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A Sideboard Story

A what? A sideboard? Scott and I didn’t even know what that was until we needed one.

The time came last Fall, when we finally decided to do something about that ugly stepchild of ours – the office.  Well, we call it an office.  Let’s just say our office/second bedroom/catch-all/bastard-nook-in-the-house really needed some TLC.  When we first moved into our condo in 2007, we knew we would use that room as an office, but also wanting to keep our house guests in mind, we felt a tiny pull out couch or futon might help with the whole, “welcome, be our guest” theme.  We ended up with a loveseat size futon found on craigslist.  Unfortunately, the loveseat dimensions didn’t agree with our guests, and after many jokes of cold feet dangling off the bed, we got the hint.  Out went the futon, and in came…well, nothing.

It’s probably important to mention that this little room of ours is a whopping 8×12 feet.  (Hey, at least our master bedroom is 10×12 feet. I like to think it’s cozy.)  So now that the futon’s out, what else could work? At the time, we had a functional little Ikea bookcase which held all of our uglies – binders and folios full of dusty w-2s, pay stubs, and old, cracked compact disc cases that Scott swears he still needs.  It was then we decided that we needed a room that was attractive and comfortable to us, and we had to put our dreams of an office and guest room on hold.  This was truly an office first, and we needed storage.  That Ikea thingamabob had to go.

Off we went, back to the wonderful world of craigslist, typing in search words such as “bookcase with doors” and “office storage unit.”  It was then we discovered what people really call bookcase-with-doors-storage-unit-majigs: sideboards.  The word popped up a few times in our searches, so getting the hint, we were officially on a sideboard hunt.  It took only a couple of clicks down the list until we found the one.  It was wide, low, not too deep, and had glorious amounts of doors and drawers to hide our gaggle of unattractive office-y things.  A phone call, some negotiating, and a trip to the South Loop later, we came home with a billion pound, solid wood hunk of a sideboard.  She was beautiful, if only a little outdated.


After lugging that heavy girl up 2 flights of stairs and putting her in place, we talked about painting our new lady something bright.  Cream? Butter? Lime? Well, the talk was just talk, and we didn’t do a thing.  Our wedding bells were just around the corner, the holidays would be soon after, and then it would be a full blown Chicago winter.  And you’d think those winters bundled up inside would get you motivated to do a fun furniture makeover, but no.  It really actually motivates you to snuggle on the couch with a movie.  So we waited a little longer.  Spring came and went.  But hey, we got around to it last month – just in time for our first house guests of the summer season! (In case you’re wondering, we bought a nice, firm air mattress which surprisingly fits perfectly between the foot of the sideboard and the legs of our desk.  Perfect for a guest or two, but past that, you’re sleeping on the couch.  Hey, I said it was little).

We ultimately decided on a fresh coat of good ‘ol white.  It was the perfect pop in the room against our navy accent wall.  So how did it all go down?

First, take the doors off that baby, and pull out the drawers.  (Tip: We took a thin Sharpie and discreetly marked the doors with a L,C, and R to make things a little easier when they were ready to go back on. “L” for “Left”, and so on.)  We laid everything out on our back patio on top of a drop cloth of heavy duty garbage bags and promptly began sanding down all the wood surfaces with 150-grit sandpaper, but left the black laminate top and the inbetweens alone.  We decided to paint only the wood to really stand out against the black.


Because we left some areas untouched, we taped it off with our tried and true Frog Tape.  Don’t get me wrong – I love blue painter’s tape as much as the next guy, but Frog Tape is my new best friend.  The edges are so crisp with virtually no bleeding that you can sometimes get with the blue rolls.  And because this stuff is heaven sent, Scott actually doesn’t mind taping off the black laminate.  In fact, I think we actually looks forward to it.  This is great for me, because I don’t always have the patience for this step.  Just take a look at the concentration on that face.  It’s one of many reasons why I married the man.


Since we were working so hard, we decided to cool off with an ice cold beverage.  Yup, now we’re talking.  What can I say, it was a nice day, the birds were chirping, the sideboard was feelin’ the love, and do you really need an excuse for a frosty beverage?


