Bedroom design ideas for Robert’s blonde vintage furniture

retro modern bedroom design ideasReader Robert has just acquired two vintage blond dressers for the bedroom at his new house. He’s basically starting from scratch and wants to know — should he keep the blonde finish, or refinish these two bedroom dressers in a teak stain. Read on for Robert’s dilemma and our decorating ideas…

vintage dresser

Robert writes:

retro-blonde-dresserI recently found these ultra cool dressers — marked United Furniture Corporation – Lexington NC. The drawers are dovetailed.  The exposed wood is veneer. They are very heavy and well built. My question is, do you feel that if I redo these dressers in a teakish/fruitwoodish tone, that it would ruin them? Should I leave them this blond color or proceed with teak?

I like the 60’s era for furniture the best. Perhaps late 50’s and a tad of 70’s. I just like it all blended together via my finds and redoing them to blend. My hobby is to go to thrift stores and find things and play with them. For example get a mirror in a 1970’s era yellow fake/plastic wicker frame and redo it to look neat in my home today. Or take a cheap plastic brass candle sconce and redo that to look like pewter with black in the crevices. I like to have new modern day timeless things mixed in with finds that I can blend together. I generally do not like the Haywood Wakefield Blonde and their furniture.

For these dressers, they are going into a blank slate bedroom so I either blond or teakish/fruitwoodish, I will just decorate around them.

I am just concerned about the integrity of the dressers.

Kate’s advice: Have a fling with these blondes!

Well, Robert, I think you know what Pam and I are going to say — if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. From what I can see from the pictures, the finish on both dressers seems to be in great shape. I think it would be a shame to refinish them — plus I can imagine refinishing the tambour (rolling slot) doors would be tedious! Instead of refinishing the dressers, I think you should work with them — they are fantastic! Hey, have some fun with these blondes! You mentioned that you weren’t generally a fan of Heywood-Wakefield blond furniture, but these are very different in style and with a few creative decorating ideas, you can make a very 60s-70s/modern looking bedroom room with this blond finished furniture.

If you’re into a 1950s Heywood-Wakefield look, then light pastel wall colors work really well with blonde furniture — however, Robert is a fan of 60s and 70s style — which is why he needs to take a different approach to choosing a wall color for his blonde dressers. To make the light blonde dressers feel a bit more punchy, contrast is key. Placing a light blonde dresser on a mid to dark wall color will make them really stand out in the room. Highly saturated colors — like the two I chose for Robert — will make the room feel lively and modern.

For Robert’s consideration, I made two mood boards — one orange, one blue…

vintage blonde bedroom furniture idea

1.  These white curtains from IKEA really pop off the dark wall. The silver pattern on them coordinates with the grey floor and the curved shapes found in the dresser pulls, hairpin table and headboard detail.

2.  Robert’s ultra cool long and low vintage dresser!

3.  I’d put something eye catching on the wall — possibly this metallic starburst mirror from Crate and Barrel — or since Robert likes to come up with creative projects to transform his thrifty finds, he could find a cool mirror and repaint/refinish the frame if necessary.

4.  A bright orange wall color for the bedroom is not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think it works well with the grey rug and really makes the blond dressers pop off the wall. Personally, I’ve had two orange bedrooms — waking up in one is like having a glass of orange juice before you even get out of bed!

5.  This vintage lamp from Etsy seller AustinMetroRetro is a lovely shape and would also work well with the orange and grey color scheme of the room. (Blue and orange are complementary colors.)

6.  This mid century inspired bedding from Crate and Barrel really caught my eye. Not only are the shapes colorful, but they also add a playful aspect to the space.

7.  I went looking for non-Heywood-Wakefield style blond bed frames to fit in Robert’s bedroom and found this lovely vintage bed frame on Ebay from seller buckscounty. Even though this retro bed frame has a blond finish, the style of it is very 60s & 70s — right up Robert’s alley.

8.  With all of the thick wood furniture going on in the space, I thought it would be nice to inject a lighter-legged nightstand into the space, such as this hairpin leg stepped end table from ebay seller pjzredskins13. The shape of the hairpin legs echos the pulls on the dresser drawers and the iron detail in the headboard nicely.

