I hope everyone is having a great Labor Day weekend! I have spent every waking hour of this weekend either at my son’s soccer tournament or trying to finish up this project for my dining room. I’m finally done and ready to share it!

Whenever I sit down to redesign a room, I focus on coming up with a design that would be my ideal room and then I figure out a way to make it work with my budget. Well, I knew right away that my ideal dining room would include a mid-century modern credenza.

Have you seen these beauties?

BUF-mcmexsvintage mid-century modern credenzas

Ok, let me wipe the drool off my computer… I’ve loved mid-century modern furniture ever since I studied it in some classes I took in college, but that was back in the 90’s (yes, I’m old 🙁 ). Mid-century modern (MCM) designs have become quite trendy recently and it seems everyone who owns a MCM credenza has picked up on that. So now these credenzas easily sell for $1000 and up!

Yeah, that’s too rich for me so to the drawing board I went. What I had in my dining room was this sideboard we purchased like 10 to 15 years ago.


It was rather dated looking and just boring to me. But I wondered if there was some way I could give it a makeover and turn it into more of an interesting piece with some nods to the amazing MCM credenza.

A little work and $41 later, this is what it looks like now:



My plan was to change the handles, the base and the color of this sideboard in order to give it some new life!

the handles

I started by removing these old stainless knobs from the doors and filling in the holes with wood filler.

BUF-knobbeforeold door knobs

I bought a thin piece of wood trim and cut it into four 18” pieces of wood. These would be my new handles for the sideboard.

They mimic MCM handles kind of like the ones on this credenza:


I centered them vertically on each door of the sideboard and attached them with screws from behind.


the base

Now that I had some new handles, it was time to focus on the base of the sideboard. The base and feet of the MCM credenzas are a very defining feature.

I started by removing the old feet from my sideboard.

I bought a 2” x 2” x 36” and two 1” x 2” x 6’ pieces of poplar wood from the local hardware store. These would become a base with square feet like this MCM credenza:


I cut the 2” x 2” into four 7” pieces. These would be my new legs for the sideboard.

I drilled a hole in the end of each leg making sure it was directly in the center. Then I installed a hanger screw into the end of each leg.


With my sideboard now flipped upside down, I marked the bottom with a pencil noting where I wanted each leg to be, making sure to inset the legs from the edge of the sideboard in order to help give that MCM look. I drilled a hole on each mark and screwed the legs into the bottom of the sideboard… and that’s when I discovered a problem—actually two problems!

the problems

The base of my sideboard where I had drilled each of my holes was hollow in the middle. That meant that my feet weren’t really attached to the base well and were probably not going to be able to support the weight of the sideboard. Turns out the legs themselves were not very sturdy either and one of them cracked a little when we tried to flip the sideboard back over. So I screamed frustratingly went into problem solving mode.

As much as I hated it, I had to head back to the store and repurchase the 2” x 2” x 36” and two 1” x 2” x 6’ pieces of wood in oak instead of poplar. Oak is much stronger than poplar and would give the base more support, but because it’s so much denser it was harder to drill and cut through, and it was also more expensive. I was able to return the two 1” x 2” x 6’ pieces of poplar, and the 2” x 2” pieces I had already cut will be something I can use on a future project so it was not wasted money.

I also discovered that the base of my sideboard had 2 inches of solid wood along the entire perimeter, it was only hollow in the middle (why I don’t know, seems like a weird way to save money). So I decided to move my feet closer to the front and rear edges of the sideboard so I would now be able to actually drill into solid wood. I repeated all of the steps above with the new oak legs and got them installed into the base of the sideboard.

BUF-feetonall of the extra holes are just signs of my mistakes 🙂

Next, I measured the length between each of my legs and that would be how long I needed to cut the four rails from my 1″ x 2″ x 6′ pieces of oak.

I installed all four rails using wood glue and screws inserted into the bottom of the sideboard.


I aligned a scrap piece of wood with the back of each leg when I installed the rails. That made sure each rail was recessed from the the front of each leg the same amount (the width of the scrap piece of wood).


The base was now complete!


the colors

The plan was to stain the base and I had hoped to do that before permanently attaching it to the sideboard, but I had some issues trying to get the legs and rails all straight and aligned and figured the best way to do it was to use some glue and that meant that everything was permanently attached to the sideboard. No big deal, I just stained the legs while attached.

I created my own blend of stain colors by trying about seven different options on some of the extra oak pieces I had. Then I picked the one that I liked the most and used the same steps on my sideboard base.

BUF-legfinnew base stained

To get this stain it took three steps:

  • First, I applied a layer of Minwax Weathered Gray that had been thinned with mineral spirits. I wiped off any excess stain.
  • Next, I applied Minwax Provincial stain and immediately wiped off the stain with a rag so it was not so intense.
  • Finally, after letting the Provincial stain dry a little, I applied another coat of thinned Weathered Gray, again wiping off the excess stain to reduce the intensity.

I’m not sure what this final color would be called, but I like it! (…It does look kind of like a walnut.) I put a layer of polyurethane on top of the stain to give it some durability.

With the legs stained it was time to turn this sideboard right side up, and thank the Lord, the new base held the weight of the sideboard just fine.

My final step was to prime the rest of the sideboard and paint it with a gray enamel. I used Benjamin Moore’s Galveston Gray.

And now my modern sideboard makeover was complete!


It’s no MCM credenza in all it’s glory, but it’s not bad for $41!

NOTE: Yeah, looking back on this project a Kreg jig would’ve been helpful… you live you learn!

See my complete dining room makeover here!

SHARING AT THE FOLLOWING: Thrifty Decor Chick Before and After


  1. It looks great! did you think about making the base first before attaching it to the sideboard? Do you have a keg jig (it’s made all my wood making nightmares go away).

    • Avatar Stephanie @ Studio 36 Interiors

      Thanks! Yes, I did think about making the base first which is how a real woodworker would make this I’m sure (my woodworking skills are severely lacking). The reason I didn’t do it that way is exactly because I don’t own a kreg jig. In order to keep all the joints hidden I’d need to use all pocket holes and without a kreg jig that’s hard to do. But you are right a kreg jig is a must buy for me especially because I have more wood projects planned. Thanks for the recommendation!

Leave a Reply