Harper’s dresser makeover

I’ve been getting a lot of questions via email and some comments about Harper’s dresser and how I painted it. I decided to do my best to write up a more detailed tutorial about the dresser and it’s transformation.

how to paint a dresser

I knew I wanted a French Provincial style dresser. I finally found one via Craigslist at a vintage furniture store about half an hour away. It’s a fairly petite dresser (dimensions 19″ deep, 46″ wide, and 29″ high), so I had no problems fitting it in my rav4 with the middle seats folded down. The color I picked was Sweet Pea (Olympic ONE brand in satin finish from Lowe’s, which is acrylic paint with a built in primer). A quart of paint was more than enough.

It was the middle of winter, so I painted up in our loft (it’s open, so very well ventilated) with a fan and used an old comforter as a drop cloth. First, I took out all the drawers and removed the hardware. I put the hardware and screws in a ziplock baggie so I wouldn’t lose anything. The second thing I did was get a bowl of warm, soapy water (I just used dawn dish soap) and a rag, and wiped everything down. I just wanted to get all the grease off from years of finger prints, etc. Since this dresser already had a painted finish, I figured soapy water would be enough. If it had been a wood or shinier finish, I would suggest using a liquid deglosser to wipe it with instead. Then I turned the dresser upside down (since I wanted to paint the top last).

photo 4

Next I took my angled brush (this one is my all-time favorite) and painted all the crevices and areas I knew I wouldn’t be able to use a roller on (like the ornate feet, corners, etc). Right after that I used a small foam roller on all the flat surfaces. Tip: use the roller as much as possible for the smoothest finish.

It took about two coats of paint with the angled brush, etc, waiting about a day between coats. Then it took probably three coats on the flat parts with the roller. This is because the foam roller puts on very thin coats. After this I let it dry another day then turned the dresser right-side up and painted the top. I let it dry another day and put the hardware back on. Here’s the picture I took shortly after finishing the nursery:


It’s been over a year, and the paint job is holding up really well. I was afraid the top would scratch or chip with the changing pad and diaper caddy on top of it, but it’s still looking great! Here are a few pictures I just snapped with my iPhone to show you how it looks after a year of using it every day. The quality is not the greatest, and the lighting is artificial since we have the windows blacked-out, but it’s enough to give you an idea.


So for those of you looking for some answers about how I painted this dresser, I hope that helps! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any other questions. :)

Coffee table chalk paint makeover

I bought this Pottery Barn coffee table on Craigslist shortly after we moved into our house. While the table is sturdy and well built, the finish wasn’t in very good shape when I brought it home. Over the years it has taken more of a beating with a toddler who loves to bang it with a toy hammer and run his Hot Wheels all over it.

IMG_6793 IMG_6795

I came across this awesome tutorial from Dear Lillie on Pinterest. Ironically enough, it was for the exact same table, so I knew it would work. I followed the directions, making just a few small modifications.

1. We used Klean Strip stripper to remove the dark varnish from the top only. Just brush it on, wait about 30 minutes, and scrape it off. Like the tutorial, it took 2-3 applications to fully remove all the finish. The sides and drawers I left as-is, since I would be painting those.



2. After stripping the top, I sanded it down with a pad sander and 120 grit sandpaper.
3. In the tutorial they stained the top with a walnut stain, but we really liked the natural look of the wood, so I just brushed on two clear coats of polyurethane in a satin finish.

IMG_6885coffee table (1)

4. I used Annie Sloan chalk paint in Paris Grey on the bottom part of the table. It took two coats.  (the tutorial uses Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter, which also looked great). For this part I just used an angle 2″ Wooster brush – the same type I use for cutting in.

5. After the paint dried (which for chalk paint is only about an hour or less) I distressed the edges of the table and drawers with some 220 grit sandpaper. This part I did by hand.

coffee table (4)
6. I wiped off the dust from distressing, and applied a coat of Annie Sloan’s clear soft wax. For this part I use the waxine brush from Annie Sloan and buffed it with an old t-shirt.

