I finally decided to take the plunge and redo a set of matching furniture and who better to make it for but my daughter, whose room we are doing a makeover on! I stumbled into this set one day when I was at a local thrift store looking for supplies for another project. Good thing I had brought the truck on this occasion! As I was checking it out, another woman started checking it out as well and I heard her tell her friend, “Wouldn’t this set be beautiful redone for my bedroom?” Oh no you don’t! I was here first! Oh wait, I am not in grade school anymore. But still. That was the kicker for me (meaning you snooze you lose; ie don’t go home and think about it!). I knew the drill so I scooped up the tags and brought them to the front to claim my prize; at $90 for the set I might add!! At first I was a little worried they would be too big in a little girl’s room since they are clearly originally an adult set; but after measuring twice (yes, after I had already bought them – sometimes you need to take a risk!). At first I was bummed that it did not come with a nightstand but low and behold, that wouldn’t have fit in her room anyway!
Check out that sweet hardware! I couldn’t believe they only priced this set at $90; are they nuts?! Good thing.
First step with any furniture project before you do any painting is to repair anything that needs it. There were a few things to do with this set but luckily my husband has OCD like me so his giant tool boxes are very easy to navigate. So, I got to work removing the old door magnet clasp thingys (they were all rotted out) and random nails/staples in the backboard. There were also some nails in weird places inside the cupboards that I removed. Someone REALLY liked nails… I also used wood putty to fill in the holes from the magnet clasps because the holes didn’t line up with the new clasps. Wood putty is super easy to use and you can get it anywhere they sell paint or craft supplies.
Once that was done, I put fresh staples in the backboard to secure it; every few inches is usually enough. Luckily, I didn’t have to buy a new backboard; it looks unsightly with all the holes, but it’s at the back and it was still very sturdy. Way thicker than they make them nowadays! The larger holes you see near the top are for the mirrors, which you haven’t seen yet! Okay so here are the mirrors. They were not attached at the thrift store so I didn’t get to see how they looked with the set but I could imagine!
And a little girl needs a big mirror; heck, mine needs TWO! Yes, it came with two of these beauties! They sit side by side; like two magnificent sisters. Just today, I caught her applying lipstick (she is almost 8) in the very mirrors I speak of. She actually did a good job of it; she always has been good at coloring between the lines! So I let her keep it on because we were off to my sister’s garden party. “Only on special occasions though,” I said, because I have to keep her little a tiny bit longer.
ANYWAY, back to the mirrors. If you ever want to paint a mirror, make it so much easier on yourself and take the time out to remove the actual mirror from the frame. it is worth the effort, believe me! And usually all it takes is a screwdriver and some elbow grease (and sometimes some grunting and perhaps a few nicks on the fingers). So, this is what I did. these mirrors had the same type of thick backing as the dresser shown earlier, which was stapled to the frame, holding in the mirror. So, I just had to kinda twist my screwdriver under each staple to lift it and pry it off with needle nose pliers. Some were harder than others and they had put ALOT of staples in it but like I said worth it. Because taping off a mirror with any kind of intricate sides is a pain in the butt. Also, you can be sure the staples are not rotting out and going to come crashing down on you at any moment. It is also nice to be able to clean the mirror really well once it is out; there is always dust stuck between the mirror and frame crevice that, over the years, does not come out.
So above is the back of the actual mirror part, still inside the frame, after I took off the backing. The two strips of wood were between the mirror and backing, probably for shock absorption and to provide a snug fit. I put them back in when I put the mirrors back together.
Now, here it is all taken apart. The mirror made me nervous just looking at it all exposed and ready to smash at any moment by a loose soccer ball or runaway scooter in the garage so I took them both (separately and holding my breath) inside to our guest room and put them under the bed for the time being. Phew. I could just picture me tripping up the stairs and landing on them; maybe I need to be less pessimistic!
Now back to the set as a whole. Once all of the hardware was off both pieces and the mirror frames were done, I was ready to prime. As I say in every post, Kilz primer is the way to go! In this case, I used both the spray type as well as the canned type; Kilz makes many types of primer and they had the premium one on sale for the same price as the regular one so I snapped up two gallons. It will get used around here! Now I know I have said before that spray primer is your best bet because of ease of use and no mess, but when you have ALOT of flat surfaces to cover, canned primer is MUCH cheaper and also can be tinted to make painting easier by needing only one coat. So, I had the girl at the paint store tint my primer as close to the paint color as she could. I still used spray primer for all areas besides the flat tops and sides though, which as you can imagine from the photos, would have been a nightmare to paint with a brush. Oh that’s the other thing. USE a mini roller, not a paint brush, to paint the primer on!! It is way faster and paints on way smoother. You can get a kit at most hardware stores that includes a small plastic paint tray and a roller handle with 2-3 rollers for about $10. It’s worth it.
