Not So Ugly Duckling

You couldn’t really call it ugly; even with its goopey, brown stain the cabinet was too inherently glamourous to merit the u word. But the finish was appalling and so my friend Susan was determined to give the piece a makeover, ideally in a tasty, high-gloss colour to approximate the Tommi Parzinger examples below. Suz decided on canary yellow and set about sanding the piece down to prep it for spraying.

Much to her surprise and delight a swan began to emerge almost immediately. Susan was stunned by the beautiful wood grain and thought the piece might be teak although the jury’s still out on exactly what kind of wood she was working with. Regardless, it was too nice to paint, at least she wanted to see it refinished first, before deciding on spraying.

The plan was to finish it with polymerized tung oil but I warned her that if the piece was teak, the oil would bring out the natural orange tone of the wood and that’s not the look Susan had in mind. Instead, she opted to try Crystalex, a water-based, acrylic finish which protected the wood without dramatically changing the colour. Suz gave it four coats before she was satisfied it would be durable.

Her sanding revealed why the previous owner had opted for such a heavy-handed finish — he or she had sanded through the veneer on one of the drawers leaving a slight bald spot. So Susan opted to paint just that section in a colour that wouldn’t stand out too much and would work with the brick in the office for which it was destined.

Is that sweet or what? Susan got an incredible result albeit after investing considerable sweat equity. But ohhh the satisfaction. Suz paid $400 for the credenza at MacCool’s Reuse in Ontario’s Prince Edward County. My guess is the refinished piece would fetch $900 or $1,000 from a reputable dealer. All I can say is Susan, take a bow!


Be Sociable, Share!
, ,

Monday, May 28, 2012 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 865 posts on styleNorth.

12 Comments For This Post

  1. Lois Says:

    Oh my, totally take a bow Susan, refinishing is no easy task…Lois of well done

  2. VegHead Says:

    Nice job! I like your choice of the beige paint, subtle.

  3. David Says:

    Beautifully done Susan!

  4. FranklyDiscreet Says:

    It seems to be a mahogany 1950s G Plan sideboard: Here’s one…

  5. shescomeundone Says:

    Wow, nice sleuthing. Raises a few questions about both pieces. The one featured on styleNorth has the Nathan label from the UK and when I researched Nathan I found the “Courtier” line of Scandinavian style furniture being manufactured by the same company made exclusively in the UK to compete with the Danish lines. Given the obvious similarities between the two credenzas I would assume that the g-plan piece may have been mis-labeled intentionally or not or Nathan was copying the Danish g-plan line.

  6. Chris Says:

    I’m loving seeing how this develops. Frankly, FranklyDiscreet, I think you nailed it; that cabinet is nearly identical to Susan’s right down to the hardware. Great link.

  7. FranklyDiscreet Says:

    G Plan was British furniture that was an ode to Danish design, but with its own British stodginess.

  8. FranklyDiscreet Says:

    Also, I’ve had success covering up intense sanding boo-boos with an alcohol-based stain, in “teak” color, purchased from Goudy’s, which is a great woodworking supply store in Toronto. You’ll get brain cancer just going in there — it’s industrial, not Lee Valley — but this stain has saved many a piece. Being alcohol based, it dissolves into teak oil, so if you oil a piece and while wet apply the stain, or perhaps mix some stain into some tung oil and then apply over the affected area, you’ll get some miraculous results.

    Here’s the link:

  9. shescomeundone Says:

    British stodginess? Ha ha, like Prince Charles’ side part – been the same since he was 8 ;)
    Yer right on the money FF.
    Thanks for the tip on the alcohol based stain. Personally I would like to have seen a uniform finish on the credenza but the taupe color blocking actually worked to tie in other elements in the clients office. Do you know if Nathan was ever tied in with G-plan or did they just steal their designs?

  10. FranklyDiscreet Says:

    I have no idea….they were both manufacturers comtemporaneously.

  11. Chris Says:

    FD, I’m also a BIG fan of Goudey’s and blogged about them many times:

  12. FranklyDiscreet Says:

    Cool! Lee Valley told me about them. Heading there today to get a safety mask. Can’t afford much more memory loss!

Leave a Reply