Meet “The Hammond”

Okay, so you know that whole post I made last week…you know, the one about “I don’t do neutrals,” welllllllll that’s not technically true.  I guess I should have said something like, “I don’t usually do neutrals.”

As I have mentioned before, the creative process, for me, is very organic.  I can plan and plan and plan before I actually paint a piece…but as soon as I get my hands on the furniture and start focusing on it… cleaning it, sanding it, touching it…the furniture begins speaking to me and my plans are soon tossed out.  In short, I let the furniture tell me how it wants to “dress” so-to-speak.

And this one…

Before: In good, solid shape, but needed some work.

Before: In good, solid shape, but needed some work.

Don't normally find such detailed mirrors on utilitarian, farmhouse dressers.

Don’t normally find such detailed mirrors on utilitarian, farmhouse dressers.

…said she wanted to wear a classic and sophisticated gray.  Why?  Well, The Hammond wanted to be painted in a neutral tone in order to let her stunning vanity mirror make the bold statement.  I mean, it’s not everyday I come across a century-old, utilitarian, farmhouse dresser with such an ornate vanity mirror.  Usually, if I find the dresser and it still has the original vanity mirror, the mirror is just as utilitarian and undecorated as the dresser.  So I was absolutely thrilled to find this lovely piece.  And she wanted me to create a custom blended dark gray and to use a lighter gray to highlight her beautiful features.

So, I obliged.  And here is what she looks like now:

Perfect balance between chippy and distressing.

Perfect balance between chippy and distressing.

On some pieces, neutrals still make a bold impression!

A view of the side slats

A view of the side slats

Don’t you just love the slatted sides on these old dressers?  I know I do.

Just like with the last piece, I used milk paint on this dresser.  I love how milk paint can be manipulated to create the perfectly distressed and aged finish so that a piece can look like it was painted many, many years ago.  As well as giving a beautiful “chippy” look to furniture, milk paint can also be distressed using a wet rag (as opposed to sand paper).  I like to use the wet rag method when I’m layering colors.  If you use sandpaper, you can unwittingly sand right through both colors and end up with the wood showing through…and if that happens, you won’t end up with something like this:

The scroll posts are so beautiful

The scroll posts are so beautiful

The Hammond

The scrolled posts and the rest of the vanity mirror were distressed using the wet rag method.  For the appliques and raised detailing, I used a sanding sponge because I did want some of the wood to show through as well.

The light gray really shows off these details

The light gray really shows off these details

Those details really pop!  In addition to layering the paint and distressing back to the wood finish in some areas, I also used a heavy glazing application to really add depth and shadow to all of the little grooves and crevices.  This effect really makes raised details stand out.

More beautiful detailing on the vanity mirror

More beautiful detailing on the vanity mirror

And lastly, the top of this dresser was pretty beat up when I bought it.  But that’s okay…because I like the character it adds.  Each piece has a story…and if you try and fix it up to the point where it looks “perfect,” then you effectively erase that story.  The Hammond would never go for that…she loves showing off her herstory.

New aqua ceramic knobs really pop

New aqua ceramic knobs really pop

The refinished top still shows its age and character

The refinished top still shows its age and character

In conclusion, I don’t always use bold, saturated colors.  Every once in a while I dabble in the realm of neutrals.  Never whites (though I never say never)…but gray is such a wonderful and versatile color (and popular color, as this dresser sold the day I posted it to craigslist).  I know there are more than a few pieces currently waiting in The Hoard that are dying to ‘dress’ in gray.  And I’ll gladly oblige them when their time comes.


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Silver Pennies

The Dedicated House

Elizabeth & Co

Miss Mustard Seed

Redoux Interiors

The Preakness

To begin with, we want to welcome and thank everyone who has found our blog via the Minwax facebook page.  The Bruno has been well received and we are grateful for that.  We are currently working on a blog post discussing the various uses of wood medium to construct furniture and were hoping to have if finished in time for all of the Minwax fans to be able to read it.  Basically the post will be discussing solid wood, veneers, MDF, and laminate coverings.  From how to identify and some basic information on how to refinish and/or paint.  So stay tuned!

Now, onto the latest Renewal.  This beautiful antique dresser is constructed of 100% wood products with veneer facing.  The veneer was nothing spectacular, though, and the previous owners had tried to refinish the piece…and failed.  Miserably.  This piece was destined for my workshop and my paintbrush.  The “before” picture is more like the “before the paint but after all the sanding and prep work”….sorry, I guess I got a little too excited to start on this one.

