Posts Tagged “furniture”
Last week, we talked about moving our treasured family nursery dresser into Baby T’s room, and shared our DIY plans to design a modern furniture look with the Ikea Tarva three-drawer dresser in Toddler E’s big-girl bedroom. Using dark wood stain and white paint, we wanted to create a sophisticated but classic design that would be timeless, and work with E’s evolving style and functionality needs over the next several years. (You can see some of our inspiration images for this project on our Pinterest board!)
So after buying the Tarva and bringing it home, we unpacked the individual dresser parts and set them up in our garage. John took on most of the work for this particular DIY furniture project (while I was busy painting the fabric drawers for the nursery), and he wanted to stain and paint the dresser parts in their unassembled state before putting the final piece together.
For the stain, we decided to try Minwax Polyshades. It’s got a built-in polyurethane coat to protect and make the surface more durable, which eliminates the need for a separate topcoat. Traditionally, wood staining involves rubbing the stain onto the surface with a soft cloth, wiping off any excess, and ending with a protective finish. But with a combination stain-polyurethane formula like Polyshades, you apply thin coats with a brush and let them dry without wiping off. We’d never used this one-step product before, but it sounded convenient and potentially time-saving. So we went ahead and bought a quart of the Espresso Satin finish, a nice dark color that looked like it would match the toddler’s bed frame. (According to the label, one quart covers 120-150 square feet – plenty for our little dresser project.)
To paint the drawer fronts, we wanted a soft paint color that would work well with the warm tones in the toddler’s bedroom. In order to keep our DIY costs low and stay within our total budget of $100, we surveyed our “leftover from previous projects” paint arsenal, and chose Swiss Coffee by Behr, a nice clean shade that’s bright but not blinding white.
With the materials assembled and the dresser pieces spread out and ready, John got to work. First, he focused on the parts to be stained: the dresser’s top, sides, legs and knobs. In order to get complete stain coverage on the small legs and knobs without touching them and making fingerprints during the staining process, he attached them to larger pieces of scrap wood. Then he sanded all the wood surfaces lightly and wiped them clean.
Next, he used a foam brush to apply wood conditioner to the unfinished pieces – an important pre-staining step that properly prepares the wood surface and helps the grain open up to absorb stain more evenly.
As you can see below, this really makes a difference when working with a soft wood variety like the Tarva’s white pine.
Once the wood conditioner was dry, John used a natural bristle brush to “paint” the Polyshades stain onto the conditioned wood in the direction of the grain.
Knowing he wouldn’t be able to wipe off any excess stain, John was careful to use long even brushstrokes. But he still found it difficult to cover the surfaces with a uniform layer of stain. Applying too much pressure on the brush created a thin streaky coat that let the bare wood show through more than we wanted. On the other hand, brushing with a lighter touch tended to deposit uneven patches of stain across the wood. It was a lot of trial and error to find a technique that worked – and even then, we weren’t able to eliminate every single brush mark.
The Espresso color was also not quite as dark as we wanted yet, which meant we’d need another coat of stain. So John left the first coat to dry for several hours, and in the meantime he moved on to painting the drawer fronts. For these, we wanted solid paint coverage that would still allow the texture of the wood grain to show through, something we knew we could achieve by doing multiple thinner layers of paint instead of one thick coat.
John brushed the first coat of Swiss Coffee on the three drawer fronts, thin enough that the knots in the pine were still visible.
With the first paint coat on the drawer fronts, John jumped back to the stained pieces (now dry), sanded them lightly, and wiped off the residue to prepare for another coat of Polyshades. The first coat still looked a little streaky, and we hoped that the second coat would be dark enough to camouflage the imperfections. But even though John had sanded between coats to give the surface better adhesion, the glossy polyurethane in the first coat still made it difficult to get a continuous finish with the second coat. He had to brush the stain on lightly to keep it from pooling, and it turned out to be even more tricky to apply than the first coat.
After finishing the second stain coat, John switched back again to the painted drawer fronts (also now dry), sanded them lightly, and painted on a second thin coat of Swiss Coffee. When that dried, he painted a third and final coat. Then he left both the stained and painted dresser pieces to dry overnight.
The next day, we brought everything up to E’s bedroom, and she and John went to work assembling the dresser.
And here’s the finished piece!
The dark stain with white drawers is a classic look with a modern twist – and just as we hoped, it fits perfectly with her decor without looking babyish or cutesy.
