before and after

before & after: sarah’s fridge + caitlin’s phone bench

by Kate Pruitt

some cynics may argue that, like mounted antlers or felt pebbles, chalkboard paint is overexposed in home decor right now. however, i would argue that its beauty completely negates the issue. have i seen a bad example of chalkboard paint? no, i have not. it always looks dramatic and lovely. i appreciate sarah’s clever use of the paint on the unlikely surface of a mini fridge; actually, it’s quite a useful place for it! the sharp contrast of black and white and the crisp stripes of the rug make the room feel so fresh and clean, perfect for sarah’s modern beach cottage. i also appreciate that the menu and shopping list in the “after” shot (albeit unrealistic) send a fun carefree message about enjoying life. i should try to keep them in mind, as i tend to be a bit cynical myself :) great work, sarah!

telephone benches are an awesome byproduct of the corded phone days. my parents had a fifties era telephone bench that was upholstered in hunter’s green vinyl. it had a large, curved armrest and bronze upholstery tacks running in tight succession along the edges. since we have no pictures of it, i can only use what i remember, which is that it was an ugly sea monster that i could ride on to reach imaginary exotic locales. in actuality i’m pretty sure it was mega stylish– i imagine it fitting perfectly in don draper’s home office. anyway, if i saw a telephone bench of any style at a yard sale today i would grab it; they are like school desks for grownups, and while they serve no real purpose in the age of the cell phone, they always have interesting shapes. i absolutely love the way caitlin has updated this version: the wood against the white base is very modern, but the fun retro fabric gives a stylish nod to the furniture’s heyday. she had the piece powder coated by professionals and added an oiled piece of walnut for the top. it’s now a staple in her home, as it would surely be in mine as well. beautiful work, caitlin! –kate

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  • Gorgeous! I’d be interested to know where/how Caitlin got this piece professionally powder-coated; it’s something that’s always being recommended in decor magazines, but I’ve never found a place that’ll do it.

  • The telephone desk is lovely! I like the fridge too; I’d love to do that to the fridge in our next apartment. Too bad it’s 1. not ours and 2. in a small galley kitchen so it would 3. make the kitchen seem even SMALLER. If it were my place, the things I’d do to spruce it up a bit!!

  • Chalkboard paint is still A-OK to me, especially when it’s on something like a fridge door, where it makes sense.

  • Whodathunk to paint a mini fridge??? And I love the idea of the telephone bench but I’m honestly partial to the “before” fabric. I suppose I’d have to see it in the context of the home that it’s in, to be fair.

  • I agree with the other comments, the walnut top really makes that piece. It looks great, and is still so functional as a piece of entry-way furniture!
    The fridge makeover was a great idea as well. It looks really nice.

  • The telephone bench is a stunner. I appreciate when people know when to DIY and when to let a pro handle a project or part of one (i.e. the powdercoating).

  • Wish I could see the back of the telephone bench! I have a telephone bench in my entryway that I’ve been threatening to re-upholster for about a year now. I am nervous to attempt re-covering the seatback…as there is piping and seemingly not a lot of room for error.

  • the mini fridge is an amazing idea! I have an ugly dishwasher that I don’t use but it has to stay in the kitchen and it sounds like a great idea. just one question, how do you prep the surface? my dishwasher has a pretty glossy finish, is there a product I should put on before applying chalkboard paint?

  • i love the mini-fridge. in our old house, we painted one wall of our guest bathroom with chalkboard paint. when our friends came over they would sign the wall – it was great. our real estate agent made us paint over it when we put the house on the market. no fun.

  • I love the chalkboard fridge idea. I feel a weekend project coming on!

    @Julie – I have the same dishwasher situation in my kitchen! I’m thinking a quick sand to rough up the surface and a primer can help. Rustoleum makes appliance paint actually. I wonder if they have the some kind of special primer.

  • The chalkboard paint on the fridge makes perfect sense to me. In fact, I’ve always wanted to get an extra mini-fridge to hold beer, and having a chalkboard on the front would let me keep track of what’s in there without having to open and close it all the time.

  • what a great idea! we have an ugly mini fridge we use to keep all of our beverages in. It saves us room in our big refrigerator but man is it an eye sore.

  • I did that to my mini fridge in college! It was a big hit with everyone and a great way to have some fun with a dorm room.

  • That telephone table is super cute. I’m a sucker for any way to get shoes off the floor, too! Great work!

  • I must confess that I have one of these super cute telephone benches, so when we got a home phone line, I bought an old rotary phone to sit on top of it. I know it’s funny and obsolete, but I just love it. I really enjoy making calls while sitting on my little bench.

  • Two great before and afters!

    What a great idea for an old mini fridge! I tend to think chalk board paint is overkill on full size fridges, but on a mini one it’s perfect!

    I think the telephone bench is awesome! I kind of wish that we were all still in the habit of sitting still while talking on the phone, I think it makes for more attentive and enjoyable conversation. :)

  • I have a little phone desk like that too. It’s in perfect shape but it’s made of metal, vinyl and the table part looks like it might be formica?! I have no idea if I can redo mine and I definitely don’t want to devalue you (if it even has any value) . It definitely lights a fire for me though!

  • I just finished “chalkboard painting” my little stand! I can’t get over how transformational it is to a piece of furniture! The fridge looks fantastic, naturally:)

  • -PLEASE- let us know how did u use the halkboard paint in that fridge, it’s amazing!
    i want to ”steal” this idea, so please help me..