Restoring a Mid-Century Modern Credenza

Beautiful 1960s credenza produced in NC

Beautiful 1960s credenza produced in NC

I found a beautiful mid-century modern credenza at an estate sale in Aberdeen, NC. It was designed to hold a turn table and a large collection of vinyls stored behind tambour doors. The piece was custom made for the home owner who was the producer of a furniture line in the 1960s. I wish I knew their name, but was not able to find out. It is a great piece for a modern household, because of it’s low profile. This design feature would allow for a flat screen television to be placed above or on it. The credenza was in near perfect condition when I found it. However, the top showed signs of years of use.

Credenza top showing age spots

Credenza top showing age spots

Some of the varnish was gumming up in places, so I spoke to an expert at a specialty wood shop and was told the best remedy was denatured alcohol. I used a clean rag to apply it to the top and it did get rid of the gumming issue, but underneath I saw places where the varnish was completely worn down to the veneer. I decided to strip the top lightly with a natural stripping agent made from oranges. I applied the gel and let it sit for 15 minutes which was quite less than the recommended 30 minutes. This was to ensure that I did not strip off too much of the stain. I used a kitchen scrub pad (as opposed to a scraper) soaked in warm water to remove the stripping agent after the 15 minutes. I dried off the top with several clean rags (you’ll want a handful that you can dispose of afterward). After the top dried I noticed there was some color fading in spots. Luckily I had a can of walnut stain, so I tested it by applying it to one of the discolored spots to see if it matched the original color of the credenza. It matched perfectly! I applied one coat of stain to the top and color was restored! After it dried, I coated the top in a water-based polyurethane (either water-based or oil-based will do). I used a soft angled brush to apply it and waited  2 hours or more between coats. I love the finished product! The top looks like new now and can be enjoyed for years to come!

The finished top.

The finished top.


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