Upcycling. It's a term that often strikes fear into my heart. Sure, a little refresh can be great, giving an average old piece of furniture a new feel and new life. But often those spruiking their work as "upcycling" seem to me to be "ruining". Harsh, maybe, but when you see a beautiful, classic mid-century teak sideboard randomly painted with non-sympathetic colours, it really is heart-braking.
Enter my dilemma. I found this gorgeous 1960s Noblett teak sideboard in a junk shop. They new it was good, even though it was filthy. Seriously, FILTHY. It was covered in years of genuine vintage grime. So I cleaned it up, gave it a light sand, oiled it and generally showed it some love. But under all that grime were scratches, watermarks and damage. The pic below shows after it was cleaned. I couldn't even out those watermarks and scratches without sanding through the veneer. What was supposed to be a quick restore job was turning out to be a bit of a nightmare...
I started thinking, "why not paint it?". I knew I didn't want to "upcycle" it with 16 different colours and some bad stencilling. But what about black and teak... classic tones we've all seen before, and appropriate to the era. I drew some inspo from one of my all time favourite designers, Arne Vodder. His sideboards make me feel something deep inside that is totally unnatural and wrong, but at the same time so, so right. Look at this sideboard (image: https://www.1stdibs.com/)
Teak. Black. Cigar legs. THOSE DRAWERS!!! It was on. Of course, being a graphic designer I used all my photoshop skills and over a decade of design experience – plus about 20 seconds – to create this crappy mockup to make sure I wasn't creating mid-century sin, and that I'd end up burning in hell surrounded by ugly, poorly made furniture in hideous fabrics. It was time to paint!
I filled some chunks in the edges, bought a semi-gloss water based enamel paint, got my roller out... and away I went. Here's the results:
BOOM! I think it really works. It's classic, looks much better than the banged up old top, the chips have been filled... I even painted the back so it can be placed in the middle of a room. Win-win. Art by my talented friend Carly Williams. Find her on Insta here. And great news, if you like it, it's for sale and on display at my stall at the Mill Markets in Daylesford.
Ash von Braun
Happy tree-changer and vintage furniture dealer living in Dayesford, Australia.