Sunday, September 9, 2012

Stripper, Paint and Poly, but No Garage Space


Okay, so I had spent a lot of time reading and reviewing a lot of different design blogs on how to refinish old furniture. But, I didn't think I could afford to purchase anything that was too expensive since we were in the throws of the very expensive adoption process. So, I decided I would check our neighborhood to see if anyone was willing to get rid of a dresser for cheap. I posted on our neighborhood website that I wanted a dresser to refinish. Lucky for me, a neighbor two doors down had one and it was CHEAP- $25 cheap!! I was ecstatic!! My adventures in refinishing could really begin.

I set out to purchase and locate my supplies, dragged my husband down to their house to carry the dresser back to our waiting garage and I got started. Actually, the dresser sat in our garage for a while before I decided to tackle it at all. After mulling over images on Google of thousands of furniture redos, updos, etc. I decided on what I wanted and I formulated this perfect image in my head. After some wonderful advice from a great friend - thanks Nora- who had experience in furniture refinishing, I began.

Here are the supplies I had on hand or purchased:
  •  Motsenbocker's LIFT OFF Paint and Varnish Remover-- a wonderful WATER BASED GEL STRIPPER because I wanted a beautiful piece in the end that I could say was also created using GREEN products ( I really wanted to use this, but it wasn't tough enough to get through the varnish and poly on this old dresser so I was out $10.00 extra dollars) ---$9.97 for 32 oz
  • Klean-Strip Strip X Stripper for stripping paint and varnish from wood, metal and masonry (second stripper-- not green at all-- my impatience coming out again ---$20.98 for 1 Gallon 


  • GripRite Medium Course Stripping Pad (had on hand) 
  • Stripping tool--- $0.98 

  • Chemical Grade Rubber Glove (had on hand) 

  • Steel Wool #00 Fine (had on hand)
  • Paint-- Bought for $3.00 a gallon at Home Depot from the Oops Bin - A steal if I must say so myself (small container of bluish green paint for interior drawers was $0.50 in the Oops Bin)
  • Polyurethane- Minwax Wood Conditioner at $11.47/Quart
  • 1 Quart Primer- I used BullsEye 123 Primer in white- this brand of Primer is supposed to adhere to any material and stains should not seep through over time (Great stuff- just follow the directions of waiting for 7 days before adding a top coat of paint). This waiting time was crazy on my nerves. I wanted to get busy painting right away, but I waited. $9.47
  • Stain Minwax Ebony $7.77/Quart 
  • 6 pieces of Scrapbook paper (50% off at Hobby Lobby at $0.59 each) 
  • Glue Api's Crafter's Pick The Ultimate! 8 oz at $5.99 (40% coupon Hobby Lobby for $3.60) 
  • Face Mask (had on hand) I wore this for most of the job, but realized after I could still smell the chemicals that this mask was not for working with oil based materials- I needed something stronger which I did not purchase, but will if I do another piece
  • Screwdriver (had on hand) 
  • Paintbrushes- my favorite are Purdy (had on hand) 
  • Dresser- $25.00 from a neighbor 
  • Wood putty (had on hand) 
  • New drawer pulls (50% off at Hobby Lobby- originally $4.99) 6 pulls for $15.00
TOTAL COST: $108.78

STEPS FOR REDO: 
1. Remove drawers, door and all hardware

2. Clean dresser-- I just wiped it down and vacuumed the dust from the inside (the neighbors had it in their garage a while)

3. Began stripping the top and drawers-- This went pretty well, but I did have to switch to a chemical stain after talking to my experienced friend ***Important note: The top, front and drawers of this dresser were solid heavy wood. For some reason, the sides were veneer. I couldn't strip the sides at all since the chemical stripper began to eat away at the veneer and caused uneven scratches. This is when I decided to stain the top of the dresser and paint the body and drawers.

4. Add wood putty to holes from pieces I did not want to keep on the dresser. I knew I did not want to keep the keyhole decoration on the drawer fronts.

5. Prime the entire piece along with the drawers (all except the top of the dresser) 


6. Stain the dresser top-- I decided I wanted the top of  the dresser to be stained so I completely stripped the top and sanded it smooth. I only stripped the lacquer top from the rest of the dresser and Primed over the top of the rest on those parts (my impatience and the discovery of the GREAT PRIMER) 


7. Stain the top of the dresser-- I wanted to do this first so I wouldn't get stain on a good paint job later
Make sure you FOLLOW ALL DIRECTIONS ON THE STAIN. I used a FOAM BRUSH to apply the  stain. I LOVE THE COLOR it turned out to be. In the end, I used 3 coats of stain. 

