All I have to say is “Thank you Nicole Curtis!” – after watching the first season of rehab addict, RM started to understand how something that might appear at first to be trash may turn out to be treasure. It all started one weekend afternoon with the snow on the ground, RM took the garbage bags out to the dumpster in the alley behind our house. There he found a dresser. It was laminate veneer. One of the drawers was stuck but he excitedly ran back to the house and grabbed me to take a look. RM was so proud of himself, and rightly so.
Other than the one drawer that was a little stuck, it was structurally sturdy. It looked like it was a piece from the 80s that someone had decided to throw away.
We moved it with the help of a neighbour – it’s pretty darn heavy – to the back patio before moving it to my garage workspace. Workspace is too grand – it’s about 1/4 of the garage floor space where most of my projects take shape.
Once it had warmed up, the stuck drawer came out with a little tugging and we could see that the support rail underneath had splintered about 4 inches. Even that wasn’t really much of an issue – especially after some sanding to make that rail smooth again. Other than removing the heavy cardboard that was being used as separators between the drawers and secured by the centre draw rails, I didn’t make any structural changes – it was, as i had first assessed, in great structural condition.
I left it for about 3 weeks to think about paint colour, to get through the Christmas season, and to research finishes and decide on those fixtures. It’s amazing how things work out to find out the history of certain pieces. Strangely enough, We were visiting with a friend in Texas in January and the guest room was furnished with a bedroom set that was from the exact same line of furniture. Turns out it was late 70s in vintage and our friend had grown up with that bedroom set! It was a nice surprise. It made me stop for a beat and reconsider whether painting it was the right decision. But, really, it was only a beat…
For our home, paint was the right decision!
But what kind of paint? I seriously considered chalk paint. I research different kinds and finishes, but at $35 a pint, I just couldn’t justify it, not even on a dumpster project where the bare bones were free. I also faced the age old “we live in the middle of nowhere” problem, where the nearest place I can buy chalk paint is 90 minutes drive away. I did research making my own, but honestly, I wanted a great finish and I didn’t want to risk my lack of experience on a project this large (the dresser is almost 5 ft tall).
Besides, I didn’t need to sand very much of the dresser – and what I did need to do was taken care of with a medium sanding block. These sanding blocks fit nicely into the palm of my hand.
After a bit more research on non chalk paint finishes, I went with a high hiding primer in an offwhite. This is Valspar which is low (but not no) VOC. I wanted the top coats to be true to colour and so priming the dark wood made sense. At a cost of $7.95, and with two coats using barely 1/8th of a pint, I’ll be able to put it to good use on projects to come!
I also picked up some sample sizes in valspar semi-gloss: Peacock Blue and Illusion Grey in the Pantone Colour spectrum. These were purchased at Lowes for $4.95 each.
After taking off the handles and knobs, I painted the drawer fronts in Peacock Blue and the frame in Illusion Grey. They both received two coats and then some touch ups. There is still half of the Peacock Blue left and about 1/3 of the Grey. I’m thinking these may be put to use for some other items for our bedroom.
One of the most expensive things I purchased for this project was a brand new paintbrush. It’s a Purdy XL and it was worth the $11. Seriously, good paintbrushes: they will change your life.
For the handles and knobs I wanted something a little bit quirky, and something RM likes as well. Although we already knew that this dresser would be mine, I am conscious to make decorating decisions that include, rather than exclude, him. This is our home.
So, off we went to Hobby Lobby together and thanks to a sale all their drawer pulls, knobs and handles were 50%. There wasn’t enough of each knob to buy the 10 we needed for the dresser, so we decided to mix things up. We both liked the gold polka dot porcelain off white knobs. We also chose some porcelain knobs decorated with antiqued copper.
I spray painted the faux keyhole and the middle knobs that were originally on the dresser and used those! After putting them on the dresser, RM went back and chose a few more to try, including the porcelain knobs with gold circle inlay. Things are higgledy-piggledy until the next sale, but we’re thinking about sticking with the porcelain and gold and using the copper decorated knobs to upgrade RM’s dresser. Thoughts?
Here is the almost-finished dresser in-situ. We put a chair I upcycled and reupholstered last year next to it.
I’m really glad that I completed a few simple projects – painting chairs and upcycling frames – before tackling this project, in part because I know that RM’s confidence in my skills has been growing and between Nicole Curtis and my demonstration of finishing projects, he is now on board the DIY-Wifey train!
The cost breakdown of this project:
Spray paint/sanding block $0 (already had these – about $10 if you had to buy them)
This project has not only been satisfying, it has also been practically awesome – we were badly in need of an extra dresser.
*** this post is not sponsored. None of these companies have any clue who I am. This is just what I used.***
Listening. Observing. Participating. Writing. Photographing. Reflecting.
Anna Blanch Rabe is an Australian-born writer and photographer. You can follow her adventures on Not A Pedestrian Life, or Facebook. More of her photography can be viewed here. For more domestic things take a look at Quotidian Home or her previous website, Goannatree.