Here she is:

She has been painted using two shades of green milk paint.  The basecoat is a deep hunter green.  The hunter green can be seen through the distressing and on the detailing pieces on the front.  The topcoat is a lovely shade of grass green.  This green is absolutely stunning in person and is very versatile in design.  The paint is sealed and enriched with a great furniture wax that is hand-buffed to a beautiful lustre.

The insides of the drawers were originally unfinished wood.  Unfinished wood is subject to staining from oils as well as absorbing odors.  In order to protect this antique from further deterioration and odor, we used a dark jacobean stain to bring out the wood grain and complement the green and then sealed it all with 3 coats of polyurethane.

The original hardware has been refinished in oil-rubbed bronze and we added 4 glass knobs to the top drawers to give a little more sparkle and update the look a bit.

This dresser is 42 inches in length, 21 inches deep, and 34 inches high.  We can add era-appropriate wooden casters which will add more height, for a small fee.

This beautiful dresser has moved on to a new and loving home.  Thanks, Anna!

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Miss Mustard Seed

Redoux Interiors
Silver Pennies

The Scoop

The Barnum – SOLD!!!

Greetings!  Happy Saturday.  Last Saturday was spent shopping and picking up some great new pieces of antique furniture to add to our inventory hoard.  I went a bit overboard and ended up buying too many dressers…there were just so many good deals!  If you are following RPhD here on the blog and not over on our facebook page you have probably not seen most of the new additions to our inventory.  Over on the facebook page you will find a album of our current inventory that is available for customization.  If you live near Denver and appreciate our work it is definitely worth checking out our inventory.

Now, on to the latest Renewal.  This antique desk found its way to our workshop last summer and other than missing some hardware and flaking varnish, it was actually in pretty decent shape.  Because of that, it was hard for me to figure out which direction I wanted to go with it.  Generally, I start each renewal with a plan.  It’s funny.  It’s funny because I can’t remember a single time that the plan came to fruition from start to end without the creative process intervening and seriously altering things.

The Barnum was no different.  When I pulled the desk out of the hoard and started cleaning and prepping it I had this vision of warm black with layered teal and green accents and polished brass hardware.  It was going to be a stunning, masculine piece that provided a rich warmth to it’s surrounding environment.  And then the orbital sander happened.

With every piece of furniture I work on, I make certain to strip and sand through any finish that may be hiding beautiful woodwork beneath.  This desk was solid wood and had a medium walnut hued stain all over.  I’ve worked with enough wood that I know certain stains can actually hide beautiful grain rather than accent it.  And so it was with the Barnum.  As I removed some of the stain I began to see part of an amazingly gorgeous veneer hidden beneath.  I immediately stopped sanding (sanding can scratch and ruin a lot of veneers) and switched over to my bottle of citristrip.  Stripping is extremely messy, but as you’ll see in the pictures of this desk, it is definitely worthwhile.

Once I had this beautiful veneer exposed, I knew it was time to reevaluate the initial plan.  The first thing on the list was researching the veneer.  Consulting some of my wood-working friends, Google, and the always handy wood identification catalog my grandfather gave me, I came to the best educated guess I could make: santos rosewood.  When wet it turned a deep orange-reddish color and was stunningly beautiful.  Definitely not something I was going to paint over, nor pair with black.

After some contemplation, I settled on this fun and cheerful design:



In the center of the ring just like a circus.

I want to keep it.  Really, I do.  I just can’t keep everything…and if I did keep every piece that I love…well, I would have a house full of furniture and I would sell nothing.  I truly love every single Renewal that I create.  A mentor of mine, someone who has been in the business for a looooong time, once told me something that I’m sure is pretty common advice: “Design spaces and items that YOU love.  When you do, you put love and energy into your work and THAT is what people fall in love with, the energy and passion you’ve embedded in it.  And if they don’t like it, screw ’em, you get to keep it for yourself!”

Because I put so much love into this desk, I know someone is going to come along and fall in love with it, too.

The Barnum is painted in Old Fashion Milk Paint “Federal Blue.”  The red detailing was ‘finger-painted’ on with latex paint.  The distressing and chipping is all the natural process of the drying milk paint.  In order to prevent more chipping paint, I have sealed the entire desk with 2 coats of hand-rubbed, satin finish polyurethane.  The original rosewood veneer that lay hidden for decades under it’s previous bland stain was left natural and its color deepened under the amber tones of the poly.

The dimensions are:

42 inches wide by 21.5 inches deep by 30 inches high.

Please email Pelham @ in order to set up an appointment to check this beauty out in person or with any questions you may have.  Thanks!

Sharing at:

Elizabeth and Co.

