Jul 112013

3 years ago, at a garage sale, I bought an ugly dresser for $8.

I wanted it because I needed something to store the kids’ memorabilia waiting to be scrapbooked, and I didn’t want to pay $20 for a cheap, flimsy Rubbermaid set of drawers. The dresser was good and sturdy, but it had a very scarred finish.

My original plan was to get it painted in time for the move to my new office, but I had a baby, and life got in the way, so for 3 years it sat. Until last weekend, when I made a quick trip to Home Depot, grabbed a few cans of spray paint in a color that I thought would look good with my new desk, and went home to start painting (I wish I could say that I typically put more thought into these things, but sadly, I don’t. Then, when my plan doesn’t work out, I get mad and quit).

As you know, I’m a big fan of paint (of paint. Not of painting) because I think a fresh coat of paint can really transform, well…anything. I’ve painted lots of garage sale finds – furniture, cabinets, picture frames, even my napkin holder (which was free!) – and I’m always happy with the results. Sadly, in typical Heather-fashion, I forgot to take a picture of this dresser before I dismantled it for painting, but I did take pictures of the process, at least. This wouldn’t have been a problem if I were more patient, but patience doesn’t happen to be a virtue of mine.

So, here are the pieces, waiting for paint:

I started with a light sanding in the same direction as the wood grain,

then I cleaned the pieces really well with this auto-body solvent that my husband likes, to remove any oils or dust left behind.

Next, a coat of flat red primer (because red is closest to brown),

and 3 light coats of Rustoleum gloss paint in Kona Brown.

I painted the handles with some bronze metallic paint, leftover from my living room makeover. The finished product:

Even my husband, who never wants to paint wood (why? What do men have against painting wood?), LOVES this dresser, and has commented several times on it. And it’s an excellent compliment to my desk!

Total cost of the project, including the cost of the dresser – approximately $20.

This project illustrates what I consider to be an essential part of frugal life – slightly unconventional thinking. Dressers don’t have to be just for clothes – they can store ANYTHING! If I hadn’t been willing to consider this dresser as a possible solution to my office storage problem, I would have just passed it up, and that would be a shame, because it sure is a lot prettier than a lump of Rubbermaid plastic.


  12 Responses to “My 8 Dollar Dresser Makeover”

  1. That is GORGEOUS! Beautiful job, Heather. You’re so right—why settle for plastic, ugly Rubbermaid when you do something so much more creative and long-lasting?

  2. Love it, and so glad to see you posting more articles like this lately. 🙂

  3. You are right, dressers do not need to be used only for clothes. My small kitchen does not have a lot of drawer space. I have a small area of the kitchen that always seemed to need ‘something’ but I never knew what. It always seemed a waste of space to me. I first kept my garbage can there, but it always seemed to nice of a place for just a garbage can. I had a small dresser in what used to be my son’s room. (our son is now 36 and on his own) I took the dresser into the kitchen. It is a solid OAK dresser. I put my small microwave oven on top. The drawers hold all my kitchen linens. The towels, pot holders, table cloths etc. The bottom drawer is for extra pots and pans. It is a deep drawer and holds a lot. I am very happy with it.

    • I did the same thing! I found a $15 dollar dresser that has 3 columns of drawers and is shorter than a stack of drawers. I think at one time it had a mirror with it. I use it in our dining room as a credenza. It works GREAT! We put our coffee maker on it so we have fresh coffee right there in the dining room, we have a basket of napkins, a basket of vitamins, and a plant. When we host a dinner or open house we use it as a buffet surface or extra space for food so the table isn’t so crowded with dishes. It is so handy! Inside it holds extra linens, paper plates, etc., and even one drawer of craft things that we use often so they are quick to grab, use, and put away. There are 7 drawers so it is WONDERFUL for storing a lot.

  4. It’s gorgeous! Love the color. I don’t know what it is with men and paint.

    When we first married and for many years after my hubby said no to painting any wood.

    By the time I was pregnant with our first child I wore him down and he allowed me to paint a bookshelf and dresser without complaint.

    With child #2 he agreed that I could paint a hutch.

    Now I think I’ve got him in the mentality that we are’t going to resale this stuff and so we might as well make it work for OUR (i.e. MY) design decor.

    After all, if we’re going to be living with other people’s choice of furniture, budget and style (i.e. antiques) and they aren’t really old enough to be worth much of anything, why can’t we just paint them so that they will suit US. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling him all these years, lol!

    • I KNEW I was not alone in this battle! I was like, “Honey, it’s an $8 garage sale dresser. I don’t think the world will end if I paint it.” Sheesh.

  5. The dresser turned out very pretty! I smiled as I was reading this post because I am the same way–rush into things and then get mad and quit. Oh, if you only knew how many times I have done the same!! And my husband is not a fan of painted wood, either. I mentioned painting our bedroom furniture and he dug in his heels. I have to wonder, though, how much is because he KNOWS I will get started in gung-ho fashion and he will be finishing the job 🙂

  6. I love your blog because your descriptions of yourself often describe my little quirks perfectly, and you’re so refreshingly honest. Rushing into projects then getting frustrated and quitting describes me so well. I also laughed at the comment about your husband not wanting to paint wood. When my husbands’ friends helped us install wood trim and a railing upstairs, they simply refused – I mean refused – to let me paint it. I had never heard of that, but obviously to some guys, it’s like a sacrilege to cover up wood grain!

  7. Oops — make that husband’s singular. There’s only one husband around here. 🙂

  8. I just came across your site while looking for organization ideas for my home and craft business. I read about your IVF and I was so touched by your bravery and spirit that I cried and cried. I believe we, as women, are closest to God when we are doing His work: bearing and raising the children He brings into our lives. Bless you and your beautiful family!!

  9. I’m one of those moms who never has time for such things…but do admire those who make the time. It turned out beautiful! Good job!

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