Category Archives: DIY

DIY Armoire Makeover

Hi there! I have a new furniture DIY project for you!

Ever since we tore out our massive melamine desk and shelves before the new floors were installed, we’ve been looking for more storage for our office and craft supplies. I came across a posting for a free armoire on facebook and it looked perfect! 5 drawers, plus three shelves inside the doors:

My hubby was not impressed with the furniture when he got home with it. I had been under the impression that it was made of solid wood, and it turned out that it was mostly made from particle board. The bottom of the sides of the armoire were falling apart, there were stickers and stains in various places, and most worrisome to me, it wreaked of cigarette smoke.

“It’s going to be beautiful!” I assured my hubby. “Just you wait and see.” But I wasn’t entirely convinced. The sides and back of all the drawers were particle board and plastic. I knew chalk paint would adhere to anything, but I had never used it personally to paint plastic. I just wanted to cover up the cigarette smell.

I got to work. I cleaned the entire piece and vacuumed it out. I used Goof Off on the stickers and it worked semi-well. I covered the areas where I had used Goof Off with an oil based stain blocker by Zinsser (which has got to be the smelliest paint EVER, by the way). I wore my respirator for the Goof Off and the stain blocker! And I went to Lowes and bought their chalky paint in the color “Kid Gloves” by Valspar. $30 a can – not cheap, but still cheaper than Annie Sloan.

After the first coat of chalky paint.

I took off all the hardware and spray painted them with a brilliant bronze color. (I forgot to take a picture of that process.) I spray painted the screws, too.

I was pretty undecided about what to do about the chipping particle board at the bottom of the armoire sides. I talked with my husband about the possibility of removing and replacing the sides entirely, but it looked like it was going to be an involved process with no guarantee that it would turn out as planned. He then suggested adding a molding to the bottom. “That’ll work!” I exclaimed! So back we went to Lowe’s to get molding… he cut the molding and screwed it in. I think it looks great and it was a relatively easy fix! Kuddos to my hubby for working on it in the blazing middle-of-the-day heat.

Adding molding to the bottom to cover up chipping particle board.

And here’s how the molding turned out:

I finished painting the piece. It took 3 coats of the chalky paint and I used up the entire can. Since the piece wasn’t exactly in pristine condition, I decided that it would be fun to distress it a little. I had bought some sanding blocks (medium grit) and sanded most of the edges and corners. I definitely would NOT recommend using an orbital sander for this purpose.

I added one clear coat of Annie Sloan’s wax (it was what I had on hand) and buffed it out with a rag. Then I reattach all the spray painted hardware. Hubby helped with that as well as returning the hinges and replacing the roller hardware on the doors.

I added contact paper (leftover from when we moved into our house last fall) to all the drawers and shelves.

Hubby and I somehow managed to carry the extremely heavy piece inside (where there’s a will, there’s a way, I suppose!).

And voila! The smoke smell is gone, and now we have a place to store office and craft supplies! Total cost for paint and supplies came to $55.

Are you working on a DIY piece of furniture? I’d love to hear about it!

 

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Our Ongoing Home Reno & Other Updates

Hey there!

Here’s a little update on life for us these days.

House

We moved to our new fixer upper home almost 7 months ago. I joke with hubby that we ought to just dig a big hole in the backyard and start throwing money into it, because it has been one giant money pit! A mold report that came back showing high levels of (non toxic) mold less than a month after we bought the house really pushed us to replace the areas were there had been water exposure (floors, under kitchen sink) much faster than we had originally planned. ¬†And then the snowball just started rolling as one thing led to another. That’s home renovation for you, I suppose!

Here’s a list of some of the things we’ve redone since we moved in:

Tear out back deck (was structurally unsafe).

Deck (removed).

New carpet in family room and bedrooms:

I didn’t really have any “carpet” pictures, but you can kind of see it here.

Removed wall between dining room and kitchen:

Before. (This wall drove me nuts because I couldn’t keep track of the kids!)

After. I love it!

Laminate in kitchen, fireplace room, hallway and master closet:

Closet doors (two sets), screen door, side garage door:

Tile floors in laundry room and kids’ bathroom:

I tried to pick tile that matched the laminate.

Replaced Kitchen counter tops, sink (chipping), faucet & garbage disposal (leaked whenever running):

Before. This wasn’t too long after we moved in.

