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#131MCMc tallboy Martha Leone Design#131aMCMtallboy Martha Leone Design

You’ve seen this color combo many times. In the past month, I’ve completed over seven mid century pieces, all in Benjamin Moore Super White and either Dark Walnut or English Chestnut. Although monotony or repetition can suppress creativity, I continually come back to these color combinations because I want my furniture to be versatile. Versatility allows my furniture to withstand a client’s change in style or a move to a new home and hopefully saves them from having to spend money on new pieces as their taste changes.

#131MCMd tallboy Martha Leone Design #131MEMtallboy Martha Leone Design#131MFMtallboy Martha Leone Design

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In our home, most of the furniture is neutral and color is reserved for the walls.  Here are just a few vignettes of the shades in our home.

Kitchen Martha Leone copyKitchen: Benjamin Moore Super White and Jet Black

White Cabinet7 by MarthaLeoneDesign
Living Room: Benjamin Moore Perfectly PestoRecord Cabinet1 MarthaLeoneDesign

Gray Buffet 2Martha Leone Design
Dining Room and son’s room: Benjamin Moore Blackberry

White Dresser 1 MarthaLeoneDesign

Daughter’s Room: Benjamin Moore Orange Blossom

Gray and Cream MCM


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Gray-Cream4 Dresser by Martha Leone DesignGray-Cream5 Dresser by Martha Leone Design Gray-Cream3 Dresser by Martha Leone DesignGray-Cream Dresser by Martha Leone Design

This morning, I’m sharing another mid century dresser done in a long stream of custom work for clients who are expecting a baby. As with many of my custom pieces, my client found this dresser and had it delivered to my workshop. The project started out with a conversation over color and design then was followed up with these design options I drew in Adobe illustrator:Design optionsIf you’re interested in reading about how I paint mid century pieces, I detailed the process recently.

Follow me on Instagram as I share more pictures of how I paint and prep my furniture and get sneak peeks of my approach to styling these pieces for photoshoots.

Linking up: Miss Mustard Seed • The Golden Sycamore/Design, Dining + Diapers  • My Repurposed Life  •  Vintage Storehouse  •  House of Hipsters  •  Finding Silver Pennies

Blue French Buffet and The Peacock Room


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Peacock French3 by Martha Leone DesignPeacock French by Martha Leone DesignDuring the summer, I took my daughter and friends to the Freer Gallery in Washington, DC. We discovered The Peacock Room for the first time and fell in love with the blue walls. After that experience, I’ve painted several pieces a shade of that beautiful blue. This french buffet was my first piece.

After lightly sanding it, I painted it two coats of a batch of homemade chalk paint using Behr Marquee paint. Then it was heavily sanded. While I love this shade of blue, I wanted this piece to have an aged and elegant feel so I applied dark walnut stain and wiped off most of it. After the stain was completely dry, I applied Minwax Wipe-On Poly with a staining pad.

Exterior: BEHR Marquee Opera Glasses
Interior: Benjamin Moore Dragonfly
Glaze: Minwax Dark Walnut Stain

Peacock French2 by Martha Leone Designphoto 2

The Peacock Room
Freer Gallery, Washington, DCphoto 1 photo 2 photo 3

Follow me on Instagram as I share more pictures of how I paint and prep my furniture and get sneak peeks of my approach to styling these pieces for photoshoots.


Linking up: Miss Mustard Seed  •  Liz Marie Blog

A Gray Record Cabinet


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record cabinet by Martha Leone Design

Record cabinet before record cabinet3 by Martha Leone Design

record cabinet5 by Martha Leone Designrecord cabinet7 by Martha Leone Design

record cabinet8 by Martha Leone Design

record cabinet4 by Martha Leone Design

Since early September, I’ve been toggling between painting everything blue for my etsy shop (here’s why) and mid century custom orders. I receive custom order requests for mid century furniture almost every day and wish I could stock pile those amazing pieces so that everyone who wants one can have one!

This particular record cabinet was done for a customer after she saw a sample of a near identical piece my etsy shop. The feedback I got on that one piece was crazy and since then, I’ve been searching for more mid century record cabinets to add to my shop. Recently, I was fortunate enough to find two cabinets at a Goodwill store. The original tapered legs were missing but I knew I could find a supplier of vintage legs on Etsy. With a bit of searching, I found the legs at the length I wanted from a good supplier.

The beautiful pot was created by Jennifer Coffin, a friend of mine who is an accomplished potter. It’s available in her etsy shop!



Linking up: Miss Mustard Seed  •  The Golden Sycamore/Design, Dining + Diapers  •  My Repurposed Life  •  Vintage Storehouse  •  BrePurposed  •  Mod Vintage Life  •  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia  •  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia

Color Wheel Compliments

End tables4 by Martha Leone Design

These two happened last week as I was impatiently waiting for a layer of paint to dry on my latest mid century dressers. Grabbing some paint, I mixed two shades of a favorite blue and got going on these antique mahogany pieces. I’ve been painting many of the antiques in my shop this blue color and there’s a reason for that: The warm undertones on the wood work well with this cool blue compliment. So, although I like to use a variety of colors in my work, it seems more important to work with colors that enhance the origins of a piece.

