A new old dresser
We had an awesome offer by one of Chef Kev's friends (who is a carpenter) to build Chace a cool loft style 'fort' bed - a five-year-old's dream! It isn't complete, but knowing that it is coming got me thinking. The new bed will be real wood - fir, and Chace's current dressers were fakey mcfakerson wood. They were two Ikea units in a birch shade. You can see them here on the left of this old photo (and look - his old change pad too - crazy!). The dressers themselves are great but it seemed time for a change.
Knowing that the new bed is going to be tall and take up most of the wall on the right (where you see the shelves peeking out) I thought that a low dresser would look better as the space evolves. I was afraid that his room would really close in with large looming furniture on each side. I think the low dresser will offer a better balance and leave some nice 'breathing room'.
As I've done many times in the past, I turned to Craigslist to solve my problem. I was searching for a dresser that had a low profile (low boy) and wanted something with a bit of visual interest. I really wanted it to have narrow legs (think the mid century modern trend that is everywhere) versus the kind that goes all the way to the ground. And side note, the kind I didn't want are very plentiful on CL right now! Oy.
Oh, and the dresser had to be real wood. I didn't want to keep the finish wood (I actually wanted to paint it) so I didn't mind if it had a paint finish on it already. Knowing the bed was going to be a stained wood I knew it would be really hard to match that in a dresser that would no doubt not be fir, plus I really like the look of painted dressers in a kids room.
I browsed Craigslist everyday for probably about a month. I wasn't in a hurry so just kept looking for the perfect piece. I kept seeing one post that was catching my eye but did not want to deal with the obvious laminate facing so I kept looking.
But, I kept seeing that same ad.
And the dresser was real wood. And it had dovetailed joints so I knew it was solid. And the price was right. Hmmm. Maybe I could deal with the laminate after all. I did some googling and realized I could work around it. I thought if the rest was in good shape then there was some potential there.
It really took some imagining but here is a snapshot of the Craigslist ad. The dresser on the right with the mirror is the one I was eyeing...
A real beauty right? I told you it took some imagining! When I inquired about it I offered the seller the $25 asking price but told her I didn't want the dresser on the left. She agreed so I went to see it in person. I didn't actually want the mirror either but knew that $25 was a steal for both. Plus, I knew I could sell the mirror - which I did that same day for $20. So, the dresser really only cost me $5.
And guess what? The facing isn't laminate after all (I'll show that better later), it is actually just a spray painted finish! SCORE!
Anyway, enough rambling. Here is how it looks now!
Here is how I did it. After weighing my options, I decided to try Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. What really sold me was the fact that I didn't have to sand or prime if using that product. Sold. Plus, I've been wanting to try chalk paint for some time. I've been seeing it pop up over the last few years on blogs and was curious about it.
For those not familiar with chalk paint, you can learn more about it here. Basically it is a new(ish) type of paint that goes on easily and dries in a smooth and chalky finish. After you paint, you seal your piece with either a clear or a dark wax. I used clear.
The colour I went with is called Provence and it is an EXACT match to the teal in Chace's owl bedding. I actually wanted to do the dresser in the green (seen in the bedding) but the green in the chalk paint line wasn't close enough. You can mix the chalk paint to get different shades, but since this was my first time using that product (and I've read there is quite a learning curve) I wanted to keep it as simple as possible.
Chalk paint is also extremely low VOC so it doesn't stink and is one of the healthier options out there. Yay for that.
Once I got the dresser home I set up shop in the living room.
There was one little spot where the wood grain had bubbled slightly.
Then I gave the whole thing a good cleaning. I just used some counter spray for this since it's gentle and good on grease and grime.
Here is a close up of one of the drawer fronts. Ah yes, Liberace gold and all. Oh feathering, you're so pretty. Pretty fugly and pretty dated.
This is how I discovered that what looks like a tacky laminate finish, was in fact a crazy spray paint job. Laminate is okay to refinish but ideally should have a bit of thickness to it so that when you sand, you don't go straight through to the board beneath it. I didn't know at this point that I was going to use chalk paint so when I tipped the drawer over (at the seller's house) to see how thick the laminate was, that is when I discovered it was actually paint.
See the overspray here on edge of the drawer? Yippee!
I should also note, since this dresser is older, I wanted to make sure each drawer went back in the right spot since I thought there may be opportunity for a drawer not to fit perfectly. To ensure this I took a moment to mark the bottom of each drawer when I was cleaning (R for right).
The hardware that came with the dresser was okay - awesome quality (nice and heavy/solid), but the pulls were a bit too traditional/fancy. The knobs were fine so I knew I would reuse those, but I wondered if I could find better pulls.
I took one off to check the spacing of the screws and I'm glad I did.
I took a pull with me to Home Depot and took a peek down the hardware isle. I knew it might be difficult to find something that would hide the second set of holes but thought it was worth a look. Since I was going to be spraying them and the knobs black (so they would all match), I wasn't too worried about the colour or finish.
This one caught my eye.
Since I knew I was spraying them, I thought I'd see if they had them in another finish for less money.
Once home, I checked to make sure they would work.
Everything then got a nice coating of matte black paint (that I had on hand).
And now we had a complete matching set!
Back to the painting of the dresser made me realize I didn't really take any in-progress shots. I guess I was just too excited to start and once I get going I'm on auto-pilot. The paint went on REALLY well though. I used a foam roller and foam brushes so that I would not have any brush marks. The clean up was also a breeze. Nice.
Then I applied the wax. I simply used a lint-free cloth and rubbed it on liberally (as per directions and my online research. After that I followed with a second cloth to push the wax in and take off excess.
This is where I think I messed up. I must have put too much on (remember the learning curve I mentioned)?
You are supposed to be able to buff the dresser the next day and get a nice sheen. I tried that.
Whoops. Duller than a grade 11 math class.
No matter how much I buffed it just wasn't getting any better. It was like an ornery teenager. Stubborn.
So I did some googling and found tutorials that showed people using buffing attachments for their drills, so I decided to give that a try.
It was under $10 so seemed reasonable.
Other than that, I am happy with the dresser. I'll know for next time - less wax.
Oh, and before I forget, I had one more small fix to make too. The sliding bracket came off one of the drawers.
To fix it I tried some glue that I picked up at Home Depot (called Weldbond) that is supposed to be able to bond most things together - it worked awesome! I've even used it since to fix a broken piece of lego. This glue is a major score.
Application was simple, a bead of glue, brush it out. Wait about 1-2 minutes until it begins to haze, put the glued surfaces together and give them a teeny tiny twist to lock the glue down. Money. Love this glue.
Okay! So I think my rambling it complete! Incase you forgot, here is the BEFORE...
And again, here is the AFTER!
Here are the new pulls...
And the old knobs.
I am obsessed with this wavy vintage detail.
And think he's got some other good
As for what went on top, Chace's LeapReader books and his piggy banks (currently hoarding money for Skylander acquisitions). Five-year-old priorities.
You know, to hold your Ninja Turtle watch and boy bracelets as one does.
Oh, and the finish - you can see it here. It's okay. I've hear no complaints from Chace. The perfectionist in me wishes it was better but sometimes you just need to let things go (cue the Frozen song).
And see that lone off-centred piece of robot art? As much as I love him, his days are numbered. Of course I will post what I do there when I do it :).
Has anyone else tried Chalk Paint? What did you think? Painted any new pieces of furniture lately or scored and sweet CL deals?