September 22, 2012

Craigslist Makeover

Warning: This post is long.

One day I intend to redo our guest room furniture. Eventually, it will become Finn's Big Boy Room (which gives me heart palpitations even saying), and I think I'd like to paint it a fun blue. Or maybe white. Or maybe even paint the smallest piece (the nightstand) orange or something bright. Who knows. Color to be determined and we are in no hurry as Finn man still loves his crib. But I fully intend to do it all myself - from the priming, to the painting, to the hardware replacing, etc. Thanks to Pinterest and many online tutorials it seems like a task I can accomplish.

But I wanted to test out my skills first and get an idea of just what painting furniture is all about. So I stalked Craigslist for a piece of furniture that was cheap, but something I could work with and fix up and hopefully even like in our house.

Meet Brown Betty:

She was $25 and made of wood (albeit a somewhat cheap type) She was ugly and in need of a face lift and it was love at first sight! I figured it could make a good addition to our entryway (not that we needed another piece of furniture, but Miles went into the field for three weeks of training and a girl has got to keep herself busy, ok.)

Anyway, I picked up the supplies that I figured I would need based on my extensive Pinterest pinning internet research and got cracking during Finn's nap time. (Project began during his afternoon nap one day and concluded the following afternoon)

First, I cleaned up the surface, took off the child locks (but score! there are already locks on the inside of the drawers that will remain there), took off the old hardware, and sanded a few areas that were not totally smooth. Then I took wood filler and filled in the holes from the old hardware and other areas that needing a little smoothing out:

I decided to do this project with spray paint as it just seemed easier, and I wanted to avoid brush strokes being seen on the finished product. So after the initial prep, I was ready to start priming. I had read a lot of different blogs and tutorials and several people recommended the KILZ brand primer. So I bought a couple of those, but I also bought some gray Kylon primer as it was on sale and gray is the color I decided to paint  ole Brown Betty. So I primed the surface, waited, primed again. Repeat.

But I apparently didn't read those tutorials carefully enough as I was surprised when the KILZ primer came out white. I don't know what I was expecting - clear I guess, but whatever, I figured two different primers wouldn't kill me and if anything would just make it easier to see where I needed to blend the actual gray paint and spray more layers. But as a result my primed product was fairly blotchy:

Your finished primed product should look fairly uniform in color. 
So just pretend that the white is gray or vice-versa.

At first when I started using the gray primer I was worried that it would hide the holes that I filled in with wood filler and I needed to see those so I could use them as a reference for where to drill the new hole (right in the middle of the two old ones), so I drilled a hole for the new hardware before finishing with priming.

After I primed (and waited a bit to ensure it was dry) I re-sanded the whole piece ever so lightly. I had a few areas where the paint dripped  and sometimes after a layer of primer dried it would dry a little gritty, so I just sanded it all to smooth it out nicely before painting:

After sanding, I wiped it down with a rag as the sanding process creates a little mess. Then I left her alone for a bit before painting. Everything I've read has said to ensure that you are leaving enough time between layers to let everything dry and to especially give it time between priming and paining. So I came inside and watched some more tutorials just to make sure I was on the right track. After close to an hour I went back outside to start the first layer of painting.

I was hoping that I wouldn't need all of the cans of paint I bought and I could take one or two back to save money, but I ended up using all of the cans (four total paint cans). I'm not too surprised though as 1. I'm new to this and it takes practice to get better at layering your paint and 2. I've gathered that these projects always take more than you expect - so I'm glad I bought enough and didn't have to pause to go to the store.

After a few layers - you can still see it's not totally blended

Ready for a protective coat sealant

After all the paint layers were applied, I let her dry for a couple of hours before adding the last few layers of sealer. Then, once that was all dry, I added my new hardware:

And voilà! Meet Gray Gertrude:

I'm pretty pleased with the result. Not in love with, but at least content with, how it all turned out and my whole intention was to just get some practice before I tackle bigger projects.

I did all of this in our garage/driveway and had a fan on to ensure enough ventilation. I purchased a cheap pack of plastic liners to put the dresser on top of covered the edges of the drawers with them as well. While priming and painting I wore a mask and glasses. Glasses came off a lot though as it was hard to see how well the paint was going on at times. Oh, and I wore gloves - safety first people, safety first.

Here's a pic of the supplies I used:

And here's a breakdown of what everything cost. I was hoping to keep the total cost under $50, but ended up going over, but a few of the supplies (of course the cheap ones) will last for several more projects.

Dresser . . . . . . . . . . . . . $25.00
Spray Paint . .  . . . . . . . .$14.01
Primer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$9.19
Drop Cloth (3-Pack) . . .$3.27
Gloves . . . . . . . . . . . . . $0.97
Mask (3-Pack) . . . . . . .$4.77
Wood Filler . . . . . . . . . $6.37
Sealer . . . . . . . . . . . . . .$3.18
New Hardware . . . . . . .$7.98

GRAND TOTAL . . . . $74.74

I got some of the supplies at Lowe's (with 10% military discount), some at Walmart, and a few things at Hobby Lobby (paint is the most expensive there, but if you use a 40% off coupon (which you can just pull up on your phone) it's cheaper than Walmart, also the hardware came from there and was 50% off)

And here are a few helpful links to some of the sites that I referenced:
YouTube video showing the sanding/priming/painting process
Helpful blog that I've referenced several times
Another helpful blog "How To"

Also, I have a Furniture Projects Board on Pinterest with a lot of fun ideas to consume many more nap times.

So there you have it - my first furniture makeover:



  1. Wow! Great job!! I love Gray Gertrude, she's a beaut! :)

  2. Looks great my friend! I love the hardware you chose!

  3. I love it! Maybe I should be craigslisting more! Or not ;)
    Super awesome tutorial, too. I trust it's going on Pinterest!

  4. Those baskets look terrific in Grey Gertude.

  5. It looks fantastic! God for you for following the steps properly, I usually get bird and skip sanding... Not recommended.

  6. I love it! I love these types of reno jobs! You made me laugh when you said that Miles is gone for 3 weeks and you have to keep yourself busy. Whenever Matt travels that is when I usually take on projects like these! 24 weeks pregnant with Ava I assembled a giant kitchen hutch over a week. Should have seen his face when he came home!

  7. Good work!! Looks amazing!
    You are better then me on safety first! Glasses and mask, ha you will have better lungs then me! I never use either!
    Love the hardware too!
    I am trying to stay away from buying anything new or replacing until we buy a house...that is so hard!

  8. I was hoping you would share... but I didn't think you'd have a project done that soon after you pinned all those! I'm totally impressed.

    Love me some furniture refinishing! Can't wait to see if you refinish anything else, especially for Finn.

  9. I love this! I am so impressed! Now I may have the sewing thing down, but you'll definitely have to teach me a thing or two about redoing furniture. It looks awesome!

  10. Looks great! This should go on the Ikea Hackers website. :)

  11. I think it looks fabulous. Love Roscoe in the mask!