Your Furniture Is The Wrong Colour–What Now?

Living in a digital age, you sometimes find that when you order things online (part of our procurement process), they don’t always match what you think you bought. Our office shelves and drawers are filled to the brim with samples from suppliers to help avoid this problem, yet colour variation is a difficult one to avoid. Everyone has had this happen to them; There is almost always going to be some level of colour difference between what you see on your screen and what you see in your hand. You see it with photos we take on phones every day. We get samples where we can, but you can’t always get a sample for a piece of furniture or a vase.

What do you do then, when a piece of furniture arrives and it doesn’t match the colour that you saw on your screen? Usually the difference will be so small that it won’t affect the original design, but what if it does? We had this happen with a recent project. We purchased a coffee table from Christophe Delcourt, and it arrived much lighter than expected.  Our design team and the client unanimously agreed that something needed to be done about it.


When you get a piece of furniture that just looks wrong, there are always two options: send it back or fix it. We opted to do the latter; the coffee table was perfect in style and size, it was just the colour that was off. We called in Camden French Polishers to stain the table.

It seems simple enough, changing the colour of a piece of furniture. Surely you just paint it or spray it over with the staining agent and wait for it to dry! This is definitely one of those cases where a capable labourer can make a difficult, time consuming job seem incredibly simple. Here’s what it takes to masterfully stain a piece of furniture:


The piece needs to be stripped down to its original wood finish before any new colour can be added. The existing layers of polish and lacquer need to be scraped off by hand without scratching the wood surface. The wood is then cleaned with thinner and sanded smooth.


Stripping the table

2. Staining

To get the right colour, the wood might need to be stained a few times. The coat needs to be entirely even, so the polisher may have to take it away to do it in their studio where there is more space.

Picking the right colour

Hard at work

Darker, but still too light

3. Add a coat of lacquer and wait for it to dry

Lacquer dries slowly and needs to be entirely redone if anything touches it. This can range from dust to a mosquito landing on it (which is exactly what happened during our job, the little bugger). The lacquer needed to dry. This part of the process is a real time suck, and can sometimes take all day for one layer.

4. Sanding

Really getting in there to get the job done

Once the lacquer is dry, it needs to be sanded smooth. Then lacquer needs to be applied again and left to dry.  That’s 3/4 coats of lacquer. If something goes wrong, start again. Four days later it was finished, and most of that time was spent drying and praying that the lacquer wouldn’t get disturbed.

What the client got at the end of this process was a beautiful dark-stained coffee table, and what I got was a lesson in how meticulous and time consuming the process can be. Definitely a job for a furniture professional!

Check out the full project in our portfolio!

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