Before and After Furniture Transformations for my Photography Studio

The transformations that happen around here don’t just apply to people, but to furniture, too. When I designed the look of my San Gabriel Valley portrait photography studio, I was inspired by Paris apartments. I wanted something feminine, relaxed, and sophisticated, using antique furniture that had been reinvented.  Always the DIY’er, I tackled all the furniture projects myself.  Here is a gallery of some of my furniture transformations. If you’re interested in specifics, here are the stories behind the pieces.


My studio manager, Ashley, found this piece on Craig’s List for $100. It was in good shape, but had horrible brown microfiber fabric. I liked it for my studio because it isn’t overly heavy (I have to move furniture a lot), and had built-in storage as the seat flips up. A Joann’s Fabrics was going out of business in my area and I found 10 yards of white faux leather that had some stretch for $50 and it was perfect for this piece. I had some of the rhinestone buttons in my button box, but didn’t want to spend a fortune on this piece, so I found some sparklie plastic buttons and intermixed them, so all the buttons look different. I think it adds to the charm. Recovering it was a total pain. Yes, I did it myself, and every time I do an upholstery project, I swear I will never do another one.  If you’re going to do a project like this, invest in a staple gun with a plug. Your hands will thank you.


I found this piece at Divine’s Furniture in Monterey Park, CA Here’s the link:  A note about Divine’s – it’s an AMAZING antique furniture store and most of the pieces have been lovingly restored. But because Brian, one of the owners, knew I was looking for a restoration piece, he showed me into the warehouse (which is a thrifter’s nirvana!) The piece had lived for most of its life in a heavy smoker’s home, and the finish was gross. First, I thoroughly washed the wood down with TSP, sanded the rough patches and primed it. I spray painted it with turquoise spraypaint from Lowe’s (can’t remember the name) and did the insets with white primer and pearlescent white spraypaint from Home Depot. I think it’s called Pearl.  I use this piece as my file cabinet and office supply storage. The left side drops forward, and the right side is a large drawer.


I also found this dining table at Divine’s Furniture, and it lived in the home with the smoker and the blue buffet. This one took some scrubbing and sanding work because the finish was totally shot. I primed it and spray painted it glossy black and use it as a partner’s desk with my studio manager, and a place to spread out photography prints. It has 2 leaves built into the table and opens to 12 feet! Getting it up the stairs to my 2nd floor Glendora photography studio was a beast, so it’s going to live here for a long, long time.


Black Cabinet – I needed a place to put my printers, and found this awful 1960’s TV cabinet at Restore, the Habitat for Humanity thrift store. There are Restore locations all over the country and they’re awesome for finding used cabinets, sinks, lighting, hardware, doors, windows, and furniture. I make regular trips to the Irwindale store, and there’s another one in Pasadena that I like. I found some unfinished decorative trim pieces at Home Depot, spray painted them pearl white, painted the cabinet black and glued on the trim pieces. I also spray painted the hardware matte gold.  Inside are 2 printers.