Guest Post: Dressing Up

I am so excited to share on the blog today an amazing guest blog from Becca Obergefell!  Becca is a student affairs professional and DIY aficionado like myself, but her dresser makeover is truly fantastic.  Read on for the furniture restoration that will surely inspire you! Learn more about her DIY and other life adventures on Twitter @OberBecca and on her personal blog!  Becca says:

It started as a weekend fixer-upper project and turned into a 2 month lesson in patience and perseverance. I can’t remember the last time I was this proud of something!

This dresser had been sitting in the garage for nearly a year, collecting dust and acting as a landing pad for tools that needed to be put away. I originally bought this from someone on the side of the road. It was a low price with nice lines; it looked like a solid piece of furniture with a lot of potential. It definitely looked old. But, as it turns out, it’s more of a laminate or particle board material that just smelled old. And the paint peeled off pretty easily at first, almost like peeling of contact paper. There was a brief moment where I thought it really might be contact paper. It wasn’t.

The of wood on the back had fallen down, rotted, and was being held on by a few screws that had been added to reinforce it. They were pretty much useless at this point, so I removed them and discarded the old back piece.  The paint continued to peel off like contact paper in some place, but mostly came off in frustrating, tiny, little strips that made your fingernails hurt.

That white stuff? Chalky residue from the paint stripper that was supposed to have it all peeling itself off in 30 minutes. That clearly did not happen and was a waste of $12. So I asked the internet for help.

A heat gun seemed like a good idea….. but I didn’t have one. A hairdryer wasn’t going to cut it either. So, on to sanding.
Palm sander and some tough sand paper and I was finally starting to make progress.

Oh hey. Just me being a safe sander. Although this was the tool that finally did the trick, it was also one of the many tests of my patience along the way. It was tricky to sand evenly while keeping the sand paper attached to the sander. The bars that hold the sand paper in place  were just loose enough that it would slip off it I went too fast or unevenly. It was also a pain to work on  vertical surfaces. Detailed surfaces (like the legs) were out of the question.

Since I took the back piece off (and because it’s just old) the dresser pretty much wobbled if you looked at it. So, I attached 6 L-Brackets to the shelves and legs to stop it from wiggling from side to side. Also got to use another power tool for this. Always a bonus.

Here it is, top, drawers, and sides – all finally sanded!  Sanding the front was another test of my patience. The palm sander was too big for the detailed areas – so I used a sanding block (or really a scrap piece of wood with sand paper wrapped around it). Despite my better judgment, I peeled a lot of the paint off with my fingernails again. Don’t try this at home. For the longest time, I couldn’t figure out why my right forearm was sore. I’ll save you the suspense – I pulled a muscle was from peeling off these little tiny spots of paint!

Took a little shortcut here and used a stainblocking spray primer. I probably could have gone with the slightly cheaper can, but the stainblocker ensured that if would cover any spots I overlooked when I was sanding. This is especially important if you’re planning to use a lighter colored paint to finish your piece. Two coats of this and it was finally ready to paint!

I walked into Home Depot thinking I was going to paint it some shade of purple (Eggplant? Oxblood? Plum?) I blame Pinterest for having a color palette with purple in it – I’m pretty easily swayed. Luckily, I realized I really don’t like purple and found a great shade of navy instead.  It took three coats of high-gloss paint with a light sanding and cleaning in between coats. I used a small angled brush to paint the detailed areas and the rest with small foam roller. This step could probably be done with a paint sprayer or spray paint, but I like the smooth look a foam roller gives.

A little late night shopping on Amazon produced matching navy chevron contact paper to line the drawers.

Finished product! I kept the top two drawers out for the electronics to sit. Eventually, I may go back in and add a reinforced shelf here and maybe a back panel.

Thanks to Becca for sharing this fantastic test of patience and even more jaw-dropping makeover!  I pretty much melt over anything navy, and this dresser makeover is no exception.  Any other furniture refinishing projects out there that you’d like to share?