Advice, please?



I could use your help.

We’ve been in our home for over 5 years now, and everywhere I look, I see projects yet done. One being this inexpensive side board and china cabinet set that I picked up at a furniture consignment store for about $200-300 dollars. The pieces are nothing fancy. They really need some help, but I liked the details and traditional lines.

***Please note: After reading a few comments below, I thought I’d add that I when we originally cleaned up the furniture we lightly sanded it using a very fine steel wool, followed with a couple of applications of one of our favorite furniture refinishing products, Restor-A-Finish. In addition we had to glue some veneer back in places. It helped somewhat, but the veneer is pretty past it’s prime. You can see how the veneer is buckled and raised on the drawer fronts on the sideboard piece, which is just one of the areas. To properly refinish it would require a lot of work, and more than likely an experienced professional. The pieces are just not worth that much (both purchased for around $300 total … for both).***



I cleaned them up a bit and planned on refinishing them once we were settled.

I think we may be settled now.

There are no more excuses except for the fact that I can’t decide what to do with them. The wood is cheap veneer. I’ve concluded that painting seems to be the best solution, but do you think I can decide on a color? I walk in the room, stare, then walk away avoiding a decision. Avoidance. That’s what it is.

At least I’ve started a Pinterest board of things that have caught my eye. Pinterest sure does come in handy when working on projects, doesn’t it?

Anyway, I was hoping to get your input. I can’t decide. So, would ya help me? Could ya? Purty please?

The low down:

  • Our dining room is pretty neutral: dark wood floors and dining table, natural linen covered parsons chairs, pale blue/grey walls, white trim. Pretty basic.
  • The pieces need to be spiffed up, and I’d like to add some interest with the finish. But I’m thinking I can’t go crazy with color. I always play it safe and choose neutral grey, black, or dark browns. Would a red or other strong color be too much on two fairly large pieces like these in the same room? I like the red. But the red is … red.
  • Here’s the Pinterest board I just started of some ideas that I am drawn to. You’ll see I’m leaning towards the neutrals/greys. I always migrate to the neutrals. Help.

Do you have any ideas and/or pictures to share? Please do.

Thank you in advance for any input. I do appreciate it very much.


Love ya bunches! xoxoxo

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  1. 1

    Sommer@ASpicyPerspective says

    Awe, I kind of like it the way it is with the two-tone stain. But I’ve recently seen some refurbished furniture painted SILVER and it looked amazing.

  2. 2


    I always think I want to repaint old furniture, but then when it comes down to it I just can’t bring myself to do it. I love the look of these pieces as they are, but that’s just me.

    • 3

      Amy says

      Hey Robyn,
      I don’t like to paint nice wood furniture either, but this has some areas that need professional help. Veneer is buckling in places, while other areas it’s totally peeled off. I hate to pay someone to fix it when I spent all of $300 total on both pieces.


  3. 4

    brendajss says

    I am ALLLLLL about color, though I do hate painting real wood. The good news for me would be that this isn’t so I wouldn’t feel bad at all about painting it! I would also paint those insets a different color. I love that yellow one on your pinterest board and maybe would pick one of the neutrals to do those insets… and then I would find some awesome knobs to finish it off.

    (of course, if it were my house it would probably be hot pink or something like that!)

  4. 5

    Ashley Sharp says

    I always pick my paint for furniture based what will make the accessories I already have “pop” the most. For instance, I have mostly white dishes so I recently painted our hutch dark gray. The white dishes inside on the shelves really stand out. I haven’t even had to buy anything to decorate it with – just worked with what I already had. And the large dark gray hutch really stands out on the tan walls in the dining room. I also touched it up with some crystal antique drawer and cabinet pulls. Makes it look really unique and custom. We have received so many compliments on it. I love gray and neutrals, too. They are timeless!

  5. 6


    I’m glad i read your post this morning. I have the same issue with projects around the house. Most of my incomplete projects involve fabric so I’ve been avoiding them. I like the mix of old and new so I’d consider keeping the piece as it is. It’s lovely. If you decide to paint, I would avoid red. The room is soothing and I would find red jarring. Plus, I’d feel like you’d then have to add splashes of red around the room for balance. Of the Pinterest board items you shared with us, I like the black furniture and the steely gray color on the highboy (4th picture in). I’m partial to an antique black paint because it’s versatile and it makes the pieces easy to move around the house. If you choose black, I’d replace the knobs with a worn, antique gold pulls. You have great taste though. I suspect whatever you choose will be beautiful.

