene M says:

    While sometimes I think that the pieces look nice painted, I always wonder how they would look stripped with a nice finish. I have to repeat what others said above that I am so glad you didn’t paint the desk. Sometimes a beautiful wood is so much nicer than an interesting paint choice.

  10. Guido says:

    thank you for preserving the beauty of wood!
    I am restoring some wood piece too…does anybody know how to deal with the sun marks on stained wood?
    I removed the finish with sandpaper but the wood does not have uniform color tone due to sun exposure.

  11. Angie says:

    Love the chair and the fabric choice!

  12. Jen Singh says:

    It is so easy to want to paint something old, and I just bought a plain-jane console table with the anticipation of painting it. But I put it in my foyer, and after walking past it a half dozen times decided to leave it alone, it’s gorgeous as is!

  13. Catherine says:

    A pair of really inspiring makeovers, particularly the desk.

    Thank you!

  14. Amy says:

    That desk is so beautiful! I agree, it was better not painted but restored. It’s so lovely.

  15. arroyo says:

    The desk is lovely. Nicely refinished, and a nice change from paint.

    The chair is not quite working for me. Although the print is terrific, it does not look like upholstery weight fabric. It looks like a lightweight cotton (more appropriate for some cafe curtains or a skirt?). Different fabric would give this a bit more visual weight.

    I often have this reaction when I see the DIY projects… it really does make a difference to use fabric that is more appropriate to the function.

  16. thanks, grace, and everyone for the comments :)

    arroyo – skinny laminx’s fabric is definitely upholstery weight! i love it so much, i want to redo my whole couch in it!

  17. wim bens says:

    Aah. Natural wood. Very nice work.

    I which more people would put up the brushes and get out the elbow grease instead.

  18. Amy says:

    Oh, I just love that desk! I’m so glad she didn’t paint it! Some things are better left natural. The fabric on the inside is such a sweet touch. Very well done!

  19. Alison says:

    oh HOORAY for the desk. oh I am so glad she didnt paint it… Good work Alejandra, and thanks for posting it to show people that there IS an option for wood besides painting it!

  20. That desk has come up a treat. A family piece that will live another lifetime – or more.

  21. MsUnreliable says:

    Both are gorgeous, but I agree, it is nice to see timber being enhanced instead of painted. I must confess though, I’ve just painted a bookshelf that was in quite lovely condition, but the timber simply didn’t go with my apartment. I still feel a little guilty to be honest!

  22. karen says:

    very nice. whereever did that fantastic fabric come from? My dad is a total deer freak & would love it!

  23. Vie Lewis says:

    wow finally someone who made the old look new again and leave the “flavor” of the desk. I have many old side tables small but full of past history’s . I just can’t paint them. I have my ex’s grandmothers dresser , blond oak still in good shape,Thanks will not paint it. You eased my mind.

  24. I want that fabric!!! Oh and the chair.

  25. The desk really is a very special piece. I love what d s said about there being generations of women present in the piece. It has a lovely story, and I can see it is well loved by the care that has been taken over the restoration! Absolutely beautiful!

  26. giardino says:

    Once it’s painted, you can never go back. Hooray for allowing the desk to keep its lovely natural finish. I love before and afters…the chair is a great example.


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