Before.

After. My inner clean freak is very happy with having quartz counter tops now!

Tile back splash in kitchen (which we had to add because there was a big gap between the counter tops and the wall):

Pulled out melamine desk/cabinets and put in smaller desk area with upper shelving:

Replaced furnace and A/C (yes we wanted to cry when we learned we needed to replace BOTH):

New A/C.

Dishwasher (which died right after the furnace and A/C – more crying, hehe). New dishwasher will be here in two weeks.

Replaced fridge (died on moving day), stove and microwave.

Painted bathroom vanities and kitchen cabinets:

Painted ENTIRE house (including ceilings).

Replaced almost all light fixtures and 2 out of 3 fans (we saved the only one that worked).

Whew! That wasn’t even a comprehensive list. And what’s sadder is that the “to do” list is still a mile long! The bottom line, however, is that we LOVE living here. We love the space (1/2 acre), the neighborhood, the proximity to hubby’s work, and also the fact that we live super close to my in laws! (And as a side note, both my parents and my hubby’s Dad were instrumental in helping us get a lot of the above list completed!)

Kids

Josh & Rachel are doing fine. Josh is just over 3 and Rachel is 20 months. I sure do love them and enjoy my days with them. I know everyone else has adorable/smart/funny kids, but some days I seriously wonder which state penitentiary my kids will end up at–because they can be quite devious! Some days Josh and I really do battle it out. I’m no marshmellow Mom in any sense of the word, so I often have to remember to look for ways that I can answer “yes” instead of “no.” Rachel is very determined and doesn’t give up easily either, but she does have much shorter tantrums, which I am thankful for!

I like to remember the following so please tune out if this is crazy boring (I imagine it would be to most):

Josh wears 3T clothing and wears a an 8/9 shoe. He weighs 31.6# (No joke, he’s weighed exactly 31.6# the last several times he’s asked to hop on the scale!) and a few months ago he was just over 3 feet tall. We took away his paci back in April and it wasn’t a big deal at all (we were shocked! And thankful…).

Rachel wears 18-24 months clothing and is somewhere between a size 5 or 6 shoe. She is only a few inches shorter than Josh. She still doesn’t have to many words, but she’s working on it every day. She’s been in a size 5 diaper for a while. I use Pampers diapers and water only wipes or else she tends to be prone to really bad diaper rash.

Don’t be fooled. They’re wanna-be felons, I tell you! ūüôā

Weight Loss

I wrote a while back about experiencing unintended weight loss. I’m happy to report that out of the 16# I lost, I gained 7-8# of it back and that seems to be where things have settled. I’m not unhappy about it, but I do wish I had a better appetite most days so that cooking would feel less like a chore.

Endometriosis

I don’t really want to go on and on when it comes to this topic. The synopsis is: The endo does seem to be back. Some months are bad and some are okay. I cut out caffeine back in February which seemed to really help with pain levels. I still seem quite unable to get pregnant without intervention (IVF), so that’s a drag. At the same time, I have little to no desire to go through IVF again (not that we could afford it right now after all these home repairs!). I’ve been thinking about my options for when things DO get consistently bad, pain-wise. One option is to see a specialist who would excise all endo (cutting it out, rather than burning it off) and see how far that gets me. Another option would be to do a hysterectomy and also have current endo excised. This may still not alleviate pain (endo grows back easily and hides, so that it can be tricky even for specialists to find) and I still may require further surgeries. In all honesty, I’m hoping avoid any surgeries at all, because the frequent pain I get from adhesions and scar tissue following surgeries is off the charts.

Well I think that covers some of the basics! Thanks for sticking it through the post!

 

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DIY Rustic Wooden Sign

I am very excited about this rustic sign my sister and I just finished featuring the verse Philippians 4:8:

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Before I go any further, I must say that the idea for this sign is not my own. I saw one similar to it on an Etsy shop. However, the price tag was a little too steep for me ($40+), especially since I wanted to buy two. Believe it or not, the cost to make two of these signs was only $5!  With a lot of patience, you can make one for the cost of a latte as well.

