Estate sales can be great places to pick up pieces of furniture at a good price. We found two identical dressers at a local estate sale, so we properly named the dressers the twins. We had a friendly competition where Sydney designed one and Josh designed the other. This blog post is the story of Sydney's design, The Rustic Grey Dresser.
Click here if you would like to see Josh's design, The Classic Grey Dresser.
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This dresser did not have the intricate carvings or features that some of the other dressers that we have worked on had, but it was solid wood, which opened the floodgate for possible designs. Sydney decided that she wanted to try mixing stains to create a custom stain on this project, something that we had never tried before.
We used the following supplies on this dresser:
The paint on the dresser was extremely thick, so we could not just take a sander to it. So we turned to one of our favorite paint strippers, CitriStrip, to remove the paint before we started sanding. We used a cheap paintbrush to apply the CitriStrip, and then we let it sit for a while. You will be able to tell when it starts to work because the paint we start bubbling up (the picture on the right shows this). After letting it sit for a while (on this project, we let it sit for a couple of hours), we will use a scraper and scrape off the paint. Sometimes you might need to use a little muscle to get the paint off. As we noted above, you must ensure that all of the CitriStrip is removed, or it could affect your finish later on.
After we finished scraping the paint off the dresser, we sanded the body down. We start with our orbital sander using 80 grit sandpaper. Then we hand sand with 120 grit sandpaper. This process seems to be extremely effective in putting the dresser in its bare-bones state.
After we sanded the dresser down, we made sure to tape the inside of the body. It is always important to remember to tape the inside of the body where the drawers slide in and out. We will admit that this is not necessary, but if you want to have a re-purposed dresser that looks professional-grade, then every detail matters.
Once the body was taped, we painted the body with mineral paint. We usually do two coats of paint to make sure that everything is sufficiently covered.
Mineral paint generally dries pretty fast, so we were ready to apply a coat of wax after waiting an hour for the paint to dry (it dries quicker than this, but we wanted to make sure that it was fully dry before we started applying wax to it). Remember to not overcoat with wax because it will create major streaks, especially with a darker paint color. After the wax has been applied, allow it to sit overnight.
The next day you should take fine steel wool over (we used #000) the entire body, then buff out the wax with a cloth. (Note: Make sure that you are not too aggressive with the steel wool because you may end up peeling back the paint).
After you have accomplished this, you will want to let the wax cure for around seven days before putting the dresser into any significant use. Also, until it is fully cured, be careful to touch the wax with your fingers because the oil from your hands may transfer into the wax, giving it a dirty look.
After the body was painted and waxed, we turned our attention to the drawers. Sydney wanted to mix cherry stain with grey stain to create a custom stain color, and we think it turned out great!
She found an old Tupperware container in the kitchen, and she used that to hold the stain she mixed since she used a small quantity. For this custom stained, Sydney combined the stain with equal ratios. She poured in 1/3 cup of cherry and 1/3 cup of grey stain. Then, she mixed the colors together as normal.
Tip: As you apply the mixed stain to the drawers, it is important to stain them all at one time. We tested the stain mixture on one drawer to see how we would like it. When we did the rest of the drawers later, the colors were slightly different but not enough to make a noticeable difference.
Once the stain on the drawers was dry, we then added polyurethane to them. Poly does two things: (1) it creates a layer of protection for the drawers from everyday abuse, and (2) it creates a smooth finish. We typically apply two coats of poly, but some projects may require more. After the poly has dried, we use a wet sanding technique with excellent sandpaper to ensure that the stained areas are smooth to touch. The wet sanding process is really simple, just spray on some lemon oil and lightly sand over the stained areas with an 800 grit sandpaper (you can also do this over the painted areas, but you need to be careful not to sand too aggressively over the painted areas or you will end up with a distressed look).
This ended up being another successful project for us!
Josh and Sydney are life adventurers that love to learn and create. We are exact opposites and enjoy gaining new perspective. Our home is where our varying personalities shine, and we use it to gather our friends and family together.