We love how this custom-finished dresser came out, and so does Toddler E. It’s the perfect size for her – she can reach all the drawers and pick out her own clothes each morning.
But would we use the Polyshades stain again? The pros: its Espresso color does look deep and rich, the streaks from the brushstrokes aren’t too noticeable, and the surface is well sealed and protected. The cons: it was a LOT trickier to apply than we thought it would be, and while it did save John the extra step of adding a separate protective topcoat, there was definitely a trade-off of extra effort and time as he attempted to create a smooth finish. So… we’re not sure if we’ll use this stain-plus-polyurethane product again, and we may go back to the traditional stain method for our next wood staining project.
But in the end, we’re very happy with our DIY kid-friendly Tarva project! And hopefully Toddler E will be using this dresser for many years to come.
We’re curious – have you ever used Polyshades before? What was your experience with it? Do you have any helpful tips or stories?
Today we’re sharing our inspiration and ideas for a classic modern Ikea dresser hack, plus the history behind our vintage DIY nursery dresser!
As you know, we’ve been transforming Toddler E’s former nursery into a big-girl bedroom (see the moodboard and plans here). We’re slowly but surely updating things like furniture, artwork, window treatments and lighting, and even the closet. Last summer, before Baby T arrived, we tackled one of the big projects on our to-do list: replacing E’s vintage oversized dresser.
This multi-functional piece had been perfect for her infant needs – we stored everything from clothes and baby gear to diapers and wipes inside, and also used it as a changing table. But by last summer, E was potty trained and her bedroom no longer required diaper-related storage or functionality. And we wanted to move this perfect-for-a-nursery dresser into the new baby‘s room, so it was time to find something different to fit E’s big-girl lifestyle. But before we talk about our search for her new dresser, let’s share a little backstory on the old one.
The perfect nursery dresser
There’s history behind this piece of furniture. It was actually John’s childhood dresser nearly 40 years ago, and his parents gave it to us when we were getting ready for E’s arrival. We were excited to keep it in the family and re-use it for a new generation – the dresser’s solid wood construction just needed a little DIY refresh for its next phase of life.
Here’s what we started with:
John removed all the drawers, took off the dated brass hardware, and lightly sanded the dresser’s case and drawer fronts. Then he primed the bare wood and painted it black, to match the crib we had bought for the nursery.
Finally, we added new hardware (classic nickel pulls and some fun blue and green knobs), filled the dresser with little onesies and lots of diapers, and put a changing pad on top.
We used this DIY nursery dresser in E’s bedroom until last summer, when it was time to move it into Baby T’s room. We kept the black color and just changed out the top knobs to coordinate with his nursery decor.
Which brings us back to our search for a new dresser for E and her big-girl clothes. We planned to put a toddler bed in her bedroom where the old dresser used to be, so the new dresser would have to go against the opposite wall and be small enough to fit in a narrow space between the closet door and a heating vent.
New dresser and inspiration
We looked around at retail stores, thrift shops, and on local online resale boards for dressers that might fit the bill. Our requirements were:
- Solid, sturdy wood construction with smooth-rolling drawers
- A width less than 32 inches, to fit between the closet door frame and the vent cover
- Simple design with clean lines that we could customize with some DIY love
- Budget-friendly – we wanted to spend less than $100 on this entire project (including furniture purchase and DIY supplies)
After considering many different options, we decided on the Tarva 3-drawer chest from Ikea:
The Tarva is a nice size that’s very user-friendly for Toddler E – she’s able to reach all the drawers to access her clothes, which is important as we encourage her to be more independent. It’s narrow enough to fit in the 32-inch wide space we have available between her closet door and heating vent. We also liked its strong and solid wood frame and its smooth-rolling drawer mechanism, making it sturdy but easy for little arms to open and close.
And of course, I immediately started thinking about how we could customize it for her new room design.
There are tons of Tarva design hacks out there – it’s the perfect base for DIY customization with its simple shape and clean lines – but I didn’t want to go too crazy with this piece. I really liked the idea of a stain/paint combination – dark wood around the case to match the dark wood bed frame, and white drawer fronts for a fresh contrast to keep it from feeling dark and heavy. I found some inspiration photos, showed John, and we both thought this look would fit really well with the toddler’s other room elements.
