DIY Mid-Century Modern Credenza

Credenza Finished

I refinished this credenza a while ago, but it bounced around my house until I found the perfect place for it. I think this project calls for a little before and after:

Credenza Makeover White Wash Method

Time for the Credenza Project Deets!

I first found this picture from WestElm and fell in love. But the price tag was WAAAY too high for my budget. So I started searching the local classified sites and Deseret Industries for a fixer upper piece. I was looking for something that could be stained, and something that had different sized drawers. When I saw this beauty at the DI I was jumping up and down and waved the nearest employee over (for fear that someone would snatch it if I walked a step away).

Laminate vs. Veneer vs. Real Wood

So – here is a little education for those who haven’t refinished much furniture. The 3 most common type of furniture you probably will come across are these:
1. Laminate – has a fairly smooth texture with particle board underneath. It often looks very shiny.
2. Veneer – an oober-thin piece of wood (less than 1/8″ usually) laid on top of particle board (or some other cheap wood). Can possibly be re-stained once.
3. Real wood – you should be able to tell by looking underneath or inside drawers for the woodgrain. If the woodgrain follows through to these areas, it is wood. If it is REALLY heavy to move, chances are, it’s real wood.

If in doubt as to what material your furniture is made of, try sanding a small inconspicuous area. If it is laminate, you will just scratch and mar up the surface. If it is veneer or wood, you will start to see the finish come off and the raw wood will surface.

2014-08-23 15.03.42

This credenza happened to be veneer. I first removed the drawers and sanded them down a bit. Be VERY careful not to over-sand. If you over-sand you will reach the particle board underneath and mar up your finished look. And don’t worry, I did this on one of my drawers. Oops!

I then marked where I wanted the legs to be cut, and used a jigsaw to cut them short. We have this in-expensive jigsaw and it does the trick!

IMG_5853Sorry, I didn’t have a better picture, but you can see how I cut the legs off short.

After I sawed down the legs, I lightly scuffed the exterior of the credenza and cleaned it up a bit. Then I primed the surface with Zinsser BIN primer (it sticks to practically everything and is my go-to primer) from Lowes.

After the primer dried I rolled on an enamel coat of paint. I have found enamel to be a bit hardier for surfaces that you will be putting things on.

During this time I found out I was pregnant (this was in 2014) and so staining my drawers that I had painstakingly sanded down was not much of an option any more. So I decided to use a white-wash method for my drawers instead!

You can search this method for a more in-depth description, but basically you take some paint and water it down. Then use a dry, bristly paint brush to lightly apply the paint. It takes some practice, so have a damp towel nearby to wipe off anything you don’t like. Make sure each stroke goes the length of the piece (along the grain), otherwise you will see stop/start brush marks.

I used different craft paints that I had on hand to get these various colors. The light grey drawer I actually white-washed white first. Let it dry. Then went over it with a grey. I did a similar thing with the darkest drawer. I used a dark brown “white-wash” for the base coat, and a (very watered down) black for the top coat. After my drawers dried, I used a can of Matte Finish to seal everything.



I bought the legs from Lowes and attached them with an angle plate (also from Lowes).


You can see that over sanded spot very well in that picture.
This credenza also dubs as a house for our printer. We love hiding it in here.


So, with a bit of elbow grease and $80 later, I had a one-of-a-kind piece. It is hands-down my favorite DIY furniture in my home.


A quick look at those gorgeous books:


Megan Signature

5 thoughts on “DIY Mid-Century Modern Credenza”

  1. Megan you are so talented! I love this. Best part…. The merk manual😃. Glad I haven’t seen that book for a while.

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