Thursday, January 19, 2017

DIY: Antiquing a Dresser

Okay guys, it's the wife here for the introduction since that's our normal set up. Today's post is brought to you by the husband and I really think you're going to like it. When we bought this house, the previous owners left a dresser in the bedroom. It was in less than perfect condition, but I knew it would make the perfect dresser for our little one's room. So, I mentioned keeping it with the original intention of simply giving it a face lift with a coat of paint. I even had my dad sand it down for me while he was home. Well, time got away from me, pregnancy zapped my energy, and the husband came up with a different idea. I'm so glad he did because I can't even tell you how much I love the final product he came up with!

All right guys and gals (if you’re into making your guys do things like this.) Do you want sweet, distressed wood furniture? Do you enjoy half assing projects? Do you have pent up rage issues potentially caused by your honey do list? Well, I’ve got the project for you.

This piece of furniture was found left at the house we had bought. Luckily, it was real hard wood but in bland, drab, and overall unlikeable shape. So, we decided to make it look nice and allow it to continue its life in the service of our son. Honestly, the first step in this process is to acquire the piece of beat up furniture you’d like to transform. I’d suggest finding a crappy piece of furniture at a flea market, craigslist, whatever, just make sure it’s actually wood and not that particle board garbage. Plywood sides and crappy back board are fine, you won’t see them but the face is best if it’s actual wood.

After you have acquired your furniture you are going to sand it down. We are half assing this project so be sure to leave remnants of the old stain in areas varying in size and scattered haphazardly across the flat faces . In this process, corners are key. I, personally, like to take the corners all the way down to bare wood and fade off into the stain spots on the flat faces.

Pent up rage? This is where you get to take that out. I used a rusty old chain, a hammer, and a screwdriver to make my masterpiece. Beat the hell out of it. All over. Like it was damned. Start with the chain, to make the smaller spots. It is important to note that you still must take care on the edges to avoid destroying the furniture entirely. Remember, even though we are taking out our aggression on this poor furniture, we’re still only half-assing it. After chain, bring out the screw driver, if that’s your thing. Add notches and scratches at will. Then comes the hammer. Use the edge of the hammer to ensure the deepest divots you can make without breaking anything. Corners are key here - be sure to notch those corners well. With age, the corners are the first things to go.

Once your rage has been expended, you’re going back to a little TLC lightly sand it again to take out any splinters left from the damage you created. Now your furniture should be dented, dusty, and discolored. You might say, “But Husband, the dents are barely visible and the wood is all light” and I say unto thee, it is coming.

“I see a wood desk and I want to paint it black.” That’s right. I said paint it black. The best method I have found for this is to take some standard black interior latex paint, of the flat variety. If you want to use acrylic, water colors, whatever, try it, but why stray from what you know will create a nice product. Take about 3 tablespoons of paint and water it down until you basically just have some black water. When you paint it on it should come out an odd dingy gray. Be sure you get plenty in the corners, divots, scratches, and cracks as this will add depth to the preexisting texture. Coat the whole thing, and let it dry. With the paint watered down depending on the humidity in the area it should be dry in about 5 hrs.

Once dry, it’s back to the sander. It starts to get a little touchy here because the orbital sander has a tendency to leave little loop de loops in the black. Lighten the pressure and you should be able to coax out some nice gradients between the old stain and the black areas. Remember, half-assing it - don’t take all the black off, just most of it; and be careful with the corners that you leave behind the black divots as you round the sharp edges down. After sanding it back down, you should have a beautiful spotted piece of furniture with texture and color galore.

Now, you should be left with a piece of furniture that looks like the brightness and contrast hasn’t been tuned in quite right. Fret not dear friends for there is one more step. Well, after you wipe off all the leftover sanding dust. You are going to add at least 2 coats of clear satin finish polyurethane wood sealant. This is the only part of this whole project you cannot half ass. Thicker is not better when it comes to this stuff. So, 2 nice thin coats of sealant with ample time to dry between coats. This will help to level off some of the sharper edges, fill in the scratches and make it a much smoother surface.

Once dry, you will have a nice pretty accent to any room that will add a rusticated flare. With the polyurethane coating, this finish should last as long as the furniture itself. Last, if you happen to conduct this evolution inside, as I did, cover everything before you start sanding. Cleanup took forever, and you will even have to take a damp cloth to the walls to kill even most of the dust that accumulates… Not my brightest moment.

What was the last home project you worked on? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below! Also, return in a few weeks to see how we used this dresser in our nursery reveal!

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