September 28, 2012 by Decorum DIYer
Just a quick post about how I turned an old, ready-for-the-dump dresser into a family heirloom. Last year, my husband and I began the process of converting our upper level laundry room into my toddler daughter’s room. I’ll be sure to write a post in the near future on that entire transformation. I’ve already shared the hand-painted stencil wall here. Part of the process was to furnish my daughter’s room with budget-friendly, space-saving pieces. Lucky for me, my parents hung on to one of my childhood dressers – so, it was FREE! I like free. The bad news, it had been stored in their non-climate controlled attic and also a storage shed for close to thirty years. No bueno. You see, it looked like this when my husband brought it home from my parents’ house last year:
It was quite dirty and had a few little furry friends living inside the drawers and under the bottom. It also had a very ‘Brady Bunch’-esque drawer liner that looked like this:
At first glance, I was skeptical and thought that it would have been best just to leave it at my parent’s house, or better yet, have my husband drive it straight to the dump. But, there was a part of me that had fond memories of this dresser being in the room that my sister and I shared growing up. Also, the dresser was the perfect scale for a child’s room. It was exactly what I was looking for – a small, light-weight dresser that I could place in Claire’s closet to save valuable floor space and gain additional drawer storage at the same time. So, I decided to clean it up and give it a try. The first step was to vacuum all of the little webs, cocoons, and itsy-bitsies that had called the dresser home for the last thirty years (yuck!). Then, I started wiping the dresser down with a non-toxic cleaner. It actually started to look pretty decent. My husband repaired one of the drawer bottoms that had fallen through, and it was ready for priming and painting. I used Zinsser 1.2.3 Primer, as it is for any/all surfaces, has stain-blocking/sealing qualities, and is what I already had in my paint stash. The can looks like this:
It worked well and I thought that the stain blocking and mildew resistant qualities could only help, given the dresser’s history. After two coats of primer, the dresser looked like this:
The next step was painting. Just to make it extra time-consuming on myself, I decided to paint the interior of the dresser (both the inside and sides of the drawers) a soft, sage green by Behr named ‘Celery Ice’ in an eggshell finish and a grayish purple by Martha Stewart (Glidden) named ‘Dusk’ in a semi-gloss finish. Here are the colors used:
After painting the interiors and exteriors of the drawers in Behr’s ‘Celery Ice’, with exception of the drawer fronts, I taped off using painter’s tape and painted the drawer fronts in the ‘Dusk’ color. I also painted the entire exterior, including the back, of the dresser in the ‘Dusk’ color. I used two coats of both colors, just to be sure that I had even coverage. A couple of photos of the process.
I chose not to paint the interior of the dresser body (above), as I was afraid that the drawers would stick or that over time paint would flake off. Once the paint was dry, I chose a mis-match of knobs to customize the dresser, as I only had eight vintage knobs that were too cute not to use, so I had to supplement with an additional four knobs. I used a mix of faux glass knobs, and vintage, ceramic knobs that have the cutest little roses painted on them. The faux glass pulls were an inexpensive find at Home Depot and the vintage, ceramic knobs were recycled from another dresser that I painted for my son (he didn’t want the knobs with roses?). Here is the dresser with the knobs in place. I tried to provide a close-up of the knob, but I am not a photographer and it is quite blurry (sorry).
I replaced the drawer liner with gift wrap that I backed with a clear contact paper to give it weight and durability. The pattern on the wrapping paper is one of my favorites and I was thrilled that I could use it in this way and that it coordinated so well with the dresser. Of course, no one knows that the drawer liners are there, but I know and they make me smile.
Probably my favorite part of the this dresser makeover, besides the low-cost (really only the cost of the faux glass knobs, since I had everything else) and effort, was that I instantly created a family heirloom. I really like the idea of handing this dresser down from mother to daughter for decades to come. After I started painting the dresser for Claire’s room, my mother told me that she had received this dresser second-hand and painted it when she was expecting me. It really warms my heart that so much love has been blessed upon this ordinary dresser. Maybe one day Claire will have a daughter (or son) of her own and she too can paint and reline the drawers of this dresser.
Until next time, happy painting!