7 TIPS ON HOW TO PAINT AND UPDATE MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE | MCM DRESSER MAKEOVER
How’s the start of your week going? We had a major snowstorm yesterday. I feel blessed to work from home with no commute on days like this. I stayed warm and cozy while staging and styling this mid-century dresser. I’ve painted a fair share of MCM furniture over the years. And I’ve made my fair share of mistakes which have taught me some amazing tips along the way. Today I’m sharing a detailed tutorial and 7 Tips on How To Paint Mid Century Furniture.
This is the four-drawer mid-century dresser I started with. My parents picked this up years ago and my sister has been using it for storage in her basement. It’s a solid well-built piece with nice large drawers — but not overly attractive with this dated dark finish.
A little sanding and paint go a long way, don’t you think?! I hope my sister loves the new look as much as I do!
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Mid-Century Modern design trend originated in the United States and was popular between 1945 until the late 1960s. The design focuses on clean lines without decorative trims. I painted my first MCM dresser back in 2015, and I have to admit I never would have thought I would grow to love these straight-lined minimalistic pieces.
7 Tips When Painting MCM Furniture
#1 Refresh Wood- Sometimes all these MCM pieces need is a wood conditioner to refresh and bring alive the gorgeous wood. Hemp Oil or a good furniture wax is an easy way to do this. Another way to update the wood is to lighten it up by bleaching or using a lighter stain. Lightening the wood finish on MCM furniture is one of my favorite looks.
#2 Paint and Stain- Leaving original wood on these pieces keeps the mid-century feel while adding color with paint brings it into the 21st century. Painting the body and leaving the drawers wood or vice-versa is a beautiful look.
#3 Color- Using a strong saturated color with earthy undertones pairs really well with the warm woods of midcentury furniture. Picking colors like these here will look more authentic to your MCM piece than picking a bright neon for example.
#4 Geometric Shapes- Stenciling some geometric shapes or creating your own bold geometric design using painter’s tape can really update mid-century modern furniture as well. There are some amazing examples on this mid-century furniture board here.
#5 Stripes- Painted stripes on mid-century furniture looks amazing and are easy to do. I like pairing it with the natural wood but painted stripes in various colors look really good too.
#6 Change Hardware- Changing the hardware really updates these MCM pieces. If you love the shape of the original hardware but it’s not in good condition, consider painting or cleaning it up so it sparkles again.
#7 Topcoat- For a protective finish, I like to use a matte or satin finish rather than high gloss. I feel it represents the era more authentically.
Drawer Details – Lining the drawers with a beautiful liner or using a stencil or furniture transfer on the side of the drawers can really bring your MCM furniture to another level. It may not be seen on first glance, but every time you open a drawer, it will put a smile on your face!
Here’s how this dresser all came together along with all the supplies I used…
Mid Century Dresser – SALVAGED
Dewalt Orbital Sander
Sandpaper | Tack Cloth
Burlap Chalk Mineral Paint (50%)
Mud Puddle Chalk Mineral Paint (50%)
I started by giving this MCM dresser a good cleaning and removing the hardware. I had mixed feeling about this hardware. What do you think of it? Yay or Nay?
I stripped off the finish using this CitriStrip paint and varnish stripping gel. I really like this stripper because I can use it in my studio (aka my basement) and it doesn’t smell up my entire home. I brush it on with an inexpensive chip brush, then leave it on for an hour or so depending on the finish.
You know when the CitriStrip has worked when you can easily scrape off the finish using a putty knife.
CLEAN AND SAND
After I removed the finish, I cleaned up the remaining stripper and sanded the drawers down to the natural wood. This was a veneer so I was careful not to sand through the veneer using my orbital sander and 180-220 grit sandpaper.
To update this dresser I filled the old hardware holes and painted a stripe down the middle of each drawer keeping the sanded natural wood on the top and bottom. I used a custom-mixed “Latte” color which was a 50/50 mix of this Mud Puddle and this Burlap.
For the body, I sprayed two coats of my custom mixed “Latte” for a smooth clean finish.
Once all the paint dried, I drilled new hardware holes for the updated handles. The top knobs are the original that I spray painted black.
I’m really happy with how this all came together. I’m giving this piece back to my sister so she can use it for storage again.
A good-looking storage piece, don’t you think?!
I love the custom “Latte” with the natural warmness of the wood. It feels neutral and soothing.
Here’s another look at this before and after. I hope it’s inspired you and given you some new ideas for your MCM projects. I’m really enjoying working on these mid-century modern pieces and I hope you’ve enjoyed this makeover as well! Now I’m heading out to shovel some snow. 🙂
THANKS FOR JOINING ME TODAY! LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS RESTYLE OR FEEL FREE TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE… I ALWAYS LOVE HEARING FROM YOU. IT MAKES MY DAY! 🙂
Happy furniture painting friends!