Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elbow Grease and Paint Pants: Dressers

I've been busy, I can tell you that.

When we moved into our current home 4 1/2 years ago, we needed dressers for the boys, since they had been using closets fitted with cubbies and bins in the old house.  I convinced Brad to buy IKEA dressers ( Hemnes chest and dresser), and he unwillingly agreed and assembled.

I knew that these dressers would not be able to withstand my crazy monkeys forever--and I hate making purchases like that--but this decision was made BAE (Before Auction Era).  The dressers stood up to abuse much better than I thought they would, that's for sure, but this is the Sanatorium, and things get rough around here on occasion.  Drawers had been stepped in, clothes had been shoved in and then slammed, and the drawer bottoms couldn't withstand the treatment. Sure, Brad had fixed them, but they were never as good as new.

One of the lots at the notorious fourteen-piece auction (discussed here) was three solid dressers.  I was willing to pay $150 for all three dressers ($50 apiece for Ethan Allen and dovetailed drawers?  I say YES.).  I ended up with all three for $131.50.  Wow.  What a steal. Yes, you read that right.

Two were immediately designated for the boys' rooms--now they just needed some work.  Sigh.

Here is what they looked like originally:

I forgot to take pictures before removing the hardware from the top one, but you can see the shadows of its original butterfly hardware.  Neither dresser looked very masculine, but they were solid and in great shape.

I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty of the transformation process; you've seen dressers in transition before, right? What I will show you is their amazing afters:
 I never could get the color of the dressers to translate well in Lightroom--it's Benjamin Moore Gentleman's Gray, dark grey/blue with a touch of teal. This dresser is in Hyrum's and Micah's room. (My favorite part of these photos is my assistant.  Hyrum was on his bed, and he said, "Wait, Mom.  I want the light sabers in the picture."  Never too early to start training them, is it?)  One of the disadvantages of resurrecting old furniture is that scale has changed in three decades, and this dresser seems a little short now, so I'm planning to get bun feet for it, and then it will fit in a little better.
 I sprayed the existing knobs and the complicated hinge hardware on the shutter doors, but I replaced all the butterfly hardware with cup handles I found at Home Depot.   Each shutter door opens to reveal three more drawers.  It works really well, even though I had to find a home in the closet for the boys' swimsuits.

This is Ben's dresser:

This last picture is the truest translation of the color.  Ben is not so thrilled with his new dresser--I guess it's a girl thing to want a million drawers to hold different things.  He's still in the adjustment phase, I hope.

Lessons learned from the dressers:
  • First and foremost, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this paint--Benjamin Moore Aura in a satin finish.  This stuff is magical!  Truly. I had already sanded and primed the dressers (same time as I fought the sprayer when I painted these shelves), but I was told those steps are unnecessary when you use this paint.  I believe them.  Even though it's too thick to use in a sprayer, it's worth every second with the brush and roller.  It coated like a dream, it didn't drip or splatter, and the best part of all--it dried in MINUTES!!! I had to roll 21 drawers, and when I was finished rolling the last one, the first was ready for its second coat.  This paint is MAGICAL!  It's expensive, true.  $25 a quart (yes, a quart), but it took less than one quart to paint both dressers!! I can't express how much I love this paint.  Give it a try if you're painting cabinetry. (And nobody is paying me to say that, because the guy who "helped" me at BM was a beast, and I wouldn't recommend HIM to anyone!)
  • I used a sponge roller and got an ultra smooth finish.  I'll use one from now on.
  • I sprayed the existing knobs and door hardware silver, and it's fine.

In the end, I sold our old IKEA dressers for $100 each on Craigslist--IN LESS THAN ONE HOUR.  So--totally came out ahead on this adventure.

What's the plan for the third dresser?  Don't really know yet.  Lily has another IKEA dresser in her room, complete with a broken drawer, so maybe it will go in her room.  Maybe it will go to Eve, who has a tiny chest for her stuff (her stuff is currently tiny so we don't have an issue, except for the dresser still parked in my Suburban's spot, but let's not go there, okay?).

Until next week,
Going once, going twice . . .  SOLD!


  1. Wow! They look great. You know what I love putting on any piece of furniture I can... big industrial castors. They might look good on Hyrum's drawers, kind of go with the industrial hardware; plus so nice to be able to move for vacuuming etc. The paint colour looks awesome. I am so impressed Jen. These really are great pieces!

  2. Okay totally awesome!! Especially that you sold the old dressers for more than you paid for three!
    My son would love that color

  3. Those are beautiful! Lots of elbow grease spent on those. The color is perfect. What color will Evie's be?

    So this is what you do in all your spare time.

  4. I absolutely lurve them both. What is Bens hangup, it's a totally manly, cool dresser. Love the hinges on the shutter things. And, good to know about that paint, sounds promising. To use so little for two whole dressers....impressive.

  5. I have painted the dressers in our house over and over but my favorite was the garage sale find before I even had my first child. It was a baby dresser, then kids rooms - painted over and over.
    Buy something good and you can use it forever!!
    You scored BIGtime!!! And you did a great job painting them.
    I have not used that paint before - great tip :-D

  6. fabulous!!! furniture flipping might be a whole new career path for you, girl - these are truly amazing, what lucky boys!! can't wait to see the rest :)

  7. I see a rugby ball, Do your kids play? we coach a new U13 team in north phoenix.

  8. Jen, you did an amazing job! I love the color you chose and the transformation is nothing short of amazing! Of course, they had good bones to begin with. What a great find!

  9. Hey! It is true...they dont make them like they used to...unless you want to pay a fortune. I love these awesome finds. My boys use 2 dressers that were mine (and my husbands)as a children. They are also painted a blue grey color. I love that color for boys. I love that you sprayed the hinges. What a great idea. I always bought more. Looking forward to seeing the third transformation.
    And I saw the light sabers right away!

  10. my kids have ikea furniture (granted they don't step in them haha)

    ikea is 15 mins away....i'm in heaven there...hubs would rather shoot himself in the foot...i don't take him needless to say (but his wallet)

    great deals and job on painting..... they look terrific!!!

  11. You are becoming the DIY queen! And the whole auction thing, too.

    You rock, my friend.


  12. Wow, I am seriously impressed! We have an Ikea drawer for Ellie too and one of the drawer bottom keeps falling off. I've thought about getting rid of it and replace with with something else but it's much more of a hassle to do all that in Japan than in the US. Wish I could have you make something for us too :)

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