Tag Archives: how to refinish a dresser

Office/Guest Room Makeover

I never really liked the old “office” in our house.  With a mish-mash of clunky inherited furniture and drab green walls, it was never a place that I really wanted to work.  Now, with a baby on the way the old office is soon to become the nursery, which means the guest room has to serve a dual purpose. It was the perfect opportunity to create a space that was both functional and inspiring to work in.

BEFORE
When we bought our house, the guest bedroom was a buttery baby yellow. It was fine but not very sophisticated so the first step was to repaint.

AFTER
I swapped out the yellow for a calming grey on the walls, leaving all the moldings and trim bright white. Since I had already refinished the dresser and bed frame in a sleek black, the rest of the room started to take on a black, white and grey scheme with pops of yellow and gold for personality.  The gilded mirror is vintage. The flowers are dried cock’s comb from last year’s farmers market.

Besides repainting, I also rearranged the placement of the bed in the room.  Originally we had the head board placed against the other wall (right wall of this photo) so you could easily make the bed.  However, that would have left no space in the room for a desk.  By just rotating the bed and positioning it against the wall, it created enough space for a desk and chair, plus a much better flow for the room.

The same day I scored the gilded mirror, I found this awesome 1950s yellow chair at a different antique store.  The moment I laid eyes on it, I had to have it and at just $30 it was a steal of a deal.  The pillow cover is from The Home Centric on Etsy.

Since the room is not huge, I chose the slim, modern Parsons desk from West Elm and surrounded it with things that will inspire me while I work or blog, like my DIY idea board, fresh flowers and scented candles.  Every day supplies like pens and scissors look decidedly more chic in a vintage milk glass vase.



The closet got a major overhaul, organizing gift wrap and craft accessories into various storage bins, bags and shoe boxes. Reducing the extra clutter makes it much easier to find the items I need and make notes when I run out of supplies.


The final project will be to frame a very large world map for the large wall above the bed. Since framing something that large costs a fortune, I’m currently scheming ideas for a DIY framing project. Stay tuned!

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How To: Refinish a Dresser

Inheriting furniture from friends or family is a great thing. It fills a space in your apartment or house often for the mere price of transportation. However, the pieces that usually get passed along are the cast-offs – a little banged up, a little out of style or a little awkward.

When my husband and I moved into our house, we inherited such a piece – his old wooden dresser from childhood. Unfortunately I can’t find my “before” pictures so you’ll have to just imagine a varnished and scratched up oak dresser with clunky brass handles. In my boredom last winter I turned said dresser (and a similar wooden bed) into good-as-new-beauties for under $30. Sure you can get creative with colors and pulls but for my first refinished project I stuck to the basics.
How to Refinish Wood Furniture

How to Refinish Wooden Furniture:
What You’ll Need:
a handheld sander or multiple sanding blocks – coarse and fine grain
rubber kitchen gloves (if using sanding blocks)
2-3 drop cloths
small paint tray
paint, preferrable one that is designed for wood
wide sponge paintbrush or roller
small sponge paintbrush
drawer pulls (if applicable)
safety glasses and/or construction mask

Directions:
1. Remove any drawers (if applicable) and unscrew any knobs or handles from your piece.
2. Spread drop clothes in a well-ventilated space and lay out your pieces on the cloths.
3. Sand any old paint or varnish off each piece. Sand until there is no sheen or paint left and the wood appears stripped and smooth. Use paint thinner or stripper to remove stubborn sections if needed. Wear a construction mask and/or safety glasses if you have issues with dust or aren’t sure what kind of chemicals are on the piece.
4. Remove all dust from the piece using a damp rag and let dry.
4. Pour paint into a tray and begin painting each side of your piece using long, THIN layers of strokes. Work slowly until you get the feel of creating a smooth, thin finish. Use wide brushes or rollers for broad sections and a small sponge brush for detail work.
5. Let each coat dry before you apply the next. Continue applying thin coats until the piece is sufficiently covered. If you get any globby sections of paint, use a sanding block to sand it down and repaint.
6. Reattach your new knobs or drawer pulls and voila!
How to Refinish a Dresser

Tips:
1. If you use sanding blocks, put on a pair of rubber kitchen gloves so that you don’t wear off your fingertips. Ouch. Sanding takes a long time and is not very fun – think of it as a cheap stress reliever/arm workout and you may enjoy it more.
2. Resist the urge to just slap on paint. Painting in thin coats is worth the extra time and labor. I’m talking coats you can see through, which may require like 10-15 coats total. This may take awhile and you may only be able to paint a few coats at a time. However, comparing the bed I refinished (done first) and the dresser (second), spending the extra time on thin coats made the dresser look much more professional.
3. Don’t use a bristled paintbrush. Sponges or rollers deliver a more even, less streaky finish.

PS: I recently inherited a fab old chair from my grandparents…watch for my first upholstery project later this summer!

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