Have you ever painted a room or bought a new piece of furniture, and you wake up in the middle of the night, just to go and look at it, because it makes you feel happy?
That is totally how this up-cycled furniture project made me feel, and the best part is that I created it myself, which makes me even more special! And here is the really cool part. I’m going to help you get that same feeling.
Don’t you find it frustrating when you see all of those beautiful pieces of furniture in magazines and on pinterest and then you look at the price tag, and they are way too much money! Well, babycakes I’ve got you covered. See this glamorous piece of furniture below? I did it myself. Keep scrolling to see how this piece started out it’s less than fabulous life. And then gather your supplies, and go grab yourself a piece of furniture to TRANSFORM. Because I’m about to walk you through the whole thing step by step. Because there is no reason that you shouldn’t have this fabulous piece of glamour in your home! And then you can wake up at 3am, and go into the other room, and feel happy too!!
I don’t always like the term furniture up-cycle because I don’t think it’s always really descriptive, but in this case this really is a furniture up-cycle, because she wasn’t really a beauty to start with. Such a long drawn out story with this chest. I bought this over 3 years ago. And I wish I could say that I picked it up for $5, or off the side of the road. But unfortunately, I was new to the used furniture buying game, and I way overpaid for this at a whopping $60! I know, live and learn right? The sad part was that the girl I bought it from told me as I was carrying it out, that she was just going to toss it out on the road for free, if no one bought it… crap! And it’s not even real wood, all particle board and veneer. I’m pretty sure that you can find one for less than $60, like maybe free 🙂 And to make it even better it has these beeeeautiful floral embellishments! nooooo.You’re probably wondering why I bought this at all?
Because I LOVE Bombay chests. I love the shape of them and I have a vision 🙂
But the back story on this, as I mentioned is long. When I bought this piece, the drawers were a bit wobbly, They were on wooden glides, but they didn’t have a tight fit, so they wobbled, and didn’t pull nicely at all. I decided that I would replace the wooden glides with metal ones. I bought a few samples and ended up with a version that I picked up at Home Depot, which fit perfectly into the cutout spaces. already routed in the sides of the drawers.
Trial and Lots of Errors
I’m no furniture craftsman, and the first time I did this I didn’t get the drawers lined up properly. and so they didn’t close correctly, which is why the middle drawer is cock-eyed in the photo above. So, I put this furniture makeover project away… for about a year and a half 🙂 Then just the other day, I bought some new furniture to refinish, which guilted me into pulling this beauty out of he corner of the garage and get back to work on it.
A Little Advice
If you are buying used furniture for up-cycling or refinishing, make sure you choose pieces with drawers and doors that close properly. I don’t mind replacing pulls, or even hinges. But I would probably pass on a piece with sloppy or badly closing drawers, unless it was CRAZY BEAUTIFUL or REALLY CHEAP (like fabulous AND free)
First things first. Primer. I ALWAYS use Zinsser Primer, It has great coverage and dries really fast. I was really amazed at how much better this looked with just a coat of primer. Unfortunately I got a bit excited about putting a coat of paint on it, and I forgot to take a full shot of my furniture upcycle before painting. I did manage to take this partial view with my phone, to post on my Instagram account, at least. Whoops!
I was of 2 minds as to what colour I wanted to do this in. I love this shape in a couple of finishes. One is the silver, like this example below:
I also love it in black. Though I’m not sure I would be able to achieve this finish. But isn’t this beautiful?
So, I went with BOTH!, first the silver…
I gave it a coat of Rust-Oleum Sterling Silver I have used this paint a bunch of times, and I l LOVE it. It has crazy good coverage, even on raw wood. And it’s a really nice silver.
One thing that you need to keep in mind when working with metallic paints is that they are not very forgiving of flaws. When I patched the holes from the former drawer pulls, this is what it looked like after it was sanded, primed and painted. That wavy line isn’t a hair, it’s the edge of the old paint. Regardless, it looks like crap 🙁
Wood Filler vs Bondo
Since I was planning on replacing the knobs with center pulls, the patched holes needed to be perfectly smooth. I don’t really love wood filler. It takes a long time to dry, it shrinks and it is porous, so you can often still see the difference in texture even after it is painted. I had read about using Bondo to repair furniture, so I decided to give it a try.
Bondo Pros and Cons
Bondo works really well, but man is it ever stinky. You need to ensure that you have good ventilation. The first time I used it, I opened the garage door, the second time, I forgot to open the door, and I had a headache overnight. So, be warned – use good ventilation!! The advantage of bondo is that it gives you a perfectly smooth finish. The downside is that it doesn’t sand nearly as easily as Wood Filler. So it you aren’t careful about your application it may make your job more difficult. I would suggest practicing on a test piece before using it on your project. Just to get a feel for it. I used my orbital sander to sand it out until it was super smooth.
