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Need opinions on this: Dresser used as sideboard?

Discussion in 'The Golden Era' started by pgoat, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. Yes, this could work as a buffet or sideboard

    4 vote(s)
  2. Fugedaboudit

    1 vote(s)
  1. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    I've seen on various sites where people have re-purposed bedroom clothes dressers as a sideboard/buffet/credenza etc.

    some examples:




    Our apartment is being repainted and the oak floors are being redone. It's a 1938 building in a historic landmark neighborhood (first garden apartments in the US opened here around WWI era). My wife refinished her grandmother's dresser and chest of drawers set for the bedroom - they have a mahogany veneer and date from ca. 1940 (they were a wedding gift) so they do kind of fit in.

    My own dresser was a freebie from someone I helped move about 25 years ago - it looks like ca. 1960 to me; limed mahogany veneer, partial solid wood construction...it definitely could use a refinish and it does NOT go with the BR stuff so we were thinking of putting it either in the living room or perhaps as a buffet next to the dining table.

    I think it kinda looks too cheesy and because it has no legs, it screams 'dresser', as opposed to older, better quality dressers with distinct legs that can pull off this new role. Also, not to be a snob, but I really kind of hate veneers. I'd like to chuck this, my wife thinks it could work.

    What do the Loungers think?
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  2. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    Just to give an idea of the other decor in our apt., my wife also re-upholstered two chairs from the same 1940ish era that she inherited from grandmother (a wingback, and a 'club' chair)
  3. There's only one question - does it look right to you to use it there? If so, do it. There aren't furniture police now who'll swoop in and arrest you for using the "wrong" furniture in the "wrong" room - and I don't imagine there were back in the day either. Do what works for you and enjoy.
  4. Why dont you add legs to it to make it fit the style and era that you want it to represent?
  5. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    well, I guess it looks right to my wife, wrong to me :eusa_doh: Not that I'm looking to you guys to settle an argument, and I know there's no harm in using it...but was wondering if there were any insights out there that could sway us either way.

    I'm intrigued by the notion of adding legs except that I am not-so-terribly-handy and am wondering if this piece is too heavy for legs...although it's fairly light as dressers go.
  6. That's a late-forties/early-fifties item -- I have almost the exact same bedroom set myself, and veneer it may be, but mine, at least, seems very very heavy -- so much so that I'd think you'd need to put cast iron legs under it to hold it up. Sears and Roebuck sold a ton of that type of furniture, so it isn't rare or scarce, but it's very sturdily built and it'd be a shame to toss it out if you could reasonably use it in some other room. So by all means, make it a sideboard.
  7. My parents live in a home built in the 1820s. Several of the built-ins were former dressers, based upon how they were built and how they don't match everything else in the built in. So... there's a long history of doing this.

    You always need more drawers in a dining room, to hold tablecloths, napkins, silverware, etc. You can even put light-weight serving pieces in drawers.

    I also hate veneer, overall, and have decided to only invest in non-veneer pieces now. This might not be a popular opinion, but if the veneer really bothers you, you could try stripping/ peeling the veneer off. Some pieces have good quality plywood underneath that can be stained. The other thing I would recommend is that you look into some of the stains and polishes that can help you to "reawaken" furniture and restore the finish (somewhat) without a total refinish. I'm not sure if it would work on a piece like this, I know my parents used just regular "Old English Dark" polish on a veneered piece of mine and it came out lovely. A third option is to recover the piece in a different type of veneer.
  8. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    Wow, I didn't realize that it was that old, Lizzie. Interesting...that came from my sister's ex in Law School...it was his grandmother's and came with a large ca. 1960 BW console TV that had belonged to her so I assumed they were from the same era.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  9. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    Thanks for your thoughts sheeplady. Oddly enough, the floors had been done in a glossy amber PU finish; we just had them done in a more natural satin finish, so they are blonder now (as you can see in the dresser photos) and it matches the dresser nicely.

    We had some wooden window sills installed in the bay area (the original metal sills were rusted through) - here is a photo, before the walls were painted the coffee color in the dresser pics and we have since given the wooden window sills a darker cherry stain; we planned to do our coffee table (Solid pine) in the same finish, so maybe the dresser can get the same cherry stain treatment...

    On the other hand, I think I could maybe see it as is, cleaned up a bit and as a sideboard/buffet in the dining area with a nice covering on top. My wife definitely wants more storage there for the DR table, and we previously had a pine "Ivar" shelf unit from Ikea (shudder - they were nice when we were college students, but we've looked at them enough now). I think this could be a bit nicer...We had originally planned to use the dresser in the LR with a stereo on top and DVDs, etc in the drawers. I rather like the idea of it used for dining stuff, with some of our depression glass and possibly a decanter or two of good bourbon on top much better. :)

    I am just not sure how well the dresser's veneers would refinish, or how good the underlying plywood would look. Btw, you can see the darker original wood floor stain in the bay window photo.
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  10. I'm with Edward and Lizzie on this one, 'goat. If it works for you and your wife, then it works.