Paint: I used Behr Marque paint in eggshell and mixed small batches of homemade chalk paint.* Underneath the top coat is a lighter shade of blue. I achieved this shade of blue, by accidentally mixing too much Plaster of Paris into the paint. Instead of throwing out the batch, I used it to create depth of color and texture.

* Home made chalk paint recipe: 3 parts paint to 1 part Plaster of Paris mixture (mix PoP with water till you get a smooth consistency).

They are available in my ETSY shop if you’re interested!

End tables by Martha Leone Design End tables2 by Martha Leone DesignEnd tables5 by Martha Leone Design End tables6 by Martha Leone Design End tables7 by Martha Leone Design End tables8 by Martha Leone Design

End tables3 by Martha Leone Design

photo 1photo 6


Linking up to: Miss Mustard Seed  •  Liz Marie Blog  • Redoux Interiors  •  The Vintage Storehouse  •  Beyond The Picket Fence  •  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia  •  The Interior Frugalista  •  Beyond the Picket Fence  •  Elizabeth and Company  •  The 36th Avenue  •  VMG206  •  DIY Showoff  •  Nifty Thrifty Things  • Bre Purposed  •  The Golden Sycamore • Mod Vintage Life  •  Coastal Charm  •  My Repurposed Life  •  Just a Girl and Her Blog  •  Finding Silver Pennies  •  Bre Purposed  •  The Golden Sycamore



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MCM with Coffin3MCM with Coffin

Both of these pieces were done for customers’ nurseries. I wish I had this sense of modern style when I was pregnant years ago with my kids! For those of you who want to know how I achieve a slick finished look on mid century pieces, a step by step list is below.

The bowl on this dresser was designed and created by Jennifer Coffin, a friend of mine who is an accomplished potter. Her stunning work expresses a vast knowledge of this medium and her experimental techniques never cease to amaze me. Visit her etsy shop where you’ll find more examples of her work. This bowl, along with other pieces in this collection, is available!MCM with Coffin2

#114 MCM Dresser2 by Martha Leone Design #114 MCM Dresser by Martha Leone Design #114 MCM Dresser3 by Martha Leone Design


  1. If a piece is going to be painted:  Use an orbital sander at a low to scuff up the finish.
  2. If a piece is going to be restained: Carefully sand the surface with an orbital sander at a medium to low speed till all stain and finish are removed. Clean then prep with Pre-Stain Conditioner. Follow directions on the container for dry time. Stain with desired stain using a staining pad to apply.
  3. Prime with oil. I use either Zinzer or a Benjamin Moore oil-based primer.
  4. Lightly sand.
  5. Apply paint. I use the Benjamin Moore Advance line of paints for mid century pieces. These white pieces required four coats. That’s typical for me when using white but other colors usually require only two coats to get good coverage. I use 6″ white foam rollers to apply the paint.
  6. Seal:  I use wax for white finishes and either Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane (applied with a staining pad) or Varathane water-based polyurethane (applied with a brush that is specially designed for this application).
  7. Hardware: When I reuse original hardware and the customer wants a fresh coat of paint on the pulls, here’s what I do: Sand the surface, prime with an automotive spray primer, spray two coats of the desired color, and seal with a spray polyurethane .


Linking up: Beyond the Picket Fence  •  Elizabeth and Company  •  The 36th Avenue  •  VMG206  •  DIY Showoff  •  Nifty Thrifty Things  • Bre Purposed  •  Miss Mustard Seed  •  Liz Marie Blog  • Redoux Interiors  •  Mod Vintage Life  •  My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia  •  The Golden Sycamore •  DIY Showoff  • It’s Overflowing • Mod Vintage Life  •  Coastal Charm  •  Home Stories A to Z  •  My Repurposed Life  •  Just a Girl and Her Blog • The Winthrop Chronicles  •  The Interior Frugalista  •  Finding Silver Pennies  •  Bre Purposed


Peacock Blue Chest of Drawers

Peacock Beach Chest by Martha Leone Design Peacock Beach Chest2 by Martha Leone Design Peacock Beach Chest3 by Martha Leone Design Peacock Beach Chest4 by Martha Leone Design

Peacock Beach Chest5 by Martha Leone Design Peacock Beach Chest6 by Martha Leone Design

On any given day, I’ll work on sleek mid century pieces like these where dust and brush marks are the enemy:

Blue Credenza4 by MarthaLeoneDesign77d MCM MarthaLeoneDesignAnd on textured pieces like these:

Black French Dresser8 MarthaLeoneDesign

Anna Table from leondesign

Variety is what makes this job so enjoyable for me. So, while waiting for the oil-based primer to dry on a mid century piece, I started this peacock blue chest of drawers. It served as a nice diversion from the high end, brushless finish I was seeking on the mid century piece.