For filling the holes in these drawers bondo was a clear winner. It left me with a really smooth texture-free finish, that I was not able to get with wood filler. And remember to practice on something first to get a bit of a feel for it. Hopefully your piece doesn’t need this much repair.
The beautiful part is that this gives you the opportunity to pick up those one of a kind pieces that you might have previously passed up, because they have a chunk missing out of them. But just remember what the limitations are. Maybe steer clear of anything that’s beyond fixing even with the bondo. I would probably stay away from very curvy finishes that need repair, as I think they would be difficult to achieve a smooth finish, unless of course you or your significant other happen to be an auto body detailer, then go for it!
Here it is in silver. Pretty nice yes?, See how smooth I got those drawers using bondo! If you wanted to you could just stop here and leave your piece with this fabulous Rust-Oleum Sterling Silver finish. It looks pretty damn good!
Transferring the Pattern
I bought a piece of zebra fabric, for a set of chairs that I’m planning on recovering and I started by laying that on top of the dresser just to see if I liked it, and I did! I suppose I could have just free-handed stripes onto the dresser, but I didn’t want it to LOOK like I just free-handed stripes onto my dresser. I’m going for that Horchow or Chintz & Co look 😉
So, I took a photo of the fabric to transfer. I think the easiest method of transfer would have been to use a projector. However, I don’t own one. So, I decided to go with plan B, which was to print out the pattern and trace it onto the dresser. I used blockposters.com . The version that I used for this project prints out to a size of 33″ (84cm) wide x 23″ (58cm) high. When printed out this gave me 9 sheets. Here is what it looked like taped onto the front of the dresser. I like the scale of it, so the next step is to transfer it onto the dresser.
And the best part of my Plan B, is that you can use this pattern too! If you want to use this pattern, to do your own piece of furniture, go to the Member’s Lounge, where you can grab it for free in 2 different sizes.
I did the top of the dresser first. I thought it would be easiest to get the hang of it on the flat surface. Plus, if I was really hating the way it was going, it would be easy to paint over.
It’s only paint…
Don’t get bogged down by being afraid to make a mistake. Go ahead and paint it, if it sucks, you can always paint it again. Worst case scenario, you can always leave it out on the curb, for someone else to have a shot at! Seriously, don’t let the what-if’s stop you in your tracks. Let’s put some paint on that puppy. Well first, Let’s put some chalk on that puppy 🙂
Then start with the top center sheet (#2 – see the guide below) and center it on the top center back of the dresser. Tape it in place using painter’s tape and use a pencil or pencil crayon to trace around the stripes. Repeat with the remainder of the top row. Once you have done the first row, lift the sheets (fold back) and following the chalk lines trace over them with a sharpie or permanent marker. Continue the process for the remainder of the top of the dresser. For this size I used the top 6 of the 9 sheets I printed out (see pattern layout below)
For patterning I used numbers 1-6 on the top of the dresser. 1-9 on the front. For the sides I lined up the centre of the pattern down the back of the side with the stripes flowing forward to the front. So on the right side: 2,5,8,1,4,7 And for the left: 2,5,83,6,9 as noted in the illustration above.
Lining things up
When you get to the front corners, because you are joining up two separate patterns just go free hand to join up the stripes, or end them.
Once all of the lines are done (or as you go) using your paper as a guide mark x’s where the black stripes are. A word of warning, don’t assume you know which ones are black and which are white. Check back and forth with your paper guide to make sure you are putting your x’s in the correct spot, it’s super easy to get mixed up and once you start painting you don’t want to find yourself painting a black stripe only to realize you should be in a white/silver area – oops! I made a couple of mistakes when I was putting the x’s in the black stripe areas and had to go back over those areas with the silver paint. It’s all fixable.
It’s as easy as paint by numbers
For paint, I went with Valspar latex in satin finish. I think any paint would do really, I’m sure craft paint would work just fine. Also flat paint would probably be ok too, as we will be giving the whole piece a coat of sealer and satin finish when we are all done. Although I think that the satin stripes give the piece a it more depth. Honestly I bought this paint because it came in a small can 🙂
At the time I originally did this project I had not used chalk paint before. Now that I have used it on many projects. I would definitely choose chalk paint to do the black portion of the zebra stripes. Chalk paint gives a nice flat smooth finish, and since I coated the finished piece with a gloss topcoat, the black will still look nice and shiny when it’s complete!! Lessons.
You will want to use a brush that is very soft and flexible. Don’t use a stiff bristle brush, it will leaves lines in the paint. Best to have a couple of sizes. The ones I used were just dollar store paint brushes. They work fine, but need to be replaced after a few washes or the bristles start to come out. No worries if you go outside the Iines, they’re zebra stripes, so don’t need to be perfect. Basically, just paint in between the lines, ensuring that you only paint where the x’s are.
Easiest to start with the top, and work your way down
Paint away from your hand, so you don’t end up smearing your paint
Start by outlining the shape with a small brush covering the marker
Then fill in with a larger brush
Choose the side that will be the most out of sight in the finished project to start on, until you get the hang of it
No worries If you mess up – just paint over it!
