1st Impressions DO COUNT! Entry piece makeover

Furniture and Cabinetry Redouxs, Furniture Makeovers

Did anyone ever tell you that 1st impressions really do shape the way someone thinks/feels/forms opinions/sizes you up/judges you….etc?  Of course, I try reaaaaaaalllly hard to not make snap judgments of people on 1st impressions alone, but well, furniture is a different story.

I pretty much go with my 1st impression on a piece of furniture.  What it needs.  Is it worth “redouxing”, do I even like it?  Since I do a lot of contract work, sometimes I have to put my “1st impressions” voice aside and listen to what a client is asking.  Sometimes they are asking me to turn an elephant into an elegant Giselle, and I gently steer them back to making the Elephant more elegant.

This time, I was stumped. This was a giant block of solid wood cabinet that has sat in my client’s entry for years. Sort of sticking out like the game from Sesame Street of “Which one doesn’t belong”.

The whole piece had a decidedly “California Mission” look to it.  The rest of the home spoke Fancy French.  This piece had big chunky bun legs, where everyone else was wearing elegant turned and carved legs.

1st, we tried stripping and trying a stain.  A thorough stripping revealed that  a good deal of this piece was held together by super strength Mexican Wood Glue.  (It was made in Mexico, and for whatever reason, their wood glue is tough).

Staining was now out of the question, and many little gaps had to filled and sanded, filled and sanded, filled and sanded.  Same as it ever was, same as it ever was.  (sorry, been listening to Talking Heads recently and this piece really felt like it belonged in this song…..)

Next step, priming this thing thoroughly.  All the little gaps I had sanded and filled would now fade to the background.  The client already had several pieces in her front room that I had “Redone” over the year.  It was tricky finding the right color combination that would “blend” and not make her entry/living room look like a circus with a lot of color going on in every corner.    Under Pressure……(my mind goes to song lyrics by itself).

I tried a lovely neutral with a warm glaze, I tried dark brown with a warm glaze, I tried grey……

And finally, finally the skies cleared, the light bulbs all went on and it was decided upon…..CeCeCaldwell’s Seattle Mist, with my own mix of Tobacco Brown Glaze and a dark finishing wax, mixed with CeCe Cadlwell’s all natural wax.

The drawers are not embarrassed to be stand outs now….

Those big bun legs are now showing their stuff and standing proud!

Instead of camouflaging that big gap in her lid, the top is using it to show off how strong and beautiful she is! Like a finely weathered and aged piece of furniture with dignity.

No one will mistake this piece for a misfit any longer……

And any 1st impressions will be highly favorable ones.

I could not be happier with the finished product, and neither could my client.

(Plus, it had severely overstayed it’s welcome in my garage and I was very happy to see it go home)



  1. Chelsea

    Looks fantastic! You did a great job.

  2. Shelly Andrade

    Karen, you cease to amaze me! When can I head to SF to take paint lessons from you. I love this finish!!! You rock girlfriend!!

  3. Bliss

    It turned out great, and I started my morning ‘singing one of these things is not like the other’ and now ready to tackle the day with a bit of ZZ Top floating in my brain. Thanks. I think?


  4. cassie

    WOW! you continue to blow me away with this awesome look you are capable of- LOVE it!

  5. Shannon Fox

    As always… your artistry wins over and the day is saved.
    Perfect choice for the finish.
    It’s gorgeous.

  6. Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage

    Nice to see I’m not the only one whose mind grabs random song lyrics for no apparent reason! That dresser is no longer Under Pressure – she’s got some nice buns!

  7. Catherine

    Does the genre of music effect the outcome?
    —I love reggae!
    It looks fAbulous!

  8. Sondra

    Haven’t tried CeCe Caldwell paint yet, but this is beautiful. How do you mix a tobacco brown glaze?

  9. Jill Flory

    Awsomeness!!!!! This piece should get as much attention as your dresser makeover received!!!!! I love this and I would use it in my home in a heartbeat. Job well done!

  10. Heidi @ Decor & More

    This an amazing transformation, Karen! I love reading your thought process — song lyrics included!!
    xo Heidi

  11. Misty

    I am trying to get up the courage to do this to my daughter’s dresser and desk. Thanks for the beautiful inspiration.

  12. Angie

    What an awesome transformation! Okay, so you had me singing those songs right along with you in my head… hilarious! So glad you shared your thought process. You made the perfect decision and it turned out beautiful!

  13. Suzan

    You ” nailed ” it once again – I am so in love with this RH look alike!!!

  14. Catherine

    That’s beautiful! I love the tones you use!

  15. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.

    Very cool and unique! It has a wonderful aged feel! I bet your client was totally thrilled!

  16. andrea

    You never know what you’ll find when you start taking away layers…. I love your industriaous attitude! Whatever takes… make her beautiful!

  17. Pamela

    This turned out beyond fabulous!

  18. Kathryn Griffin

    You are so patient!! It turned out beautiful. Thank you for sharing this at my Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Hope to see your prettiness again on Monday. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  19. Sandy

    I had hoped to see you today at Paris Flea Market and had brought some fabric to ask you about painting it, but my friends and I got there around 9:30 and we left before you came in. I’m wanting to paing a chair I have that is a heavy cotton with Ce Ce’s paints and wondered if you had done that yet.

  20. Toodie

    Love the transformation! It’s perfect!

  21. Debra@CommonGround

    Oh My Gosh, I’m in love!!! this is fabulous, what a makeover! featuring this great post at Vintage Inspiration, thanks so much Karen for linking up and always giving Vintage Inspiration a shout out!

  22. Christine Aldinger

    omg this is exactly well pretty sure it is the exact color i need to bring my minor change in my family room….if i sent you a pick of something i have do you think you could tell if what you did here would come close to what i want?

  23. Martha

    Love it. Just pinned it and I’ve learned lots from your step by step on this piece. Love it.

  24. Stephanie

    LOVE this! I love that color to pieces! How did you get that finish? Did you paint then use 2 different types of wax? And how do you use wax? I am so jealous of your client!


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