Next, a thin coat of Kilz oil based primer.  We ended up doing two thin coats to fill in the more sparse areas.  It still didn’t look like a perfect white wash, but it did the trick to get that latex white paint to stick.  Because we went with a clean, pure white, we just bought a quart of Behr’s ready-to-mix straight from the shelves of Home Depot.  Why mess with paint chips and 98 shades of white when you can snag a clean, pretty white right off the rack? We followed up our Kilz coats with two more thin coats of latex white.  To polish off the pearly white, we applied – you guessed it – two (suprise!) coats of Minwax Clear Semi-Gloss polyurethane.

Lastly, my favorite part of every painting project – peeling the tape.  Because all the layers had to dry overnight, we scored the edge of where the tape meets the paint with a fresh razor blade.  This ensures the perfect, crsip finish, while ensuring you don’t end up with the uninvited results of your paint coming up with the tape.

juf_85783Once the Frog Tape was history, we danced around like happy geeks while high five-ing and singing made-up songs about our new baby.  We eventually calmed down and hightailed that sideboard into the office while continuing our diddy.  Okay, so is it time to show off this puppy or what?

juf_85863Do you see that black lump to the left hiding in the corner? It’s a lean, mean, shredding machine that Scott scored at a yard sale for a paltry ten bucks.  And that cool, clean lamp was scored at a local HomeGoods for just 30 not-so-big ones.  We moved our doggie crate into the hallway for now (we’re hoping our pup won’t need to be crate trained much longer; we adopted him at the end of January) and decided to soak in all the goodness of our finally cohesive office.  Scott also honed in on his inner handy man and installed the knobs that went perfectly with our now retro-style beauty of a sideboard.  At just $3.99 a pair at Ikea, these Snodd knobs really pulled the look together.

juf_85893Our office is finally complete.  Well, wait a minute.  Come on now, is it ever really complete?

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  • jill6.23.09 - 10:37 AM

    now we need to use your tips to paint our old dresser! thanks, pal! BUT AFTER eric finally grouts the kitchen backsplash this week. and i will vouch for the firmness of your air mattress, that shit don’t sink!ReplyCancel

  • Kim6.23.09 - 11:08 AM

    Jill, I can’t wait for you to get crackin’ on that dresser! Are you still going with a yellow? Or was it mint? Either way, it will look great.ReplyCancel

  • Lacy6.23.09 - 4:11 PM

    Pretty good post. I just came across your blog and wanted to say
    that I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts. Any way
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you write again soon!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.23.09 - 4:19 PM

      Lacy, thank you! Stay tuned, I have a few tricks up my sleeve yet…ReplyCancel

  • KC6.23.09 - 8:02 PM

    Kim, The sideboard looks super. Have you ever been to the store White Attic in Andersonville? They paint mid-century furniture too:

    Just a question: is a sideboard a sideboard if it is in an office: sure it can, but it can’t be a dresser b/c those are for bedrooms. It isn’t a breakfront b/c it doesn’t have a “central section that projects further forward than the other sections.” Cabinets are bigger and sometimes mounted on the wall. So sideboard it is: thanks for the education. You know I’m curious b/c I’ve sold furniture but never a sideboard, per se. Anyways great job on the project.ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.24.09 - 1:10 PM

      KC, I’ve never been to white attic, but I’ve been meaning to go for too long. Scott and I talk a lot about a day trip to Andersonville just to scour all the shops!ReplyCancel

  • Sarah6.25.09 - 9:59 PM

    White Attic is a great place!!! I know Terry! The genius behind the painting! He is a lovely man and he opened a new store in Bucktown on Damen!ReplyCancel

    • Kim6.26.09 - 7:18 AM

      Sarah, why am I not surprised that you know him? I must see his new store in Bucktown! Do you know what it’s called?ReplyCancel

  • Sarah6.29.09 - 11:36 PM

    The store in Bucktown has the same name: the White Attic:)ReplyCancel

  • Melissa11.15.09 - 5:12 PM

    I love this! Really, it is so fantastic. When I started to read the entry, saw your “perfect” sideboard find, I thought, “What the heck?!” You guys did an amazing job though! It makes me realize that all it takes is seeing past the dated wood and adding your dreams, creativity, and hard work to the mix. Congrats!ReplyCancel

    • Kim11.16.09 - 10:50 AM

      Thanks, Melissa! Yes, skip to the end to see our “perfect” find!ReplyCancel

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We’re Kim + Scott, Chicago based content creators behind the Home + Lifestyle brand Yellow Brick Home.

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