I don’t dislike mid-century modern furniture, but it’s not my first choice. I’m just naturally drawn to vintage styles that have more curves, moldings, details that excite me. Maybe it’s the romantic in me or that tie to long-ago history that I feel is being lost.
Despite my tendencies for chunky or curvy legs, MCM furniture is quite lovely. I can appreciate the simplicity of the clean lines. There is definitely beauty there, too.
When I thrift a vintage furniture item, I tend to grab something when it grabs me. Do you know what I mean? If I instantly have a vision for what it can become with a little imagination, hard work, and paint supplies, then I’m in! That’s exactly what happened to me when I spied this MCM gem at my local Habitat Restore.
I knew there were wood veneer panels on some parts and solid wood on others, so my first step was to discover what was under the drab brown finish. The base and legs were beautiful. They sanded to this pretty natural raw wood color that I knew would be a great complement to the light airy blue paint I chose, English Hollyhock by Behr Marquee.
I wanted a split design with natural wood on the top half and blue paint on the bottom, but celebrating that gorgeous wood base and legs. This meant I had to sand the top half really well and carefully. Then I just roughed up the sections I planned to paint so the paint had something to stick to.
Next came taping. Not my favorite thing to do – it’s a little boring. But a necessary step for this design so I could protect that beautiful wood.
It really started to come together when I started painting. A total of 3 thin, coats did the trick! I often spritz with a fine mist of water. It means more coats, but it avoids brush strokes really well. Removing the tape was SO satisfying!
Parts of the veneer wood appeared a little more yellow to me than the base, so I was contemplating a whitewash with white paint and water. At the same time, I hated to do that and find it wasn’t the greatest look, because re-sanding those areas was not an option.
I decided to make sure the wood sections were all even in tone, so I used some wood conditioner. What I failed to recognize is it was oil-based instead of water-based, and it definitely pulled all the yellow tannins out even more than before. NOT the look I wanted.
I headed to my local Woodcraft store to check for General Finishes white stain. I was hoping it would tone down the yellow. After testing the back of a leg, I realized it was TOO white. But this is not the time to give up. Instead, I discovered something new. You can mix General Finishes gel stains together to make your own tints!
I added a bit of Nutmeg to the White gel stain along the way until I achieved a nice creamy color that would still tone down the yellow and not be too faded white. The look I achieved was just what I was hoping for – a nice blonde wood.
What do you think of the results?
This definitely made me rethink the mid-century modern style, and I won’t hesitate to pick up another one in the future.
Is MCM a favorite of yours? If not, what is your favorite style of vintage furniture? I’d love to know!
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