8. Paint the drawers and let them dry-- check and repaint a top coat if necessary.

9. Cut the craft paper to size and use glue to attach to the drawer fronts. I am slightly anal at this point. I cut the squares from different paper so that the pattern would fall in the same place on each drawer front. To ensure they were in order, I numbered the back of the pieces and then attached them to the drawers using the API'S CRAFTER'S PICK glue. 




10. Polyurethane the dresser, dresser top and drawers. It is important to poly before adding the drawer pulls.

11. Add the drawer pulls. I did purchase new drawer pulls for the top, smaller drawers and I planned to use wide gross grain ribbon for the rest of the drawer pulls. I haven't quite finished that yet. A couple of the drawers stick a little when you try to open them (not due to my refinishing, but due to old age-- make sure you check for this when you purchase furniture-- I will check more carefully next time). I have decided to paint the drawer pulls that came off of the drawers originally since I kind of like their pattern. But, this is where I need to research some more. The completed dresser photos will be appearing after I complete this last part. I will also do that as a separate post in the DIY section. Don't ever throw anything away. I am keeping the knobs even though they are cheap plastic because they lend themselves to being covered with fabric and used on another piece.



EASY RIGHT!! I did learn a whole lot from this dresser redo and I must say it turned out just as I imagined. Some things to remember when purchasing used furniture are: 1) Check that the drawers and doors operate, 2) Check that there aren't any very deep scratches that may take more than elbow grease to repair, 3) Check to see if the piece is Veneer or real wood.

I am really looking forward to posting pictures of my dresser redo when it is completely finished. Soon, hopefully!!! What is the purpose of this dresser you ask? Well, it was originally going to sit in our living room to store games and DVDs, but it is now in our entryway. One drawer holds items we need as we leave the house such as sunglasses, sunscreen, bug repellent, keys. The smaller two interior drawers hold coupons and take out menus. The middle drawers hold dog items (leashes, clippers, poop bags, winter sweaters, etc.) and cards for birthdays. And, the lower two drawers which are the largest hold seasonal table decor items.

After the post of the final product, I would like to know what you would pay for a dresser redo such as this. That may help me gauge what I need to charge for future pieces. I plan to refinish more and post them in the Shop part of my blog.

Final picture of dresser redo. The drawers house items we need when we leave the house, dog items, seasonal decor, coupons, home binders, and one drawer for office items such as pens, paper, stapler, tape, etc. It is working GREAT!!

This dresser began as a cohesive plan, but it ended up having coordinating pulls instead of all the same. Hobby Lobby was out of the dark brown when I went back : (


Thursday, September 6, 2012

How to Save Money On Home Organization

This article is was written September 5, 2012 for our neighborhood newsletter. I will post previous ones as well and future ones as I write them.


In 2010, and even before, it became difficult for someone with a degree in my field of Interior Design to find a job because of the housing market. Not many people were buying new homes at the time. Instead, they were improving on what they already had.  Little has changed since then.

Because of this, many women have become “Do It Yourselfers” who spend hours daily and into the night reading and searching the Internet DIY Blogs and Pinterest trying to discover new and trendy ways to improve on their homes without breaking the bank. Many of these blogs focus on creating the perfectly organized home.

Most homes today do not come with enough storage space (unless you are lucky enough to have designed your own dream home to your specifications). Any area that can be used for storage is “Prime Real Estate” meaning the space needs to be efficient enough to store everything you need so that items are not in view or taking up much needed counter or floor space.

The biggest trend now is to treat these Prime Real Estate areas as a room themselves. Some of these areas include closets miraculously turned into mini-offices, laundry rooms with coordinating color schemes, and pantries fully wallpapered, painted and labeled. Looking through these pictures of grandeur on the Internet can be daunting especially when you go in search of some of the same items and see what it would cost to replicate in your own home. It is not difficult to quickly spend a fortune trying to imitate what we see in these picture perfect spaces.

To ensure that we do have a beautiful home, use all of the Prime Real Estate efficiently and don’t break the bank, follow some of these simple rules:

 1) Don’t be afraid of the Dollar Store and Goodwill—Both of these places tend to carry a large selection of containers and baskets for a fraction of the price it would cost at the normal retail stores. These stores and garage sales should be your first option. IKEA is also a good option for low priced items for organizing.

