There has always been this part of me that struggles with getting rid of stuff. Sometimes it can be a bad habit, but I will usually try to think of creative ways to bring new life to something that might otherwise be headed for the dumpster.
So a few months ago, a friend at work told me she was getting rid of some old furniture and asked if I was interested in taking anything. Naturally, my wheels started turning. I started scanning my brain: what was our house missing? Were there any awkward spaces that needed to be filled?
The answer probably should have been no, but of course I came up with something. I mean, why not? She was giving it away – for free guys, come on! I quickly glanced at one of the photos she showed me – an old wooden dresser – and decided that with a little TLC it would make the perfect buffet table in our dining room. In hindsight, I should have looked at the picture a bit closer. This project turned out to be way more time consuming and labor intensive than I thought.
Anyways, my co-worker and I made plans for her to drop off the old dresser that weekend. I had conveniently forgotten to mention to Derek that a giant piece of furniture would soon be arriving and he would need to maneuver it up the stairs and into the house. I would be willing to bet that the word “HOARDERS” occasionally flashes across his mind in bright neon letters so I think its better to just surprise him sometimes.
Well, the dresser arrived in all its glory. And by that I mean, I definitely should have looked at the picture a lot closer because…
HOW WAS I GOING TO SAVE THIS, AGAIN?
Its weird how when you see things in real life they look completely different than how you remember them. That seems to happen to me a lot. Let’s just pretend like I have a good imagination. In any case, it was too late to go back now and I had already promised Derek he wouldn’t have to lift a finger to help me restore it.
As you can probably tell, this thing needed a lot of help. There were dents and chips in the wood. The front legs looked like they were about to buckle and the decorative wood piece on the bottom was not my style.
For a while it just sat in our dining room. I couldn’t quite figure out where to start.
I usually lean towards the natural wood look, but there were so many chunks missing I finally decided a fresh coat of paint (or four if I’m being completely honest) would go a long way. Since we’re renting and probably won’t be buying a house for another couple years, I decided on a simple glossy white paint that would be easy to match in the future.
But before we could paint, we had to sand.
And sand some more.
Or should I say, Derek had to sand.
And sand some more.
We filled in the holes from the old hardware with putty and decided to use a hand saw to chop off all four legs and the decorative piece on the bottom. At this point, I still hadn’t figured out how were were going to replace the feet but I was feeling better.
Then came the three coats of Kilz Primer, and the four coats of Valspar Ultra Gloss White Paint. Even though the paint was also a primer, we chose to do the Kilz underneath and the white turned out very bright on the dresser. The whole painting process took a couple of weekends to complete while we waited for the dresser to dry between coats.
At this point, I knew we were nearing the finish line but I wasn’t sure how to replace the legs we had chopped off. I liked the look of the dresser as it was but it was a little on the short side. We bought casters but returned them a couple weeks later. Fortunately, we found some simple legs that were the same size as the stubs sticking off of the dresser. I decided that painting the legs a different color might give the dresser a little more personality, but to keep it simple and clean I chose to do them in a glossy black. Priming and painting the legs only took an afternoon.
A few words of advice
If you’re interested in upcycling old furniture, make sure you feel comfortable using an automatic sander or a power drill. It’s easy for these tools to get away from you if you’re not used to them. Make sure you work with someone more experienced who can show you the ropes a little bit. Don’t worry, power tools aren’t my thing either but I’m slowly learning. I would also recommend wearing a pair of safety goggles when working with the power drill and sander, just in case. Especially if you’re clumsy like me.
This was definitely a bigger project than I had in mind when I first said yes to taking the dresser, but I am really happy with how it turned out. There are still some imperfections, but I love the clean lines and classic look of the black and white. Its something different than I usually go for.
I’m on the hunt for my next project, but I think I’ll try to be a bit more selective this time around. I imagine upcycling old furniture is similar to having kids – you forget how painful the process was because what you made was just that AWESOME!
I’m 100% joking.
TOTALLY NOT THE SAME THING!
I hope this gave you guys a little inspiration if there’s a special piece of furniture just squatting around your house. Have a good week everyone! love, adrienne