I am trying to update the battered wood furniture pieces throughout the house that I have bought over the past few years. There are a few of them! Some need a little wax on the bottom of the drawers while others need a complete overhaul. The guest room dresser needed a little bit of everything.
I bought this dresser off Craigslist just before we moved into our house. This was before I knew about ReStore or the Facebook yard sale groups. But it was a great deal and has lots of character and charm. It was built by hand and you could tell it had been loved over the years, maybe by an Eleanor?!!
There were a few cosmetic reasons I wanted to update this dresser
- High gloss finish
- Grain of the wood looked almost fake
- Mirror had come apart and was unevenly glued back together
- Inside of the drawers were stained
- Painters Tape
- Paint Brush
- Paint (General Finishes Queenstown Gray Milk Paint)
- Paint (White for inside drawers)
- Wood Filler
Refinishing the Dresser
- I covered the small metal piece that was once a key hole with painters tape, then cut around it. I like the metal on the drawers and wanted to make sure it was not destroyed in the sanding and painting process.
- Remove all additional hardware.
- Use a sander to remove the high gloss finish and to even out the surfaces. The paint will not adhere properly unless the finish is removed.
- The mirror required more sanding than the drawers because of the unevenness at the joints. I applied wood filler to some of those joints to make them more cohesive.
3. Wood Filler
- Use wood filler to fill in any dents and smooth out the surfaces. (I didn’t realize how large some indents were until after the first coat of paint.)
- Once filler dries, sand again to smooth out surfaces.
- Apply 3 coats of General Finishes Milk Paint in Queenstown Gray, allowing each coat to dry before applying the next.
- If I were using latex paint, I would add a coat of primer first, but since I am using the milk paint, I skipped this step. General Finishes Milk Paint already contains a binding agent, so primer was not necessary.
- I used Wooster’s Shortcut Paint Brush. The soft flexible handle fits very comfortably in my hand, the short handle makes it easier to fit in tight spaces/corners, and the bristles hold up and do not fall out in the paint.
- Be careful not to let paint clump up on the outside of the drawer. If this happens the drawer will stick or not close in the dresser properly. Sand and touch up if necessary.
- Apply 2-3 coats of paint to the knobs.
- I liked the original wood knobs from this dresser and did not want to buy new hardware. So, I applied about 3 coats of milk paint. First to the top and then to the sides.
5. Paint the Drawers
Painting the drawers is not something I normally do. These drawers had so many stains in them and really needed something to give them a fresh look.
- Apply 2-3 coats of Benjamin Moore’s Royal Select White Paint to the inside of the drawers. Since I was not going to need a lot of paint for the 3 drawers, I went with something I already had on hand.
6. Finishing Touches
Once all the paint was completely dried, I attached the mirror and hardware. I also added drawer liners in each drawer.
I have been trying to finish up on some of our Restore Treasures. Remember this fun one?
Every time D sees the tray, he asks where the cat went. I am happy to say, she has been stripped, sanded, and painted over!
Removing the Old Paint
I initially used my sander to try to get the paint off the tray, but as you can see, the cat along with most of the red paint was sticking around.
Next, I liberally applied paint stripper to the tray. I have used Citristrip Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel for years and am always happy with the results. Although it has a citrus scent and is safe to use indoors, I still wear a mask. It is also biodegradable and non-toxic. I applied the gel with a cheap foam brush.
After allowing the stripper to set for approximately 30 minutes, I used a plastic putty knife to scrape the paint off. I did not use a sharp metal putty knife because I did not want to damage the wood. I have found that when using a paint stripper, the wood becomes very soft and can be easily damaged or scratched by a metal putty knife. The pesky cat still wasn’t ready to leave entirely…
I did one more sanding to the try to remove some additional paint along with smoothing out the surfaces. I did not take all of the red paint off because I want to distress the tray and have a little of the red show through.
Applying New Paint
I painted the tray with General Finishes Milk Paint in Queenstown Gray. It might be my favorite color!