 2)  Don’t throw anything away—Those ever popular glass containers can get expensive if you purchase them from a retail store (there are some great ones at Target and Wal-Mart that are relatively cheaper, but it can add up) so SAVE, SAVE, SAVE those jars from your spaghetti sauce and your jams and mayonnaise and reuse them in the pantry or other spaces. You can also use oatmeal containers covered in pretty fabric or paper to store toilet paper or packs of spaghetti. Pringles cans and tennis ball canisters can be used for straws, skewers or paper cup cake liners. Note: The canisters from coffee, powdered drinks and Pringles cans can serve as pretty containers for Holiday cookies for friends and teacher gifts as well. Heavy-duty shoeboxes with thick cardboard can also be covered and repurposed- the larger the shoe sizes the better.

 3) Repurpose— Pretty ceramic bowls can be used to corral keys in the entryway or jewelry in the bathroom. These can be found by shopping in the bathroom d├ęcor section at most stores (cotton ball/Q-tip containers can be used to hold keys at the door or other small items). These can also be found at Thrift stores and garage sales. An old dresser with a fresh coat of paint can be used in an entryway to store items such as dog leashes, sunglasses and other items needed quickly, or seasonal items such as tablecloths, large platters or vases. The same dresser can be used in the living area to hold DVDs or kids’ toys and games. When purchasing dressers or older furniture, it is important to ensure the drawers and any doors do work properly or can be repaired. Larger dressers and chests with a larger number of deep drawers tend to hold more items than the typical entryway table or sofa table. Never be afraid to think outside the box. Manufacturers make tons of money off of creating items that are marketed for one specific use. It is up to us to create new purposes for these items. 

 4)  Make Your Own—Many “Perfect” pantries have everything in uniform containers with pretty labels. Turn to printable Avery labels for creating your own custom labels instead of buying the already made ones. Martha Stewart Home has some that are removable so you can wash or change the container for another use later on. Both the printable Avery labels and Martha Stewart Home labels ($3.00 for 18 removable labels) are sold at Staples. Round hanging labels for baskets can be created by using cardboard from cereal boxes, scrapbook paper, and ribbon. These can be used in closets, pantries and laundry rooms and are easy to see from higher shelves.

 5)Shop Seasonal Sales—There are certain times of year when containers and organizational items are at their lowest prices. Back to School and College sales are great times to shop for containers and bins. Locker organizers can also be used as shelves under the sink in the bathroom or kitchen. During fall and Christmas, larger bins and containers are also discounted because they are fall or Christmas colors. 

Whatever the room of your home that you are planning to reorganize or decorate, remember that every space in your home that can be used to corral our ever-growing items is Prime Real Estate. Items need to be stored close to where they will be used the most. Items not used often need to be stored in the back of the closets or the harder to reach areas of the home. Always look for alternatives to using items before taking them to Goodwill or putting them out in the garage sale. Many times, we toss or recycle items to clear space when those very items could be helping us to save space.

I would love to hear your money saving tips for home organization and design. Be looking for my dresser redo that is currently being used in the entryway of our home. Look for more money saving organizational and design tips in the future. And, in the meantime- have fun making your home the best it can be.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Uncharted Territory...

Well, I guess I have now joined the world of bloggers. Facebook just wasn't going to get the job done for me. Please be patient with me as I learn as I go so to speak. The purpose of this blog is to show my artwork and perhaps sell a few pieces, provide step by step tutorials of crafts and DIY projects I have completed, to offer articles with money saving tips, and to showcase my own home which is continuously changing as it is a work in progress.

On this blog in the near future, readers will be able to see pictures of my newest redo - my first dresser redo which I am super proud of and which now has a home in our entryway. And, I must say is serving its purpose well. And, my newest venture... adventures in baby land as I create a space for the newest addition to our home arriving soon through domestic adoption.

I must say that I am most likely going to LOVE LOVE LOVE blogging as I love to design and decorate and I absolutely do love to write. Oh, and I have always taken pictures of my projects as I do them so hopefully they will be detailed enough for even the newest DIYer to follow.

If you are interested, my style tends to be a little classic and country with a little modern thrown in since I just can't choose between the two. I love old wood, the smell of new wood and rejuvenating and repurposing items. I say the more the uses for an item-- the better!!

Stay tuned!!!