DIY Dresser: From garbage to gorgeous

I can’t even tell you how satisfying it is to write this post. In fact, the thought of writing this post and getting to show off the pictures of this dresser is often what kept me going in my epic paint-scraping struggle to transform it from a piece of junk to a functional, pretty addition to our rather spartan guest room.

Here’s what it looked like to begin with: (minus the drawers because I had already taken them out and started working on them)

Now, let me first tell you where this little dandy came from. A few months back, my friend Caitlyn was living with us on the side of the house that Marc and I now occupy (we own a shotgun double). When she left , she asked me if I would like to keep this dresser, which she had found on the side of the road and snatched up because of the relatively good shape it was in and the cool-looking design of it. “I told myself I would do something with it,” she said, “but it’s just never going to happen.”

I agreed to keep the dresser, lured by the same vision of its potential that had drive Caitlyn to load it into her minivan in the first place, but also with the unsettling knowledge that I too have a history of taking in “fixer upper” projects and then leaving them to collect dust, unused and mocking me, in the corner of my room. After seeing a slew of housemates come and go by that point, I was also quickly developing a “sure you can stay here but for the love of God please don’t leave half your belongings behind when you go” policy that this bulky piece of furniture was definitely violating. It was against my better judgment, but I kept it, with only the vaguest of hopes that I would actually see the project to completion. That doubt was largely due to this little detail:

See that? That right there is not one, but TWO layers of paint gone bad. I guess the previous owner hadn’t liked the sleek black look and wanted to jazz things up with hot pink. Great idea, hypothetical person, go for it. And they did, only they forgot one crucial step in repainting furniture–you have to sand off the glossy finish of the previous coat of paint first. Otherwise, the new layer won’t stick properly and will end up peeling off in a million tiny brain-hemmorraging increments all over the surface. (I guess I can’t blame them too much…I ruined several craft projects that way before Marc finally showed me the error of my ways.)

So the task of repainting this particular dresser was daunting not only because I’d never done it before, but also because I knew that simple sanding wasn’t going to work. I was going to have to take a paint chipper and scrap and claw and peel my way, little by little, over every square inch of that thing to get all the paint off without leaving little curling bits of pink latex behind.

I’m not going to lie–it did take me a long time to get around to it. Like, six months or so. But one day I woke up, saw that the weather was nice, and decided that was the day. I spent several hours on my front porch with my drawer and a paint scraper, trying very hard to pretend I was Michelangelo sculpting his next nude biblical figure instead of a furniture restoration noob trying to accomplish the most basic of tasks.

That first day took it out of me, man. When I went back inside after so much time and saw just how much I had left to do, I nearly put the thing back out on the curb myself. But some stubborn part of me decided that I was not going to give up on this spunky little dresser. That it wanted to LIVE just as much as I wanted it to sit there and look pretty while holding my houseguests’ clothes. I set the project aside for a few days, but then I went back to it. Again and again. It took a long time, about two weeks total of intermittently working on it, to finally get it stripped and ready to be spray-painted.

That, of course, was the fun part. During the whole paint-scraping purgatory, I’d had a lot of time to think about what I wanted this thing to look like when I was done. I decided that I wanted to go with a bright, loud color and something complementary but feminine for the new hardware. I settled on an extremely flamboyant shade of blue called “lagoon” and mustard-yellow ceramic rose knobs from Anthropologie for the hardware. Putting those things on was like honeymoon sex–after so much waiting and anticipation…well, you get the idea. =)

This is my finished product:

Finishing this beast gave me a whole new lease on life regarding house furnishing and repair projects. Today, for example, I installed by myself the shelf that I’ve been wanting to put in the bathroom. I even sawed down the piece of wood I had to the right size. And it was a regular saw, not a power tool.

I am woman, enjoy the gorgeous home furnishings I create.




Filed under DIY

6 responses to “DIY Dresser: From garbage to gorgeous

  1. oh my gosh. I’m in love with it.
    come fix up my home. haha.

  2. So pretty! Make me one! 🙂

  3. Katy C.

    Nikki! This is Katy, former Open Diary reader turned Facebook friend. I’ve decided to stop lurking on your blog and start commenting. 🙂 Because you and your writing are fabulous.
    I envy your DIY skills! I’ve been dying to do some projects like this, but haven’t had the energy or the extra space. All your crafty adventures are definitely inspiring me to get moving on some projects, though. The dresser looks great!! That color is gorgeous.

    • Hey girl!! I love that our internet friendship has lasted over a decade, lol. Thanks for reading! Let me know if you try any craft projects of your own…I’d like to start featuring other people’s. =)

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