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August 1, 2014

How To Paint Furniture the Easy Way!

Hey ya'll! So, I've been traveling around like a crazy person all summer long. I've been home about three out of eight weekends, and my projects have totally taken a backseat. I have a very obvious pattern that repeats itself each year: I see ALL the people and do ALL the things all summer long, and then every winter I hermit myself until the sun comes back out...leaving me plenty of time to do all the things I avoided all summer.
So, we're not freaking out about the summer slump. Lassie WILL come home. Eventually.

Despite my travels and associated project avoidance, I did have a little creative surge this week and was able to finish a furniture project that I've been wanting to complete for quite some time.

You may remember the little thrift store dresser that I got about 7 years ago. It's hard for me to find a good 'before' picture of it because it was the first piece of furniture I ever painted, and that was about a year before I started my blog.

So, let me tell you a little backstory about this fella.
I got this dresser when I was 23 from my mom as an odd, but very awesome birthday gift. If I remember correctly, she got it for me because my TV was sitting on the floor and I think she felt sorry for me. I found this old picture of me and Mathias (holding baby Tootie) in our condo to demonstrate. You can see the dresser in the background. 
Ignore everything else, including my maiden voyage into the land of self tanners.

And then after a couple years of condo life, Jesse and I moved into our current house, and the wooden dresser situation just kind of perpetuated itself for awhile.

And then I started painting everything in sight, so the dresser got painted white. It was the first piece of furniture I ever painted, and I did an absolutely horrible job. I didn't sand it or prime it, and the paint started peeling off weeks later.

And naturally, at that point, my method of fixing it was to just slop more paint on it. So, it got painted green.
If you ever feel like you suck at decorating, it's okay. Most of us normal humans do in the beginning. Keep trying. And then one day you can laugh about that dresser you painted forrest green. Well, and everything else. 
Just focus on Tootie and Cheese asleep on Jesse's legs, and you'll forget this ever happened.

And then it eventually got painted back to a kind of yellowish-cream and it ended up in the entryway nook for a few years, which is where it stayed until the renovation. 
 I sold almost all of our furniture when we redid the floors, but I kept the little dresser. 

So, this past week I decided to strip the dresser with Citristrip. It's endured about 5 terrible paint jobs, and the only way to salvage it was to start from scratch.
I didn't take any pics when I stripped it. Frankly, I was covered in goo, and in the middle of a Don't Be Tardy marathon, and I just couldn't be bothered. But, if you're curious, it's the same process I used on this dresser.

Once it was stripped and cleaned and ready for paint, I decided to try something a little different. I wanted a lacquer-like finish, so I decided to use some oil paint. The only other time I've used oil paint was back when I painted our old dining room table black, and I loved the way it turned out. So, I decided to try some oil paint on the dresser to see if I could get the look I wanted.

I did a little research and decided to try the Glidden Trim & Door Extra High Gloss in Antique White. I had already stripped and sanded this dresser basically down to raw wood, so there was no need for me to prime. (But, if you aren't stripping your piece, just scuff the surface lightly with some fine grit sandpaper and use Kilz oil based primer made for adhesion before you paint with this paint.)

For tools, all I needed was my Wooster shortcut brush. The Glidden oil paint has something called 'Gel Flow Technology' and it's supposed to just level out on its own and show no signs of brushstrokes. When I first applied it, I could see my brushstrokes, but I left it overnight and they completely leveled out. It totally blew my mind, and now I'm obsessed with this paint.

You're probably wondering how this relates to other paints I've used. So, for me, the pros of this oil paint in comparison to the Sherwin Williams Alkyd Enamel paint (a water based self-leveling paint that I usually use on furniture) is that the oil paint cures way harder and gives a much shinier, professional looking finish without having to use any sort of topcoat. Seriously, this dresser looks like it came this way. None of my paint jobs have ever looked this amazing. The cons are that the Glidden oil paint smells terrible (you'll have to open some windows for about 24 hours), the dry time is really long (dry to the touch in 12 hours, but not fully cured for about 48 hours), you have to clean your brush out with mineral spirits, and it only comes in 4 colors (black, gray, white, antique white). 

