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1 Credenza 4 Ways: ‘Upper East Side Mid-century’

I’ve bought a few things from the flea market that I really want to show off (and justify the purchase of). It’s like when you want that new $250 cocktail dress so you say to yourself, ‘Well, we do have Jimmy’s 12th birthday party coming up, and it is at a restaurant and meals at that restaurant are like $18 an entree and I saw on Instagram that my crush, Jeremy, was there last week so what if he is there again? What if I’m wearing the same dress I wore when I ran into him a month ago? I obviously need this dress to make this occasion’. It’s like that.

So I figured we could do a ‘One credenza, four ways’ series to show you how you can really mix many styles together (with a consistent color palette) and demonstrate how your art and accessories can really change the context of a piece of furniture.

We borrowed the credenza from a vintage store in LA, Shopclass, and I believe it’s still for sale ($1800). It’s VERY pretty.

This first credenza/lady is kinda fancy and loves some glam and formality but is cool enough.

Credenza_4 Ways_Oil Painting Masculine Brass_Mid Century Modern Glam

This lady, oh this lady, is like a cool rich liberal east coast lady. She’s probably a socialite and makes a mean Pimm’s cup and is friends with Joan Didion and Mick Jagger.  This look works because of a few different reasons:

1. The shape of the accessories on the credenza creates a landscape effect and helps the eye move up and down as it moves across.

2. The color palette is simple but consistent – pinks and cool pastels in the paintings, gray in the chair, lamp and vase, whites to give your eye a break while the gold brings the bling.

3. The visual weight of the objects varys, keeping your eye moving and happy. If all the pieces were heavy (like the vase) or all were light (like the telescope) it would feel overdone or too off balance.

4. There is a decent mix of squared off and sculptural shapes – the art is square, the lamp is sculptural, the books are square, the flowers and the telescope is sculptural, the frame is square and the tray is oval.

4. There is a good mix of horizontal and vertical – the lamp, bust and the flowers are all helping to give the scape some height, then the books and tray keep it all grounded.

I found those two paintings at the flea market. I had been eyeing this guy’s work for months but didn’t have a reason to pull the trigger. They are plein airs but in crazy pastel and saturated colors. I have a thing for plein airs and plan on collecting a ton for our future country home – a huge wall of them.

Credenza_4 Ways_Oil Painting Masculine Brass_Mid Century Modern Glam 1

Credenza_4 Ways_Oil Painting Masculine Brass_Mid Century Modern Glam 3

Credenza_4 Ways_Oil Painting Masculine Brass_Mid Century Modern Glam 2

That lamp is crazy and makes me want to move into a brownstone on east 53rd and 1st ave. To celebrate my move I made a gif of the styling process.


Photography by Tessa Neustadt, styling/art direction by me. Thanks to Shopclass for letting us borrow the credenza and that insane bird lamp.

See the other Credenzas here: Bold Mid-Century Contemporary | California Eclectic | Mid-Century Costal.

Ceramic Bust | Brass Telescope: vintage | Brass Tray: vintage | Blue Vase: vintage | Chevron Frame | Swan Lamp | Linen Armchair: vintage | Art: vintage

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8 years ago

This is only intensifying my desire for a ceramic bust to call my very own. Thanks a lot. 😉

8 years ago

have to be honest – I never would have picked up that lamp on its own merit (it’s interesting but just not what normally catches my eye), but in the setup of that shot it actually looks pretty interesting and meshes with the overall style. LOVE the credenza too – can’t wait to see the other looks.

Those paintings are amazing!

8 years ago

i love what you do and it so amazing to see how much fun you must have with your job! This is going to be a great series. Kinda merges the pretend material girls at least I thought of that when you made up the story for the pretend client. It’s awesome to see how transformative art and accessories can be. That is a gorgeous console though.

8 years ago

That painting on the left makes me SO HAPPY. and so does that credenza.

8 years ago

Emily this is so uncanny! I’m making a cross-country move to the UES tomorrow and I just bought a credenza. Did I mention my obsession with midcentury furniture? And gilded landscapes? Feels like this post was meant for me.

Your devoted fan, Marissa

Nicole M.
8 years ago

That painting on the left is amazing! Those colors make me so flipping happy 🙂 I see why you would want to show them off! Love how Option 1 turned out…looking forward to the rest of the series.

8 years ago

You make it look so effortless! I’m not the biggest fan of mid-century furniture, but the way you styled it makes it look so chic!

8 years ago

Such a tease! I was expecting all 4 ways in this post. Excited to see the rest!

I gotta say, I sorta liked the previous Material Girls series, but I like these kinds of post where you show off a person/personality via an an actual room/vignette/etc (like you did with the dressers too) rather than just mood boards. LIKE A LOT.

8 years ago

Emily!! I love everything about this! Love that you describe what it is about the styling that works, love that you throw in little details about the pieces (had to look up “plein airs” and now I feel much more sophisticated), and I love that you plan to show more than one option for styling the same piece. This arrangement is so beautiful and I’m looking forward to the next one. You’re my fave!

That swan lamp is just too good!! And the mini telescope is adorable!

8 years ago

Loving these ‘ four ways’ posts that you do…can’t wait to see the other three.

8 years ago

Those plein air paintings are off-the-charts amazing (I’m impressed you were able to wait to buy them!); would you mind sharing the name of the artist?

Stacy Ash
8 years ago

I love this sooooooo much, but there is a little tinge in my heart that won’t let me look at the picture frames. I just want the one on the right to either be more different in shape/size or be just a teensy bit taller so the two are exactly the same. Everything else is perrrrrrrfect!

8 years ago
Reply to  Stacy Ash

I agree, Stacy! I WANT to love this, but arrrgggh. That is just a teensy bit on the wrong side of different for me.

8 years ago

That bird lamp looks pretty cool once everything is put together. Wouldn’t have known how to place it on its own. Great design!

8 years ago

Funny, this is only one credenza one way. And those paintings appear about as far from pastel as you can get. More like fauvist.

8 years ago

The most amazing part of this post, for me, was the explanation of what is a consistent color story. I would have thought it means 2-3 colors (how very 90s of me) but you’re actually suggesting mixing whole families of colors and a couple of textures (bling/soft) does not prevent it from being consistent. So whites-greys-pastels is a consistent color story. Liberating!

Patty Strayer
8 years ago

The art is magical and looks very much like Jose Trujillo, a plein air (which basically means painting from real life in open air) artist. It does also look fauvist or more expressionist really, as well. I too heart the two paintings and have a small collection of similar works. Well done!

8 years ago

This credenza styling is beautiful beyond words. Cannot IMAGINE something looking better than this!! But excited to see 🙂

8 years ago

Love this post as I have a credenza that is almost exactly the same! Excited to see the other 3 ways.

8 years ago

Wish I had room in my house for a credenza. Always wanted one. This one is lovely! Have you ever looked at Arne Vodder’s work? He was a furniture designer in the 50s/60s. My grandfather made me a TV console inspired by one of his credenzas. I will always treasure that piece.

8 years ago

Love it..and, the sinuous swan lamp is my kinda thing. 🙂

8 years ago

I like this BUT I thought that there should be more negative space – maybe only fill the credenza top 2/3 and leave a third empty. Am I wrong? Is this not a rule?

8 years ago

I adore that lamp! I love the picture on left as well. So happy.

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