Furniture Feature Fridays

The Eire: An Emerald Beauty

I actually finished this table last week, yet I managed to forget to post it to the blog.  I finished a handful of other Renewals all around the same time and managed to post most of those…this one just slipped my mind.

I didn’t slip anyone else’s though, as I received many compliments on it and had a couple people interested in buying it.  Because I mostly sell off of Craigslist, I don’t “hold” furniture for anyone (have had far too many people call me and make appointments, even say “I’m on my way now,” and then never show up).  Therefore, the first one to show up with cash in hand gets to buy it.  Well the first person to show up was a wonderfully nice lady who was absolutely in love with this table and didn’t even try to haggle with the price like most people do.  She paid me full asking price, no questions asked.  I’m grateful for that!

Perhaps painting furniture green is a green money magnet!  Of course, most American money is like purple and blue and off-white these days, but still…

This lovely table is an antique, 1962, Heritage Furniture side table.  Heritage Furniture is the Heritage in Drexel-Heritage, famous North Carolina furniture company.  In 1957 Drexel Enterprises acquired the Heritage Furniture company and continued producing furniture under two separate named entities until they later dropped Heritage and combined the two into the well-known Drexel-Heritage furniture line.

It was in fantastic shape when I acquired it…it was just boring.  So I whipped up a batch of homemade chalk paint and went to work painting.  She took 5 coats!  Emerald is a lovely color and it is very labor intensive.  After the paint dried, I glazed the whole thing with a deep brown glaze and then finished it with two coats of AS soft wax in clear.

If only my house were bigger, this thing would still be sitting in my living room!

Hope everyone has been having a wonderful start to their week.

The Bruno – SOLD!!!

Happy May!  How was your May day?  Lemme tell you, here in Denver, we rung May in with style…8+ inches of snow style.  Yeaaa, it was….splendid.  I love the snow, I really do.  Just not in May.  I’m not complaining though, as I would much rather have a spring snowstorm (as long as I don’t have to shovel sidewalks) than a day where you wake up, it’s raining, and the rain doesn’t stop until after you go to bed.  Had plenty of those days when I lived back East and I am NOT a fan of rain.  It just makes everything so wet and…blah.

But you know what is *not* blah?!?  This beautiful table.  Well it was blah…before my hands got to it anyways.  So let’s get to it, shall we?

Isn’t he stunning?  Normally I would refer to the furniture as ‘she,’ though in this case, I felt The Bruno had a warm, masculine feel due to that rich black base and the warmth of the stained wood top.

As you can see from the before photo, this table was pretty beat up when it came to the RPhD workshop.  Not only was it beat up, it was also finished in this very blah reddish stain that nearly hides the intricate checkerboard oak wood inlay on the top.  When it first came to us, the top was in pretty bad shape and at first glance I was thinking this was going to have to be a totally painted piece.  As I started working on stripping and sanding the top, I realized I was going to be able to save the veneer inlay and that’s when the vision came together.  I’ve always wanted to use multiple stains on a project and here was the perfect opportunity.

Using two custom-blended stains and six other colors, I laid out the tape and got to work.  I stained only the square inlays and left the other pieces natural so that they could take on the beautiful, gold-amber tones of the polyurethane topcoat. I could not be more pleased with the results.

For the base, I knew I wanted to pair the warmth and richness of the stained wood with black.  It’s a classic combination and has been very popular in design lately.  So I used black, grey, and charcoal and used a dry-brushed, layering technique to add dimension and character to the paint.  The result is this well-worn and muted look.  After all, the legs and lines of the table are so beautiful that if we used any other color and finish, the legs would totally distract from the top, and with such a beautiful and unique top, we definitely don’t want that.

As always, we protect and seal our furniture with durable and protective topcoat finishes.  The painted base of this table is finished with a high-quality, waterproof wax and the top has 3 smooth coats of a super-durable polyurethane finish.  While the polyurethane is very durable and 3 coats thick, it is always recommended to use coasters when placing glasses and mugs on furniture surfaces.

The Bruno is 38 inches in diameter and 16 inches high.

Please email Pelham at in order to set up an appointment to view this lovely table in person.  The Bruno is only available for pickup in the Denver area.  We do not currently ship (though we are exploring options so that our fans outside of Colorado can enjoy a Renewal by Pelham of their own).

This table was featured at:


Thanks Lindsey!

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The Toto

Wow, has it really been a month since the last post?  April has been soooo crazy and busy.  And by busy, I mean that I’m taking an 8 week seminar that has me putting in 60+ hours at real estate each week.  Between that and mother nature deciding to make April the snowiest month in Denver for the entire winter, there has been little time to focus on Renewals by Pelham Hebert Designs.