So, in summary, the oil paint is easy to use and creates an amazing finish, but it's really toxic. So, be a smartie and wear the appropriate mask and ventilate your workspace.

Now, let's move on to the rest of the dresser. After I had painted the frame of the dresser, I painted the drawer fronts and let them dry for 48 hours, planning to paint the interiors of the drawers (because they were disgusting) with some leftover navy blue latex paint. But, then I got a wild hair at the last moment and decided that I wanted to spray paint them chrome silver. So, I had to take the hardware off (that I had impatiently applied too early) and then tape off the fronts of the drawers so as to not get spray paint on them.
Note to self: Spray paint the insides of the drawers before painting the outsides. 
Life isn't meant to be spent tangled in tape.

Then I grabbed a few cans of Rustoleum in Bright Coat Silver because it's super shiny and mimics silver leaf when used on raw wood. I discovered this by accident, and it's awesome.

And then I took the drawers outside into the really crappy mosquito-ey part of my backyard that I avoid at all costs (unless I'm further ruining it with spray paint), and I spray painted the insides and outsides of the drawers (minus the fronts). 


It only took two cans, and it made such a big difference. The insides of this dresser needed some major help, and this was so much easier than my usual route of priming and painting them by hand.
I realize how awful my yard is. 
Jesse says he's overseeding it for next year...or something. But, I just kinda laugh and embrace the secret garden of weeds and bamboo that is my backyard.
A girl can only do so much at once.

Once the insides were dry, I took them back inside and let everything cure for another day.

Once everything was totally dry, I applied the hardware. I found these amazing little pulls at Home Depot. They remind me almost exactly of these Restoration Hardware pulls, but they were only $4 each rather than $24.

I feel like hardware is kinda like the jewelry of furniture. 
The right pair of earrings, and boom, you're Beyonce.

Once it was all assembled, I decided to move it to the corner of the office in the nook. Remember how the old office had a bookshelf in the corner? 

Well, unfortunately for Cheese, I got rid of the bookshelf and I moved in my new dresser.
Here's how the little office nook looks today.

I've been working on putting the office back together for a few weeks now, and it's almost finished. So, things might still get moved around a little bit, but I'm hoping to be able to show you the whole thing soon.

I styled it up temporarily with a mirror from HomeGoods that I found on clearance for about $30 because it was all scuffed up and the mirror was popping out of the back.
 I fixed it with some Rub N Buff and heavy duty glue.
Take that, pricey discount store that tempts me with its shiny goods.

And then a silver tray (thrift store), a baby orchid (I'm probably gonna kill it soon, so soak it up.), and a little blue and white bowl (thrift store).

I plan to use this dresser to organize our paperwork in the office, and store random electronics and such.

I still have quite a bit of work to do in the office, but there's finally some furniture in it, so I can actually sit in here and blog again.
Little by little, we will conquer this mountain, ya'll. 
That's me being optimistic in the face of adversity.

And that's my newly redone little oil paint dresser. I love it, and I think it's the perfect little fit for the corner of the office. 

Before I go, a few of you have inquired about my brother, Mathias, and how he's doing in the Navy. And quite a few of you have even let me know that you have a Navy Nuke in your family, too! 
Thank you. Seriously. I appreciate that so much.

In case you aren't up to date, Mathias enlisted (for a 6 year period) to be a Nuclear Engineer in the Navy a little over a year ago, and for quite some time I was so sad. He's totally my best friend even though we're a decade apart, and when he lived in Knoxville I got to see him all the time. 
And then everything changed and it was hard.
He went to boot camp for 6 weeks and was only able to communicate via letters.

It was really rough, but also kinda delightful to get weird letters from him, because who gets letters from their little brother? No one, that's who.
And then I got to see him for a few days at Christmas, so that was good. And then a few days in Charleston and Myrtle Beach earlier this year when he graduated from his first Nuclear engineering school. But, then he moved from Charleston up to New York and I was so worried I would never see him again.
Because that's how my brain works.