This was my first foray into chalk painting, and I’m hooked. It requires pretty much no prep work (except dusting off the furniture before painting), sticks to any surface (wood, leather, metal, plastic, fabric, etc.) and the color options are so pretty. It’s a bit pricey, but that is offset by the fact that a little goes a loooong way.

coffee table (3)

I love the new look. When I walk into my living room now, I have a little moment. Kind of like that moment in “What not to wear” where the formerly unstylish person has their big reveal after hair and makeup. I wish I had a beautiful picture of it perfectly positioned in front of the throw-pillowed sofa and accessorized just so, but the truth is that it lives pushed in front of the fireplace for now (and is usually covered in toys) to allow more open space for the kids to play.

Chalk painting was so easy that I did a few more pieces. I painted a wood file cabinet that I got for free. I haven’t taken any pics of that yet because I am still figuring out where it will live in our house. I also painted our entryway console table Duck Egg Blue. I love how it turned out! (The basket below holds bibs)

IMG_6857IMG_7149I’m sure I will probably chalk paint some other things down the road, but between doing these pieces of furniture and the nursery, I’m pretty tired of painting for now. I announced to Blake that I will not paint anything else until spring. We’ll see if I can make it that long!

Dining room table makeover

Back when we found our dining room table on Craigslist, we were just so excited to find an affordable pedestal table for our square dining room, we were willing to overlook some flaws.craigslist dining table

We were never fans of the table top, because of the grooves in it. They were just little valleys for crumbs to fall into.  The other thing we didn’t love about it was that it was 54″ {we had wanted at least 60″} and it was strangely orange…like Lindsay Lohan. The color wasn’t a big deal because we knew we could refinish it, but the size and grooviness {in this case, not a compliment} was something to be dealt with. In fact, it was so much an issue that I started searching for new dining room tables on Craigslist.

Then something serendipitous happened. I found a table with a 60″ wood top. Because it had an ugly metal base, it was listed at a mere $40. The top was the perfect size and grooveless-ness that we needed. So we decided to buy it! Then it sat in our garage all but forgotten for three months while we were busy with other things. Such is life.

At long last we decided to refinish both the new table top and the old table base to darker walnut color. After my previous table refinishing disaster mishap, involving the minwax polyshades, I was a bit leary. A friend had recommended I use General Finishes gel stain. She had done an oak desk in the java color and loved the results. I did some more research, and found tons of other bloggers raving about how easy it was to use.

Here’s what we used:

  • 220 grit sandpaper
  • Klean-Strip Liquid Sander Deglosser
  • Gloves {rubber or latex}
  • General Finishes gel stain {we used Antique Walnut}
  • General Finishes Arm R Seal top coat {we used semi-gloss, but satin is great also}
  • Cotton rags
  • Foam brush

general finishes gel stain and top coat

First Blake removed the pedestal from the table top and transported everything to the garage. The table top was attached to the pedestal base with a square piece of wood. That square piece screwed into both the pedestal and the top. He removed this from the old top, and secured it to the new top.

Removing pedestal from table top

Securing pedestal attachment to new table top

Next up, we sanded the table down with 220 grit sand paper. We used a pad sander for the table top, but we did the base by hand. Then we wiped it down with deglosser and let it dry. We then applied the first coat of gel stain by rubbing it into the wood with a rag. I couldn’t believe how smooth and smudge free this stain was. It went on like a liquidy shoe polish, we just had to rub it around for a thin, even coat.

general finishes gel stain

The first coat didn’t make much of an impact. We waited a full 24 hours before applying the second coat. To get the desired shade, we ended up doing 3 coats on the pedestal base, 4 coats on the top, then three coats of semigloss clear coat {waiting a full day between all coats}. I let it sit in the garage an additional three days after the final coat of sealant to off-gas. As a result, our table sat in our garage nearly two weeks. Because Blake was away on business most of this time, I ended up scrambling to do much of it myself while Noah napped. It was an easy project though!

staining the table pedestal

We applied the clear coat with a foam brush. I wanted it to be a little glossy so I could wipe it off fairly easily. However, if I were doing a dresser or other piece of furniture, I would definitely go with a satin clear coat instead of semigloss. Some blogs recommend sanding with a fine grit between top coats, but I skipped that step {interpret: I was too lazy}.

Here is the re-finished table:

general finishes gel stain antique walnut

general finishes gel stain antique walnut

DSC_0913And here is the before image, to save you from scrolling:

craigslist dining table

Not bad right? The new 60″ table top feels huge compared to the old 54″ one. No more grooves, and no more orangey glow. Now to finally get some artwork up and perhaps find some new chairs.