Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The $10 Dresser DIY


What could you do with a few bucks, a cast-off dresser and a whole lot of swearing?* Why, you could create a fabulous DIY project!
So, a friend of mine took off and moved to Texas, and I’ll never forgive her, but as a lovely parting gift, she gave me her daughter’s dresser because, you know, when you’re moving to fancy-pants Austin, you can’t be bothered with such un-cool things as old orange dressers from Ohio.

Note: When anyone offers me old furniture, I pretty much say “yes.” Friends also call me on trash morning to report various items out by the curbs. Yes, when friends think of trash, they think of me.

But back to the dresser. I had begun a beautiful bedroom renovation (full photos to come, someday, keep your pants on), and knew I needed a dresser, having recently sold our hideous, Tuscan-style bedroom suite on Craigslist for a price I posted with hilarious laughter and then actually received. I knew my dresser had to serve double-duty as both a holder of clothing and a nightstand because I had eaten up a chunk of the room's available floor space by adding a seating area.

I loved the lines of this dresser. And that adorable little drawer on top? People have asked if I added it, but nope, it was there all along. The narrow second drawer would be perfect to hold bedtime reading. There's room for a lamp. Solid wood, dovetailed drawers that still slide without too much difficulty. Loved it all, just not the paint.

Now if you’ve read about any of my other projects, you’ve noticed a theme; I love paint. It’s cheap, it’s fast, it’s entirely transformative. And it really never goes out of style. The techniques do, of course. What I might have sponge-painted in the 90s, I might ombre now (my current powder room re-do will feature this technique), but there is always something amazing you can do with paint to match whatever style you’re going for.

I used the same white paint I used for the trim in the room (Sherwin-Williams Harmony, Extra-White). I didn’t bother priming it, since this paint covers pretty well. But I did scuff up the dresser first with some sandpaper, and I used two coats. Oh, and make sure you remove the hardware first, duh. I spray-painted the hardware with my trusty can of silver spray paint, which is kept in my holster at all times.

Now, I hear you asking, but what is that pattern on the front, without which this is just a painted dresser and I’m moving quickly on to surf cat videos… Ah, that’s the greatest part. That pattern is a $2 roll of contact paper from Big Lots. Now, I won’t kid you. The contact paper thing was a PITA (look it up), but the results are so pretty. The little notches at the two top corners were actually carved into the original dresser. I just went with that and cut the paper to match it.
You have to measure really, really carefully here and cut and stick, and reposition and reposition until you get the piece of contact paper just right on each drawer. This is where the swearing comes in. And because I’m dealing with a continuous pattern (probably not wise, for a first-timer), I didn't have room for much sloppiness. My mistake was thinking that if it was just a little too long, I’d cut the rest off once it was on the drawer. This did not work well. The paper started to tear, leaving some jagged bits that are still there and will haunt me for the rest of my days.

It's not perfect. I found a paint drip on the side. Things like that bother me because I am kind of a freak. But I did not sand it off and repaint, because I am not that kind of a freak. Also, I have to hear the little scratching noise of the paper when I open two of the drawers because it hangs over a half a centimeter. But I suppose I’ll live. And while removing the hardware, one of the handles broke, and so I opted to buy new glass knobs for the top drawer, which I actually really like as it sets that drawer apart. Happy accident. These were $4 each, which brings the total project cost to 10 bucks.
Turns out that little top drawer is perfect for jewelry. And while we’re talking about saving money, there are tons of plastic contraptions you can buy to compartmentalize your jewelry in a drawer. I’ve seen very small dividers on sale for more than $20. But, hey, since no one sees it but you, why not pull out a couple extra ice cube trays? They’re perfect for earrings.

p.s. My friend’s daughter has a very cute new room in Austin. She even let me sleep in it when I visited. And I forgave my friend for moving, sort of.

*swearing optional