After applying 3 light coats of gray and allowing the paint to fully dry, I liberally applied one coat of General Finishes Winter White Glaze.
While the glaze was still wet, I used a clean old t-shirt to wipe away the access. I wiped in one direction, going with the grain of the wood. The lines in which you wipe will show up, so do not do circles.
Sanded using a 100 grit sandpaper block and a 180 grit sandpaper block. The rough 100 grit really removed the paint giving the tray the more distressed look. I focused on the areas that would naturally be more warn for the distressing. I then went over the tray with the 180 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and the transitions. I did not use the orbital sander because even with 200 grit sandpaper, it will remove multiple layers in paint in a fraction of a second.
Lastly, I applied a coat of hemp oil to the tray. This was my first time using hemp oil and I can’t get over how easy it was to apply. Hemp oil is virtually odor free and 100% natural, which is a great addition to the all natural milk paint I enjoy using.
We are overdue for a new rug in the Living Room. The one we curretly have has been through a lot in the past 3 years. And with the other updates to the room, it really stuck out like a sore thumb.
I have been scoping out a lot of rug option over the past few weeks, as you can see in Pinterest. I was immediately drawn to these light gray rugs and felt it would lighten up the room. Not to mention that I love all things gray. But I learned my lesson with our current rug, that it needs to be darker and able to hide stains. So the search continued.
I do not have the best history with purchasing rugs online, so I enlisted the help of my sister. She recommended a Safavieh indoor/outdoor rug with a good mat underneith. She has one in both her living room and dinning room. They have held up well with all of the traffic and do wonders with stains. We have spilt red wine and strawberry jam on the rug and it came right out.
The last rug I purchased was a wool rug for D’s room. I went with wool because I thought I wanted something thicker and comfortable to play on, but it sheds EVERYWHERE!
The first place I looked to purchase the rug was Overstock. When they are running a sale, their prices are great. When looking at rugs online, they do not always display the most accurate pictures. So once I found a few options that I liked, I looked through Amazon to see if there were any pictures in the comments section and to read additional reviews. Wayfair is another good reference, as they too have additional pictures and comments. Also, Rugs USA has a Pinterest and an Instagram account that’s worth liking through.
I decided to go with the Safavieh Courtyard Indoor/Outdoor Rug in Anthracite/Beige. I did not love the look of the rug in the manufactures picture, the gray looked dull. But when I saw pictures from the Amazon reviews, I loved the deep rich gray.
The price on Amazon was comparable to the one on Overstock. Since I did not have a great track record with my rug purchases, I decided to go with Amazon, so I could easily return the rug if there were any issues.
The rug is very thin, therefore we also purchased a felt rug pad. It was a great price and even better, it was made in the USA. I am very pleased with these two purchases.
Here is a recap of what I did for research when ordering a rug online.
- Research – The same rug is normally sold on multiple sites, so read lots of reviews.
- Pictures – Manufactures’ pictures are not very accurate in terms of color. Try to find other people’s pictures of the rug(s) you are interested in.
- Wait – Online providers are constantly having sales. Wait until the rug you want has been marked down to an affordable price.
What tips and tricks do you use when shopping for rugs online?
Once the shelves were built and painted, it was time to hang them. When designing the shelves, numerous plans we referenced had the shelves screwed directly into the walls. After spending so much time painting them, I did not want a screw visible in the back panel, even if it was going to be covered by a picture. There are a variety of different picture hooks that were an option as well. But with these, the placement of the shelves would be dependent on a stud. It would also create the tedious job of lining hooks (D-Rings) up with screws and making sure everything is level.
Whenever we are hanging something large, we use hardware called a French Cleat or a Z-Hanger.
These packets are extremely easy to use and makes hanging a breeze since a stud is not required (although we try to hit one when possible). The longer brackets allows the shelves to be adjusted left or right when hanging on the wall. The packet comes with a level that clicks into the wall cleat, which would be more helpful if our house was even a little bit level!
First, I figured out where on the walls the shelves should be placed. If they were too low, I was afraid D would knock everything off.
