If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Aunt Mae's Dresser

Years ago, when I was a young woman and striking out on my own, my great aunt Mae gave me several wonderful pieces of furniture, linens, trunks, and treasures.  My Granny drove to Mobile, Alabama and hauled her and the gift treasures back to me - but that is a story for another day (and a fabulous one it is when you hear it rolling off Granny's lips).

Part of the furniture collection was a bed, bedside table, rocker, and dresser that was hers when she first married years, and years, and years ago.  She told me that it had a maple finish when she got it but she had paid 'good money' to have it sprayed the lovely antique green finish that I first encountered.  A lovely sight it was, I might add.  Seriously.  Furniture was not something I had in abundance and it mattered not one whit how it looked to me at the time.

Over time, however, the green-ness of it sort of got to me.  For a while the entire set was stored in the barn at one of our former houses.  We had furniture that was a more pleasing color and which worked better in the rooms we had.  Then, when the children were in high school, they needed a project for their cabinet making class.  So, this set became practice pieces for refinishing.  They did a pretty nice job considering what they had to work with - after all, this wasn't finely crafted antique furniture.  The dresser wasn't a piece that featured storage room, so it was again stored out in the barn for a time where the moisture and elements caused some cracking and releasing of glue on the laminate top.

When I moved to my previous home, it became the TV stand in the bonus room.  So, it was covered with TV and the top didn't matter.  Then, when I moved here, it became an extra piece in the junk clutter sewing/craft room.  Recently, however, we are doing some shifting and moving things around and I also had a bit of an itch to do a little painting.  I must admit that I was really inspired by Lake Girl Paints because I found a table just like the little bedside table in the downstairs bedroom and made a note to make that a future project.  Then, I got a flicker of an idea with this dresser...

Here is the BEFORE:
in all her glory...

The bones are good.  The finish is okay.  Simple and sweet.  But the top is yucky.  See...
pretty battered

You can also see that my first tool of destruction is also perched and ready for action there.  I spent a bit of time scraping and wedging the corner underneath the laminate and lifting and prying and scraping some more.  When it was all removed, the boards underneath were a bit rough but sturdy.  So, I decided to sand off the glue and rough bits and when my hands had cramped to the point of numbness and my arms were aching, the top looked like this:
lots of knot-holes and wood variation

I decided I would just give her a coat of paint.  Mike and Stephen suggested that I get some wood filler and fill the knot-holes and the biggest gouges.  So, having a coupon for a free eight-ounce tub of paint from the Spring Color Palette, off I trekked to Home Depot.  What a venture it turned out to be.

Sitting in the parking lot, I dug out my coupon and realized I needed to be at Lowe's instead!  So, off I trekked across town.  (Don't judge.  You will be old and forgetful one day, too.)  The lady at the paint counter encouraged me to select any color I desired from one particular wall.  Wow!  The choices!  The decisions!  Finally, I picked Cream in my Coffee and decided to splurge on Moose Mousse by Valspar.  While the nice lady mixed, I located the wood filler.  Then, I went in search of some furniture wax and found some good old Johnson's.  Next, I remembered that Stephen's birthday was upon me and he had mentioned wishing for an electric sander.  So, over to the tools I marched.  Of course, with a sander, one is going to need sand paper as well.  All this to say, a trip to the store for a free tub of paint and a six dollar tub of wood filler wound up totaling over seventy-five dollars.  How does that happen?

My next step with the Aunt Mae dresser was to fill the knot-holes and gouges.
Looks like a big old mess doesn't it?

After a couple of doses of putty, and plenty of time for it to dry out a bit, it was time to do a bit of smooth-off sanding.
Even after the sanding and a wipe down to remove the dust, there were some dips and uneven places.  I decided I liked the look of some rustic-ness and wanted to move on to painting.  I taped off the stained edges which still looked pretty good using some Frog Tape.  Then, the entire top got a couple of coats of the lighter color (Cream in my Coffee).  I let this dry overnight.  The next afternoon I took a deep breath and plunged into the creative aspect.  First, I found a piece of lightweight cardboard and measured off a diamond in the size I wanted - about three inches across and four inches tall.  Then, I measured the top of the dresser and marked the center point.  I centered up my cardboard diamond and traced the edges.  Then, I taped it off.  Following the line marking the center-most point, I laid my cardboard template out and marked dots to indicate where each successive diamond would go across the center and taped them off.
the first row

I carefully painted a couple of coats onto this row of diamonds.  As soon as the second coat had been applied and sort of began to set, I removed the tape.  I told myself this was a good idea because many of the blogs I'd read and pinned on Pinterest suggested this but actually, I was just too eager to see how it was beginning to look!
Dappled with afternoon sunlight makes her look so cheerful doesn't it?

I continued to add diamonds going up and down using this same process of laying out the cardboard template and making little dots.  Then, I would tape off the area stretching pieces from one corner to one dot, etc.
lining the diamonds up row-by-row

Soon it was time to start adding the connecting diamonds and adding the partial ones to the edges.
starting the connecting rows

Here is my purdy cardboard template in action preparing to line up one diamond after another.
Sort of looks like a chaotic mess, huh?

With each row, I grew more and more excited.  I liked each step progressively and would pause to ask myself if I should just leave it as it was because it looked pretty good like that!
Kind of has an argyle look going on here.

The photo above shows how I used little strips to create diamonds and connect the corners of the previously painted ones.  The process went pretty quickly and I got all of them painted between the time I came home from work and before I went to bed...and I didn't even stay up late!
Diamonds are a girl's best friend!

If you look closely, you can tell that all my diamonds are not precisely the same.  If I had it to do again On my next piece that I embellish with a diamond pattern, I will probably trace off the first diamond and use a yardstick to draw out straight, even lines from top to bottom and across from side to side.
The glow from the over-head light is almost as strong as the one on my face!

I left her to dry overnight.  Then, I dragged her back out onto the deck and gave her a little sanding with a fine-grit sanding block.  I just wanted to knock down the edges of the painted diamonds and distress the corners and edges a wee bit.  Then, I rubbed on a couple of coats of paste wax and buffed it to a soft buttery sheen before moving her into the bedroom with the bed, bedside table, and rocker.
Ready for a tea party!

A closer look at the front which required no attention...

Here is a full shot with the mirror above it.

I think Aunt Mae would be pleased.
I know I am!