Credenza: Practical meets Pretty

November 2, 2010

Last year I remodeled my home office, and it’s been a genuine pleasure working in this pretty and personalized space.  For the longest time, I was loving the sofa that sat on one wall, but over time, paperwork started piling up, and I reasoned I needed a more practical solution if I really was going to run a business from home.  So I made some changes!

I started with a credenza I found at (where else?) a thrift store.  A few weeks ago, I stumbled across this piece for $40 dollars ~ it was the perfect size measuring six feet long and mostly solid wood, but the finish was all wrong wrong wrong.  First, the top is laminate, and all scratched up.  Ick.  Second, the base was a different shade of honey tone wood that clashed in my eyes.  Usually, I like mid century modern style furniture in a medium stain, but this two-tone finish just wasn’t working for me, so I gave it a makeover to suit my space.


credenza before paint



cg credenza final after


Slate blue/gray paint + sleek contemporary pulls + geometric pattern on top = perfect!

cg credenza pattern


Some of you are probably wondering how the heck did I get such straight painted lines on this piece?  Well, it was tricky, but I’ll tell ya how!

First, let’s start at the beginning.  Scratched laminate top?  No.Thank.You.  Slick surfaces never deter me, no sirreee!  My favey fave oil based primer to the rescue to cling baby cling!

Here you can see I’m painting the laminate shelf on the inside.  Remember oh yes, oh yes oh yes you can paint laminate!  All it takes is the right kind of primer.  This is it!  (You can also use the Zinsser oil based shellac in the red can too.)  I roll mine on with a foam roller for speedy coverage, then follow it up with a brush to keep it all even.

zinsser oil based primer


Note the can says "No sanding" but people ask me all the time if that is for real.  Peeps, it is fo real.  BUT, that said, I always ‘scuff up’ my piece with a coarse sanding pad beforehand.  Call me crazy but something inside my little brain tells me that scuffed up surface will hold the primer better, but I could just be living in a bubble.  Anyway, I do scuff up my piece then I wipe it down.  I don’t degloss or sand away the varnish, I simply scuff it up.  Got it ?  Repeat after me.  Scuff scuff scuff.  OK, that’s enough.


deep tint water based primerMoving on.  Knowing I was going to paint it dark, I gave the surface a quick coat of deep tint (water based) primer over the white oil based Zinsser.  Why the dark primer?  Because it ensures your dark paint will stay true to its color.

It’s not absolutely necessary when painting a piece dark, but I find you risk having to add an extra coat or two or three of paint, so I use a coat of dark primer cause it’s a guarantee I can get one coat coverage with my dark paint.  And I can’t find a dark tint oil based primer that’s as good as Zinsser, I’m still searching.


Next, I thought I was sooooo smart to paint the rough pattern in white, lay painter’s tape on top, then add the gray paint over the top of that.  No.  Bad idea.  I ended up with horribly uneven lines and had to do the pattern all over again.  And I know better!  I had such an easy time painting stripes on this dresser so I should have followed that technique.  Sadly, I didn’t and the lines were just awful.

First attempt:

gray paint on top

This I have learned.  The best way to get a straight stripe line on a flat surface is to peel up the painter’s tape while the latex paint is still somewhat wet!  Don’t wait until it’s completely dry.  Peel it off slowly  when it’s wet.  Reason being, once latex paint dries, it peels, and it takes little pieces of the stripe with it.

Therefore, I declare, wet paint is good for making stripes!

wet paint good


Aaaaaaand this is how I should have done the geometric pattern in the first place, but hey, this gal’s still learning.   This is also a great time to mention that the final paint color on this piece is a slate blue/gray color by True Value called ‘Avoidance’.  It ended up being a little bluer and less charcoal than I really wanted, but oh well.  It still works!

**Please note, I have no experience painting stripes on textured walls.  For those of you who have, please feel free to chime in and share your secrets for perfect stripes on textured walls.  We’re listening!

I gave this credenza two coats of Polycrylic in Gloss for added sheen.  Me likey shiny.  Pur-tay!  I also added some contemporary hardware I found at True Value. 

cg credenza surface


This piece would have been just okay refinished in gray, but the addition of the sleek nickel pulls and the white geometric pattern makes it something special and one-of-a kind. I love it!  It’s so nice to have all this storage for paperwork and now at last practical has met pretty.


cg credenza after


Practical, meet pretty.  Pretty, meet practical.   I think you’ll get along swell.


True Value Blog Squad legalese:  “I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience.  I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project.   However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”


I’ll show you the entire office soon!



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