  6. 7


    Boy I would shy away from painting these pretty pieces. I would consider researching what to do with your wood pieces in terms of a deep cleaning and a lite refinishing. I had a piece similar to your upright, here’s what I did. I cleaned the wood really good with the products that were available then. I’m sure there are more now. and the pieces in the front I painted a color that went with the room. It might help if we saw the rest of the room. Also get some real fancy pills and hardware. There was a lady that painted wood on Pinterest with amazing results. I’ll see if I can find the pin, it was her kitchen and bathroom.

    • 9

      Amy says

      Hey Doodles,
      I’d love to leave it as is. See the updated section of my post above to explain what I originally did with the furniture. The veneer has been coming off in several places and has already been repaired a few times but will need major professional help. The total costs spent on both pieces together was about $300 so it’s hard to justify the time and money to pay someone to fix veneer on cheap furniture. I may take some time to lightly sand again to see how much sanding can be done without messing the veneer up any more. Thanks for the input!


  7. 10

    Sherie says

    PLEASE google Annie Sloan Chalk Paint – then check out those pins. If you like what you see, google “home-made chalk paint” – i’ve tried it and LOOOOVED the results – you will not believe how easy it is to achieve the pro look with rookie skills – trust me. The pieces you have are absolutely perfect for this medium with all those nooks and crannies. Go for it!!!

  8. 11

    Danette Rasmussen says

    Before you paint you may want to wipe it down with Murphy’s Oil Soap, straight. The wood will absorb the oil and as you continue to rub more on, your piece may turn out to have a beautiful finish. I have done this and was amazed. It won’t be modern as a paint finish, but be a beautiful antique.

    • 12

      Amy says

      Hey Danette,

      I’ve updated my post above to explain that we did clean the piece up and applied a product that I like to use. The pictures may not show, but the veneer is in bad shape in many spots — buckling in many spots and totally ripped off in a few others. It will need repair.


  9. 15


    I’m not the one to ask since I’ve been in my house 20 years and still have projects. I love the yellow on your pinterest board. Yellow can be very subtle if you go with a light tone. I think it would pop in your blue/gray/neutral/wood room. I love the red, too, but I have a red bedroom…and a yellow kitchen. too. Maybe I’m partial…

  10. 16

    Cassie says

    I have several pieces that I want to redo right now and I keep being drawn to bright colors. I have mostly all neutral colors but I feel like one bright color will help the older furniture pop!

  11. 17

    Lynne A says

    I’m personally not at all fond of “fake” antiqued finishes. It’s hard to duplicate years’ worth of wear & tear using chains, sandpaper, etc. & have it look … not “staged.” I like the idea of using paintable wallpaper in the insets. I’d stick with a neutral color for the main body & do something unexpected in the insets &/or the drawers– silverleaf (since you have those lovely silver platters on the wall as accents already), or texture, or just some hand-painted pattern like you did on the walls in Hope’s room. I’d stick with more subtle accents, rather than shocking ones. Just my 2cents. : )

  12. 19

    Laughing Abi says

    What about a dark grey in high gloss? It would be neutral but not “blah” neutral. Another thought is to find a beautiful coordinating wallpaper pattern for the insets. I’m thinking a large scale, bold pattern but in whites & greys. Again, neutral but with lots of interest.

  13. 20

    Val says

    I’m thinking if you go with red furniture with your blue walls, it will say “Americana”. If you like that, go for it. I suggest refinishing the tops and painting only the bottom parts of the pieces. You could also do a different color (black?) on the doors, the square parts. You can layer paints – bottom and top coat – then sand the edges to let bottom color show or go deeper and let wood show. Your floors are gorgeous and the red would definitely be nice with them. Make sure there is a little red in adjoining rooms to make it work. Cream walls would look so good with the red painted pieces and your wood floor. Another choice would be to paint the pieces cream and white – always a good choice – and then add red accents in the room.

  14. 21


    I’ve refinished a fair amount of furniture and would advise that stripping this of the old finish and applying stair and/or varnish to the finished piece would make a huge difference. When the finish has been knocked around so much it can be hard to see the beauty in the piece that might be more evident if it were finished.

    That being said…if you were determined to paint it I can’t help but recommend white or off white. As much as I love color I keep walls and furniture pretty neutral, bring color into rooms with pillows, flowers, books and paintings. You might decide one day you would LOVE to bring that red table into a bedroom but doggone it red won’t work!