9.  Robert’s tall vintage blond dresser!

10.  I love this retro alarm clock made by Newgate and found on Amazon.com. The shape is fun, and it fits right in to Robert’s room — which is sprinkled with little bits of black and white.

11.  I’m not sure what type of flooring Robert will have in his new bedroom, but he could either do an area rug with this silvery grey FLOR carpet tile in Fog (if his floors are wood), or even wall to wall if needed to replace any flooring that doesn’t go well with his style.

Now I realize that not everyone loves orange as much as Pam and I do, which is why I made a slightly tweaked alternate plan for Robert.

retro modern bedroom design ideaThe idea board above uses many of the same components as the orange version, with a few changes:

4.  Using a dark blue — similar to Pam’s 2012 Color of the Year, Bitossi Blue — for the wall will make Robert’s bedroom feel cozy and act as a striking backdrop to the blond furniture in the room.

5.  This white and orange and mustard mid century lamp from Etsy seller lavintagefurnishings will also pop off the dark wall and coordinates well with the blond furniture while also adding more color to the space.

6.  If Robert is not a fan of patterned bed linens, this simple and silvery quilt from Crate and Barrel is simple and sophisticated while coordinating with Robert’s room.

So there you have it Robert, two ways to design a room around your retro blond dressers without refinishing them. Of course we’ll be interested to see what you decide and as always, would love to see pictures of the final results!

Readers — what’s your 2 cents?
Would you keep the dressers as-is — or refinish them?


  1. Chali Wertz says:

    How do you repair rubbed off areas on the old blonde furniture. The furniture I have is not yellowed wood. It is not a veneer, but a white finish that has yellowed over the yearsl

  2. Judy says:

    I love the both rooms, although the orange is my fav. I bought a coffee table and end tables set earlier this year and my family thought I was crazy. Growing up, our furniture always seemed to be 20 years out of date. Little did I know that type of décor would be my favorite at 53! Ha!

  3. Pat Wieneke says:

    I have bedroom furniture that is blond walnut and in like new condition ( except a stick person and dog drawn inside one drawer). I would never change them.
    My bedroom is very dark. I have north windows that are the high up awning style of the 50’s, And the neighbor has a big evergreen that adds to the darkness of the room. I don’t think I could live with the intense wall colors shown above, even though they are lovely. My daughter painted one of my bedrooms a lovely light ferny green, I was thinking of a spread and window shades in some sort of print that includes brights and the fern color, or a similar light, airy color.
    Any thoughts?

  4. Roxanne says:

    I have never been a big fan of the Mid Century blonde furniture, until…

    Hubby and I spotted a 5 pc Black Blonde bedroom set with chrome hardware displayed on a cheetah carpet.

    Our bedroom already has a full wall accordion closet door which we love.
    We are stumped for the carpet and bedspread. Can you direct me towards a period bedspread that is not chenille?

    Our carpet dilemma: we will need new carpet but cheetah is too busy for us. Shall we go solid? Our present carpet is brochade/toile in gold and cream. Extremely cool, but a bit too Hollywood regency for us. Is there a mid century specialty trade/sell board anywhere? or else it’s Craigslist.

    Pinch pleate drapes will be our window covering option, just might keep our burnt orange set. Not certain.

    I love the two tone irredescent look of the blonde black, I just don’t see a lot of it here or on any other site.

    Can you give us some eye candy?

    When we first saw our set it was displayed on a black/gold cheetah carpet.

  5. Jan says:

    I have a set of blonde (formerly) furniture. Unfortunately, I stripped the blonde veneer off. What is underneath is a light, nice wood. It was very easy to strip. However, I say, “do NOT strip it off if you don’t have to.” The blonde finish keeps the retro look and it is lost once it has been stripped away. I really like your furniture, by the way.

  6. kyle says:

    What did you decide? I have mostly Lane blonde mahogany furniture in my “rest” room with faint mint green and ivory. It is very feminine though.

    1. Robert says:

      I am still leaning toward teak or light walnut but I feel that lack of time for refinish will keep it blond as I really don’t have time and don’t see time to refinish. It is still in storage waiting to be brought over.

  7. Joe Felice says:

    Why, on earth, would you want to change the color of the furniture? It’s gorgeous in its original splendor! And would go well with any color you paint the room.

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