But then, last week we got to drive up and visit him and his girlfriend, Meredith, who got to live with him for the summer before she had to return to classes at UT. And so, that's where I've been for the past little while. 
And it was one of the best little vacations ever. The 30 hour round trip car ride nearly killed me, but other than that, it was great. He rents a cute old house with some of his Navy friends (filled to the brim with recliners, food, computer parts, and other things 21 year old dudes like). 
We played lots of games, mostly Giant Jenga.
Mathias made it out of 2x4's.
It's a very violent take on the classic children's game.

And Jesse was basically in heaven, as he just got to play outside for a few days and spend time being bros with his bro.

And then we got to explore the property that Mathias' house sits on. There was at one point an old functioning mill on his property, so there are all of these weird tunnels and rock structures to explore. And it backs right up to a river, and they hung hammocks all over the top of the rock structure (pictured below) so you can just kind of swing in the hammocks and look at the river. 
It was a mixture of one part 'Amazing!' and one part 'Is this the set of True Detective?'.

And then Mathias took us to the horse races in Saratoga. I've never been to a horse race, so it was kinda fascinating, and definitely something to see. Jesse won $100, so that pretty much made his life.

But, for the most part, we just spent a lot of time hanging out and laughing, and appreciating the weirdness that is my brother.
 Exhibit A: My brother and his roommates made giant printouts of their faces. 
You know, just for hallway decor.

To know Mathias, is truly to love Mathias, and I'm so glad I had the opportunity to go up to New York while he was there and see what his life is like there. 
It made me incredibly happy. I miss the lil' guy.

That's all for today, ya'll. 
Thanks for caring about my life tidbits. I'll be back soon!
'Til then!

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  1. The chest looks amazing and I love, love, love the hardware. Great tip about the paint, something I need to try.

    Sounds like you and your brother are super friends and had such a great time together.

  2. That's awesome and so is the story about your brother. I'm wondering if any of the high end paint companies carry a similar type of paint.

  3. You are one of the most amazing visionary decorators I have ever known not to mention a hard worker. I am so inspired by you. I never would have thought to use metallic spray for inside a drawer. I would have added the 6th or 7th coat on the dresser, I'm just too impatient. Although, I have taken all my kitchen cupboards off to paint them and I put them back. What a task but am so proud of how well it looks so. I always looks forward to your next project. Great job as always! I'm so glad to see a brother and sister as close as you guys. I hope and pray my grandson and his baby sister can do the same when they get old. :) Have a blessed weekend! -Bev

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Bev! And congrats on completing your kitchen cabinet project! I know firsthand what a feat that is!

  4. I stumbled upon your blog about a year ago and have enjoyed your posts. My husband and I have tackled many, many projects and I love to see young people like you and your husband learn to do it yourself, rather than pay someone else.The dresser looks great and I love the silver paint inside. Oil based paint really does do a superior job on many things. It is getting harder and harder to find.
    Your relationship with your bother is so sweet. My brother is 9 years younger than me and we have always been close. We are now 64 and 55 and he and his wife are my favorite people. My kids thought he was the coolest uncle and I try to be the fun (older) aunt to his.
    I look forward to seeing your next post, but enjoy your summer, winter (and inside projects) will be here soon.

    1. Thank you, Martha! I love hearing about the similarities between our two stories. Sounds like you totally understand!

  5. Hi Virginia, Love the paint job on your little dresser. I know it's a lot of work, but it looks fantastic. One suggestion: try switching the top two drawers. Sometimes drawers belong in a certain spot and if you switch them, they look off balance and yours look that way. So try switching them around. (The left to the right and vise versa.)
    And congrats on a wonderful vacation with you brother - looks like you had a great time!!! Will pray for him and his buddies as they defend our country!

    1. Hi Patricia! Thanks so much for the suggestion! I tried to switch them, and they just wouldn't fit in the opposite spots....such is the hazard of a really old dresser! I'll just have to live with a little bit of asymmetry! Ha! :)

  6. OMG - baby kitten! That alone made this post! :-) Do you have any pics of the completed dresser with a drawer open so we can see the full effect?

