Sunday, June 24, 2012

Behind the Scenes: Project Resurface

When P moved in, that meant moving all of his things in too, and finding a good fit for everything. The biggest project of our move soon became the idea to resurface the old dressers and nightstand that he had.

Funny story: when P and I discussed the idea of sanding and re-staining the pieces to brighten them up, he said, "I'm fine with it, I think it is a great idea, but these things have been around for a while, so I think we should discuss it with my parents before we do anything to alter them."

So the nerves started building.. How will they react when they find out that their son's girlfriend wants to sand down these pieces that they have had in the family for ages?! How will we even begin to explain this idea to them, and convince them it is a good thing? And most importantly... What if they say no!! And here's the kicker.. P says, "I think since it was such a good idea, you should tell them about it and see what they think." Great, so now I have to do all the talking too! Ugh!

So when we went down for Easter weekend, I broached the subject. "So, um, well, you know those really wonderful bedroom pieces that P has...?" I explained what we were thinking.. and without hesitation, they both said "What furniture is that? Sure, we don't care, it's P's stuff, he can do what he wants with it!"

All that build up for nothing! Meanwhile P was laughing in the background, because he totally set me up! Rude!

Anyhow, with his parents blessing, we got to sanding. Here are the before's, and some of us in the process of removing the old stain:

The wardrobe pre-DBK treatment.
Close-up of the door detail--minus hardware.

What? You don't use power tools in heels and business attire?

Neither do I really.. working on the wardrobe.

P helping with the process.

After completing the sanding process, the next thing to do is apply the stain. Dip a rag in the stain, and then rub from one side to the other in long even strokes. you don't want to see where you stopped and started the line. You also want to be aware of the drips, and try and soak them up before they soak into the wood, and remain visible on the piece. Of course if you hate how it turns out, you can re-sand, and re-stain later, but try to avoid that if possible, as it is hard work! If you have never stained before, try your hand at an area on the back or a side that may end up less visible once the piece is in place.  Here I  am, working on the nightstand, during the staining process:

Breaking most of the above rules.. do as I say, not as I do.
We did two coats of the stain, and used a product with a sealer in it so we didn't need to do that additional step. (In the future, I wouldn't mind buying and applying a clear poly glazing coat to add some shine, and ultimately finish up the piece.) For me, this project was a learning process. I thought it was going to be immensely easier than it turned out to be. However, I learned a lot, and love the final product. Note: wear gloves when staining, unless you want to stain your skin as well...
Here are the finished stained pieces:

The third piece was a low dresser, that after P began to sand, we found out was just a veneer of fake wood. Aka, not something you want to sand down. So we opted to do something much simpler... spray paint! For those of you who have never spray painted anything, I strongly recommend finding something small around your house that needs a fresh coat of paint, and using spray paint to do the job. It is so much fun! (Maybe those are the fumes talking though, so be careful when spray-painting your own items, and don't be upset with me if you don't like the outcome!)

We chose a medium brown, in a satin finish, and sprayed away. If you don't have a good place outside your home to spray, I recommend doing it in your back or side yard. You will have to pay extra attention to the areas around the bottom of the piece where the grass blades may block the spray, but your grass will grow out and be mowed, so all evidence of spray-painting will disappear. In fact, here we are in our side yard durring the spray-paint process: 

Pre-spray-paint, you can vaguely see where we attempted sanding it .

Having a blast spray-painting!

P beginning to realize why spray-painting is so much fun.

Here are the pieces as they sit, all together in what is our office space. We don't have enough room in the bedroom to fit all of our dressers, so we keep a lot of our clothes in the great room. The spray-painted low dresser acts like a console table, the resurfaced nightstand acts as a printer cabinet (and holds a lot of our office supplies too), and the big stained wardrobe sits along the wall, just as it is, a nice piece of furniture.  No the pieces aren't perfect, and no we may not keep them forever, but it was a great project. I think we may have even had a little team-building along the way. They fit nicely in our space, and serve there purposes well.
Here is the finished low dresser:

Sometimes in making a small space work, you have to put large pieces in rooms, and niches, you wouldn't normally think to put them. There is no cookie cutter answer for how things need to be positioned. You will need to layout a new floor plan for almost any space you inhabit. But then, that is half the fun!

Feel free to comment, email me, etc., to let me know what is on your mind, I love hearing from you all. Until next week, Happy Designing!


  1. We're getting ready to spray paint ourdoor furniture. Red! What happened to the picture on top of the big dresser? g

  2. Neat - except for the unnecessary stress you had prepping to ask his parents... ;)

    Way to make it all work!

  3. Oh those look amazing!!! I did that once to a dresser and a desk. I ended up giving the dresser away, but I still have the desk. I sanded, stained and did some decoupage! I'll show you later!