before & after: mid-century credenza makeunder

I’ll be honest; when I see pieces painted over in this fashion, I usually want to run the other way. Just the thought of trying to tackle a project like this credenza from Meagan Luhrs and her husband, Ryan Thompson, makes me break out in a preemptive sweat. I am amazed at their results and would expect to pay no less than top dollar for such clean, mid-century lines and beautiful wood. Clearly, elbow grease and perseverance can pay off— if you have the skill to spot a piece with good bones. Amazing job, guys! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Time: Probably 20 to 25 hours from start to finish. That sounds like a lot of time, but the dresser was in really rough shape and needed some serious TLC.

Cost: $85. The dresser was $35 on Craigslist and we spent about $50 on supplies — Citristrip, paint scrapers, white enamel paint, sandpaper and Danish oil.

Basic Steps: I was pregnant at the time, so my husband did all of the hard work! He started by stripping the white paint with Citristrip and scrubbing the dresser with soap and water. Then he sanded — being very careful on the veneered drawers — filled the damaged corners with wood filler, sanded all surfaces, primed the dresser frame with oil-based Kilz, painted the dresser frame with white enamel paint and oiled the drawer fronts with Danish oil.

Look for creative solutions to give a piece of furniture new life; for us, this was going with a two-tone finish. Since we were unable to save the dresser frame — the corners were too damaged — we decided to repaint it white. We originally thought we’d have to repaint the drawers too, but the veneer was really beautiful, and we were able to restore them. The contrast of the white frame and wood drawers turned out to be a really nice design element. — Meagan Luhrs and Ryan Thompson


wow…so much work but so worth it…mad props hubby! job exceedingly well done!


This looks amazing. How wonderful that you were able to save such a lovely piece!


Much, much better. I love this dresser. We found something similar in a neighborhood alley, and I hope to clean it up and restore it in the next few months.


love it. I inherited a similar one which I was tempted to throw out but maybe I should reconsider. The baby’s room looks fantastic, I particularly like the bookshelves. Nice work! Btw, would you mind tipping me off as to where you got that amazing sky print?


Love the dresser but the bookshelves are pretty darn cute too – are they spice racks?


This came out amazing. The finished result makes the unit look really expensive and high end! Its definitely a statement piece.


Love, love, LOVE this!! What a beautiful job!

Where did you get your book shelves on the wall? I’ve been looking for a clean and out of the way manner to store my sons oodles of books. Love it!


This gives me great hope for some of my pieces that I’ve been too busy to refinish. What a stunning final product! And three cheers for thriftiness!


This. Is. Gorgeous. And considering the results, 20-25 hours doesn’t seem like an inordinate amount of time (easy for me to say, I didn’t do the work!).


Wow! This is really awesome. Makes me want to re-refinish my hutch. Great job!


Green with envy at your ability, patience, and frankly, having the space to do this in your home!

Jenn June

so gorgeous and inspiring! i never imagined you could do all that to save a dresser! great job.


Love this, I’ve been recently thinking about doing something like this for a TV stand. Great job, it looks amazing


Beautiful! Can you tell us why the drawer pulls are lighter? Are they a different type of wood, or did you paint them as well? Hard to tell in the photos. Thanks for sharing! Inspiring!


Amazing job indeed! To be honest, I am usually the odd one out when it comes to before-and-afters, because it seems to me that people take away all the character of the pieces and turn them into rather silly coloured furniture. But this, however, is simply great! They gave back the elegant and cool character the dresser originaly had. But made it witha new language. Excellent!


I agree with Fabi: this is breathtaking! And not at all silly or cartoony.


that is STUNNING! i love, love, love pieces like this that have the potential to be refurbished and look brand new. beautiful job.


not a fan of white with wood-but the job is mind-bugling and the result is fab.
the piece is done sooooo professionally that it looks factory made.
envious of your patience:)

Jenna at Homeslice

Wow… I do not envy the job of stripping all that paint off! ah. But- it was obviously worth it because the dresser is awesome. I really like the lighter stain (I’m assuming it’s stain and not a different type of wood?) on the handles. It gives great contrast and lines.

Jen @ Circle and Sprout

Wow…just beautiful! I am usually not A huge fan of mid-century modern furniture, but this has made me rethink that opinion because you have shown how great and fresh it can look. Great job, and a pat on the back to your hubby for being so motivated. Pregnancy sometimes does that to men!

amy walters, aDESIGNdock

Absolutely love wood-white combos. I painted the shell of my mid-century mod credenza white this past summer and am thrilled with the result. But I love yours even more as the piece’s previous rough shape makes this “after” shot waaaaaay more impressive. Great job guys!!!


All white makes it cheap looking but with the stained drawers makes all the difference. On another blog, the writer took the IKEA RAST dresser (comes unfinished) which is only 39.99 and refinished it in the same manner with new hardware. She uses them as bedside tables.


Absolutely beautiful & well worth the hard work! A real inspiration for rescuing a beautifil piece even though it was badly damaged.


Really beautiful job! It’s great to see that a piece got restored so the beautiful veneer can bee seen. A lot of time makeovers are just the opposite, unfortunately, when people paint over quality wood surfaces.

kate sterling

beautiful and so classic. well done you have inspired us


You and your husband are wonderful recyclist! There is no telling how much a new, real wood dresser of that quality would cost these days. It is absolutely wonderful! Plus, to get a dresser with that much drawer space would have cost a fortune! You knocked that one out of the park! Bravo!


FYI… the bookshelves are IKEA Spice Racks … $3.99 ea. Awesome idea !!


What technique did you use on the drawers? The pulls look like a different color?


This is the most impressive “before and after” I think I’ve ever seen. WOW!

Michelle Martel

Just breathtaking !!! So beautiful. Great job :)

Heloisa Vila

Looks great – what technique was used for the drawers? The pulls do look like a different color. What color of Danish oil did you use? Thanks!