Saturday, January 30, 2010

The dresser refinishing project

So I'm on a bit of a tear re-doing our living and dining rooms. It's been years (about 4 and a half years) since we purchased any new furniture and a lot of what we have is old, dated, or purchased in a rush, and is just not all that special. I've always wanted to paint a dresser or secretary or something in a bright color, and have been storing up inspirational pictures that I've found online.

So when I spotted this dresser on Craigslist I decided to go for it. I reasoned that we do really need additional storage, and hopefully it can be a relatively inexpensive project, that will add some much needed color to our dining room, as well as be something that would be versatile and potentially be used in other rooms when we move houses. I can justify any purchase!!

It was described as being a "1920s, 1930s, 1940s antique dresser, vintage, chest of drawers, highboy, solid wood, 6 drawers: all with dovetail construction, front & back" and it was listed for $150. I loved that it was on wheels, and was relatively sturdy and seemed to need some stripping, a fresh coat of paint and some new hardware, so I bought it for $120 and we somehow managed to cram it into the back of my Jeep Grand Cherokee. Small world sidebar: the guy I bought it from is working with an old family friend on the Mexican Bicentennial!

Now I just need to decide on the color and hardware. Easier said than done!

I'm really into this lacquer finish that I've been seeing recently. This pink dresser and greenish gray secretary I posted about recently from Pasadena Antique Center had a lovely glossy finish:

I first spotted the high gloss finish on some chairs that the lovely Ramon from Material Environment has in his amazing store (which I also have posted about previously). He had them done in "piano finish", which apparently is a very long and intensive process and not cheap, with many many many layers. Worth doing, but only for a very special piece, and the dresser doesn't really qualify as a very special piece.

So I resolved to see if there was another way to get a similar finish. I had torn a page out of what I think was May 2006 Elle Decor where the designer of Sarah Jessica Parker's Hampton's weekend house mentioned how he achieved "the look of fine lacquer" with oil based Jan-o-Thane paint from Janovic or Fine Paints of Europe. He painted some IKEA tables this way and had success in achieved a high shine look with texture.

I went on down to Kootnz Hardware (love) and chatted to paint expert Jean, and asked if they carried either of the above mentioned products. He said they didn't, and asked what I was trying to achieve. When I mentioned "piano finish" he quickly discouraged me, saying that his uncle (I think it was his uncle) used to refinish piano's for people like Michael Jackson, and that it was a seriously labor intensive project, with many many many layers of paint and epoxy, and was not something that I wanted to undertake, especially if I wanted to be environmentally friendly (I had started off by asking him about low or no VOC paint).

He steered me towards Benjamin Moore's Natura line. No VOC's in their primer or paint, and I can get a semi-gloss finish. Not entirely what I was going for, but I'm thinking of taking this route, particularly as it's my first furniture painting project, I figure I should keep it simple. So I'm now just trying to decide between colors. Below are three of my top picks: Peony, Cayman Lagoon and Bahaman Sea Blue:

I also checked out some knobs at Anthropologie, see below for my top picks.

I love the Suzani knob but is the Suzani thing a bit played out? I still want one, and it is fresh in the green, blue and red, but...

I really love the frog but as my landlord pointed out (lovely guy who's consulting on my dresser project, and who has given me the name of a place in Santa Monica that will strip the dresser for me before I paint it), it's not very practical and the legs are likely to get snapped off fairly quickly. They are also $12 each and I need 12 of them - eek! $144 plus tax! And I'd need to get spares for sure.

My husband was surprisingly a big fan of the green crystal. I love them but wonder if, as a friend said, they're too "shabby chic"?

I do love the idea of this soft green knob against the peony pink.

Iphone shots of the samples I picked up at Anthropologie - I'll return what I don't use when I buy the real deal, figured it would be great to have them in person with me while I (we) chose paint etc:

My husband is advocating for us to consider painting the dresser orange, and I guess yellow would also be a nice contrast to the frogs. Decisions decisions!! It will take a while to be stripped and I figure maybe I should paint it first then decide on knobs? Or maybe it should be the other way around. This is hard!! I might need to buy another dresser!!

Another side note: It is funny how I always gravitate towards the same colors, all the colors that I'm considering for the dresser are also my "wedding colors" per the below.

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