Supplies you’ll need:

  • 2-3 fence boards, depending on the size of your sign
  • Table saw or circular saw
  • Orbital sander, coarse grit sand paper
  • Semi-gloss white paint
  • Minwax’s dark Walnut Stain
  • Wood Glue and Clamps
  • Rags (2-3)
  • Polycrylic (optional)

First, I went to the hardware store and bought 3 fence boards. Each board cost about $1.60. It was not kiln dried*. When I got home, my husband cut two of the boards to make a total of 20 smaller boards (I needed 18 (9 boards for each sign) and had 2 leftover). I ended up not needing the extra fence board. Cutting up the boards was probably the most labor intensive part of the project, although my husband seems to like that sort of thing.

Once I had the 18 individual boards, I followed Joanna Gaines’ tutorial from her Magnolia blog to make new wood look old and distressed. It’s super easy. The steps are: paint with semi-gloss white paint (I already had some in the garage–it’s the same paint I use to touch up kitchen cabinets and baseboards). Sand with coarse grit paper. Lastly, wipe on Minwax’s dark walnut stain followed by lightly wiping off the stain with a second rag.

So there you have it. It’s simple! Here are some pictures from the process:

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18 boards (to make 2 signs). Each piece of wood is the exactly the same size. You can make your sign any size as long as the boards are the same size.

Painting each board with semi-gloss white paint.

Painting each board with semi-gloss white paint.

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The barbecue look. I didn’t like it so I sanded it down to the original wood grain (which only took about a minute per board).

After I gently sanded the white paint, this is what they looked like. I didn’t like the fact that they looked like they had been barbecued. So I flipped the boards over, sanded them down to their original wood grain, and painted them white again. Then I sanded the white paint down to make it look distressed (basically I started from the beginning again–thankfully it didn’t take long at all thanks to my orbital sander.)

Then I wiped on the Dark Walnut stain and gently wiped it off with a different rag.

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I had some of this stain leftover from the coffee table I refinished.

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The final result. Happy with how the wood grain looks.

The next day, I started the process of gluing each of the pieces together. This required some large clamps that thankfully my hubby already had from building a bench a few months back for my birthday. Because we didn’t have too many clamps though, it took me a few days as I waited for the glue to set and harden. I used Gorilla wood glue, and wiped off the excess with baby wipes (that’s what happens when you don’t have much time and it’s all that happens to be siting nearby).

Once all the pieces were glued, my sister painted the lettering (I took a picture but somehow my phone deleted it-ugh!). Since I never use small paintbrushes, I didn’t even dare try to paint it myself! (There are other alternatives you could try if you’re not inclined to paint letters by hand either — some people print and cut out the lettering, then trace it on the wood and fill it in with paint.)

I then covered the sign with polycrylic (an easy 2 minute step). Lastly, my husband mounted wall hanging hardware on the back.

And now for only $2.50, I have a lovely sign that will remind me of Philippians 4:8 whenever I look at it! (A much-needed reminder while I attempt to cook dinner while also dealing with less-than-happy children).

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*If you buy wood that isn’t kiln dried, it may needed several days to dry out prior to painting it.

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{Low Budget} Mini Kitchen Reno

America seems to be captivated¬†by the transformation of something ugly to something beautiful, and I think many would agree that it’s fun to watch the transformation take place. Lately we have been enjoying the show Fixer Upper — a show where an ugly, run down house gets transformed into a gorgeous magazine cover-worthy house in a matter of weeks (and for a seemingly too-small budget). Similarly, I like the challenge of finding ways of slowly transforming my own home for little cost.

Our house didn’t need much work when we bought it almost 4 years ago. It came with the¬†standard 1990’s tile kitchen. I know people like to call it “contractor grade” as if that is sub par, but really it was fine. The cabinets were of good quality, and we had a tile counter top. I happen to like tile for a lot of reasons (durability, and water and heat resistant) but I hate dealing with grout, and specifically this grout. No matter how much I scrubbed and bleached (and scrubbed some more), it always looked really dirty. I always imagined bacteria growing like crazy in that grout.

The kitchen before we bought our home.

The kitchen before we bought our home.

This is a picture of a cake I made a long time ago, but you can see the gross grout. ;)

This is a picture of a cake I made a long time ago, but you can see the gross grout here. (I know, first world ‘problems.’)

We decided after much deliberation to get new counter tops. We took a year to save up for it — not that they were outrageously¬†expensive, but we put our spare income toward necessities that might fail instead.¬†More than once I felt conflicted about spending the money on a new counter top because we had perfectly fine working counter tops. It wasn’t a “need.” I was just tired of being grossed out by the dirty grout.

