Swizzle That Stick

We sold our old bedroom set before we moved from Roanoke. Sam bought them before we were married, and while they were a solid set, they weren’t really our taste together. They were serviceable. But we knew we wanted to start fresh with the move, so off they went thanks to the power of Craigslist.

So when we moved into this house, all we had with us was our box spring, mattress, and a bunch of plastic containers of clothes. Insert sad face here. But we did know we were going to look for more furniture. We also knew that furniture was low on the list of Things To Do. Why? Because we would rather spend our money on new appliances that magically appear on deep discount or on paint or new flooring for the bathroom or…a lot of things.

I’ll be the first to admit, having our clothes just sitting around in boxes and tubs and those cheap three-drawer things was getting old, fast. It was hard to find things when you wanted them, and we didn’t have enough three-drawer things to make up for all the clothes we had. So it was a mess and a half. But we talked about it again and again (each project we tackled required another look at the budget and prioritizing) and we agreed…furniture was on the low end of the list.

But one day, as I was tooling around The Mission Store (What, you don’t just go thrift store browsing like I do?) I found some pretty sweet dressers and one nightstand that matched.

Okay, by “sweet” you guys do realize I mean “full of potential” right? They were chipped in some places, completely worn in others. And though the light doesn’t really show it well, they were sort of that sickly yellow-orange of manufactured wood. Ick, right? I think the one thing I didn’t mind were the knobs, which were just that brushed nickel. Simple. But I thought they were way too small for the drawers on the dressers, so they looked weird to me.

Not that any of this bothered Ruth, who delighted in showing off her inner Vanna White…

It’s a good look. Vanna should think about ditching the heels and wearing rain boots for each show. Anyway, I purchased all three pieces for $90. Delivery included, because I asked nicely.

First thing was to remove the hardware, which I saved because I had plans for those little knobs. We lightly sanded the furniture (by “we” I mean Sam), and then we filled in the existing holes left over from the hardware with wood putty. (Used Elmer’s brand, though whatever will work.) Another quick sand to smooth out the putty and then we primed. We used an oil-based primer and cheap-o brushes to make sure we could easily toss them without any worry. Getting oil-based primer out of brushes is hell…so not worth it. After giving the primer about 12 hours to set, we painted the first coat of paint on. What color?

Valspar’s Swizzle Stick, by Allan + Roth (in semi-gloss). Bright, isn’t it? Although in real life, I think it’s a little darker, more deep blue than that. My theory was this: I’m normally an “earth tones” kinda gal. And Sam’s usually an “I’m not invested so do what you want” kinda guy when it comes to colors. This is temporary furniture. We will likely invest in “big people” furniture in a few years. This set is meant to float us until we are ready to make the bigger investment. Likely in a few years.

Since it’s temporary furniture, and we aren’t spending a ton of money on it, we can afford to be “wrong.” The walls are still going to be a neutral tone (more on that in a later post). But with the furniture, which is just temporary, if we hate it, who cares? We can either sand it and paint it again for $10, or leave it and deal with it for a few years.

And I wanted to try something new! Earth tones are nice, and hard to screw up. But I was ready to take a chance and be bold with something. Can’t go wrong with something temporary that we don’t mind making a mistake on!

How did we paint it? Two-step process. One of us would brush the color on with a nice brush, and then the other would roll over it to even it out with a foam roller. We didn’t want brush strokes left behind, but using the foam roller to put the paint on initially doesn’t work so well. That’s the solution we came up with. Could be done by a single person, it’d just take way longer.

We let the paint cure for a few days, then painted on the second coat and let it cure again. The curing helps to set the paint completely. Even if something is dry to the touch, it is easily scratchable. The longer it has to cure, the more durable it will be. We decided against painting the sides and insides of the drawers because those are the spots that get the most wear and tear. I’m fine with the two-tone when you open them up, and if they aren’t painted, they won’t get scratched and won’t look bad in a month. What mattered most to me was when they were closed.

After that, we started adding hardware. Now here is where we splurged a little. I wanted the good stuff, which works fine for me. I knew going in the hardware would need to be updated, and I was willing to pay for it. Still, even with the decent hardware, it was cheaper than going for good, solid furniture from a furniture store. And more fun!

Sam marked up the holes with a handy dandy tool from Lowe’s that we got for like $3. Highly recommended. Clyde was very helpful. Look at him, he’s like … the most helpful thing ever.

Or not. He’d probably just chew on the measuring tool, anyway. After the drawers were all marked, it was time to drill the pilot holes. I let Sam take point on that one, mostly because while he was drilling, I was finishing up the marking. See? Teamwork.

Then we screwed in the hardware (seen above, those black bars on the far right). And when that was complete, I lined the drawers with pretty paper. This is actually wrapping paper from The Container Store. But it was adorable and I couldn’t resist. And really, what’s the difference, anyway? Lining is lining. It’s not like this will be spilled on and need to be wiped down, like a bathroom or kitchen drawer might. So I say go with what you like most.

See, how pretty are those? This also illustrates what our drawers look like from the inside, since we didn’t paint them. Not too bad, right? And you still can’t tell when it’s closed.

Then it was time to pop those babies into the dressers and position them in the room where we wanted them! Only it was immediately obvious once we got them in there that we were right…we didn’t care for the bedroom paint as much as we thought we would. (Yeah, you can’t even really tell it’s painted, can you?) So…that had to be changed. But that’s okay! Cheap change, and not a ton of effort. Just an afternoon of painting will fix that right up.

And so after we painted the room again (sigh) here is the final effect!

You can’t really tell the difference on the color thanks to the picture. But believe me, in person, it works out differently. And pardon the mess on the night stand. We’re still “moving in” after like, two months, and our stuff is everywhere!

Final breakdown of the budget for this project?

2 dressers & one nightstand: $90
1 quart Valspar paint: $15
1 quart oil-based primer: $9 (only used a third of the can)
1 “throw away” brush: $3
13 pull handles & 2 knobs: $86
Wood putty, putty knife, sandpaper, etc.: free (had already)

Total: $203.00

You can see the knobs were the biggest hit, costing nearly as much as the furniture itself. But I was quite insistent on getting ones that looked decent. If I was going to paint these suckers, they were going to look good, dammit. And still, with the breakdown, it was nearly as cheap as getting one single put-together-yourself dresser from Target. (About $150.) Total, for the pieces we bought at Target, it would cost us about $350-375. It’s like really cheap custom furniture. I’m digging the price point. If I’d been less picky on the knobs, it would have been way cheaper. Darn my pickiness…

We still need to figure out what to do about a mirror, since neither dresser came with one. And we need to get some bed rails, and a second night stand (even if it doesn’t match) to paint and put on the other side of the bed. So lots to do still in the bedroom. But at least we have somewhere for our clothes to go. That’s important. It’s starting to feel less like College Apartment Crap and closer to Mature Adults Live Here. Closer. Not there. But closer.


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