diy: what some might call “ruining wood”

My awesome brother-in-law (I’ve talked about him before) had a dresser he’d purchased a year or two ago at a garage sale because it was real wood, beautiful and cheap. I needed a dresser. I saw the dresser he had stored in his barn and it looked sad … like it needed a home … in my bedroom.

So, we worked out a deal (the details of which are confidential) that allowed me to take on the dresser as my next project. I can share that one of the line items in our contract said something to the effect of him not being able to comment on me painting beautiful, real wood.

I started with this:

isn’t she pretty?

Based on what I’d read (I am so thankful to have great sources of info for these projects like here and here), I started off with a sanding block. You want to get the varnish off in order for the primer and paint to stick. Although the sanding block was lovely, it didn’t take too long for me to give up and find an excuse to use a power tool. Jon was nice enough to let me borrow a sander and off I went. Sanders are fun.

I was going to use Kilz primer but Jon was also nice enough to give me some he’d had left over from a job that comes highly recommended as a primer (it’s a Graham’s product in case you’re curious). They know their paint.

The next step was paint. I debated brushing or rolling and ultimately, I did both. I can assure you I wish I had an awesome sprayer. It would’ve saved three weeks time without a doubt. My challenge was not in just paining; it was with the heat. I chose to do mostly brushing because I wanted to keep a slightly aged, less-polished look. However, as I brushed, the paint felt like it was drying and got tacky uber-quickly. So, there may or may not be forty coats of paint on this dresser. I cannot confirm. To get some help, I used a foam roller that helped to apply the paint and then I brushed through it as quickly as I could.

proof of the fact that women sweat

Between each coat, I sanded with a finer block/paper. No, really, I sanded between every.single.coat. I was proud of myself, too, because I hate sanding.

I also debated changing out the hardware. I really wanted to do glass pulls to match up to my bedside table but after considering the cost and the fact that all of my clothes were still in a closet and Lord only knew how much time it would take me to properly measure and affix new hardware (in case new holes were required), I opted to keep the original. I’m really happy about that choice, too, because I really like the original pulls. They have great character and Connor helped me scrub them.

Once I finished painting, I started distressing. I really struggled with just how much to distress. It was my first time so given an open canvas, it was tough. I hit all of the spots that would likely see repeated “love” over time and then also hit the drawers just for some added color. I loved the original wood so much and I wanted a little of that to come through.

When I was all done painting and sanding and re-painting and re-sanding, I sealed it. I used some of the same spray I’d used originally for my headboard. It’s an oil-based poly that dries quickly also. I followed the rules here, too … nothing touched that dresser for 48 hours.

And just as I’d hoped, all of my clothes fit. I’m kidding. Well, they did fit, but I also love the way the dresser turned out. Of course, I know where every single imperfection is and of course, I’m not going to point out any of them. Instead, I’m going to enjoy the whole piece, just the way it is … perfectly imperfect.

home sweet home.

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