We finally decided to move forward on it and settled on a white/gray quartz counter top. We bought it at a granite outlet and the counter tops, back splash, demo and installation came to a total of around $2500. We did some shopping around, and that ended up being the best price by a long shot! Additionally, it only took a day for the entire process. Win!

Demo for counter top installation.

Demo for counter top installation.

New counter tops!

New counter tops, sink and faucet!

We also bought a new sink (ordered on amazon) and a faucet at Home Depot. Amazon made a mistake and sent up a much more expensive sink than what I had ordered. (And we got to keep it!) Hubby did the plumbing and got the sink and garbage disposal hooked up.

We bought new hardware and knobs for the cabinets and drawers. Hubby installed them. He also installed new hinges on all the cabinets. The hinges took him a couple of evenings to complete.

New drawer hardware.

New drawer hardware.

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Around this time hubby replaced the blinds in the kitchen window because the old ones had a broken slat and it was difficult to open the window with the way they had been installed.

I thought about painting the cabinets a gray/blue color. I dithered over the colors for about a month. I was pregnant with Rachel at the time and just thought I was indecisive due to being pregnant. (Turns out I’m just terrible with paint colors.) My friends and family cast their votes for which color they liked best.

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Feeling blue about blues. All I can say is, thank goodness hardware stores sell paint samples!

But after looking at the colors for a month, I painted it back to white. I didn’t really love any of the colors, and didn’t feel like spending more money on paint samples I probably wouldn’t like anyhow. Better to be safe than sorry, I figured. Plus, I was pretty pregnant then and lacking the energy to paint the entire kitchen (that’s probably the real reason I painted it back to white).

Rachel was born, and the kitchen stayed the same for around 6 months. Then, Josh got the stomach flu and threw up on one of the kitchen rugs. I threw both the kitchen rugs into the washer, and dried them on the lowest heat setting. Big mistake. They fell apart, so badly that I had to vacuum out the dryer. Oops.

For my birthday, my mom got me new kitchen rugs to replace the ones I had ruined in the dryer. Then, while I was out grocery shopping at walmart one morning, I spent $4.97 for a yard of fabric I liked to make new curtains (I had made the previous ones for $3).

New curtains and paint colors (take 1).

New curtains and paint colors (take 1).

We had thought about getting a marble tile back splash done in the kitchen a while back but we had two estimates done and it was looking expensive. Additionally, tiling the window was going to be a problem. So we scrapped that idea and I decided to paint the walls instead. Much cheaper!

Once again, choosing a paint color took me way too long. I would head to the hardware store hoping to get a light gray sample of paint, and return home with some other color. It took me several tries.

Paint color take 2,

Paint color take 2.

Maybe I like this paint color? No, not really.

Take 3. Maybe I like this paint color? No, not really. (It looked purple most of the time and clashed with the counter top.)

Choosing a paint color would have been even more painful¬†if my cousin hadn’t said “Why don’t you try Benjamin’s Moore’s Revere Pewter paint color?” She had the same color in her home and sent me a few pictures of it. I was immediately sold as the color was exactly what I had been looking for! Home Depot matches this exact color with Behr paint in a sample container for $3.47. It took a little more than one paint sample to paint the entire kitchen.

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The finished product. (Please excuse bibs, cutting boards, sippy cups, etc…)

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So there you have it: A mini reno done on the cheap!

 

 

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Coffee Table Makeover

For the longest time, I’ve wanted to find a cheap coffee table on craigslist and fix it up to look exactly like the coffee table I saw a few years back on Grace’s blog. We had a decent coffee table than we paid $100 for on sale at Ikea, so I couldn’t really justify spending much money to buy another one. Our coffee table was just fine–functional at the very least– but I didn’t really love it.

Our old Ikea coffee table.

Our old Ikea coffee table.

So I sold it for $45.

After a few months of intermittently checking craigslist, I finally found the winner. And the price was right, $50. Here’s what the coffee table looked like when I bought it:

{Coffee Table: Before}

{Coffee Table: Before}

The lady who sold it to me said that it had been an oak stain previously and that she had refinished it with an espresso stain. It looks nice in the picture but the stain job on the legs and drawer was really poor. So I thought about just painting the legs/base white and keeping the top unchanged except for one small problem. Trapped water.

