Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Refinishing dressers

I have two very sturdy and solid antique dressers that my grandmother got when she got married 70 some odd years ago. The short dresser has always been "mine" since I was born and the tall dresser was my brother's. When he moved out and went to college and I moved home (when I was done with college) I "inherited" the tall dresser as well.

For years my brother had an aquarium on top of his dresser so the top was in pretty bad shape, otherwise the rest of the dresser just had the normal wear and tear you'd expect for being 70 years old.

When I moved out of my parent's house I decided that I wanted to paint my dressers. The finish was old and  stained from years of Aqua Net, drinking glass rings, and just general wear and tear. So I painted the dresser a dark brown and replaced the hardware with some simple, nickle-plated handles. Nothing too fancy, but it was certainly an upgrade from the handles that were on the dresser.

That was... 7 years ago. I've moved several times since then and the paint has chipped and worn in a lot of places. It's definitely time to give them a little pick-me-up.


The dresser doesn't really look that big, but it does take up quite a bit of space in the room. The really nice part about these dressers is that they're solid wood with dovetail joints. Yeah, I lucked out bigtime. I didn't have to pay a DIME for these since they have been in my family for, well, forever.

Unfortunately, the mirror on the back of this dresser is in pretty bad shape. Because it's been screwed and unscrewed so many times, the holes are stripped and the mirror essentially has to lean against the wall. It would need a lot of love, the mirror needs to be resilvered and it's slipping from the frame (it has clips that hold it to a solid piece of wood cut to shape) and it's really only a matter of time before it just crashes to the floor.

Luckily, we have a mirror that the previous owner of the house just left behind. It's in perfect condition and all I really want to do with it is frame it and hang it on the wall. I think that's a good plan.


This is the "problem" dresser. The top veneer is splitting and my guess would be it needs to be replaced entirely. We had to putty the daylights out of it when I refinished it 7 years ago, and we haven't had a fishtank on top of it! You can see on the corners how the paint is starting to chip off.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with these dressers. I will keep the hardware (although they may get ORBed) and I'm definitely feeling a lighter color. The goal is to get both dressers completed by the end of October as it will be too cold to work on them in the garage.

First things first - I need to strip off the old paint and finish. This is probably going to be a "process" and I can really only do one dresser at a time (we have to put our clothes in something). I haven't decided if I'm going to paint the dressers or stain them - it will all depend on what it all looks like once I get the old finish off and make the repairs I need to make. I know Garry would much prefer that I stain them (he has an issue with painted wood apparently), but if I remember correctly, these dressers were stained a darkish brown to begin with so I may not be able to stain them a lighter color and painting them will probably be the better option.

Just to give you an idea, I'm planning on repainting the bedroom grey. I have black nightstands that may-or-may-not stay black, and I'm planning on getting/making some new bed linens. I have a duvet cover that's a very light blue (that I'm itching to do some block printing on) and I have material to make a white/neutral quilt (which someday I should probably get on top of making). Since winter is coming up, I'm planning on some flannel sheets too.

Other projects that need to happen include installing bi-fold closet doors (and painting them bright white), making curtains (probably burlap or canvas), picking up a pair of lamps (I won't really know what I want until the room and furniture is painted) and eventually getting around to the artwork I want to create and new molding/trim. I'm also thinking of repainting the bed frame in ORB. Yeah, I'm weird like that.

This is going to take forever I feel...


That's what I'd like it to look like.

This is what it looks like now.

In order to do this project it will cost me:

  • $60 (ish) for supplies to strip and finish the dressers
  • $15 - paint for night stands
  • $15 - paint for bed frame
  • $50 - fabric and batting to finish quilt
  • $10 - paint for block printing existing duvet
  • $30 - fabric for curtains
  • $10 - paint for art project
  • $30 - new white flannel sheets
  • $120 - lamps
  • $70 - mirror 
  • $150 - star pendant
  • $140 - closet doors
  • $60 - wall paint
  • $150 - crown molding
That's nearly $1,000 folks. :-/ (granted most of that cost is involved in the pricey accessories) 


Once everything is painted I think it will look really nice and the rest of the stuff can take a little more time to trickle it's way in the room or I can find some lower cost versions too (sometimes Home Goods or TJ Maxx has really nice stuff), but alas, finding that Moravian star pendant for cheaper than $150 will be next to impossible I believe, and as far as crown molding goes, well, that's just a guess, I really have no idea how much it will cost until I measure everything and pick out what I want.

The issue I'm running into, other than cash of course, is that lately my joints have been really sore and painful. It's been keeping me up or waking me up at night and I have been getting little sleep. Right now, I have a ton of great ideas, but little ambition to get them done because, let's face it, if your knees and back hurt - the last thing you want to do is paint a room or strip paint off of some furniture. At least that's what I would imagine.

So next week I'll be going to the doctor to discuss what might be wrong, fork over $80 and hopefully this time they won't just tell me to take some Mucinex and hopefully figure out what is going on that is causing this level of consistant pain.