When attaching the cleat to the shelf, I lined the center screw hole of the bracket up with the middle of the shelf.
The bracket was placed 1/8″ down from the top of the shelf.
The center screw was drilled first, followed by the two outside screws. After double checking that the bracket was completely level we drilled in the last two.
When drilling the cleat to the wall we followed the same process.
We used our large level to ensure the bracket on the wall was level. We did this after the middle screw was drilled as well as the outside two.
Since the brackets put the shelf slightly out form the wall, we placed vinyl bumpers to the bottom corners of the shelves.
Using French Cleats makes hanging larger objects level a breeze.
The shelves are finally up and secure!
Now that the shelves have been built, it is time to paint and finish them!
1. Fill in Holes
Once the shelves have been constructed, the screw and nail holes need to be filled in. We used DAP plastic wood. There are numerous products out there, and I’ve tried several, but I like Plastic Wood for just about anything that I plan on painting (other options may be better if staining). It sets up quick, dries fast, and sands smooth. It has a strong odor, so make sure you use it in a well ventilated area. I usually let it dry overnight and sand the next day.
Here are some pictures to show the shelves after sanding.
If you look closely at the picture above, you’ll also notice we lightly sand the long edges to round them over a bit. This is purely personal preference, but we like the smoother profile of the rounded edges.
Using an orbital finishing sander, creates a lot of dust, so if your sander has a dust collector bag, empty it regularly. Next, I wiped the shelves down with a cloth, then followed that up with wiping them with a tack cloth to ensure there were minimal dust left on the wood. When painting, if your surface is not clean, it will create bumps in the finished product.
If you want to learn more about the different types of power sanders, read this article.
Apply 3 light coats of primer to the shelves. Let the primer dry overnight before sanding lightly with 180 grit sand paper. I prefer using a sanding block for this, just to keep the surface smooth and help the paint stick.
Next apply 3-4 light coats of paint to the shelves. On these shelves I used Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select Pearl Finish in white. This paint has zero VOCs so I can use it in the house or with D around. Allow the paint to dry completely in between coats. If the paint has not dried enough before adding another coat, it will be tacky and clump, taking away your smooth finish.
Again, let the paint dry over night before sanding. If the paint does not completely dry it will peal when sanding. Sand with an extra fine 180 – 220 grit sandpaper. If you are wanting the shelves to have a distressed look, which we did, sand more in areas you think would have more wear over time, especially the edges. Because I was distressing the shelves, I used our detail sander. If there are any inconsistencies, distressing will just provide character to the piece.
Seal the shelves with Minwax Water-Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in clear satin. I prefer to use a foam roller, but because most areas were not wide enough, I used a 1.5″ foam brush instead. Again, I did 3 light coats of the poly and wiped the shelves down with my tac cloth before painting just to make sure there was no dust on them.
A few tips to keep in mind:
- Sanding the shelves lightly after each phase makes a big difference on the smoothness of the product. It will also save time and effort from doing one sanding at the end.
- Keep a wet paper towel on hand while painting. Use it to wipe away any clumps of access paint.
- I know it will make the process much longer, but allowing each phase to dry overnight makes a big difference in the quality and smoothness of the finished product.
I am always a little sad when it’s time to put away our Christmas decorations. One bright side, is the space that we gain back. This year once we moved everything out, the empty walls really stuck out. After 3 years, the only thing hanging in the living room is our oversized TV. Let’s say its a little overdue!
We do not have open shelving around the house to put keepsakes, so simply hanging a few picture on the wall was not the answer. We knew whatever we added needed to be open and airy, to not clutter the room anymore.
Here are a few pictures of inspiration.
I liked these shelves from Pottery Barn, but $65 – $95 per shelf was more than I wanted to spend.
This led to a family trip to Home Depot for some lumber. Jed will explain the specifics of building the shelves.
One main reason for shelving in the living room, was to display this flag my brother gave D. It was flown during a medical evacuation mission in Afghanistan the day D was born and it makes me so incredibly proud!
I can’t wait to show you the progress that we are making!