Trapped water.

Trapped water. See that white hazy-looking area?

After asking a few questions and reading up on it, I discovered that there really wasn’t any way to get rid of that white spot (actually, there were three spots). According to my research I may have been able to deal with it if it had recently been stained, but the lady who sold it to me told me that it had been in her storage unit for a while (and that’s probably where that trapped water came from since it had been a little damp in there).

I had my heart set on using Minwax’s Dark Walnut stain for the top anyhow. So I headed off to the hardware store and happily bought my sandpaper, Minwax stain, a new paintbrush, another $3 sample of Behr paint and two small cans of Minwax polycrylic which happened to be 75% off and only $2.20 a piece. Altogether, I spent $26, but it would have only been $17 if I had left out the paintbrush and the extra can of polycrylic (which I didn’t need for this project but wanted to buy because it was marked down).

I applied my dust mask, loaded the sandpaper in the orbital sander, and got to work.

Let the sanding begin!

Let the sanding begin!

At this point I was feeling quite a bit less enthusiastic about the whole sanding process (translation: my arms turned into jelly) and thankfully my hubby mostly finished the sanding by himself. (The guy could sand for about 20x longer than me. Never mind that I lug around a 20 pound baby all day every day!)

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It’s getting there…

 

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We moved everything into the front yard so as to keep things as quiet as possible while our little guy was sleeping.

We moved everything into the front yard so as to keep things as quiet as possible while our little guy was sleeping. And yes, my husband is wearing a bacon shirt.

In the meantime, I sanded down the drawer of the coffee table and the legs with a very fine grit sandpaper and put a coat of Zinsser primer paint on it. Once that dried, I applied a coat of Ultra Pure White Behr paint on top. But it was just too white, and looked rather harsh. So I went back to the hardware store, stared at all 50 choices of white shades, and came home with another $3 sample can in the shade of Magnolia Blossom.

In the meantime, the coffee table was finally sanded. My hubby said there were just a few more small areas to work on, so I took the sander with a fresh piece of sandpaper and gave it a go. Less than a minute later I hit a patch that looked like this:

Particle board. Can you see it?

Particle board. Can you see it?

I felt like a real dummy to not even check to see if the table had a veneer. But it did. Between the last owner sanding it down, and us sanding it down, it looks like we had just about sanded off all the real wood. I wasn’t sure what this meant and whether it would stain well at all, but there was only one way to find out…

Minwax Dark Walnut stain.

Minwax Dark Walnut stain.

I took the plunge and stained it using an old paintbrush I didn’t like to use for actual ‘painting.’ After I was done, I looked at it carefully. It did look lighter in the “particle wood” patch. So I let it sit for 24 hours to let the stain fully soak in. It was already as dark as I wanted it, so I didn’t apply another coat of the stain.

The next day it looked a little better. There were some shiny spots on the table that I wasn’t sure about. My cousin and her husband were helping me with some of the staining details and they said I might as well ignore it since the entire top would by shiny after applying the top coat anyhow! ¬†So I sealed it. I put on 3 coats of Minwax’s polycrylic on the top, leaving 3 hours for drying time in between each coat. I also finished painting the rest of the table with the Magnolia Blossom white paint and sealed it with 2 coats of polycrylic. Coffee tables can take a beating from small children so I wanted it to be {somewhat} durable!

After a coat of polycrylic.

After the first coat of polycrylic.

Lastly, I hauled the coffee table inside and put it back together. I could not be more pleased with the results! It was exactly what I had been hoping for!

{Coffee Table: After}

{Coffee Table: After}

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(I guess this is the epitome of laziness: Too lazy to even remove my running shoes for the picture.)

(I guess this is the epitome of laziness as I didn’t even bother to remove my running shoes for the picture.)

Thanks for checking out my little DIY project!

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Dresser Makeover

I have a confession to make.

I LOVE furniture makeovers. When I’m in the middle of¬†a project, I ¬†wake up in the morning excited to get started on it. I’ll check my weather app on my phone: “Is it 50F outside yet or is it still too cold to paint? When can I get started?” It’s really turning into a hobby for me these days.

As for furniture building, we do have a little history together.

