Take 3: A final(?) attempt at a classy furniture makeover

Standing in line at the Home Depot, hand basket filled with paint thinner and sand paper, I realize that I may very well be insane, for I was gearing up to update an old, hand-made family dresser that I had previously– not once, but twice — tried to tackle. Would this third attempt at a creating a modern, fun and functional piece of home decor  be my last? If history was any indicator, probably not.

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On attempt one, an unfortunate lapse of judgement in the paint department resulted in a dresser that could have been dreamt up by the Harlem Globetrotters.

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Exhausted, defeated, and in no hurry to continue my intimate relationship with the orbital sander and foam paint brush, I resolved to hastily fix the problem with fabric and a staple gun. Undoubtedly an improvement, but only a temporary fix to buy myself some time before once again taking up arms against the contrary cabinet.

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What I had always been shooting for  was something modern, grown up but still a little fun.  The fabric fix was most certainly fun, but you have to acknowledge, it was also a tad alienating. So I went back to the drawing board to come up with a solution that would age gracefully as styles change, but still maintain a little “edge” so to speak. Something a la this…

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The fabric would have to come off, as well as the multiple layers of blue and yellow paint.  But that wasn’t the whole of it. I would also remove the trim around the base and add some hairpin legs to really drive home that updated modern feel.  The only thing that would stay was the hardware. Finally, finally I think I nailed it.

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D-I-(wh)Y did I do that? or How to Destroy a Perfectly Good Dresser

About a year ago I picked up a free chest of drawers that were in good shape, of a nice size and functional but not exactly the sweetest piece of eye candy. Naturally, I took it upon myself to correct this problem.

Dresser before

You see, for quite some time now, I’ve been operating under the assumption that I am, relatively speaking, crafty and capable. I’ve taken old upholstery off chairs and put new covers on. I’ve constructed floating office shelves and painted an only partially crooked stencil pattern on an accent wall among other things. Maybe I’m no Martha Stewart but I’m no rube either. This, it turns out, is a very dangerous perception under which to operate. Oh self-esteem…how terribly you have betrayed me.

Armed with just the right amount of misguided confidence, I set about to turn this humble clothing receptacle into a work of art so grand, and creative and magnetic that furniture designers the world over would gaze upon it and come to me, weeping, begging for me to share my gift with them. A reasonable expectation. My ingenious scheme, you ask? Simple chevron stripes painted across the drawers. Something a la this:

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Perhaps my idea wasn’t all that daring, but all the more reason to believe I could successfully pull this off.

Nope.

The plan revolved around retaining the essence of the existing cloudy gold color, but to bring it some bold contrast with rich, blue stripes. Somehow, that seemed like a wise decision. Gold gives it some spunk. Deep blue makes it a little more grown up and not quite so “glam girl.” It can be a pretty dope look.

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Of course, that’s only in the instance that god forsaken cans of gold spray paint don’t suck the soul out of your body in the process of achieving it. I don’t want to entirely blame my tools as there was most definitely some user error in the process of destroying the integrity of this once fine dresser, but the project first started to go off the rails with the damned spray paint. After I had puttied and sanded the dresser with all the meticulousness I could muster,  I applied the spray paint, only to find that it bubbled and conformed to itself in little bumpy clusters that gave the drawers the texture of lizard skin. I rightfully abandoned the spray paint idea and instead selected a traditional interior paint in the shade of “turmeric” to replace it. You may be surprised to hear this, but “turmeric” and “gold” are not the same color. It actually probably doesn’t surprise anyone but somehow it took me until I was staring at the finished product to truly come to grips with the fact that instead of a sleek blue dresser with some punchy golden flair, I had instead applied the same royal blue and orangey-yellow color scheme used by the University of Delaware’s mascot.

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Oh the humanity!

To really add insult to injury, the knobs I had selected for the new (but not improved) dresser were duds. And expensive duds at that: $14-a-piece from Anthropologie but the knobs pulled right off the screws when you opened the drawers.This made the finished dresser both comically ugly and non functional. I’d give myself a hand for so artfully destroying a needed piece of furniture, but I’d probably screw that up too.

More on the fugly dresser saga to come….


A weird thing I never thought about until I tried to do it

I’m quickly learning that while I love to look at pretty things and can recognize something pretty when I see it, I am not so great at coming up with something pretty myself. Case in point, beautifying my dresser.

Until recently, my dresser sat in front of a window, practically negating any need for some sort of artful display of eclectic whatchamacallits on its surface. But in preparing for Bro’s arrival, we did some room switching and I was left with a simple dresser against a bare wall. I knew I wanted needed to do something to give it some gusto, but figuring out WHAT should go there was more difficult than I anticipated. Giant artwork was out of the question (I don’t own any) as was a television (we only have one and it’s in the living room). What I did have on hand though, was lots of mismatched junk. So I figured I could probably find some way to make several random pieces look good together. I mean, if Pinterest can do it…

I started fooling around with some of my favorite little pieces, but that’s when I figured out that, while some of the items in my inspiration images look like they were casually placed there, it actually takes a lot of thought to make several elements with varying characteristics work together cohesively. For example, when I tried to pair a framed map with a a jewelry stand, it looked more like a bag lady’s campsite than quirky but beautiful dressing table. I played around for a good 45 minutes before I finally threw in the towel and googled “How to dress a dresser.”

I felt like a chump.

Fortunately I am not the only person who has had this weird “problem,” and I found a great step-by-step guide to creating an area that is fashionable and functional.

And with that little maneuver, I came just a little bit closer to having a grownup house. Move over, Martha.