Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Love Story of A Dresser

For about two years I had been on the hunt for a dresser, one that I could make an affordable DIY project, hard work that has a satisfying finish. I had been using a dresser that was a hand-me-down. It was originally white, dirty, and damp from sitting in a garage. I painted it a vivid green in an attempt to brighten up the dark, dingy room that I was living in at the time. However, once I moved into my current room which is large, sunny, and has a wall that is painted a cheery yellow-orange color, the dresser no longer suited my needs. Plus I was fed up with the cheap compressed wood drawers that never seemed to fit correctly. That dresser actually began to depress me when I looked at it; it was proof that environmental surroundings can play a role in a person's mental state. It was time to find a bigger and better replacement, no matter the cost.


I finally found the perfect dresser on Craigslist, already stripped of paint. It is oak from the 1890s. It has wonderful features: five panels on the sides, skeleton key holes in each drawer, and a strip of wood where a mirror once was attached. I purchased this dresser at a reasonable price with a large project of sanding, staining, and finding the perfect hardware ahead of me. I was under the impression that I was skilled enough to bring this 1890s dresser back to life. When my dad came for a visit, he knew that this antique needed a lot more work than I was skilled to do. Luckily my parents are good friends with a wonderfully talented carpenter and woodworker, Mike. My dad insisted on taking it back to Janesville to let Mike examine it.
Dissecting the Dresser

Reassembling the Dresser

Sure enough the dresser needed more work than I was aware of. The back of the dresser needed to be replaced, the wood needed to be sanded with a machine (not by hand, as I was picturing), the five panels on the side needed to be removed so all of the previous paint thinner could be scraped out, and the bottom of the drawers needed to be replaced. The whole thing needed to be glued back together properly. Mike sanded, deconstructed and reconstructed, and replaced parts of the dresser making it more sturdy and reliable. I learned a lot from Mike; he even pointed us in the right direction for types of stains and techniques to use.

After my mom and I spent a weekend staining the wood a dark brown with a twinge of red and applying multiple coats of polyurethane during the next week, the dresser turned out to be just what I had pictured. We even found some crystal hardware at Hobby Lobby which gave the dresser a hint of sparkle and completed its 1890s feel. My dresser is now a focal point of my room, instead of something that I try to hide. I am proud to show it off and tell people that I refinished it. Of course I could not have done it without the help of Mike, the talented carpenter, and my mom's hard work. I appreciate it, and I know that it will be a piece of furniture I will have as long as it lasts. Who knows, maybe it will outlast me and become a beloved dresser in someone else's home. It was worth all of the hard work to find my dream dresser!


Notice the Side Panels
It Looks Perfect in My Room!

What does your dream furniture look like?

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