Our friends Erin and Kevin are pregnant with their first child (well, Erin is cooking the bun), and I wanted to get them something nice but personal. I knew she wasn’t buying a traditional nursery set, and had found a crib on clearance, so I offered to redo a dresser to go with it that could also be a changing table. Erin loved the idea and we started browsing on Craigslist. I really wanted something with clean lines but some character. I also obsess over furniture with feet. I am not sure why, since I am VERY averse to human feet (except the kind attached to babies who are not yet toddling) but I will ooh and aah over footed furniture. I’m a strange gal.
FYI – this post is very long and chock-full of pictures and details, so if you are reading for pleasure as opposed to a how-to tutorial, I promise not to be offended if you skip to the showcase showdown at the bottom. Spoiler alert: everyone misses Bob Barker, the dresser wins, spay and neuter your pets.
This baby popped up on Craigslist, and I jumped on her (not literally, I’ve been running but I don’t think I am light enough for jumping on furniture):
She was rough, to say the least. The drawers do not flare out at the bottom, that is the laminate peeling away, because the face of the drawers had some old water damage. I removed the drawers and got her prepped for priming. First surprise was one drawer full of blankets, clothes, and oh yes, even panties. Blech. I just dumped everything into the trash very quickly without touching or photographing it, and you are welcome for that. (Note to everyone everywhere selling anything anytime – check drawers before selling! Duh.) Then I had to clean her, which I do with good old-fashioned Clorox wipes. This dresser had been sitting outside and was gross:
Before priming, I always fix any dings, missing laminate, etc. so that the finished product will be smooth and uniform.
To fix the minor dings and missing laminate spots, I pulled out an old tube of Elmer’s Wood Putty, and was barely able to squeeze any out because it was getting dried out. No worries, though, I simply added a dab of wood glue to moisten it up, and I was in business.
Then I squished it into any spots that needed filling. (Yes, “squish” is the technical term.) Finally, a scrape-by with the putty knife to smooth it out. This stuff sands pretty easily, so you don’t have to be too worried about excess. Just make sure all low spots are filled.
The mini-clamp is there because I discovered that the laminate on the corner was in danger of peeling off, so I squeezed a bit of wood glue in there, and clamped it to dry.
The long strip of peeling laminate at the top edge was a bit more tricky to repair. I squeezed as much wood glue as I could get in the crack, and then I used a scrap of oak flooring (from the ongoing flooring saga) to apply even pressure while I clamped. This task was not easy to do alone, and required two hands, one knee, a few teeth, and a stool to get everything in place, therefore I could not take a “during” photo. (It must be noted that The Boy was inside doing who-knows-what at this time but he is always willing to help. If I ask for help. Which I don’t. Because I am stubborn.)
I wiped off the massive amount of excess glue that squeezed out, and then I let everything dry for a few hours. A little gentle sanding in the puttied spot and I was finally ready for priming!
I prefer the roller for this job because it is easy and doesn’t leave streaks. And yes, that is a Tupperware container holding primer, because it is the perfect size, and I refuse to pay for a mini-roller tray when a free old Tupperware container is capable of doing the job. I met the heir apparent to the Tupperware throne once, and I do not believe she would approve of this use, but she is elderly and probably not internet savvy (fingers crossed) and hopefully doesn’t Google “heir apparent to Tupperware throne” on a daily basis to find out what people are saying about her.
After the primer dried, I applied two coats of white interior (low-VOC) paint in the same manner. The next obstacle was the drawers. Oh the drawers!! After mulling over options, the decision was made that we must completely replace the drawer fronts. It was the only option that made sense. We purchased some poplar planks and used the table saw to cut them to the exact same size as the current fronts. This task required precision because the drawers recess into the openings, and we chose poplar because it is cheap and we were painting it anyways. The Boy used a hammer and wood chisel to remove the old drawer fronts, which were dovetail.
This process was messy. Here are the players:
The Boss is not shown (she was behind the camera). The Boy used a jigsaw to cut off the remaining doves (tails?) on the drawers.
Then, we attached the new fronts using small L-brackets. We ended up putting the brackets in all four corners of each drawer to help it stay square and sturdy.
I made a template to drill holes for the drawer pulls, and was able to drill all of the holes pretty quickly.
The inspiration for painting the drawers comes from a blog post I pinned (http://poppytalk.blogspot.com/2012/06/love-is-like-apricot.html), and I did exactly as it suggested – I found a paint color I liked, and got samples of all three colors on the swatch (the middle color is called “Friendship” … awww). The fact that the colors are so similar to the dresser on the Poppytalk blog is really just a coincidence, as I was matching a pillow case the mom-to-be gave me.
I added one coat of polyurethane to the dresser and fronts of the drawers, and then a second coat of poly to the top, since it will be used/touched/pooped on the most. Finally, it was time to add hardware, which I was pretty excited about. Erin helped pick out these pulls from Anthropologie, and while they were a bit expensive, they were absolutely perfect, because the nursery has a tree mural with very similar flowers on it.
The stems were too long, so The Boy cut them to the right size using a tool he loves, the dremel. Here he is watching football and making sparks:
Finally, the dresser/changing table was complete:
I added the tree in the top left drawer, as a fun little surprise.
Erin and Kevin have a lot of very exciting changes coming soon, including lots of diapers. They are going to be the most amazing parents to a lucky little girl, and I am so glad I could help in this small way. Congrats!!
(PSST – I entered this project in a DIY contest – check it out!)