Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Dresser That Started It All

This is the dresser that got the ball rolling. Before this dresser, the notion of upcycling was like a completely different language for us. Sure, I had read up on the subject, I'd seen many a blog posts about redoing pieces of furniture, but if it had a ding in it or looked slightly used, I didn't think it was possible for it to make a full transformation. But seeing Sherry and John succeed with their Chesterfield dresser inspired us to reuse a piece of furniture and save some insane dough in the process (most dressers can run up to $300 or more, we spent less than on $100 on supplies). 

I'll be honest: when we received this dresser, I thought all hope was lost. Half painted and half banged up, it seemed impossible to redo. It's really difficult to see a used piece of furniture and believe that it can be turned into something beautiful with work and time - I think it's an acquired talent. But, we had gotten the dresser for free courtesy of Chris' sister and after the success with our nursery rocking chair, it was worth attempting. Who knew that this...

Could become this...

After some hard work and determination, the ugly duckling of a dresser was turned into a solid piece of furniture with beautiful curves that could double as a changing table. Needless to say, we're incredibly thrilled with the results and totally psyched to start on our next furniture upcycling project.  

*By hard work and determination, I mean my pregnant butt had nothing to do with this project aside from watching it progress. The dresser transformation was courtesy of my husband and my incredibly helpful father-in-law.

For those of you interested in attempting this on your own, here are the steps we took to redo the dresser:

First, Chris removed all the drawers and marked the inside of each drawer. That way, once the dresser and drawers were painted and done, getting them back into their appropriate slots wouldn't be a huge challenge. Whatever work he did on the actual dresser, he also did on the outside of the dressers. Then he removed all the knobs and the handles. Our plan was to save even more money by avoiding the purchase of new knobs and simply spray painting the old knobs. Sanding started with 100 grit sandpaper to remove the paint and smooth out the roughest portions of the surfaces. The nasty painted surfaces like this:

Began to look like this:

Who knew such nice wood would be under all that gross exterior? Luckily, my father-in-law let us use his orbital sander with an attached vacuum to make sanding quick and mess free. Hello lovely!

Then, Chris filled all the holes and dents using Carpenter's Wood Filler.

Since some of the corners on the dresser were a little busted up, he also recreated some broken corners with the wood filler. 

After the wood filler dried, Chris sanded the whole thing again with 180 grit. This smoothed out the finish even more and helped to even out the filler. He couldn't use rougher grit on the filler because it would rip the filler right out of the holes, a medium grit like 150 or 180 is best. Several of the curved surfaces (like the top two drawers) were a challenge to sand with the machine so they were sanded by hand. He fashioned a couple of sanding blocks to match the curved surfaces, like using an old pill bottle and wrapping a piece of sand paper around it. The final sanding was done with 240 grit, a fine grit best for finishing the dresser and leaving it a smooth, glass-like surface. 

Once he was ready to paint the dresser (white, to match the rest of the nursery furniture), he fashioned a paint shield out of old cardboard pieces in order to protect the other things we had in the garage. The last thing we'd want is a burgundy Mazda speckled white. 

He primed the surfaces and let it sit overnight to dry. To make things easier, he used my father-in-law's paint sprayer. Paint sprayers cover surfaces extremely well, so only one coat of primer was needed. In fact, Chris was so impressed with the paint sprayer that he went out and bought himself one! 

Then he painted the dresser and drawers with two coats of Behr Ultra Pure White, waiting overnight between coats. Everything was sealed with a coat of Polyurethane stain blocking sealant. 

He stuck the knobs and handles into a styrofoam block for better coverage and spray painted them with a Rust-Oleum all purpose spray paint. 

Once the knobs and handles were put back on the dressers, we were almost finished. I didn't love the look of the bare and speckled drawer insides and decided to paint them as well. 

I painted the inside of each drawer with two coats of primer, waiting overnight between coats. Before doing this, I also made sure to mark the backs of the drawers since the paint would be covering Chris' original markings. Since I wasn't so keen on Baby Z's clothes touching the paint in the drawers, I sealed the inside of each drawer with Mod Podge, a water-based and non-toxic sealer and finish. 

Easy peasy! 
I can say that because I didn't do much thanks to my "I'm pregnant" excuse...tee hee.

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