Studio Credenza

By Kate Riley March 11, 2013

We have a small space above our garage that I’m converting to a design and sewing studio as I continue on my textile design journey, and I scored a credenza at a thrift store for $40 a few weeks ago (the one I mentioned here). It was the perfect size and I loved the raised detail on the fronts, but it was scratched and dinged in a lot of places so the perfect candidate for a new paint treatment.

gold and gray credenza

It was too dark and drab before so I gave it a new look with pale gray paint and gold trim.

credenza before paint

credenza makeover

It sits in my little studio between two windows – I painted this one wall a vivid coral because I’m crushing on this color right now.

coral wall gray credenza

Here’s how I refinished it, the same way I always do, I start with my favorite oil based primer because it has excellent adhesion – been using it for years.

steps for priming

First I sand the surface lightly, to minimize surface scratches and prep it for primer, then I wipe it down with a slightly damp cotton cloth.

sand with grain

I’m in the habit of giving any heavily used horizontal surface (kitchen tables, coffee tables, end tables, etc.) two coats of primer for durability – each coat dries within 2 hours so you can do two in a single day.

zinsser primer

For drawers and cabinet doors I prefer the spray version, it goes on flat and smooth this way – I tape off the sides to prevent any spray residue.

zinsser spray primer

plastic wrap sides

Once it was primed, I gave the credenza two coats of high gloss Advance formula paint in ‘Platinum Gray’ by Benjamin Moore. I love this paint for furniture, it finishes like oil based paint but cleans up with water – it’s what I call a paint with an identity crisis – the good kind.

It needs a full day or two to cure but it gives you a really beautiful gloss finish – you don’t need any protective coat either with this paint and there’s no “stick” that happens often with latex paints that don’t have a protective coat.

gray and gold paint

To give the detail and hardware a golden glow, I sprayed it first with the Krylon Gold Leaf, touched up with a brush and then added the RubnBuff in Antique Gold on top.

brush on paint

rub on rubnbuff

I also replaced the old knobs on the cabinet doors with brass pulls.

painted gray credenza

The color on the feature wall is ‘Begonia’ by Sherwin Williams – I originally chose ‘Coral Reef’ but had it tinted to ‘Begonia’ since I wanted the coral shade to be a hint pinker.  The yellow lamp I found at Tar-jay, I’m feeling the yellow love this year, especially with coral and gray, so fun!

 yellow lamp gray credenza

coral wall in studio

I’ll have more to share on the studio revamp in the weeks and months to come, it’s exciting to see this space transforming and the fabric patterns arriving too!


*** the comment form is still not working but thanks everyone for your sweet emails and tweets!



  1. How did you paint the wood trim so crisply? Did you remove it and then reapply?

    • Which trim Pat, the detail on the front? No those aren’t removable, I spray primed them, then gave them a thin coat of gold spray paint just around the detail, then painted the rest of it gray and touched up the gold with an artist’s brush and the RubNBuff.

  2. Thank you for such a detailed description on your progress and for including pictures with those details. It makes things alot easier for those of us who are new to this!!

  3. I need that indigo/blue cheetah print fabric – I have been searching high and low for it! Can you tell me where to get it or if you sell it? Love the credenza and the coral as well. It looks beautiful!

    • Hi Paula, yes it’s a fun one! Fabrics will be available in early summer, check the blog for the announcement!

  4. Lovely! I really am loving the coral color. I have a nasty laundry room that’s in need of wallpaper removal and paint, and I think you just inspired me to go coral :)

    Thrift Diving

  5. Love the credenza and the coral wall!! But I’m absolutely crushing on your pendant overhead light. Can you give me the details on that? I’ve bought 3 now for my dining space that I’ve taken back because I’m too picky, but that one looks like it fits all my qualifications! :)

  6. The credenza turned out beautiful! You mentioned how you applied the primer, but I am wondering how you applied the Advance paint – roll, brush or spray?

    • Oh sorry Deborah, I roll with a foam roller then follow up with a good Purdy brush when painting!

  7. I have this same credenza and I have been trying to decide if I should paint it or give it away! I’m going paint shopping ASAP! Thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Thanks for sharing the painting tips; I’m about to embark on my first painting DIY. Where did you buy the brass rings for your credenza? LOVE love love the begonia on the walls!

  9. What a fabulous transformation! You have really nice, detailed pictures and tips. I’ve just found your blog & I know I’ll be visiting often!

    I just added this page to my StumbleUpon. :)

  10. Thanks so much for sharing your how too’s and photo’s. Absolutely love the credenza, coral wall, yellow lamp, so colorful. I have a kitchen table and chair set I bought off of craigs list for $30.00. It looks like the 60’s era. I need some paint color ideas, is there a way I can post you a picture for advise. Thank you Deb

  11. Fab colour combination – just love gold, grey and coral together. The yellow lamp is fabulous too. It’s lovely to give old furniture a new lease of life – the credenza looks so contemporary now, you would think it was brand new!

  12. Do you think this gray paint (the high gloss) would look good on a baby’s dresser? I’m looking for a gray color, but wasn’t sure about the high gloss. Thanks!

  13. I love love love coral this year…..I had a Tar-hay canvas with huge red flowers, from my red days, and it was 12.99, since it had a hole. Nothing a little masking tape and paint didn’t hide well.
    I got a whim and just painted all the flowers on it coral the other day…..So long red, hello Coral….

    Disclaimer: Make sure you tell your wee young’ns that only mommy is allowed to paint on already
    hung pictures on a whim.

    Happy Summer..

  14. Hello! I too have this exact dark, drab credenza and am going to paint it. Was wondering what you thought if I painted it an emerald green with gold trim similar to your kelly green campaign desk…would it be too “flashy” for that type of furniture style? Thanks, love your blog!!

  15. I can’t believe how a good coat of paint and some golden touches can do to furniture. You transformed an oldie into all its glory!


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