Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My bargain chest of drawers...

This is the first of many before and after posts I'm going to share here on the blog.
When Bill and I first moved into our house we had a little furniture of his.. most of it not worth having, and he won't mind me saying that because it really was naff.. and after a while, when the container arrived we got mine too, BUT, since I only had a two bed flat back in the UK and I'd sold the spare bed because it was only a single, it was hardly enough to furnish a 4 bedroomed house..
When I was a kid my parents were in a similar position.. big house no furniture !
One of their favourite things to do was visit local auctions.. partly from necessity and partly because they enjoyed it so much... so it seemed like the obvious thing to do ourselves. 
Back then we were very lucky because not only was there a local auction rooms, but there were two or three second-hand/vintage/consignment stores here in town that had nice bits a pieces too... which in a small community like this was really a wealth of sources.
Unfortunately they have all closed and the auctioneer retired [we still miss you Dave]. 
That having been said, if you fancy this sort of thing yourself, your available resources will depend on your location.. and anyone in an urban centre should have tons to choose from.
Now the place to find stuff is Craig's List plus of course the charity shops and garage/yard sales, antique markets and junk shops.
I will say ANYTHING even half decent gets snapped up very quickly so you need to check on-line everyday for bargains...
Plus if you want the very best deals at any kind of 'sale'.... either be there FIRST for choice [before all the traders and dealers pinch all the good stuff].. or LAST for bargains [because the stall holders won't want to re pack the stuff and lug it home].. and I've long believed that if you go to a market and you don't need a torch to see.. YOU'RE TOO LATE ;o)

Ok so back to the piece in hand..

It's a six drawer chest which we bought at Auction for $25 CDN [about 12.50 for you Brits].
Some one had already given it the Laurence Llewelyn Bowen treatment, with pink paint and a star stencil set, so it needed some TLC.
Before in the garage..
Now I did rub this down fairly aggressively because the paint job from before had a sort of horrid badly done crackle glaze in it and I wanted to get rid of as much of that as possible. As a general rule, and there's no way round it, the prep is vital and the better its done the better the piece will look in the end.
I know its a pain.. but I'm now looking at pieces in the house that I just slapped a coat of paint on when we first bought them, just to make them usable and I KNOW I'm going to have to go back and do them again.. so if you don't want to do that then do the prep right the first time.. you won't regret it.

Closer to show the nasty handles..
From the start I knew where I wanted to put this: in our front spare bedroom.. the blue room...
and the room had already been repainted, so I knew I wanted to paint it white. The white I chose is Benjamin Moore [which for the brits is a Canadian paint brand that quite up market.. like Dulux I suppose, and about 30 quid for a large tin]. The colour is Cloud White CC- 40, which is the colour I painted the kitchen cabinets. I had some left over so I used that.. oil based in a satin sheen.. but if I'd started from stratch I'd probably have chosen water based. Just because the clean up is so much easier.
The oil based does also give a nice finish too, and it's tough as old boots so if you're doing something for a kids room, its a good choice. 
I gave it a coat of primer.. also from Ben Moore, before I used the Cloud White.. the pink was actually quite a saturated colour and I knew it would take two coats to cover, so one might as well be primer. For a start its cheaper and gives a better finish... and it's that old prep thing again.. It will always look better.

Finished and in the blue room..

I use the small foam rollers.. you get really a really smooth finish and they're easy to clean. Plus at $4 for a pack of four they aren't expensive. [about 50p each]
In between coats [with water based paint] you just take them off the arm and wrap them tightly in cling film and they won't dry out. Saves all that washing out and wasting paint. If you're using oil based like me, overnight it still fine with just the cling film but if you know you won't need it again for a week or two just pop the cling film wrapped roll in the freezer. When you need it again take it out an hour or so before you want to use it.. and it will be fine.

Make sure you let each coat dry throughly before starting the next, or you'll find yourself taking off the paint you've just put on.

The final stage was find an attractive liner. I had some really nice and rather expensive japanese paper but actually found it too subtle once it was in the drawer. In the end I used sample pieces of wallpaper from Home Depot. They don't like you taking large samples at our branch, so I had to go back a couple of times, but you can usually find a quiet corner where no one's looking sssshh !!

bold black and white for the liners.. 

And finally the knobs came from a local hardwear shop called Windsor Plywood..
The knobs were $4.99 and the handles $8.99 which was MUCH cheaper than anything similar that they had in Home Depot or the specialist shops in town and have a vaguely arts and crafts vibe which I really liked..
I also bought matching knobs like the ones on the top drawers for the wardrobe doors in this room and just that little change made such a difference to a plain slab door.. which is what they are.

Sorry this is a bit fuzzy..

And there we have it..
It looks like a much more expensive piece than it was.. total cost $71[about 35 quid] plus some left over paint, and a bit of elbow grease...


  1. Wow, that is some transformation! Love those liners.

    You asked a question about my home office makeover. Yes, I believe those are alliums. I bought the decals at our Home Goods store. I forgot the brand name, sorry. Maybe try looking on for graphic vinyl. There are so many people selling graphic vinyl silhouettes lately.


  2. Thanks for the info Brittany.. I'll have to see what I can find.
    Jo x

  3. Wow, that's a fantastic makeover! I love it!

  4. Thanks Carin.. it took ages and it was really hard work.. but it was my first 'proper' makeover [where I did all the initial prep instead of just slapping on a coat of paint] and it really makes such a huge difference.
    Jo x


Thanks for letting me know I'm not talking to myself..