Category Archives: Furniture Makeover

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!



Filed under DIY, Furniture Makeover

Josh’s New Toddler Room

We’re moving Josh into his toddler room soon (hopefully tomorrow!) and I’m really excited about how it turned out. This room used to be the office where my husband spent a lot of time finishing up his thesis. Then it morphed into an exercise/guest room when we purchased a used exercise bike for my husband (the bike has since broken and been given away for free) and we had a twin bed in there also that we left set up after my sister came to visit earlier this year when I was on bed rest. The bed and mattress was my parents so we gave that back to them once I started getting a bit closer to my due date. (Does that sound like nesting to anyone?!)

Of course it was a toddler room done on a budget — nothin’ fancy, with your basic low-end furniture — but it was fun to see it all come together and I’m happy with the result. Although I do feel like my decorating skills are (ahem) lacking somewhat, I still thought I’d be brave and share the details.

Josh's new toddler room.

Josh’s new toddler room.

Josh is no where near being ready for potty training (seeing as he’s barely walking or talking yet) and I really didn’t want to have two diaper changing tables in our house if I could avoid it. I happened to already have the 2×2 cube in this room from when the room was an office (and it was basically not doing anything purposeful — I think my husband had some batteries in one bin and we had paper designated to be shredded in another). When I was at a friend’s house a while back, I saw that she just used a 2×4 cube to put her changing mattress on and was able to buckle it to the cube. She said she wished she had figured that trick out sooner (before her third kid) as it was so multi-functional. So I found a used changing mattress in perfect condition for $5 and decided to go that route.

The curtains are darkening curtains and from Ikea. I think they were $25-$30 for the set. Such a great deal for darkening curtains!


I bought this crib new from Ikea. It was on sale for $69.99, and also converts into a toddler bed. It’s basic in it’s look and design, and I liked that! I’m a little particular about mattresses, so I splurged and bought Ikea’s second most expensive mattress (I think it was $90).  I’ll be transferring over Josh’s crib bumper from his current crib tomorrow since he’s very attached to the ribbon adhering the bumpers to the crib. 😉

The planet decals were bought off of Amazon for $16. I washed the wall with warm water and Lysol before I put the decals up. My husband and I were both thrilled with how it turned out! Each piece (planet, name, star, etc) is a separate sticker. I hope it stays adhered to the wall! Time will tell. My husband loves astronomy and can’t wait to start teaching Josh about it (for the record he would not let me put up Pluto since we now know it’s not a ‘real’ planet anymore).


I think I mentioned this in a previous post, but this was Ikea’s cheapest 3-drawer dresser. I think it was $50. I spent another $12 for the hardware pulls (also from Ikea — probably could have gotten them much cheaper at Walmart) and my hubby drilled holes and screwed them in. He always does a really nice job putting together furniture so the tracks line up really nicely with the drawers. If you haven’t read about it in the news, it’s being recommended that Ikea dressers be adhered to the wall because there have been a number of child deaths from furniture tipping over on them (not necessarily just Ikea furniture). So incredibly sad! My hubby adhered it to the wall last night– glad to have that off of my mind now!

The lamp is leftover from when the room was an office and it also Ikea. It’s more modern and not very toddler-like, so if I see something cheap and cute for sale used I might get that and give this lamp to my sister.


Etsy has some really great Bible verse printables for $5. This one is Psalm 27:1 — you can find it here. It takes about 2 seconds to purchase and print these on your home printer! I bought the frame today at Ikea — I had wanted to find a basic frame for $2, but they didn’t have one in the right size. This one was on sale for $7.


My camera wasn’t cooperating at all here, but this little toddler chair was on sale for $40 on Amazon. When Josh first discovered it in his room he went right in and sat on it and read books for ten minutes! It’s a blue and white gingam pattern. I see pottery barn’s ‘anywhere chair’ for toddlers for sale used all the time, but they are usually pretty dirty/stained and still priced around $40. We’ll see how this one holds up (for the record, this chair has a 75 pound limit and the first thing my husband did when he got home from work was sit down in it while exclaiming “I fit!” So if the chair breaks early we’ll know why, hehe).

The monkey picture and frame were cheap purchases from Ikea–I can’t remember how much they cost but I’m guessing less than $5 for both the print and frame. The Peter Rabbit motif is from his baby shower that his Mimi and Auntie threw for him. The play tent is also from Ikea and was $20. He loves that thing and sits inside it all the time! He especially loves it when we sit in it with him, but it’s getting exceptionally hard to crawl in and out of there being pregnant.

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This is just a cheap clock I bought at Ikea for $6. I like to know what time it is when it comes to having little ones!


Lastly, just a picture of the bins, also from Ikea. These weren’t cheap ($17 each) but have held up beautifully and were worth the cost. Toddlers do not always feel like being gentle or careful with their belongings!

Thanks for reading and sharing in my excitement about Josh’s new room today! We’ll see how long it looks this clean…

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Filed under Furniture Makeover, Toddler

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!



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!


Filed under DIY, Furniture Makeover