Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Dressed Up Dresser (Finally!)

I've wanted to call in sick all week just to sit in the living room and stare at The Dresser.  I feel that after a month of waiting, talking about it, obsessing over it it's only right from here on out to refer to it as it's a proper noun.  I have considered naming my furniture and favorite home decor pieces. I'm just quirky like that.  If I were to name the dresser I feel it would be female and something vintage and timeless. 

Blah, blah, blah, right? I only "read" blogs for the pictures, so I won't keep you waiting.

First, where we started.

Started out as a $50 Craigslist dresser, even got it delivered! The white "stuff" on the middle drawer was some demented form of wood putty. I believe the previous owner put it there in an effort to hide the decorative work. Or they were drunk. After at least two hours of picking and sanding I too wanted to drink.


photo: Life in the Fun Lane
If I knew how to embed music you'd be hearing "You are the Wind Beneath My Wings" right now.

Before I share the after pictures I want to share some things I learned.

1. DO NOT sand unless you have to.  Or, if you sand, do not go buck wild as I did. This is especially important if you plan on distressing your piece. Think it through, if you sand off the dark stain you won't have anything coming through when you distress. Yeah, that's experience flapping her "too little, too late" gums.
(Truth: I bought an orbital sander just for this process and was having an unadulterated good time with it and it got out of hand. I put myself in time out over this and it won't happen again)
2. Invest in a good quality paint sprayer or use spray primer. I had intended to use some left over primer and roll it on, uh yeah, that doesn't work well on a high shine piece as The Dresser. The primer just rolled back off or was splotchy.  I ended up using Rustoleum spray primer and it worked perfectly.  Not to mention it's only $4.00 a can and I only used 3 cans. The coverage was amazing and so much quicker than painting on the primer. I also had to brush the paint on, it was fine though since I distressed everything got a once over of very fine grit sandpaper, but a sprayer would have been a blessing.  I've already asked for one for my birthday.
3. When it's a gazillion degrees out do not hesitate to turn your living room into a workshop. We brought The Dresser in over the weekend and I painted her right in the living room. Everything (even the hardwoods) survived without problems.
4. When distressing. Do not distress. It's ok if you go too far, you can always repaint and start over. I did, twice.  Also, wear fabric gloves or use a sanding block, you can and will burn your fingertips clean off if you sand too hard without stopping.  (Yeah, I could like so totally rob a bank and never be found.)
5. Invest in good hardware. I did have a mental budget for this project ($100) and only went a bit over. Between dresser, hardware and paint $118.00.  Hardware is insultingly expensive. At least all the stuff I like is. Personally I think it's worth it.  Good hardware is like a pearl necklace, timeless and makes an outfit.

Ok, so on to the afters.
I just grabbed some things in the living room for the top, it still needs some tweaking, fresh flowers, etc.

I went easy on the distressing.  I didn't want it to be tooooooo busy and personally I think you can from looking "used" to looking "rode hard and put away wet" really quickly.

The hardware has a great pitted, rustic look.  I knew I wanted library pulls but I also wanted something with character.  I however am not over the moon for the two small round pulls.  They were the only ones that went with the pulls and personally, I think they look like some freakish mutated nipples. They make me feel dirty every time I open that drawer.  I am also convinced they follow me when I walk through the room.

Detail of the distressing. 

I won't lie.  I'm in love with her.  She's perfect.  Well she's imperfect which makes her perfect.  I think I'll name her Beatrice.

Thank you for being patient, I hope it was worth the wait. Just to keep you interested, here's a teaser for what is coming up next.
That's drift wood, piles of it. Lisa from Urban Farmhouse will most likely recognize this, please, don't hate me Lisa, yes, I cut it up.  I think you might like what I did with it though. 

Linking to


  1. Haha you're funny. I enjoyed your little story. She's beautiful! Great job!!

  2. Um, wow! I love the hardware!! Beautiful transformation.

  3. Great job. I think you picked the perfect hardware as well.

  4. I agree, the hardware is beautiful, and you are quite funny. :)

  5. Thank you everyone for the kind words! I had a good time doing this project so I'm glad that I'm not the only one who appreciates it.

  6. Well...I am amazed at what people are doing with old dressers! I have got to "get" me on and have a little fun with it! You have me curious about the driftwood.....way to hook us!

  7. This makeover is AMAZING! What a gorgeous piece. The pulls you used were just SO right for the piece.

    Just an amazing makeover. Popped over from Miss Mustard Seed's wonderful blog.

    Starview Sonnet

  8. Great transformation and very entertaining post too. I think those small round pulls look fine - too bad you already labeled them, you'll never get that image out of your head. I like the pulls on your dresser better than the inspiration picture. Nice job!