1950s Tepe Sideboard Refinished and Reimagined
1950s Tepe Sideboard Refinished and Reimagined

1950s Tepe Sideboard Refinished and Reimagined

Tepe made beautifully elegant pieces that stood alone or could combine in module form. After researching the company online, I discovered little of its history. Fortunately, Tepe included information on their module system and purpose on labels inside and on the back. Other information included purchase details. The date of purchase and delivery was 1958 instigated during the Cologne Messe (Trade fair). A modern company offering modern furniture solutions. Their “T” icon is on the inside door and key, guaranteeing the piece’s authenticity. From my experience refinishing this piece, I would say that “T” represented the quality of workmanship, the cut of the wood, and all materials used. It was a joy to work on.

There are arguments for and against removing old finishes and starting again. Although I understand both perspectives, mostly I believe it is a preference. In my experience, removing the old finish often reveals an attractive wood grain. Wood discolouration occurs normally through age and use, and some people are passionate about keeping this patina. Personally, I find mid-century pieces receive new life when given a new finish. I love finding out what is underneath that surface. Although well built, this sideboard had sustained various scratches and marks on the surface, so I took off the old finish and started again.

The key to removing old finishes is patience. Take it slow and don’t take shortcuts. Veneer is often thin and, if not careful, easy to tear through and show the surface underneath. The drawers had already received some damage, especially on the edges, so removing the remaining old finish was challenging. Doing it right has its rewards. That moment, when everything is ready. When magic happens.

I used Oli Natura’s Hard Wax Oil but wanted the surface to have more of a sheen, so I added Gilboy’s Beeswax Polish and buffed it to a buttery finish. Wise Owl’s furniture salve saturated and refreshed the inside wood, and I decorated the back wall with a plant decal. The brass hardware received a vinegar bath and then rubbed with 320 grit sandpaper. After pulling everything apart, stripping it down and refinishing it, it’s time to put it all back together again. The final reveal. And I love how the walnut grain is showing through and the playfulness of the dark-toned back decal. Definitely ready to personalise someone’s home.

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