  7. Hey, Virginia, I love the dresser makeover. It looks beautiful in the office. I have the same mirror in very orangy gold, what shade rub and buff did you use on it? It looks amazing.
    P.S. I recognized the highway sign in the picture, I'm originally form Troy NY and my husband is from Saratoga Springs :)

    1. Small world!!!! I really loved it up gorgeous. I used the champagne gold rub n buff over top of the silver rub n buff.

    2. Even smaller world. I stumbled across your blog looking for decorating ideas...and I live in Troy...and work for a Navy contractor...on nuclear submarines. O.O

  8. I LOVE it! Keep up the good work!

  9. Ha! Love the giant head print outs! I am laughing because I am not sure what I would do if I walked in a house and they had all these BIG head print outs of their family. LOL! That would be interesting entry way decor. ;)

    Anyway, thank you for the tip about the metallic spray paint and spraying the inside of the drawers! They look beautiful and so does the outside of the dresser. Beautiful piece. :)

    1. Thank you! And yes....the giant heads were pretty amazing. My brother never ceases to be a totally delightful weirdo. :)

  10. I so enjoy receiving your blog posts, Virgina. I have to tell you, yours is one of the very few that I read from cover to cover... and laugh out loud at... and read out to my Hubby who sits there with a look of "huh?" as I relay your decorating adventures. Men, huh? 😉 I LOVE the dresser. The drawers are genius! This one's totally being pinned for future reference. Sue

    1. Aw, thank you so much, Sue! I can't even tell you how happy that makes me to know that! xo

  11. I loved this always make me laugh with your sense of humor. Of course kitty photos always make me smile. Love cheese on the bookshelf. Your dresser looks fab!! Nice job and love the jewelry on it too!

    1. Thanks Nanci! I knew someone would appreciate little bookshelf Cheese! :)

  12. I'm always excited to read a new post from you. This one is especially timely. I'm in the process of stripping my kitchen cabinets to repaint them in white. If you were to paint your cabinets again, what type of paint would you choose? Latex enamel? Or oil? Also, loved hearing that your brother is doing well. Laughed so hard at the pictures of their heads on the wall. :)

    1. Hey Angela! Thank you! If I did it over again, I would use the Sherwin Williams Alkyd Enamel paint on my cabinets. It's water based, so I could paint inside for 800 hours and still function like normal human (as opposed to trying to use the oil paint on all my cabinets). :) I just used normal latex paint originally (which has held up fine, btw), but the SW paint just looks better, flows better, and you don't have to deal with brushstrokes.

  13. This was so sweet! I love your blog, and love to see the love for your sibling:) Thanks for the oil paint tutorial. I have an almost identical dresser with peeling paint, and will most likely use your post to redo mine. Thank you!

  14. Hey girl! Love your blog. I'm working up the courage to paint a bunch of my ikea laminate furniture using your method! It's preeeeetty fugly right now.

    My cousin is Navy! He said it changed him in a good way and he made one of his best friends EVER there. Ever ever. It was a really good thing for him. And now he's getting a PhD in poetry! Life is so funny.

  15. Love it Virginia :) Oil paint is so great for that high gloss look :) Love that is has meaning to you too! xoxo

  16. Holy cow! Your brother lives right by me! When we moved up here we lived in the condos right there...small world!

    1. Whoa! Small world indeed! That kinda just blew my mind. :)

  17. I want that mirror. So bad. Soooooooooooo bad..

  18. I found your blog a couple of months ago and I love it! I have learned so much! I am just starting to paint a dresser myself (just primed it) and want to use oil paint. Do I need to use a wax/sealer as a final coat when using oil like I would with water base? What about on a coffee table that might get a bit more "surface use"? Thanks for posting such great things! I just started a blog and you give me hope that maybe one day I'll be good at everything like you! :)

  19. Love, love, love how the dresser turned out! I'm hoping to paint an ugly oak mantel white. Would you recommend the oil based paint that you used for such a project or something different? I get so many good ideas from your blog and really admire how you jump right in without fear!

  20. I've just finished your blog and the things you've done, their transformations, they are just so inspiring! I'm now looking at my home, and various projects, with renewed vision. I look forward to reading more of exploits in the future. Thank you so much for posting and sharing with us.


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