Peacock Beach Chest by Martha Leone Design


  1. Lightly sanded and cleaned the piece.
  2. Removed the hardware and repaired holes.
  3. Painted one coat of homemade chalk paint using Behr Marque Opera Glasses in criss cross pattern.
  4. Distressed.
  5. Wiped on/off dark walnut stain to tone down color and add dimension to the finish.
  6. Sealed with Minwax wipe-on poly and installed vintage knobs.

(Pay not attention to the unpainted underside of the top… I noticed this after the piece was sold :)

Peacock Beach Chest7 by Martha Leone Design


This piece has been sold but another one has been painted to match this one except for the hardware. If you’re interested, head over to my ETSY shop to take a look.

Classic Red Buffet

#104 Red Buffet by Martha Leone Design

Another recent custom job for a local client. Painted my favorite red (Benjamin Moore AF-290), lightly distressed and sealed with polyurethane. The solid top was sanded and stained a dark walnut color. Original hardware was reused per the customer’s request.

I don’t tire of the messy process of sanding wood, prepping, painting, sealing, etc. There’s something redeeming about stripping away an ugly layer of stain to reveal the raw beauty of a natural product. Take a look:

photo 3

photo 1-6photo 2

photo 3#104 Red Buffet4 by Martha Leone Design#104 Red Buffet3 by Martha Leone Design#104 Red Buffet2 by Martha Leone Design#104 Red Buffet by Martha Leone Design


Linking up: Miss Mustard Seed


Empire Coffee Table

Empire7 by Martha Leone Design

Empire by Martha Leone Design Empire2 by Martha Leone Design Empire3 by Martha Leone Design Empire4 by Martha Leone Design Empire5 by Martha Leone Design Empire6 by Martha Leone Design

Introducing an empire table. I’m calling it “empire” because it resembles several of the design features typically found on empire furniture. Empire style was a design movement that flourished between 1804 – 1814 in Europe and eventually spread to America. It takes its name from the rule of Napolean I in the First French Empire. It was intended to idealize his leadership and the French state.

This table will be on its way to its new home in Florida very soon. The paint finish was decided between my customer and me. It’s a clean finish that honors the true beauty of empire style furniture.

Top: Sanded then stained a custom mix of Dark Walnut and a medium toned stain. Sealed with oil-based polyurethane.
Base: Sanded then painted a color similar to Annie Sloan Old Ochre. Waxed.

photo 4

The walls
With my last post, I introduced you to my new dark wall in the workshop. As soon as I finished that wall, I knew another wall needed to be painted white for pieces that need to be shot on a light backdrop.Constellation by MarthaLeoneDesign




Constellation5 by MarthaLeoneDesign

Constellation3 by MarthaLeoneDesign

Constellation2 by MarthaLeoneDesign

A design inspired by astronomy has been brewing in my mind for over two years. This first dresser (I’ll be doing more) turned out exactly as I intended. The graphite gray color is scratched and textured and the lines were hand drawn and are imperfect in the execution.

I call it a constellation dresser because my initial intent was to draw several constellations all over the piece. After giving it more thought, I felt as though the composition would feel random and not dramatic enough so instead, I focused on the map lines and singular stars.

Constellation9 by MarthaLeoneDesign

Constellation10 by MarthaLeoneDesign

Constellation8 by MarthaLeoneDesign

Constellation6 by MarthaLeoneDesign

Constellation7 by MarthaLeoneDesign Constellation4 by MarthaLeoneDesign





Instead of giving a step-by-step, I’ll point out the challenge I faced: The desired effect is something like a scratched piece of paper. To get that texture, the painted surface is scratched with 60 grit sandpaper. Problem is that after poly is applied, the texture disappears to large degree. Image 1 and 2 are before poly. Image 3 is after the application of poly.

The solution was to do more scratching with the low-grit sandpaper and add texture with the side of a piece of white chalk.

Constellation13 by MarthaLeoneDesignConstellation14 by MarthaLeoneDesign

Constellation11 by MarthaLeoneDesign

In an attempt to create more starry texture on the surface, I spattered plaster of paris on the surface then sprayed it with a sealer. I tested its permanence by wiping it and as you can imagine, the powder wiped away. I’ll use paint next time rather than the plaster of paris.


Constellation before

If you don’t follow me on Instagram, you missed this picture of my new wall for photoshoots. I painted it last week and love it. The opposite wall was painted white for shoots that require a light background. Some of you may think this particular piece should have been shot on the white wall. I wanted the overall effect of the shot to feel dark which seems fitting for the design concept.

Gray Garage Wall by Martha Leone Design

Constellation by MarthaLeoneDesign

I squeezed this piece into a busy season of custom work. It’s available in my etsy shop!  SOLD


Linking up to: Mod Vintage Life  •  Finding Silver Pennies  • Domestically Speaking/Inspire Me Monday  •  Miss Mustard Seed  •  The Golden Sycamore/Inspiration Gallery  •  Interior Frugalista



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