    I bought an old table years ago from a flea market. It was very pretty but one day I got it in me to remove the paint and it was a huge job to get it done. Under that paint was a beautiful piece of wood…so I have a tendency to agree with those that say…KEEP the original wood…but like everything else in life this is so subjective; you gotta do what you gotta do!

    • 22


      Hey Barbara,

      Thanks for the input. It’s already been finished somewhat (see added comment above in post for more detailed explanation), and I’ve left it alone with painting as a last resort. Veneer is a mess to deal with and we’ve already done some minor repair and touch up ourselves. Where the veneer is buckling and totally missing will require more professional attention. While the pieces are attractive they are not quality (we spent $300 on both, total), much of it being thin veneered plywood. Looks can be deceiving, huh? 😉 I was hoping to be able to leave alone but they really need some attention. I may try another attempt to clean up and do some hand touch ups to see if I can hide the damages, but am thinking that painting may be the end result.


  15. 23


    This is a great post and I love your PInterest board! I would go with a gray paint and maybe yellow in the insets. I also like the furniture that has off white and then dark gray accents. Don’t be afraid of the color accents! I can’t wait to see what you decide.

  16. 24


    I’ve had pieces in that bad of shape too, and painted them. You have to paint them white first, then a color over top. Then on the bad places (raised/bubbled veneer and worn corners) take steel wool and rub off the colored paint to show the white. It’s a mess and takes forever to make it look even halfway like you meant for it to look that way. Then after painting, the doors and drawers always stick.

  17. 25

    sherry says

    I had an old shelf and a bookcase that were in not great shape, but still solid and loved the style of them and I ended up painting them white, then taking some acrylic in raw and burnt umber…splattering them a little bit and then roughing them up in spots with a hand sander to just have some of the old finish show through. I LOVE them and gets lots of compliments on them, and the big plus…they NEVER EVER show dust. Just a thought.

  18. 26

    idahobdrx says

    I’m throwing my 2 cents out there: Darker gray tone with maybe a cream/gray checkerboard in the center panel that is lighter. Crystal pulls or burnished silver knobs would be a fun bling touch. I have an old sideboard that is now our entertainment center that was painted matte black and then roughed up in “wearing” areas. I absolutely love it!! Cute piece!!

  19. 27

    Wenderly says

    I love to paint furniture! I paint everything white or antique white. I JUST love it! Maybe that would be a safe change from grey and black? But red would be stunning! And ya know what the best part is? You can always paint it again if you don’t like it!

  20. 28

    Kiran @ says

    I’m all for keeping the natural look of antique — and this piece is beautiful “as-is”. Just my two cents :)

  21. 29


    I want to see what you end up doing! I love the look of wood, but I understand. My grandma’s piano in our house needs help, too! PS. I want to come eat in your dining room with you, more importantly! :)

  22. 31


    I love the idea of gray, too. Here’s the project that we did, using gray paint on furniture…
    We are really happy with how it turned out, and how the emphasis is on the form of the furniture. We used the existing brass pulls with the gray, which I really like as a contrast to the cool tones. You could use the silver plates on your wall to pull the right hue of gray and I think it would look fantastic!

    Are you planning on leveling and smoothing out the surface before you paint?

  23. 32

    Mel says

    I read a great story about a couple that bought a barn to live in temporarily until they could build their dream home. They decorated it with any and all styles and colors that felt good to them. No surprise, they never built the other home, they stayed there. The Martha Stewart perfect look is good but it puts so much pressure on all of us – we should really just have fun and make it look like you! :)
    The furniture is sturdy but veneer is a pain/expensive to rehab the “right way”. Take the doors off the second piece and use it for barware or fun trays, paint that inside and inside the other piece a bright color and paint the outsides something that makes you happy -then maybe coat it with a glaze/stain mix to tone down the color some and cover up the imperfections.

  24. 34

    AmyRuth says

    Okay, now that you have a plethora of opinions…… what’s the verdict?
    Isn’t this fun. Living vicariously.

    • 35

      Amy says

      AmyRuth, I don’t know. I’m still thinking on it, but thank goodness for the opinions. I have a couple of more weeks until I’m going to be able to tackle the job, so hopefully I’ll narrow down by then. Still like the greys I’ve seen and thinking maybe that would be the best decision long term and to be able to use the pieces in other places in the house if needed, but then again, I like the idea of getting funky with a fun color.

  25. 36

    Irma Saud says

    One of my cousins had an old brown piano not good enough condition to restore. She painted a glossy white. It is beautiful now.

