Monday, July 9, 2012

The most beautiful furniture I own

Also known as how to take two years to fix a dresser.

 Are you ready for a LONG story?  Good, ‘cause here we go!

Back in February 2011, I’m pretty sure the rental across the street was evicted. At least one day there was suddenly a bunch of stuff out on the lawn. I looked at it for more than a week, especially this great big dresser.  It had so much potential . . . but I  didn’t really need a big dresser.  So I thought I’d let someone else take it.


But no one did. That dresser just sat there for three weeks.  Finally, one day it began to snow, and I KNEW I HAD to rescue it!

Hubby was, of course, flying. So I made 2309472 trips back and forth with drawers. Then I backed my van onto the lawn and wrestled the dresser into the back.  From there I only had to lift it again into my house. and that baby was MINE!!

I knew I wanted to paint it. I also knew that would bug my Hubby, who has declared that all paint feels “yucky”, and only tolerates it on walls.  (Some people just don’t know potential when they see it!)  But one of the drawers was very damaged – I couldn’t just stain this thing and have it look decent.


And look at that detail – do YOU want to sand that down?


But I wasn’t sure the best way to go about fixing this baby up.  So it sat in my kitchen until November.  Yes, for nine months it just sat there waiting for both inspiration and the funds to fix it!
I finally bought some Orange Stripper – ‘cause I’d heard great stuff about it.  But I learned something about stripping furniture in this process. First of all, DON’T put it on with a sponge brush – stripper will eat right through it.  Use a bristle brush.  And DON’T try to use a curved trowel to scrape it off – it’s a mess! Just buy a real scrapper (like a 5 in 1 tool).  And WHATEVER you do, DON’T start it until you have all the stuff you need!


I gunked up the entire dresser, drawers and all before I figured out these steps.  And then the stripper dried on those drawers before I could scrape them off.  And instead of cleaning it up right away . . . I shoved the whole mess into the back of the garage for the next 8 months.
NOT a good idea! When I finally decided to work on it again, this is what I found:


Ugg – look a that crusty stuff. I had to scrub hard on every part of this thing THREE times to get that off.  It was awful, especially all those details.  And even after three crazy scrubbings, there were still crevices where the stripper was still there. But at that point, I just didn’t care any more.
Honestly, it was now June, and hot, and I had drug this dresser into the middle of the garage so I couldn’t park there until I finished it. So it was time to get serious.  I borrowed my sisters awesome sander and got to work. 
(and now is where I become a bad blogger and didn’t take any process pictures!)
My plan was to paint/glaze the bottom and stain the top. So I started by turning the whole thing upside down so it was easier to get to the bottom.  The sander worked great on the flat surfaces . . . not so much on the rest. But I was tired and knew I was painting, and just didn’t care.  Because of all the detail, I knew spray paint would be the easiest method.  So I started with some spray primer.
Something was wrong with it – where I had sanded down to bare wood the primer bounced off instead of sticking. Seriously, it was weird. After three coats on everything (aka, 3 full CANS of spray primer), you could still see bare wood.  Well, that won’t work!  So I grabbed some regular Zinsser brush primer and use that on the actual dresser.  MUCH better. 
Then I started with the paint. I was worried the spray would be bad again – but this time I was using Rustoleum 2x coverage, and it worked like a charm.  After the first coat it was looking so much better!  I used just over 3 cans of paint to get a beautiful coverage. 

Then flipped it over and sanded down the top.  Some wood conditioner and stain later, and it was a BEAUTIFUL color.  Then I mixed the same stain with some glaze to take the dresser from ok to AMAZING (it really is awesome what glaze can do for a piece!) I finished the whole thing off with 3 coats of wipe on polly, sanding VERY lightly the flat surfaces between coats.

Ok, enough blabbing, here’s some pictures of the gorgeousness that is now finished!


(Sigh). I love this thing!
The outside pictures are bit more accurate for the color – it’s a cream not a true white.


Look at that detail!


The luscious stained top:


And what’s that behind the door?


Another surprise – I like the two tone of it, do you?


Here’s the cost breakdown for you – please keep in mind, that I think I could have saved a good $20 if I would have done this thing right from the first!

Stripper: $6
5 in1 tool: $6
Scrub Brushes: $3
Primer (3 cans at $3 each): $9
Spray Paint (Rustoleum Heirloom White, 4 cans at $4 each) $16
New Handles: $15
Stain (rosewood water based) $0.97 (on clearance!)
Sand paper: $7.50
Brush on primer: on hand
Wood conditioner: on hand
Glaze: on hand
Wipe on Poly: on hand
Grand Total: $63.47


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  1. It's beautiful! I've got to come and see it in person!

  2. Oh, it looks so great! Way to go!

  3. Hi, dropping by from Tip Junkie. I am so jealous of your beautiful new piece of furniture, what a find! I'm on the look out for some second hand furniture I can do up (I want to add character to my home and balance out the Ikea pieces!). If I find something half as lovely as this I'll be very happy. :-)


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