Also, you may notice in the photos that the cupboard doors were left on. I only did this because the hinges were very secure, however the screws were completely stripped, making it difficult to remove them. It didn’t pose any problems though because when the cupboards were open, they didn’t touch anything. In fact, it was easier because I could paint both sides at the same time instead of painting one side, waiting for it to dry, then flipping it and painting the other. All’s well that ends well!
Here are all the pieces primed. Remember that the blue is still the primer so far in some spots. It worked great to spray prime the corners inside, as you can see in the photos. Doesn’t it look 100x better already!
I let it dry overnight but I didn’t really have to. I just had other things to do that day! Which included picking up the spray paint from Home Depot where I had to order it in as they are ALWAYS out of Krylon’s blue ocean breeze! Anyway, I ordered 6 cans just to be safe and ended up using just over 5 of them. And that is a great color to have extra of!
The next day was painting day! I was super excited to see how the blue would look on this piece and I was not disappointed! This color is perfect for little girl furniture. It’s girly enough to be loved by an ‘almost’ 8 year old but not overly girly (like a light pink would possibly be) to be rejected by a 14 year old. Heck, I would have furniture in MY room in this color! Too bad we just got a new set a couple years ago before I started redoing furniture! Oh well, I still get to look at them all the time since I am still allowed in my daughter’s room (most of the time). Anyway, here is the set with the blue all done!
I really liked the color, and I am sure Avery would have been fine with it like this, but I felt that the color didn’t quite “go” with the vintage feel of the set. Plus, all of that crazy awesome woodwork was just BEGGING to be glazed a dark brown.
Therefore, the next step is glazing! This step took may have taken the longest but I think it made the most difference! It really makes all the detail pop. If you have never glazed before, check out this tutorial from another great blog I follow! She puts it better than I could and this post is already becoming very long! I will mention a few things though. MAKE SURE your wiping rag is damp and have a few spare ones with a bucket of water handy. Also, when glazing deep woodwork like on the drawers and cupboards of this set, you will have to accept that you will not get every little bit wiped out; it adds to the character and looks more natural that way anyway! One thing that works great is an old toothbrush to work some of the excess glaze out. Lastly, expect it to make a big mess like THIS so make sure you have lots of drop cloth laid out!
The mirrors are held onto the dresser the same way most old school mirrors are held onto old school dressers. With tilting bars that attach to the back. I had to unscrew these when I removed the backings so what I did was screw them back through the same holes BEFORE stapling the backing on. That way I knew the holes would line up. Then I stapled the backing on. Pretty easy; just use a regular staple gun. Make sure to put enough in to make it secure. At least every 3-4 inches. I did this inside the house with a thick blanket underneath for shock absorption in order to protect the mirror. It worked really well. The last step was to put the hardware back on, which included these nice, new (remember the old ones were all rotten) magnet clasp closures. I bought a double one for the tall dresser as both cupboards came to the same point and bought a single one for each of the long dresser’s cupboards. These are a breeze to install; just make sure you measure twice and drill holes once!
As you can see, I only very lightly glazed the big flat surfaces on the dressers. One thing that works to save glaze is to save the flat parts for last and just use one of your really glazed up cloths, get it damp and rub it on the flat parts to just give them a slight bit of darkness. Much easier than painting the whole thing with glaze just to wipe it all off anyway!
Here are some shots of the set in my daughter’s room – pretend that you can’t see the rest of the room because I will reveal it on the last bedroom makeover post!
We actually put all of this together while she slept one night. We moved her into our bed after she fell asleep, set everything up, then moved her back into her own bed. When she woke up, she was VERY surprised! Like I have said before; she LOVES surprises and I love surprising her 🙂 Thanks for reading!
The Mad Radish says: Goodness, that is alot of work but I bet she is thrilled to have her own big girl set which will last her a long time!
The Snobby Wasabi says: There is definitely not enough time in my days to squeeze this monstrous project in! Bring on the one hour projects please!