When I was in high school my Grandma bought me this old ugly wooden chest with a beautiful cedar interior that she intended for me to use as my hope chest. We sanded it down, stained and sealed it with polyurethane, and then added some legs to it that I picked out at the hardware store. I was 18 then, but I was absolutely enthralled with how it turned out. We had taken something fairly ugly and made it beautiful in my eyes. The chest still sits in our bedroom today. I will never get rid of this piece of furniture because of the memories I have from transforming it with my Grandma (she passed away when I was 23).

My hope chest. (My husband loves to store his clothes on top of it now.)

My hope chest, with the lid a little propped open from too many things jammed inside it. (My husband loves to store his clothes on top of it now.)

When I went away to college, I had need for a bookshelf and a small kitchen table. My Grandma was pretty sick then, so this time my Grandpa helped me build both a bookshelf and a table using the same stain combo we used to match the hope chest. The table is dismantled and it lives in our rafters now (it only seats 4 people — it’s more like an apartment sized table) and the bookshelf lives in my little sister’s living room (since the house we bought¬†a few years ago had a giant whole-wall bookshelf already built in). I had to dig around a little to find some pictures of both the shelf and table… they aren’t the best quality but here you go:

I spent half a lifetime digging this picture up from the recesses of my computer brain. This was our first apartment we lived in when we got married. It was pretty ugly, but I did like our table. :)

I spent half a lifetime finding this picture in the recesses of my computer brain. This was our first apartment we lived in when we got married. It was pretty ugly, but I did like our table.

This is really the only picture I could find, and it's a terrible one. It's just a basic bookshelf, except that I added moulding on the top and bottom to make it a little fancier (please ignore the hideous sofa that we had to beg some poor college student to take it away for free...).

This is really the only picture I could find with the bookshelf in it, and it’s a terrible one. It’s just a basic bookshelf, except that I added molding on the top and bottom to make it a little fancier (please ignore the hideous sofa that we had to beg some poor college student to take away for free…).

The last time I built something, or even refinished something, was a few years ago when I used a gel stain to refinish our bathroom cabinets (but that’s a whole post in itself).¬†So I’ve was missing my little hobby. When some friends of ours kindly gave us a dresser, I stared at that dresser for a few years to see what I could do to it to help it match the decor in our room a little better. This was the dresser:

Dresser pre-makeover

Dresser: Before

It’s a nice dresser, but I didn’t really love the hardware on it, and we didn’t have any other furniture in that stain color. I began reading Virginia’s DIY furniture makeover blog¬†and saw that she had great ideas for using all kinds of paint. Her furniture looked spectacular! So I followed her tutorial for her dresser (read about it specifically¬†here) and this is what I came up with:

The finished product.

Dresser: After.

Since the dresser was laminate, I used a Zinsser primer which worked like a charm. I then spent $3 on a Behr paint sample at Home Depot and put on two coats with that single sample can of paint. The color I chose was Provence Blue. I then sealed it¬†two coats of Minwax’s polycrylic– which was easy to use, low odor, and fast drying.

The hardware was important to me as I felt it would really make the dresser stand out a bit more. I went to the hardware store and looked around, and basically discovered that the pieces I liked were around $4 each. With ten pieces to buy, that was too expensive for my budget. So instead, I found a knob for $1.30/piece that was just the wrong color for my tastes, paid $5 for a can of Rustoleum spray paint (also Virginia’s idea) and painted them all. They were bronze and I painted them silver.

I spray painted the knobs to make them silver.

I spray painted the knobs to make them silver.

My hubby had to drill new holes for the new hardware and patch the old holes from the old hardware (the patching was the very first step). He put on the new knobs,  and now I was thrilled with the final results!

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All in all, this dresser makeover cost about $50. It would have been cheaper if it didn’t need to have the old hardware holes filled — the stuff my husband bought to seal the holes (I can’t remember what he used, sorry) was NOT cheap! The primer and polycrylic were a little pricey but even the smallest containers of it will last for at least one or two more projects. In fact, the primer alone would last for several projects. The cheapest part was the paint itself. Ironic, isn’t it?

So that’s the story with the dresser. Next time I’ll blog on the coffee table. It’s currently in the garage awaiting it’s next coat of paint. Gotta get to it before the little buddy wakes up from his nap. See you next time!

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