How to Upholster a Dining Buffet


Inside: How to update a Midcentury Modern Buffet using chalk style paint and fabric lined shelving. 

I am so excited about this makeover! I never imagined I’d Upholster a Dining Buffet, but I did! This project came out of necessity for us. We needed some place to store dining room stuff while we worked out what we wanted our house to look like. I spotted this piece at the thrift store for a cool $10, brought it home and tackled it.

We have since done some serious updates on the dining room, including adding in a barn board wall! I’m also pretty good with these furniture flips now (I’ve linked to a bunch at the bottom of this post), but you might want to check out our playroom credenza that started out as an old chipped dresser and turned into a masterpiece.midcentury modern buffet makeover

Here are the supplies you’ll need to make DIY fabric lined shelving

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  • An old or thrifted piece with drawers you can remove
  • Upholstery fabric
  • Plywood (We used 3/4 inch)
  • L-brackets
  • No More Nails
  • Chalk Paint

How to Update a Midcentury Modern Buffet

This is the piece before (obviously). We knew we liked the clean lines and that it fit perfectly along this small wall in our dining room. It is solid wood construction. The plan was always to decide on a style for the dining room and then move ahead with a buffet makeover.

Midcentury Modern Buffet Makeover with Chalk Paint

Because the piece is clearly MCM, initially we wanted to keep it that way. We planned to remove the drawers and add a deep shelf for large scale platters, paint it and then add decorative trim to the sides in a modern, geometric shape. Easy right?

Nope. We removed the top of the buffet to access the piece that was bracing the drawers. This was before I was totally proficient in the art of removing veneer from furniture. If I had this piece now, I might have tackled it differently. But oh – well. By the way, I also cleaned this piece thoroughly to get rid of the thrift store smell. Here are my best tips for cleaning thrift store and second hand furniture. 

As we tapped out that piece, some of the veneer split in such a way that it was basically impossible to repair AND it was right in the front (so nearly impossible to paint over and disguise.) Not wanting to give up, we changed our plans and just rolled with it.How to upholster a piece of furniture

The whole piece got two coats of Chalk Paint in a blue and the inside compartment got two coats in a neutral grey. Here’s a tip: when you’re doing insides like that, just do them roughly until all the pieces are back in place. Then do touch ups with a smaller craft brush. That way, when you inevitably create scratches reattaching hardware, doors and shelves, you won’t feel like you’re really doing damage.

How to Add a Shelf into a Buffet

We had a piece of 3/8″ plywood cut to size at our local hardware store to create the new top shelf. (Actually, they had to cut it twice. The first time, we got home and it was 1″ too short…seriously, this project was non-stop UGHS!) We attached the new shelf using small L-brackets and a support piece on the back that was attached using No More Nails. But before doing that, we had to deal with a couple of fundamental issues.Dining Buffet painted with Annie Sloan in Aubusson Blue

I rooted through my collection of thicker fabrics and found this black and white check.  I used it to wrap both the shelf piece and the split front piece before reattaching the top.Add an Upholstered Shelf to a Buffet Table

Oh and let’s just acknowledge that gorgeous gold and white pitcher.  🙂 It is part of the Oh Joy! line for Target. I found it in the clearance aisle for $7.50. I picked it up, put it in my basket and proceeded to tootle through Target with a giant grin on my face. Love. It. UPDATE: The pitcher is no longer available, but the Oh Joy line is still going strong!Makeover a Thrifted Buffet with an Upholstered ShelfMidcentury Modern Buffet Makeover via

The new shelf is deep enough to hold practically any sized platter. Finally our turkey platter has a real home!Fabric Lined Shelf on a Dining Buffet

Midcentury Modern Buffet Makeover via

I did decide to leave the legs au naturel this time. They sort of just blend in with our floors and really emphasize the wonderful blue hue of the cabinet piece.

Here are some other furniture flip posts you’ll love

If you’re looking for more midcentury modern flips, I’ve found a few on the web that I adore

Just a little creativity has the cutest Mid-Century Modern Chair Makeover! The backs on them are incredible!

My Repurposed Life tackles a large MCM Hutch and the results are lovely. I honestly don’t know what I would have done if I found that piece for only $15!

Rain on a Tin Roof scores again with her Mid Century Modern Dressing Table. I can’t believe the lines on this piece. It definitely looks like something from the set of a movie. 

Some stain and bright white brings a set of MCM Dressers back to life by Thrift Diving! Why are these pieces always so inexpensive at the thrift store?!

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