Scott and I are almost finished overhauling Callie’s old room and making it into an office/workout space/second guest room. We moved Callie across the hall this summer to give her more space and an extra window. As part of the whole process, we decided to turn the office closet into an office nook with a built-in stand up desk for Scott. I love using closets as nooks but…I don’t love losing storage space.
That’s where this dresser came in.
I knew I needed a hulking dresser and I knew I didn’t want to build it myself. I’ve found that with so many useable old pieces on the secondhand market, I rarely need to build from scratch these days. Unless I’m trying to fit an odd space or I want a very specific design, I can usually find what I need in an old piece that I revamp. Added bonus: I don’t have to steal lumber from the forest and this dresser doesn’t head to a landfill.
This piece actually wasn’t very old. It’s probably a late 1990’s/early 2000’s dresser. It came from a big box furniture store and it’s got dovetailed drawers (usually a sign of a high quality piece) but it was made in China and the construction is not top notch. So…don’t let dovetailed drawers fool you. There’s more to a good piece of furniture than drawer construction alone. It is super sturdy, though, and made from a combination of solid wood and plywood. No particle board or MDF that I could find.
Anyway, you know I’d never let a honey oak piece live in my house permanently. But a painted honey oak piece? With the telltale oak grain peaking through in the texture of the piece? So you know there’s real wood under that paint? Yeah, that’s my kind of furniture.
Here’s how I landed on the color, Coastal Blue by General Finishes. Brynn wanted her new desk to be navy blue. It took half a can of paint to paint her desk. I knew it would take half a can to do this piece. I didn’t want to buy more paint or choose a color. I knew navy would be fine in the office. Bam. Paint color choice complete.
Those are my favorite kinds of decisions, by the way. Ones that decide themselves.
For this piece, I filled all of the hardware holes (because the piece came without all of its original hardware and I couldn’t find any I loved that would fit the original holes) and gave the whole piece a light sanding. The top had some water damage so I sanded through past the old finish to smooth it out. I primed with a dark tinted primer (which I knew would reduce the number of coats I’d need of my General Finishes Coastal Blue) and then gave it another light sanding.
I harp on this all the time, I know, but if you’re looking for a super smooth furniture finish, you really can’t skip the sanding steps. It only takes a tiny bit of sanding with 400 grit to give you a super smooth surface, and if you’re going for a flawless finish or even just a smooth-to-the-touch finish, you can’t skip sanding. Not with milk paint, not with chalk paint, not with acrylic, not with latex (which I’d never recommend for furniture).
Once I had all the dust vacuumed up and the piece wiped down, I added two coats of Coastal Blue. I might have been able to get away with one thicker coat, but to prevent drips and sags I prefer to do two thin coats. One thing I love about this paint, though, is how well it self-levels and self-corrects. So when I do get a drip (it happens), I can smooth it out with a wet paint brush and once the piece is dry, it will be like nothing ever happened. That’s why this paint is my favorite for a solid (i.e.: not rustic or distressed) finish. Also, it dries really hard and sands exceptionally well.
For added protection, I wiped on two coats of my favorite sealer, Vermont Natural Coatings Wipe-On PolyWhey. It’s a bit glossier than I’d like, but I haven’t found a water-based topcoat that can beat it in terms of durability, not to mention odor and environmental friendliness. It’s a fantastic product.
The pulls on this piece are the crown jewel, in my opinion. They were a special order from Lowe’s, they took two months (!!!) to arrive, they required many email conversations back and fourth between Lowe’s customer service and myself (I was not impressed, by the way), and they were totally worth every hair that I pulled out waiting for them. Because they are superb. Heavy, high quality, and beautiful. They were not cheap…I paid around $75 total for them, but when you add that to $50 for the dresser and maybe $15 in paint and PolyWhey, it’s still not a bad price for a dresser that is both beautiful and functional.
Here’s a sneak peak at Scott’s new desk. It still needs a shelf above it, some curtains, and a few other details before we chat about it on the blog. Even without being 100% finished, he’s loving the desk height (so he can choose to sit or stand while working) and the double monitor setup.
This post is not a paid placement for General Finishes or Vermont Natural Coatings. I am only mentioning these products because I have found them to be useful and high quality. I was not compensated in any way for this post.