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:

DSC_0346

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.

IMG_6545IMG_6550IMG_6555

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. :)

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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.

Our doors get love handled

I’m pleased to announce we have finished the upstairs door revitalization project! Before we started, our upstairs hallway looked like this:

But after removing the doors, painting them a crisper shade of white, and giving the brass hardware an upgrade, the hallway now looks like this:

Instead of buying all new doorknobs and hinges this time, we decided to give re-finishing the existing brass hardware a shot. It was a much more affordable solution. Even if the project went awry, we’d only be out about $20.

Of course, being the home improvement novices that we are, I did plenty of research beforehand to make sure that nobody nothing would be harmed in the process. I took inspiration from Young House Love (of course) here, and Pink Toes and Power Tools here and combined their instructions to make it work for us. Here’s how we did it:

1. After removing all your door hardware, gather your supplies. Here’s what we used:

  • Nitrile gloves
  • Super fine (grade 0000)  steel wool
  • Klean-Strip Liquid Sander Deglosser
  • Rustoleum Universal Surfaces Metallic Spray in Oil Rubbed Bronze (ORB)
  • Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover in Matte Clear
  • Old washcloth and cardboard box

Supplies: gloves, steel wool, de-glosser, and ORB paint

2. Sand the hardware with extra fine steel wool to make the surface a little rough and give the paint something to stick to. I found the extra-fine steel wool was enough to remove the glossy sheen without leaving any deep scratches on the surface.

3. Use a liquid de-glosser to remove any oils and debris. The bottle’s instructions said to use a coarse, lint free cloth. I used an old washcloth to wipe it on in a circular motion. Make sure you wear gloves for this step.

4. Allow liquid de-glosser to dry (the bottle says to wait 10 minutes, but we let them sit overnight.)

5. Poke the screws, knobs, and latches through cardboard box so they are in an upright position. This allows easy access to all surfaces while spraying. We just laid the hinges and latch plates on an old drop cloth to spray paint since they were relatively flat.

6. Spray paint with 3-4 thin (very thin – can’t emphasize this point enough) coats of Rustoleum Universal Surfaces metallic spray in ORB. Be sure to turn locks and hinges between coats to spray all surfaces evenly. We waited about 15-20 minutes between coats. Be sure you’re in a very well ventilated area, because this spray paint gives off strong fumes!
***Note: Some instructions suggest using a coat of primer prior to painting, which we skipped because the Rustoleum Universal Surfaces is both a paint and primer in one.

Hardware after just 1 coat of ORB

Hardware after 3 light coats of ORB

7. After the paint has completely dried (we waited about 24 hours), spray the hardware with 1-2 light coats of clear coat spray. We used Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover in Matte Clear.

8. Once the clear coat has completely dried (again, we waited about 24 hours), re-install the hardware and re-mount the doors in their frames.

It turned out pretty well. The only change I would make is to use a satin clear coat finish instead of matte (but matte was all Home Depot had). We like it so much that we decided to upgrade our front screen door knob in the same manner. Then we just have our master bath and closet door hardware to refinish and the whole house will be free of brass knobs.

In other news, we took a little time off last weekend to head to Steamboat and enjoy the fall foliage. It was nearly at peak. We love living in Colorado!