The dresser refinishing project has been completed, and what a project it was! I had always wanted to paint something, but I guess I never gave that much thought to how much work it would be. I also encountered a few problems along the way. But I learnt a lot, and nearly two months later it's finished, and providing some much needed storage in our dining room for relatively little cost.
Here's a little blow by blow of how it all went down:
First, on my landlords recommendation to took it to Stripper Herk in Santa Monica (2015 1/2 Main Street, 310-399-8112) to have it stripped, removing all the knobs and the decorative bar at the top beforehand - another great landlord tip! They had it for a couple of weeks and it cost $185. They did a great job, however it only occurred to me afterwards that they must have used some pretty toxic chemicals, which was exactly what I was trying to avoid!
Next I selected my paint. I agonized for a while before eventually choosing a bright cobalt blue (Evening Blue) that I figured would really show up the white "calico" frog knobs I had finally chosen from a selection at Anthropologie. I used Benjamin Moore Natura paint, which is zero VOC, and also their primer.
I put two coat of white primer on and it looked great. Each coat was taking me 1-2 hours however, which was a lot longer than I thought, and my technique needed a lot of work to say the least! I started out with a roller, and had to immediately switch to a brush. I soon realized that you get a lot of brush marks with a water based semi-gloss paint, but I resolved to pretend that was the look I was going for! I was also painting in the garage of our apartment building, which was really dark. Not an ideal set up but I persevered, and good thing I had all natural paint considering the lack of ventilation!
Then I put on the first coat of blue, and it was so bright that I was a little horrified. The second coat didn't help much, it was still super bright and cheap looking. I decided to take the paint back to the store I bought it from (which shall remain nameless!) where I had a chat to their resident paint expert (who had not been there at the time of my purchasing the paint). He explained that the problem was that I should have been given a deep base primer, not a white primer. I probably should have known that, and certainly the person who sold it to me should have! We spent about 40 minutes adjusting the color in tiny increments till we reached a darker shade I was relatively happy with and off I went. I guess the danger is that when you've already used a paint, you can't add too much color to it or it will start to "split", which may have actually happened in my case but once again I resolved to pretend it was deliberate!
Another 3 coats, and I was done. Not totally what I was going for, but hey, it would do. I attached the knobs, filled it to the brim, and I'm pretty happy with the result. The drawers all stick a little, which I think is due to there being 7 coats of paint on it, which haven't quite finished curing, and also that I probably put too much paint on the top of each drawer. I also am having to do touch ups to the sides of the drawers, and the inside of where the drawers slot in where you are seeing white primer or bare wood, plus a little sanding once it's cured, but from a distance, it's kind of cute!
Total cost is a little more than I intended: $120 for the dresser, $185 to have it stripped, $55 for the paint, brushes etc. and $200 for the knobs (including a spare) = $560.
I'm not sure I'll rush to take on another furniture painting project, but it was satisfying, and at least I'll know more for next time!