It’s a sophisticated but classic style that looks timeless. We didn’t want anything too trendy or cute or age-specific that might be dated in a few years (like a pink princess theme – yikes!), but this dark-stain-white-paint design is so fresh and simple that it should easily coordinate with any future room decor changes.
In our next post, we’ll share a little DIY tutorial on how we stained and painted the Tarva dresser. (Update: check out the tutorial here!) In the meantime, here’s a sneak peek of the finished piece…
Many more details to come, including our process, our experience with staining wood furniture, and how Toddler E likes her new dresser!
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This past weekend, John and I had a rare kid-free afternoon and we decided to hit up the Kane County Flea Market, about an hour west of Chicago. We both love flea markets but realized we hadn’t ever been to one together (crazy!). So we drove out in the cold and snow for the flea market’s opening weekend of the year, not quite sure what to expect but looking forward to a few hours of browsing around. We mainly wanted to see what this flea market had to offer and hopefully find a little inspiration along the way.
Flea markets are fun, but can be overwhelming if you don’t have some kind of plan ahead of time. Keeping our 2015 goals in mind, we agreed to purchase something only if A) it fit our specific home renovation needs, and B) it was a good value for the cost. John wanted to look for benches for our front and back entry areas, and I planned to keep my eyes open for cheap picture frames (for a wall art project I want to do in the nursery) and interesting drawer knobs (for the toddler’s new dresser). We also brought some essential flea market tools with us: a tape measure, our list of things to look for, measurements and diagrams of the rooms in our house, and low expectations.
Once we got to the flea market, we kept our eyes peeled for items that were solid and affordable, and avoided the booths selling mass-market junk and cutesy-crafty stuff. We noticed that a lot of the furniture for sale was of the “vintage-repurposed” variety, like these pieces we saw when we first walked in.
It reminded us a little of “Flea Market Flip,” the TV show where people buy raw-state items at flea markets, create something new with them, then turn around and resell them at the flea market as custom design pieces. The “flip” furniture we saw at the Kane County Flea Market was pretty cool, but not really something we’d consider buying – both because we want to refurbish pieces ourselves, and because the “flip” prices were way above our budget. Still, we enjoyed checking them out for inspiration and ideas.
In terms of potential benches for our entryways, nothing we saw was quite right for our needs (or wallets). But because our expectations were low to begin with, it was fun to just browse around and see what else people were selling. We noticed a lot of vintage woodworking tools, like these old planers that John found.
I spent some time looking through this table full of old drawer pulls, handles and other hardware. Nothing that was perfect for my dresser project, but I got some good ideas.
We discovered a lot of random odds and ends, like a doll-sized metal play kitchen (so cute), an old rotary telephone (for when the toddler starts asking for her own phone), and a box of red 45s.
And a plethora of pop culture memorabilia, like this Star Trek game (a nice collectible for Spock fans – RIP, Leonard Nimoy).
I browsed around booths full of old books, and found gems like these useful handbooks for judo and revenge (hey, you never know when knowledge like that might come in handy).
Ultimately, we didn’t have much luck in our hunt for benches, knobs and frames. Since we were only able to get out to this flea market during the afternoon of the last day, not a lot of good finds were left, and in fact some dealers were already calling it a day and packing up their booths. So we ended up going home empty-handed this time.
But despite the less-than-ideal conditions, we had a fun afternoon! Cheaper than a movie date (it’s $5 admission for adults, and children under 12 are free), especially if you don’t end up making any big purchases. I definitely want to go to this flea market again, but maybe when the weather warms up a bit (so there’ll be more dealers outside) and next time we’ll come earlier in the weekend when things aren’t so picked-over. And we can even bring the kids along for a fun family outing. This Conde Nast Traveler article has some great tips and advice for visiting the Kane County Flea Market, if you’d like more information.
The best advice we have for flea market goers: Have a list of ideas ahead of time, but keep your expectations low and your budget firm. Consider your visit as an adventure with a mystery ending. Expect to see fun, interesting and just plain weird things (and people!). Be flexible, and you won’t be disappointed. And if after all of that, you score an amazing find for your home too… bonus!
Happy 2015! With a new year beginning, we thought we’d put together a kind of “State of the House” report. We’ve already done a lot of home improvement, renovation, DIY, and overall re-designing of our home’s look and function, but there’s still so much more that we want to do. So I thought taking stock of our progress so far would help inspire and motivate us to keep going.
