one part travel, one part home, one part DIY, one place to create

dressing up dresser

I finally finished dressing up the old dresser I bought on Craigslist last year. Last Fall I was in a hurry to finish the guest bedroom since Candelyn was moving in for a few months. I had everything a bedroom needs except one key element: a dresser. I had given myself I pretty tight budget for finishing the room and that included furniture, so I was pretty set on finding an old dresser for cheap and giving it new life. I finally found this old guy for $20. He was hand built sometime around the 1940’s and just the perfect size for the room. I was so excited about getting this project started that I forgot to take a before picture with all of the drawers actually in their spaces.

The same week I picked it up I went ahead and spent a Saturday sanding him down to remove that dark mahogany stain. My plan was to paint him white and give it the distressed “shabby chic” look. After a weekend of getting to know a few different sanding tools the old dresser moved into the workshop awaiting his new look. And then I got busy and before I knew it 8 months had gone by and the old guy was still sitting outside in the workshop.

Last weekend I had a Saturday with no plans and decided I was finally going to make this happen. I backed my car out of the carport, set up the work table there in the shade, grabbed some paint from my collection of half-used quarts and gallons, turned on Pandora, put on my tool belt and I was ready to go! Ok, I don’t actually have a tool belt but it just felt right saying it. Now that I think about it, that’d be a really useful accessory.

I had already used wood putty to fill in the not-so-attractive triangle design carved into each drawer and bought some cool embossed wood pieces to add in place of the triangles for a nice added detail. Using wood glue, clamps, and of course a measuring tape, I attached one of the embossed pieces to each of the three drawers and the “faux drawer.” It may look a little crazy in the picture below, but once I throw on some paint then it’ll all come together!

I primed everything (the primer dried pretty quickly) then added one coat of a golden yellow. I added this yellow underneath to help create the distressed look when I would later sand down some of the edges. The next coat was a basic white eggshell paint and then it was time to let everything dry for a while. I got out my sanding block and sanded some of the edges to reveal the golden yellow underneath and even let some of the wood show a bit. I had some scented floral drawer liner left over from when I re-did the kitchen cabinents and it turned out to be just enough to line each of the three drawers with scented goodness. I was pretty happy with my work and decided it was time to move the dresser into its new room.

After getting it arranged and adding all the drawers back in, I realized the embossed wood piece on the “faux drawer” on top was slightly off center from the other three. I also didn’t like how the first drawer showed too much dark space from the broken top left corner. Across the back of it there was about 3/4″ of space where the top wasn’t completely flush with the back. I think this was because at some point there was a mirror or some other backing attached to it. I decided I would spend the following day creating a “backsplash” to add into the gap in the back and fix the few other issues I mentioned.

Operation “dressing up dresser” day 2 started with a trip to Lowe’s [OK it was Sunday so it actually started out with a great morning spend at Mosaic Church and then the trip to Lowes]. I loaded up my cart with a new handheld jigsaw, an 8ft. long 0.75 x 4 piece of pine, and I couldn’t pass up a great deal on a cool light fixture that I have plans for in the laundry room (on sale from $50 down to $12!). I set up my work space again in the carport and familiarized myself with my new jigsaw! I designed a backsplash, cut it out, glued it, screwed it into place, and painted it. Then I removed the off-center embossed piece, re-attached it, repainted it, cut a sliver of wood to glue onto the broken drawer corner and moved the old guy back inside.

In the days following I did a little more work to the drawer corner – this involved filling in the seams with wood putty, sanding, and repeated until it looked pretty cohesive. Check out the first picture below compared to the one two pictures above to see the difference in the corner of the top drawer. I got 4 more glass knobs from Hobby Lobby [I already had 2 that I planned to use as knobs on my closet doors, but who knows when I’ll ever actually finish those!]. And then I stepped back, patted myself on the back, and smiled at my “new” old dresser. Oh, and took a few pictures. Of course.

I’ve still got plans to make something to hang on the wall above the dresser, but this will do for now.


One response

  1. Jennie

    You’re an amazing girl!! Your spare room looks great. Bed is comfee too!

    June 19, 2011 at 8:29 am

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