Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Budget Dresser Re-do

There has come an age in every single one of my kid's little lives thus far, where they have decided the most fun they can have is throwing all their clothes out of their dresser drawers and then climbing into them... and jumping.  You can imagine the havoc that has been wreaked upon their poor dressers.  The twins even have gone so far as to climb into one drawer together, and with their forces combined... broken the drawer.  I will admit, we didn't get them the best furniture.  Budgets are a pretty strict thing in my household, what with one full-time income and five of us total.  I have to cut corners and save a few dollars where I can (and honestly, who doesn't?)   But, in the past few weeks they have efficiently broken the dresser beyond repair, and it was relegated to their closet until it could be replaced.

Well, my mother in law got wind that the kids had demolished their dresser, and she told me she had one at her house that we could have.  She also warned me it was ugly.  Ugly? Fine!  I can do ugly, as long as it is temporary and can be used!...

Then this showed up at my house.  I about had a heart attack when it came in the door.  No one told me it was water damaged, scratched, painful to look at and belonged on the side of the road waiting for the garbage truck to haul it away.  Okay, maybe that's a bit harsh.  But... ugh.

After a few deep breaths, and a mild panic attack, I figured I could at least give it a face lift.  I see people using Modge Podge on the worst furniture in the world on Pinterest all the time!... I could totally do that (I hoped).  

For this project I used:
One large jar of Modge Podge
Two yards of cotton fabric
Three cans of spray paint
Razor blade
2" drawer handles
and of course... a dresser

This project took me an ENTIRE dedicated weekend.  Phew!

I had two big jars of Modge Podge my grandmother gave me forever ago (I only used one big one), fabric is always in my fabric stash, sandpaper I nicked from my husband and paint I picked up for less than $15 at my local home improvement store.  I had extra handles from my kitchen makeover when I got new cabinets.

Well, first I got my husband to help haul this bad boy into the garage.  The worst part of the dresser was the water damage.  It worried me most because the entire dresser wasn't made of solid wood, it was mainly just the frame.  The top, sides, and most of the drawers were made of MDF.  Ever see MDF soak up water?  It swells, and doesn't go back down, leaving you with a giant lump.  I'd never tried to sand MDF before, and Googling how to fix MDF water damage left me with no hope... I just went for it.  And it actually worked! I was pretty pleased with the results.  I sanded down all the lumps, bumps and scratches the best I could.

After everything was as even as I could make it, it was time to put the fabric on the drawers.  Now, listen to my tale of woe!   I highly recommend painting the entire dresser before you Modge Podge the fabric on.  It looks a LOT nicer.  I, however did not know this, until I put the fabric on over areas where I painted, which of course was after I had finished the drawers.  I'll fix it later, after the twin's birthday party when I have less to do.  But it works for now.

I used a sponge brush to put the Modge Podge on the drawers, then layed the fabric down, smoothed it with my hands and then slathered more Modge Podge onto the top of the fabric.  The fabric hung over the edges of the drawers by about 1-2" on each side.  Oh, and I didn't use fabric Modge Podge, either... just high gloss!  I gave it about four hours to dry thoroughly.

Once it's entirely dry, you can use a very sharp xacto knife to trim down the fabric.  It will be stiff, and cut very easily without fraying.  I cut down all of the fabric on the drawers, and I also cut small slits over the holes where the hardware had to go for the drawer handles so the screws could go through.  

Even after all the extra fabric was cut, I still was worried about the kids being able to peel it off.  So, I did one final layer of Modge Podge around the edges I had just cut to ensure it would stick.  Then, I got to wait around some more for this layer to dry.  There was a lot of waiting around...

Then I added the hardware!  I would have preferred more vintage-looking hardware, but beggars can't be choosers and this was still a vast improvement over the 1980's mismatched junk that was there before.

I wanted to preserve the carvings on the top two drawers, and didn't want to Modge Podge fabric over it.  It gave the dresser some much-needed character, and I thought it also added a little bit of a feminine touch which was good for the twin's room.  I used Rust-Oleum's Painter's Touch 2X spray paint in gloss candy pink  to give the drawers a couple of coats of paint.  The MDF simply absorbed the paint... but I felt it gave it a vintage look and ran with it.  

If you notice on the upper drawers, someone had poorly filled in the original handle holes with wood putty.  Even after sanding and painting, the holes still were an eyesore.  So I decided to Modge Podge into the squares where the original handles were to cover it, and it worked out pretty nicely!

For the body of the dresser, I had to use three thin coats of spray paint.  That didn't include the back of the dresser, which I largely ignored because I knew it would always be against a wall.  The top of the dresser had such bad water damage that was impossible to perfect (and I had learned that the exposed MDF would simply suck up the paint instead of letting the paint cover it), that I decided to Modge Podge the top of the dresser with fabric as well.  After hours of layering paint, layering Modge Podge and fabric, and using a new blade on my xacto for a sharp precise cut on the fabric... voila!  The body was also done.  

A vast improvement, if I do say so myself!  It is vintage shabby chic!  The only issues I've had with the dresser so far is that my youngest girl is a daredevil with a death wish and likes to climb on it, then jump off.  (I think we have solved that with moving her bed farther away from the dresser to discourage climbing from one furniture piece to another).   The dresser is now fully functional, much more sturdy than anything we had before, and I can stand to look at it!  I've had no issues with fraying fabric or chipping paint, and I'm extremely pleased with the results.
I'll have to find some other things to re-do...

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