This is (hopefully) our forever home, so we’re not in a huge rush to get everything finished and perfect. We’re working on our project plans for 2015 currently and we’ll share those (and how well we did with our ideas for 2014) in the next few weeks. Taking a slow-but-steady approach to fixing up our house helps as we also try to balance daily life, family and other priorities. Now that Baby T is four months old (!) and things are settling down a little, we’re ready to look forward.
So let’s take a look at each room/area to review what’s we’ve accomplished and what’s still on our to-do list. Here’s where we are with the first floor of the house.
Still to do…
- paint window trim and baseboards
- add crown molding
- replace old mini-blinds with new window treatments
- hang art
- refinish the found coffee table
- evolve play area to be organized and focused
- build sliding doors and drawers for bookcase
This is the room where we spend most of our time, so it needs to stay organized and functional – not just pretty! – to fit our growing family. And with six windows, it gets a lot of nice natural light… but the current dingy old mini-blinds kind of spoil the view. Hopefully, we can replace those with something bright and happy soon.
Still to do…
- design and build a mudroom system
- sandblast and repaint front door
- paint basement door
- replace doorbell speaker
- replace light fixture
Another room that needs a lot of functionality and a big dose of style. Right now it’s an unorganized catchall for shoes, bags, and mail/packages, but we’d like to create a custom mudroom area here (next to the front door) to efficiently store seasonal outerwear and accessories.
Still to do…
- create customized built-in bookcases and window seat
- add window treatments
- design and build a desk/storage system
- refinish our found metal drawers
- install a new light fixture
We had such grand plans for this room in 2014, but they were largely put on hold for more pressing priorities that came up. We’ll have to see how (and if!) the remaining office re-design projects fit into our schedule and budget this year.
- replaced fridge and dishwasher
- replaced sink faucet
- connected our refrigerator water line
- added a protective coat on pullout drawers
Still to do…
- paint and/or stain the cabinets
- add new cabinet hardware
- replace the ugly vinyl flooring
- replace the stove/oven
- replace the microwave
- put in a new backsplash
- replace the laminate countertops
- remove wallpaper
- paint the walls
- replace track lighting
- refresh the decor (rug, dish towels, accessories)
There is A LOT on the kitchen to-do list! We’ve replaced a few appliances and fixtures, but haven’t really made any aesthetic design changes yet. Everything is so brown in this room – it needs to be opened up with some contrast and a brighter color palette. Last year we talked about possible future plans for a big kitchen renovation, so we need to decide if that’s still in the cards/budget for 2015.
Still to do…
- remove wallpaper
- paint the walls
- build banquette seat to wrap around the back corner
- get (or make) a different table to fit the space better
- take out carpet and flow new kitchen flooring
- add window treatments
- create mini-mudroom system next to back door
- replace track lighting
We envision this little room getting more and more use in the coming years, as the kids get older and we start having regular family meals here. It’s a small space, so we’d like to maximize its efficiency by re-imagining the eating area and creating a back-door mudroom (a mini version of the one we’re planning for the entryway). And the striped faux-texture wallpaper has got to go!
So that’s the renovation recap of our first floor as of the end of 2014. It’s come a long way from red walls and bad carpet, but there’s still plenty of projects left to keep us busy. And next we’ll take a look at the second floor. .. stay tuned!
You may be seeing a lot of gift guides popping up lately, with a plethora of ideas for what to get your friends and family this holiday season. But don’t forget to add your home to your gift-giving list! For us, our house is more than just shelter – it’s the hub of our family and our lives, and we want to celebrate it (since it’s been so good to us this year). So we thought we’d share some gift ideas for that special house in your life. Look for more in our Gift Guides for Your Home series all month long!
Our previous Gift Guides have been chock full of practical items to help you keep your house in top shape. In this last Gift Guide, we’re focusing on things to make your home feel pretty! In our 1920s Craftsman Foursquare, we like to mix up the decor with a balance of period-appropriate and modern-design items, and we usually gravitate toward a warm neutral color palette to tie it all together. Below we’re sharing some furnishings and accessories that would work in anyone’s old (or new!) house.
B. Wrap yourself up in this cozy, warm-tone blanket.
D. Love the carved legs on this wooden end table.
G. Every room needs good lighting – try this geometric table lamp with an open base for an airy look.
Check out our other Gift Guides for Your Home:
Gift Guide for Your Home: Keeping it Strong and Safe
Gift Guide for Your Home: DIY Tools and Supplies
(linked on Remodelaholic)
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