Giving New Life to Old Furniture

As Interior Designers, we love transformations! We love to work on and watch a dated room become more timeless, or watch an empty room in a new home become the layered space that reflects our clients’ lifestyles.

At Danziger Design, we respect your living space and listen attentively to your design needs. We even glean information and insight based upon what the client is not saying. We work with clients to transform their spaces to better suit them while being extremely aware of form and function. Frequently, during the design process as rooms are being transformed, clients tell us they would like to keep a key piece of furniture (maybe for sentimental reasons) that wouldn’t really fit in with their future room design. Some designers would tell the client to get rid of it or use it elsewhere, but we try to come up with ways to make the piece work in the room. More often than not, the piece not only “works”, but becomes a work of art in the space.

When a client simply doesn’t want to let go of a particular piece of furniture, we see it as an opportunity for creativity. It is a chance to create a one-of-a-kind piece that will honor the reason the client wants to keep it while turning it into something that is appreciated even more than the original piece.

The best way to convey some of the things we have transformed is to show examples and give you the quick story of each piece.

everal years back, we had the pleasure of working with long-time clients to design their luxury condo at Lionsgate in Bethesda. In the master bedroom, the client wanted to keep a low contemporary dresser that no longer fit in with their new bedroom design. The piece was an off-white with no handles and would have looked very stark in their new space. It was in good shape, provided a good amount of storage, and was the perfect size to fit right below a long window in the master bedroom. Together we decided to have the piece painted with a faux medium-tone woodgrain finish and placed gold-tone stenciled modellos randomly on the piece. Lastly, the dresser drawers were adorned with jewel-like crystal and nickel hardware. The dresser became a one-of-a-kind piece and the client loved it!

We recently worked with another long-time client who wanted to update her living room and the rest of her first floor, but did not want to part with her traditional-looking bamboo chairs upholstered in a green velvet fabric.

The shade of the bamboo and the fabric did not work with the new transitional design the client sought, so we worked with our upholsterers to have the bamboo painted black. Next, we found two fabrics – a rich-looking grey charcoal fabric for the main parts of the chair and a transitional striped and patterned fabric in grey and blue tones that made these chairs not only fit in, but steal the show! The transformation from traditional to transitional is obvious from the pictures and best of all, the client loves them!

Next, we worked with out-of-town repeat clients who had purchased this cocktail table when they moved into their first home. The look of this table is timeless and featured a tree trunk slice for its top, but the table did not fit into the design in the family room of their new home. The client asked for us to find a way for them to keep this top, so we had to get creative! After a wonderful collaboration with the client , we decided to use it as a counter height tabletop with a custom base.

The added bonus is the table can be moved to integrate with the kitchen island whose top is in a tone of wood similar to that of the tabletop.. As you can see from the picture below, the table looks like it was made for this kitchen and best of all, we had another happy client!

We worked with another client who had this shaker-style secretary desk made of wood and wanted to use it in their family room of their new home. The piece was in great condition, but we all agreed that this secretary needed to be reinvented. It looked too traditional and “heavy” for the transitional family room we were working with the client to design. We agreed that it should be given some type of decorative paint finish and set out to find what would make this secretary fit in better with the clients’ new transitional townhome.

We decided to paint the entire piece (inside and out) light grey and highlight some key portions with a decorative shagreen paint finish. This decorative finish extended into the inside of the secretary because, given its location in the room, the doors could remain open thus making this a place for display as well. The fact that the transformation respects the integrity of the client’s antique piece was the best part of the process.

As a sidenote, a secretary like this could be used as a bar. Glass shelves could replace the wood shelves to hold glasses and bottles. The flip top could remain open to become a surface for pouring and mixing. The drawer could hold napkins and other bar supplies. Hidden lighting could be added to highlight the inside… the possibilities are as limitless as our ideas!


What is shagreen?

sha·​green | \ sha-ˈgrēn , shə- \

Definition of shagreen

1: an untanned leather covered with small round granulations and usually dyed green

2: the rough skin of various sharks and rays when covered with small close-set tubercles

We look forward to design challenges and opportunities that allow us to be creative. We love being able to see an outdated piece of furniture and look at the ways it can be transformed and reinvented. A good interior designer knows when it is time to replace a piece of furniture and when a perfectly good piece can be reimagined to create something wonderful.

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