    And in my book there's nothing "wrong" with veneer. I happen to have a veneered office credenza I use as a sideboard of sorts. It looks right and it works well. I'm happy to have it.
  11. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    thanks Tony!
  12. I think you should evaluate how well the structure of the piece works with holding the things it needs to hold. Sideboards usually have vertical cubbies to store tall items, as well as drawers. If you can live without them, that dresser could be very suitable. It think its style would work quite well in a dining room provided it harmonizes in some way with your table and chairs, etc.
  13. O2BSwank

    O2BSwank One of the Regulars

    What do mean you hate veneer? Most furniture of the forties used contrasting bands of different colored and type of veneers that ran in different directions. This was used as a decorative pattern. All "waterfall" types of furniture use this type of construction. All the old radio consoles of the period were finished in the same way. The base woods under the veneer are not beautifully grained panels, they are solid structural panels. If you remove the veneer you will be disappointed with the appearance of the underlying wood. Veneers can be also used over particle board base, and while this appears to be a cheaper construction method it can yield some attractive furniture. If the veneer is damaged it can be repaired as I am doing on my 1941 Silvertone console. If you check out some antique radio sites you can find some very helpful info.
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  14. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    I probably spoke too harshly/hastily - I guess I meant I hate when veneers start to age, as is the case with this dresser. Solid woods can have a nice patina or beat-up, well-used appearance over time. Personally I think veneers look best when pristine, and I do prefer the darker woods (particularly mahogany) as with many older pieces I've seen.

    Well I am pleasantly surprised by the responses here; I thought the dresser would get a resounding thumbs down for whatever reason.

    Unfortunately we measured the dining area and the dresser is too long to fit by about 6-7". So maybe we'lll give it a try in the LR as planned. The only other peice we have to serve there is an old metal office bookcase, something like this
  15. I would not be too hard on veneers, as they go back very many years, and it does not necessary broadcast “cheap.” One only need think of marquetry and intarsia, both of which are art forms of veneers that predate the Renaissance. That being said, I agree with others as to whether the piece works for you, and if both of you can together come to an agreement on the piece. If not consider donating the item to charity type store, or someone else that could use it. And after that both of you have a good time shopping for a vintage piece that appeals to you both. It would not appeal to my tastes, but I am not you, and would not presume to push my personal tastes on others, which we all should agree for charities sake, is rather subjective from one individual to another. Hammer it out between the both of you, and enjoy the decoration of you abode. Best wishes on the appointments you decide on.
  16. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    very wise advice.

    I thank you all for your input and the additional info on veneers in general and this piece in particular. I think we're just going to try it in the living room or office area and if it works, great. If we decide not to keep it, no harm done, we'll just donate or pay it forward as suggested.

    The apartment is coming along nicely so far - while we do not, alas, have a whole lot of nice vintage furnishings, I'll be happy to post a few images when the painting, etc. is done. Hopefully we can add a few nice pieces over the next few years, as funds allow.
  17. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    In going through all of our stuff I was wishing I still had my old late 1920s Kiel Radio Table (The Atwater Kent tube chassis was gone but the wood was in pristine shape) - it would have went perfectly in this apartment.
  18. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    Wel, the dresser is in there for now...not sure if it will stay but we're still unpacking and getting furniture together. Even though the apt. is ca. 1938, we're getting an Eames plywood chair, and also some dining chairs that may clash a bit stylistically, but wth?

    Actually - I would love some opinions on something: We've selected a couch but need to pick the color...we have a LR painted a beige color with pinkish undertones (rather than yellowish) - "Cafe Latte" There is a light natural finish oak floor and white ceiling and trim.

    When you look at the wall the couch will go against, we'd have one dark brown ("Walnut bark") accent wall in the DR, visible beyond and to the side.

    Here is a pic from the paint manufacturer's site (pls disregard the window and color pallette):


    The couch color choices are here; we are going with the "Toast" colored wood legs (foot finish - selected under the couch image) and a micro-suede fabric ("Type" drop down menu at upper right).

    I am voting for a dark brown that will more or less go along with the accent wall:


    My wife wants a lighter couch, thinking it will make the room look bigger:


    I'm thinking the lighter color will be too close to the beige wall...

    Any thoughts?
  19. pgoat

    pgoat One Too Many

    Here is the room (couch would go on the left, in place of the two chairs):


    Accent wall is at the back of the step-up DR, actually to the left of the couch:


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