When there was time, I had to resort to working on smaller projects in the cramped confines of my home office.  Not exactly ideal.  One of the main reasons that I love this little venture of mine is that it offers me a break from the ‘trapped indoors’ aspect of my primary career.  When the weather is nice, like this past weekend, I have been known to shirk social responsibilities, avoid my friends, as well as the indoors, and spend nearly every minute from sun-up to sun-down outside in the workshop.  Creating, imagining, breathing, living.  Or, more accurately, sanding, painting, glazing, cramping, or otherwise getting sweaty and dirty in some way related to furniture re-purposing.

To many people that sounds like the complete opposite of relaxing and stress-relieving.  For me, there aren’t many things that are better at taking my mind off of the helter-skelter and stress of the rat-race we call career.  But that’s when the weather is nice.

When it isn’t, I’m usually skiing I have to get creative, find smaller projects to work on, and make space in my office.  That wasn’t too difficult when I was working on The Toto:

This great, vintage, roll-top breadbox didn’t require much space…isn’t it freaking adorable?

When I first got my hands on this old breadbox, all I could think about was how I have never, ever needed one.  And how I knew absolutely no one else who has one.  Something tells me both of these statements are going to be wrong very soon!  Why?  Because the Toto is awesome, duh.  And it doesn’t have to be utilized to store fresh loaves of bread…I’m currently using it to store clutter and make my too-short-nightstand more functional by providing a surface at bed height to keep a glass of water on.  A glass of water on a painted breadbox?!?!  Sure, because I used a super-duper durable finishing wax on it that is waterproof and will protect the paint and surface from pretty much anything short of muriatic acid and gasoline.  Don’t worry, the wax is organic and zero-VOC so it’s more than safe to store food in and won’t stink up your house!

If I had more counter space in my kitchen this little thing probably wouldn’t even be up for sale because I love it and would totally find some use for it (fresh bread lasts about a half a day in my house before it is fanatically consumed by hungry mouths).

Do you like it?  Wanna buy it? Here’s the lowdown:

Dimensions: (I totally forget to do this on all our “For Sale” posts and then end up responding to countless emails asking “how big is it?”…No more!)

Toto is 12 inches high by 17 inches wide and is 12 inches deep.

12″ H

17″ W

12” D

***Due to the unfortunate reality of my camera never being able to capture the true essence of bold greens, it is really hard to get a sense of the true brilliant emerald color of this breadbox.  If you have a hankering for emerald (who doesn’t?!?!) and would like to see this breadbox in person, please email us at to set up an appointment.  Thanks

Stay tuned for more updates and reveals coming very, very, very soon.  A few custom orders are almost done as well as some other accent tables (I told you, the weather has been bad! And I’m not lugging dressers and buffets upstairs to my office just so I can paint while it is snowing and cold.)

The Hartford – SOLD!

Boy, March FLEW by.  We’ve sold most of our available inventory (we just found a loving home for The Yorkshire today) and taken on a handful of custom orders, as well.  The workshop is literally littered with a handful of ‘half done’ projects. They are ‘half done’ mostly because I have been extremely busy at work, AND also because Colorado’s late winter/early spring weather has returned to normal…that is to say, we’ve had two blizzards separated by near-70 degree days.  In addition to the weather and work, I am currently renovating the only bathroom in my apartment.  It currently has no walls, no sink, and no toilet…aaaaaaand hopefully it will all be put back together by this weekend.  More on that later….

Despite all the melee, I did manage to put the finishing touches on one of those ‘half done’ projects: meet The Hartford!

The Hartford is a lovely, curvaceous, little end table with beautiful rope detailing and classic claw feet.  First, I painted it with a deep, rich teal, knowing that I wanted to achieve a multi-layered look when it was distressed.  Then, I painted it with a shabby chic classic, pure white chalk paint.  After the paint dried, it was time to moderately distressed it all over.  The end result is this classic, shabby chic look that has both teal and the original wood peaking through…. What do you think??

Dimensions:   24″ W x 28″ L x 24.5″ H

For info on how you can order a table with this aesthetic and finish, email us:

The Yorkshire – SOLD!

We have been so anxious to reveal The Yorkshire.  She’s been done for over a week now. The delay is due to Mother Nature finally sending snow our way in Denver.  We received close to 12 inches over the past week and, while snow melts quickly around here, the ground has been soaked and muddy.  No more!  The sun was out today and the temperature hit close to 60! So, this afternoon, we moved The Yorkshire into the staging area and waited for the sun to drop just enough to give us the perfect light that we love to photograph our work in.

