Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Transforming a Dinosaur: Repainting an Old Dresser

When we moved into our new space, we inherited a bunch of the former tenant's furniture. From what I can gather from the heavy smoke, telltale signs, and her style choices, she was a middle-aged writer who'd written some travel books, chain-smoked something gross, had a penchant for African knick knacks, and had feathered blonde hair.

Most of her stuff went to Goodwill, but being in need of a large desk, a dresser, and a mirror, we were able to keep some of her stuff and save ourselves the cost of having to buy new furniture. Problem was, her style was completely different than mine, so I decided to grease up my elbows and get in touch with my DIY side. First project: the dinosaur of an ancient dresser she left in the bedroom. Originally I'd wanted to donate it, but after the beau mentioned he needed a place for all those socks, I decided to embark on transforming this into something we could actually use. It's solid wood and in decent condition, but needs some major updating.

Here's the original:

A jaunty adventure to Home Depot--which is always fun, as a woman*--brought me back home with some 80 grit sandpaper, Glidden primer, wood filler, Zinsser oil-based cover stain primer, Floetrol paint conditioner (the values of which I learned from Centsational Girl), Minwax Polycrylic Protectant, a nice quality angled paint brush, and a sponge roller. I thought this would be a fun little 1 day DIY project. Little did I know I was about to embark on a super annoying 5 day journey that would rival the path to Mordor.

*Being a woman at Home Depot makes you into a target for advice from ALL menfolk.

Day 1: I finagle my man to help me carry this behemoth of a dresser out into the garden so I can begin sanding. After lots of huffing about having to move all aforementioned socks into his suitcase, he gallantly helps me haul this dinosaur into the garden so I can have lots of ventilation and work space.

Dinosaurs eat man. Woman inherits the earth. 

Somebody's always watching.
I soon find that I can't remove the hardware because the screws have completely become stripped over time. I end up having to go to nearby Anawalt (which is a lovely hardware store within walking distance...I'll never go back to Home Depot again) to get some tiny screwdrivers and some nose hair pliers.

The taming of the screw
After some help from A. and lots of frustration, I'm able to remove all the metal hardware and get to sanding and priming. Scuff scuff scuff! I then fill the holes with some wood filler.

By then, the sun is setting, so I beg the beau to help me haul this dinosaur of a dresser into the garage. Lucky we do too, because it rains for the first time ever in LA that night. The garage makes for much darker and squishier work space, but at least it's dry. Painting late at night with the garage door open makes me feel super crafty and home-makery.

Day 2: First layer of paint. I decide I've had enough of all the robin's egg blue that's in my life and decide to go with a darker shade of blue/grey. I land on a half-gallon of Glidden's Blue-Grey Slate. My first coat goes on nice and smooth, thanks to Floetrol. But that's when I notice my first mistake. Though I shelled out for a nice paintbrush for my paint, I stupidly decided to save a few bucks for my primer brush. The coarse brush created all sorts of brush stroke lines, which I'd tried to sand, but apparently not too well. They are now showing up underneath the first coat of paint. Argh.

A few hours later, I come back to do the second coat, hoping that it will cover up the primer strokes. No such luck. Ah well. No smooth base for me. I then spend hours taping up the edges of the dresser because I've decided that it would look so cool with some white trim in Glidden Pure White, hoping that when I remove the tape it will magically look awesome.

Day 3: The paint is dry, so I lift up the tape. Doh! The edges are completely a mess!

oh hellll naww

I'd do it again, but by this time we are expecting all sorts of guests, so I have to move forward. The perfectionist in me is grumbling like Marge Simpson. Before I put on the protectant, it's fun time: time to put in the new hardware! First, I need a drill. I think about buying one, but instead borrow one from our friends, Apple-specialist Tom and the ever-awesome Sara, who is also helping to plan our upcoming nuptials. The drill's great but we lack a key to change the chuck. Doh. So at 11 pm, dearest A. drives me over to Home Depot to buy a drill key. When we get back, we find the outlet in the garage doesn't work. So gallant A. helps me haul all the drawers back into the house so I can properly drill holes for the new hardware.


After 3 trials where the drill bit is too small for the hardware screws...Doh! The screws for the new hardware I bought aren't long enough to fit in the damn holes. SERIOUSLY?! By then, it's midnight. So gallant beau hauls all the drawers BACK outside to the garage since real estate appraisers are coming by in the morning.

Day 4: By now, my friends at Anawalt love me, so with their help I buy some new 1.5" screws that will be long enough to fit across the width of the drawers. After an 8 am jaunt to the hardware store, I bring all the drawers back inside and set to drilling the hell out of them. Yay! The hardware fits! A. helps me haul them back out into the garage, and I use the spray-on Minwax Polycrylic for a nice protectant. After all this work, I sure as hell don't want any chipping.

Day 5: After letting the dinosaur dry for a good 24 hours, I haul it all back into the bedroom with the help of my beau. He's getting pretty antsy about having a place for his socks, so this is the fastest I've seen him move over the last few days. I put in the hardware, the drawers get placed in and...ARGH! I missed some major spots! Sections of the dresser that I thought would be hidden behind the drawers are totally in plain view. I end up removing the drawers again and repainting another coat of the Glidden Blue-Grey Slate onto the face of the dresser. After that dries, the perfectionist in me takes over. I can't stand the crooked white trim. So I make another trip to Anawalt to buy some tiny crafting brushes and set to perfecting those crooked white lines and repainting some of the grey-blue.

watch out for pepe le pieu! someone's gonna get painted into a skunk
Finally, after all the trim dries, I place the drawers into the dinosaur. Not bad!

french tulips courtesy valentine's day

Success! Here's the before again:

note dirty pile of rags on top

And here's the after:

note dirty rags replaced by french tulips and chanel

Much more my style! All that work was worth it. And now, we have a nice place to put our socks.