This is not hard to do, but it takes a little bit of time. I did it in bits and pieces. I painted half the top at a time. I timed myself when I painted the second half of the top and it took 27 minutes, and that included me letting the dog in and out. Truthfully, I actually really enjoyed painting this. I found it super relaxing to do. Also, since I was just using a small little can of paint, it was pretty mess free, so realistically something that you could do in your living room while watching TV. I did mine in the garage, but I really like my garage 🙂
When I got to the legs, I just went free-hand and drew some stripes around the legs. I did the back legs a bit differently so that they made sense with the pattern. I changed them up a couple of times, because I didn’t like the initial version. Both of these paints have excellent coverage, and it was easy to repair or change anything that I didn’t feel was working. I did the pattern all the way around the legs, to give it more dimension.
I did a test and painted the trim black, but ultimately I decided that I didn’t like it, so repainted it silver. Here I have done a side by side comparison of both finishes so you can choose what you like best for yours.
Once all of the stripes were painted I just went over and fixed up any spots that had silver showing through or uneven edges. Don’t get too caught up trying to make all of the edges perfect. I say this because I am a person who also does that.
Finished by Hand
But you know what? Hand-painted work it SUPPOSED to be imperfect, because it’s DONE BY HAND Haven’t you ever bought a vase or a piece of furniture with a disclaimer on it about how hand painted wares are done by hand and therefore subject to imperfections? See? 🙂 If anyone criticizes your painting skills, just tell them that hand-painted furniture is SUPPOSED to have imperfections, that is what gives it character and a unique finish and then kick them out of your damn house! 😉 If you are bothered by the small imperfections of the hand painting, by all means go ahead and take your time and make sure all of the paint is as perfect as it can be, but honestly you really don’t notice these things when you are viewing the piece as a whole.
After everything was completely dry, and any corrections that needed doing were done. I did a coat of Minwax Polycrylic Satin on the top. Unfortunately it was gloss, and it looked terrible! Whoops! Thank goodness I only did the top! crap, off to the store to buy more varathane. I went with a Rust-Oleum Varathane Crystal Clear Polyurethane To repair the top, I just gave it a light sanding to rough up the gloss finish and then re-coated with the satin finish.The whole piece received 2 coats of satin topcoat. I used a good brush for the topcoat, no dollar store brushes for this step.This is the brush that I used.
I tried painting the sides of the drawers in both black and silver and I opted for silver. For some reason, the black just made everything look cheap, I think in part because of the finish. Maybe it would have looked better in a flat rather than a satin. But utltimately I decided to go with silver.
The inside of the drawers are lined with a velvet fabric, which really was about the only high end thing about this dresser. Unfortunately it’s an icky shade of brown. But for now I’m leaving it, I just need to move this out of the garage, so I can go buy another piece of furniture (ulterior motive) I will update the insides of the drawers at another time.
When I was deciding on what handles I wanted for this piece, I actually had a pretty good idea in my head of what I wanted them to look like. I just went straight to Amazon, because there is such a huge variety and I knew I would find what I wanted, and I did! Here they are!
And they arrived in 2 days with Amazon Prime!! yay! I love Prime – Can you say free shipping??? I bought these in antique silver, but once the dresser was all painted I didn’t really like this finish against the silver and black. Although the colour is antique silver, they are quite gold in tone. So I gave them a rub with metallic wax finish in silver (which is the Michael’s brand of Rub ‘N Buff) to make the colour work better with the silver paint. Success!!
Here are the handles before refinishing (above). And here they are with the silver finish applied (below):
The final step was to install the drawer pulls, and then move it into the dining room, which is where it is going to live.
And I am Done!!!
Here is my fabulous furniture makeover
Zebra-striped up-cycled Bombay chest
And if you are feeling even a little bit stressed out because I painted over wood… this wasn’t real wood. It was all particle board. cheap crap actually. But I really love the way it turned out. All the way through. this project I would go into the garage before I went to bed every night and have a peek at it. I knew it was going to be awesome.
You can do this finish on any dresser really. It doesn’t need to be a Bombay chest. I think it would look nice on a dresser just on the front. Just go out and find yourself a piece of furniture that needs a bit of an upgrade. Hell, for that matter, it doesn’t even need to be a dresser. Go shopping for your future statement piece. I would love to see what you come up with. And remember that it’s just paint. If this is your first furniture refinishing project, don’t start with a priceless antique, find something that needs help, and help it 🙂 We’ll get to those priceless antiques later! Baby steps baby!
I have a couple of vintage pieces currently living in my garage that now get my attention. I’ll link them up here when they are done. Here is my mid-century credenza makeover.
AND, since I moved one out. Now I get to go shopping for a new piece! You can start shopping for your transformation piece too! Or maybe you already have a piece that needs a makeover?