The Yorkshire came to us in pretty rough shape.  Her previous owner must have never waxed or polished her original wood finish because the old varnish was flaking off like Goldmember’s skin. No, we did not eat it.  Eww.  We did sand it, though.  Oh did we sand it.  While sanding her, she started to speak to us and we started to envision her final look.  The top was just begging for a rich, dark stain and we knew this custom blend, aqua green we made for a smaller project a while back would be perfect for the ridges and detailing on The Yorkshire.

Once we painted, distressed, glazed, and waxed her, it was time to put the hardware back on.  With all the original hardware painted white and distressed, to go along with the distressed edges on the dresser, we felt like she was lacking something.  We found these wonderful pink glass knobs in our knobbery collection and as soon as we saw them on her, we fell in love.  Shabby and glam.  Bam!

The Yorkshire is a classic 9 drawer dresser.  She measures just under 6 feet long, about 2 and a half feet tall, and 20″ deep.

Please contact us by email: or through our facebook page for more info and to set up an appointment to see The Yorkshire or any of our other pieces in person.  Thanks!

Old Red

We are so excited to share this latest Renewal with you.  It is one of our favorite Renewals in the entirety of Pelham’s history of upcycling old, discarded furniture. When we found this little dresser it was in rough shape.  While it is hard to tell in the before pictures, I assure you, this dresser was absolutely caked in paint.  It was like someone let a 5 year old put icing on the cake.  The previous owners had painted this flat and dark red over EVERYTHING.  The keyholes, the top, and the knobs too!

Pelham knew immediately that he was going to have to pull out the heavy duty varnish stripper for this one.  He started with the top and the drawer fronts.  When he started stripping the top, he realized that the red was not the only coat of paint…no, no, no, no, no…there were FIVE different colors of paint before he finally found the absolutely beautiful wood grain hiding underneath it all.

It was after he stripped the top that he knew where Old Red wanted to go (Pelham works organically, letting each piece of furniture determine it’s own Renewal and lead him in the right direction…this is why our Renewals often look very different from one another).  Old Red, she wanted her old layers to be peeled back, left in place to tell her long, difficult history.  So, Pelham obliged her and used a weathering technique to make the newly exposed wood grain top and drawers look their age.  The outcome is absolutely stunning!  Don’t you think?

In the playful nature of this charming dresser, we are offering you the option to customize the knob configuration.  Choose any from the pictures, let us know, and we will have them installed and ready prior to pick-up or delivery.

Our particular preference would be for the distressed yellow knobs on top, with the burlap knobs in the middle, and the green, glazed, ceramic knobs on the bottom drawer.  The burlap just ties in well with the rustic and shabby feel of Old Red, the yellow gives it that eye-grabbing pop, and the green ceramics add a touch of class to the aging beauty.

This item is located in downtown Denver.  We can deliver to all Denver County zip codes, or the item can be picked up from our workshop in Congress Park.

Please contact us by sending an email to with all questions and any interest in purchasing Old Red or any of our other Renewals.  Thanks.

The Coloradan-SOLD!!!

This OOAK (one-of-a-kind) beauty was inspired by vintage art posters that used standard block lettering to arrange well-known NYC subway station names against a black background.  Pelham, being a lover of all things Colorado, knew he wanted to create a piece that paid homage to this wonderful home state of his.  What better way to do it than replicating subway art???

Starting with a list of some of his favorite places in Colorado, Pelham sketched out a handful of different layouts before finally going with this one:

photo(61) photo(60) photo(57) photo(58)



What do you think?  Is your favorite Colorado destination/landmark included?  There are so many wonderful places in Colorado…it just wasn’t possible to include them all.

This beautiful, 6-drawer,  tall-boy had seen much better days when we acquired it.  With the loving touch of the orbital sander, some skilled woodwork, and the labor of a paintbrush, the transformation was complete!  The lettering was all done in a whitewash technique so that the original wood grain could peek through.  The black is a deep, graphite color created by mixing two different paint colors and some homemade chalk paint.  And the drawers’ insides were updated with a wonderful mint green color that reminds us of one of Colorado’s many alpine meadows in mid-summer.

We were hoping to hold on to The Coloradan for a while, and use it as much needed storage in our library/home office….though, when we posted pictures of the Renewal on facebook, a friend of ours saw it and just had to have it, making us an offer we couldn’t refuse.

Speaking of Facebook, please visit our Facebook page here and support us by “liking” us.  The RPhD Facebook page is routinely updated with our inventory and other fun and interesting RPhD news.

If you absolutely love this Renewal and would love to have something similar in your home, please contact us at and we will be happy to discuss our custom options with you!