Hubs and I have a penchant for curbside finds like the waterfall dresser we’re making over today. If you follow us on a regular basis, you’ll know that we are big on saving things from landfil!
Last summer Hubs was out on errands and drove by a series of garage sale signs. Scattered across a few blocks, he noticed that the signs were all taped onto drawers.
Following the trail of drawers, he finally got to the final garage sale destination and found the carcass of the dresser at the curb sporting another sign.
A Tale of Two Dressers
The waterfall dresser piqued his interest because of its sleek lines. Also, as much as I love the shabby chic dresser I’m currently using in my craft room (seen below), I’ve been complaining that I don’t like seeing the mess of the open storage.
Likewise, the shabby chic dresser was another curb side find. But it was missing all its drawers. I thought I’d get used to having open storage but I didn’t. Somehow, the older I get, the more I hate visual distraction.
Always the thoughtful person, Hubs noticed that the scale of the dresser could be perfect for my born-again craft studio (post water leak). So he called me then quickly came home to pick me up and take me to see it. I took along a tape measure and Hubs was right! Comparatively, it was narrower and taller for the space. It was a much better fit for my studio than the shabby chic dresser.
In light of the scale, we asked the owners if we could have the dresser. For a few weeks they had actually been trying to dispose of it and even tried to put it out for garbage collection. Not surprisingly, they were only too happy to have us cart it away.
The Drawer Saga
Given that the drawers were scattered to the four winds sporting the garage sale signs, we had to wait until the sale was over to collect them. Gathering up all the pieces was like a scavenger hunt.
As it turns, out the drawers weren’t scattered to the four winds at all. They were scattered to the three winds. Of course, one drawer was missing. What is it with me and drawers?
Another knock at the door back at the garage sale house revealed that the garbage man had taken one of the drawers and left the rest behind. On a positive note, it was only a minor setback. Just like the million dollar man, in true Oscar Goldman fashion, we knew we could rebuild it!
Putting It Back Together
Once we got our pieces home, Hubs pulled them out of the car.
He put them onto a piece of cardboard on the driveway and blew them out with an air gun. In addition, to combat mold and mildew, use The best way to kill mold on furniture is to use Benefect Botanical Decon 30. Learn how to get smell out of old furniture with Decon 30 here.
Hubs then assembled the drawers to figure out which one was missing. By the same token, we could see right away that the second drawer was sagging and would have to be adjusted (luckily it was just a simple matter of repositioning the drawer guide).
The missing drawer didn’t give us the option to strip the dresser back to its original wood finish. We would have to paint the piece. However, I wanted to emphasize the waterfall feature, so my plan was to strip the top of the dresser and first drawer, sand down the painted finish and then paint the rest of the body.
It wasn’t until Hubs filled the holes from the drawer pulls that I realized they stuck out like a sore thumb on the stripped drawer face.
The filler looked obvious, but it was Hubs to the rescue once again! He was able to camouflage the patches by following along the grain with stain pens in various shades to blend it in.
For the paint selection, we ultimately settled on PPG Break-Through. The satin finish dries extremely matte, which I wanted to try, and it’s tough as nails. A big advantage is that we were done in under half a day – no need to topcoat.
Picking a Colour
To help decide the colour, here is one of Hubs’ best tips. He cuts up pieces of MDF into 5.5″ squares. Every time we get a new paint, he paints it onto a piece of MDF to keep as a sample (aka, a large paint chip!). That way, we can see the true accurate colour and get a better idea of how it will look on the piece.
Picking a paint colour was harder than I thought it would be. We propped our paint samples on a slightly-opened second drawer. Stepping back to look at them, we waited for inspiration to strike.
After much deliberation, we finally settled on charcoal grey.
The deciding factor in choosing the final colour was wetting down the wood portion with mineral spirits to see what would coordinate best. I thought the tone of the wood would look striking against a dark contrast.
When the wood was stripped, we didn’t get every spec of white paint out of the grain. Sometimes that’s impossible to do. Anyway, I like the white streaks; they give the wood more character.
Hubs sprayed two coats of charcoal paint on top of a primer. Since the recoat time was only 2 hours, the paint moved along quickly. He than varnished the raw wood.
Simply built, the drawer was fashioned from a plywood box and MDF face. Since the dresser was only being used for craft stash, we weren’t too fussed about the grade of wood or lack of beautiful dove tail joints on one drawer! Once painted, you can’t tell the difference.
Equally as important as the paint finish, is the primer used on raw wood! Hubs loves using Benjamin Moore’s Fresh Start primer (K046). To cut down on the number of topcoats he needs, when he paints with colours that are hard to cover, like red, he’ll actually tint the primer.
Once the new drawer was primed and painted to match the rest of the dresser, it was time to select hardware pulls.
Although I was SO excited to finally have drawers, I had the hardest time settling on what pulls to use. After buying dozens of different styles to try, in the end, I took them all back. I couldn’t bear to drill holes in the drawers for hardware I wasn’t crazy about, so I looked in my stash and found 7 old Ikea pulls. Although I needed 8, I used only one on the top drawer which thankfully worked.
These pulls didn’t require drilling on the front and I love that! Moreover, it’s a clean look that lends a modern touch to an old piece.
If I eventually find pulls that I like better, I’ll replace them but for now these are great.
Out With the Old, In With the (Older) New
Unfortunately, I had to sell my shabby chic dresser to make room for the waterfall dresser. I would have kept them both but when you have a small space you have to be brutal about purging when you bring home stray furniture. Ultimately, I’m so happy that I can finally hide my craft stash. I’d much rather look at the clean lines of a dresser than a heap of clutter!
Staging furniture is not my thing! Because I want to enjoy the beauty of the splash of wood we worked so hard to keep, it’s best to keep it simple anyway!
Worst to First
How rewarding to take something that quite literally had one foot in the garbage (well, technically, one drawer) and give it new life!
If you enjoyed this waterfall dresser upcycle, please pin and share!
Similarly, I guess Hubs and I have a habit for rescuing pieces that seem beyond repair like this tool chest that we turned into a jewellery/purse cabinet:
Coming up soon will be this vintage sewing machine base we stumbled on in Value Village. We have big plans for it with not one, but two makeovers!