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Do-It-Yourself McMurray!

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Spring is upon us – the marshmallow snow-covered world we’ve been living in Fort McMurray is slowly melting away, and it’s the perfect time to get out your paint brushes and tackle some projects that were delayed by the time spent shoveling snow in the winter! Spring also brings us Earth Day and this article celebrates the great opportunity DIY-ers have to do their part for the earth, by repurposing and refinishing old pieces of furniture. Breathing new life into old and dated furniture through a little paint and elbow grease keeps items out of the landfill, and adds some much needed customized style to your home. Not to mention, making over old furniture can also save a lot of money too! So let’s get to it!

For those who think it’s a sin to paint over wood – brace yourself because it’s happening in this article! To be honest, I’m not a fan of wood. Yes, I know it’s natural, warm and homey, but it’s just not my style. Apart from my current kitchen cabinets {which I’m dying to paint, but don’t tell my husband!} and my floors, there are no wood surfaces in my home. But as we know, taste evolves, so maybe one day my home will be decked out in wood paneling! Yet, somehow I doubt that…

For this project, I selected an old dresser I purchased from Kijiji. I heart Kijiji!!! For $50, I got a whole bedroom set from the 1950s – 2 night tables, a tallboy dresser, and a long dresser. I love the clean lines of the mid-century modern look, and the unique features of the dresser (the brass flower handles and stylish and sleek drawers). When purchasing vintage furniture, be sure it’s sturdy, solid and it’s wood. Wooden furniture is much easier to paint than laminate, though it is possible to paint over laminate too. Test the drawers to ensure they slide smoothly, and check to see if there are any manufacturer markings on the furniture, which would give you an idea about quality and how old the piece is. Also keep in mind that there’s a huge difference between “antique” and “vintage” – antique means that it’s really old and worth something; “vintage” means that it’s old-enough and only worth something to you! Be careful about refinishing or painting “antique” pieces because any changes will vastly diminish their value.

My awesome and handy husband and I chose the vintage tallboy dresser to makeover for this project for our 3-year-old daughter’s bedroom. Before starting, get a clear vision of what you want the piece to look like. Look for any cool architectural features that you may want to accentuate. With our dresser, we wanted to highlight the moulding around the doors, and the brass flower detail door handles. Deciding to feature these aspects of the dresser in advance helped when choosing paint colours. I’m a huge fan of Benjamin Moore’s Aura paint collection because it goes on smoothly and evenly, gives great coverage and dries quickly, so I chose a dark gray (CSP-45 “Street Chic”) for the dresser itself, and a light pink (CSP-425 “Kept Love Letters”) for the accents. Also, a note about paint finishes, the more matte the paint finish is, the harder it is to clean, so I always choose at least a semi-gloss.

Before starting, give the piece a good wipe down with a damp cloth, and be sure to get the grime out of all the nooks, crannies and edges. Be sure to take the drawers out of the dresser, and doors off the hinges to make it easier to clean and paint.

Then you’re ready for sanding! Sanding is fun and easy – you can even get the kids involved. Our kids wanted to help, but ended up just riding their tricycles around the garage while we worked. It was great to spend the family time together though! Choose a 200-grit sandpaper, and be sure to rough up all the surfaces of the piece – that’s how the paint sticks! After sanding down the piece, it’s time to wipe down the dresser again with a damp cloth to pick up all the leftover particles from the sanding process.

One more step before painting is to tape off any details you want to be a different colour. So for our dresser, we used Frog Tape to cover off the mouldings of the dresser door fronts. I’ve got to say that Frog Tape is a bit more expensive, but it’s worth it. Sometimes the cheaper painter’s tapes are less quality, and if you’re a DIY fiend like me, we need the best tools in our kit to ensure the best quality finish. I certainly don’t want to waste time repainting where the tape ripped off the paint.

Now it’s time for the magic to kick in! Time to paint! We tried to use our paint sprayer, but something just wasn’t working, so we cleaned off the paintbrushes and got busy. It took 2 coats of the paint to get the gray to be the perfect shade and depth of colour. Remove the tape, then once the main colour is dry, we used the painter’s tape again to section off the details we wanted to highlight. Again, two coats of pink paint on the details and it’s really starting to come together!

The final details are the brass flower door handles. They are very cool – you just don’t find those kinds of details on furniture these days. I decided to spray them a gloss white with spray paint. It’s quick, easy and effective. Two light and even coats of spray paint, 20-30 minutes apart and it’s done!

This project is pretty straightforward. Between work, kids, and other commitments, this project took a couple of weeks to complete, but if you dedicate a weekend to it, you can certainly finish the dresser makeover in that time.

Happy DIYing and doing your part to help save the Earth, one DIY dresser at a time!

Have you been making over your own furniture? Show me what you got! I’m here to help with any of DIY related questions – tweet me @mummymaggie, follow me on Pinterest @mummymaggie or check out my blog at for more ideas on how you can Do It Yourself, McMurray!


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