persimmon dresser

Photo: Reeves Stump

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The Bright Hues That Update Humdrum Furniture

Stuck in a rental that prohibits painting? A great (and affordable) plan B is to incorporate bright furniture. You don't have to shell out an entire month's rent on a colorful midcentury credenza, dresser or console. Popular 1950s and 1960s styles can usually be found at budget-friendly prices in thrift stores, at rummage sales and on Craigslist. Then paint it yourself, says The Weathered Door blogger Reeves Stump, known for her can't-believe-my-eyes furniture makeovers. What's worth buying: Items with a sturdy foundation, solid- wood parts and dovetailed joints. Stump uses neutral colors such as grays and whites (especially with two-toned projects) but usually prefers intensely rich tints on midcentury furniture. Bold colors including magenta, Yves Klein blue and persimmon look best. Saturated tints also cover imperfections including water rings, stains and missing veneer remarkably well.

For the smoothest finish, prep the piece by wiping off grime with a damp towel, sealing holes and nicks with wood filler and most important, sanding it down until most of the original paint or stain is removed. For more detailed instructions, visit The Weathered Door.