Friday, January 4, 2013

One More Nursery Furniture Post: Free Dresser Turned...Not as Free (but Better)

I do not, I'm sorry to say, have any whales or squids to offer you today. But I do have just one more article of furniture to share, and despite its lack of aquatic life, I think the transformation is pretty dramatic.

We already had one dresser for the nursery, but, while it is very pretty, we thought a little more storage would come in handy in a room with no closet, AND we wanted something more changing table height. When I mentioned this to my mom, she told me she had picked up a dresser recently, planning to refinish it and sell it at her shop (A Classy Flea, where you totally need to go if you find yourself in the Atlanta area), but that we could have it instead if we wanted. Thanks, Mom!

We picked it up from her house, and, wasn't the prettiest dresser ever seen. Someone had already done some creative refinishing to it:

Oh my....white, green, AND purple! How....interesting. But it was a nice, solid (Ethan Allen) piece, so I was certain we could make it beautiful. When I was first looking at fabric for what turned out to be our bookcase project , I was thinking I would use it for this dresser somehow. Like maybe covering the drawers with fabric. Only see how they have that fake two drawer where there's really only one thing going on? Yeah....I just couldn't make it work in my head. I was pretty sure it would end up looking sloppy at best. So we opted for embellishing the bookcase with whimsy instead and keeping this dresser a little less exciting. A whale dresser and a squid bookcase is probably plenty of whimsy for one baby.

So we decided on pale blue paint and new brushed nickel hardware. We also opted to put some legs on it while we were at it, partially to make it look nicer, but also because it was a little low for changing table height.

Legs first. We went to Lowes and found these little knobby things to go on the bottom. 

They were about $7 each, so our free dresser was already up to a $28 dresser. Then we picked out hardware. This is where the fake drawer effect really got us, since it nearly doubled the cost of the hardware. We got brushed nickel cup pulls for just under $4 each, and then three knobs for the top drawer for around $2.50 each. So what are we up to? That's another $40, so $68. Then a quart of primer and a quart of paint. I give up; I'm done adding. Under $100, more than $68. We'll use some of the primer and (maybe) the paint for other things, though. 

For paint, we picked Valspar's "Ghost Ship" in a semi-gloss. Ghost ship! Oceans! I pick out the wine with the prettiest label and the paint with the prettiest name.

We came home with our spoils, and Dave set to work getting the legs on.

He's out at the movies, or he could explain this better than I'm about to. But perhaps the picture will fill in the gaps. He screwed these blocks of wood (scrap wood that we already had) into the inside corners of the dresser first, to make a big enough base for the legs to screw into. I forgot to mention that we also bought those metal plates to attach the legs to. They were easy to find because they were right next to the legs in the store. Then he, uhh....screwed the legs in. Yep. See? Okay, I guess how it works is the legs screw into the metal plates first, and then you attach the whole contraption to the dresser, screwing the plates into the wood. 

I was little worried about wobbliness, but it's nice and sturdy. You'd never know the legs weren't always there. 

Finally, he filled in the screw holes on the side with wood putty.

Then he sanded down the whole dresser with the power sander. He was gone forever. When he came back, and I went out to look, most of the awful green and purple paint was all gone. "I told you you just needed to kind of rough it up before we primed it," I said.

"Did you say that?" he asked, "I should really listen to you better."

Oh well. Anyway, we put a coat of primer on it and then the Ghost Ship. We used a little foam roller instead of a brush, and it went on so nicely and brushstroke-freely that I can't believe I've never figured out to paint furniture this way before.  Remember how I wanted a pale blue dresser? Ghost Ship looked pale blue on the card, but on the dresser it looked pretty damn white. Like a ghost, you might say. Once we got it upstairs and in front of the white curtains, it started to look a little gray and maybe a little blue, if you squinted the right way. But it still looks nice. And there's plenty of color in that room already, so maybe it's for the best. 

We debated to polyurethane or not to polyurethane, but the glossy paint looked so....finished when we were done that we opted to forego it. 

Ethan Allen apparently likes to use hardware that is really, really close to a standard size (the pulls we bought were 2 1/2 inches) but not quite. It was close enough, though, that Dave was able to just make the hole on one side just a tiny bit bigger with a drill bit, and the new hardware fit just fine--no wiggling!

It's in front of the room divider curtains now, the last free "wall" in the nursery. I think it will have to move to somewhere where we can attach it to a wall once the baby's moving around on his own, but it's fine for now.
It looks like a totally different piece of furniture!


  1. I love that you added legs onto it! It makes such a difference :)

  2. Gotta love other peoples' "visions" of pieces of furniture. This dresser fits perfectly into your nursery design. And those are some sexy legs :)

    1. Yes, I'd love to see the room that dresser was in before!

  3. Wow, that turned out amazing! Never would have guessed it from the original picture. The new feet make such a big difference. What kind of paint did you use?

    1. Thanks :). It's "Ghost Ship" from Valspar (Lowes) in a semi-gloss.

  4. Looking at the before picture, I am trying to imagine the person going (before buying green and purple paint) "wouldn't it be pretty if we...".

    I love the little legs you found for it. They are perfect and the dresser looks so much better off the ground.

    Totally love the after look. Perfection!

    1. I do love green and purple, so I guess I can kind of see someone picking those (especially if they were letting a kid choose or something), but I do wonder if they finished painting, stood back, and thought, "wow! that looks GREAT!" ;)

  5. what a difference! those new legs are the perfect touch!

  6. No whales or squid, but with Ghost Ship paint there is still an ocean/nautical reference without even trying! Love it.

    Just discovered you on The Inspriration Gallery Party and am now following.

  7. That's a nice piece. Sometimes white is just what the doctor ordered and it works very well on this nice dresser. I found you at Miss Mustard Seeds Furniture Feature Friday!

    1. thanks! and thanks for stopping by! added you to my google reader.

  8. It turned out beautiful - great job!
    Your newest follower ( would love to have you come
    by and follow back when you have the time)

  9. It really does look like a brand new piece. The legs make it look more finished. And the hardware is a huge update. Its funny how something will look one way on a little paint chip, but once its big it looks completely different then how you imagined it. I like how it turned out, though. :)

    1. thanks :). I've decided that the way it works, at least for me, is that colors go on lighter than I expect on furniture, and darker than I expect on walls. Now that I know that, I can plan better!

  10. What a great transformation! The dresser looks so much better now. Stopping by from Tatertots & Jello. :)

  11. Hello, new follower here and I’d like to invite you to join me at my weekly
    Clever Chicks Blog Hop:

    I hope you can make it!
    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  12. Saw your feature over at Tatertots and Jello! Yay Gretchen!!


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