  26. 37


    I love it just as it is. I adore simplicity. We’ve just bought another farm and there is a huge old, old order Amish house on the place. I can’t wait to live in simple simplicity. Well, we won’t really be living there as home will be on this farm but I am sure planning on enjoying the Amish house!

  27. 38

    Janet says

    I wouldn’t paint these pieces. They are good pieces and you can enjoy them in the current ‘distressed’ look. If you buy something new it likely will not be made with the same quality as these are. Wait until you can afford to have them properly restored.

  28. 39

    Mayo says

    Here is an idea for the first piece. We have one and I never thought about it until I was thinking about yours. Have the top covered with granite. You can pick a granite color that looks great with all you have in your room already and then leave the rest of the wood as is, it will look so nice. Plus this little amount of granite will be very inexpensive.

  29. 40

    Marly says

    I love the way this furniture turned out. I’m not certain I’d have the patience to work through a project like this…but now I know how just in case!

  30. 41


    Oh gosh, I am happy to read this. We have been in our place for just a year and the unsettled projects are beginning to drive me insane. For instance the lighting fixture that we are building for the dining room – yes, building – it is sitting on the table behind my desk …. for the past year!!! Glad to know we aren’t the only ones unsettled. Going to check out your board now …

  31. 42

    Amy says

    I have a friend that has a blog site of her own. She does amazing things with things that most people would and have considered junk and thrown out. I think you should paint it. I know that sounds scary and I do not know if I would have the courage to do it either but here is her blog site. Maybe you will find some additional inspiration here:

  32. 43

    Robin Garcia says

    I have a buffet, that was my great Aunt’s. I have to tell you, I’ve had it re-worked, twice, this last time, beaaaaaaaaaaaaaautiful, I’m not sure how to attach pictures to show you, but the stain is rich, and up to date, the hardware, more my taste and the end result is something you must see. If you’d like to see pics, lemme know…..

    Robin, from Katy, TX

  33. 44

    Crista says

    I looked at you pinboard and tried to imagine the rest of your room in term of color schemes and style. I would say to go for a neutral color with secondary furniture in a usage defined space (dining room), especially as it seems that you already have some darker pieces that could become central to the room (dining table + armchairs). Also, these go quite close to the wall, so a neutral color could also help give the feeling of space. Not to mention that it makes a great blank canvas for later, bolder accents. I’ve tried to make some photoshoped images, but they are very rough, just to give you an idea of how it would look like.
    To give it a little bit of interest, I thought this idea could be nice: , leaving some panels plain. Anyway, first pic is white, second a pale blue and third gray (4th introduces darker painted center panels):

    • 45


      Hey Crista!

      Thanks for the handy pictures you created. I’m partial to the grays I think. They’d be neutral enough to work with anything in the future. I’m still trying to decide what (and when) to tackle the project.


  34. 46

    Joann says

    I love it the way it is. Maybe rub them down with fine steel wool, touch up the stain and finish with low sheen tung oil.

  35. 47

    janet vergith says

    I saw your lovely pieces and I too love vintage. Two of the best places for ideas that I’ve seen are on Facebook. One is called “Sawdust and Embryos” she does a beautiful refinishing technique of putting flower designs on furniture with wood stain. I know it sounds a little odd but it comes out beautifully and she has a tutorial on her page. You wouldn’t have to do flowers, you could come up with something else but it is the technique that is so amazing. Haven’t seen it anywhere else. The other Page is called, ” Charmed By Vintage”. On this site she doesn’t give tutorials but she does some of the most beautiful work that I have seen done on vintage pieces. I really didn’t look at when you posted this , just kind of looking around your pages. If you have already come up with something then I hope I see it. You can still look at these two sites and maybe get some ideas for future projects. Whatever the case happy refinishing.

    • 48


      Thank you so much for the great links! I posted it some time ago, but could never decide what to do so I just cleaned it up a bit more and moved on to something else. Will check out those suggested links. They sound fun! Thank you again.

  36. 50

    Debbie Lustig says

    If you go to the Yellow Cape Cod blog there is a similar sideboard and I think you would really like what she did to hers. Good luck

  37. 51

    Marie says

    love your dining room. I have a question about your silver collection. How did you attach them to the wall? I have a number of pieces packed away and what a great way to display them!

    • 52


      I used velcro command strips. They are so easy and perfect for the light aluminum pieces, plus they will come right off without damaging them.

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