Last year, my husband and I decided to venture into the world of fruit. Growing our own fruit. And so we expanded our garden outside by adding strawberry plants, raspberry canes, blueberry bushes, and both apple and apricot trees. (Which will all yield many future posts, I’m sure, as they begin fruiting!)
Inside, we decided to try some citrus trees that we could keep in containers; we opted for lemon, lime, and calamondin orange. (We live in zone 5b, so containers are our best option.) We’ve got a large bay window in the living room and figured the plants would fare well there during the winter, as it’s one of the only spots to get direct sunlight.
Unfortunately, we only had one plant stand (which belonged to my grandmother) and it was already dedicated to my large asparagus fern. I didn’t want to buy a plant stand when it seemed it would be so easy to make one.
We were all set to build something when one day I was walking through our alley and saw a little wooden dresser sitting near a neighbor’s trash. They happened to be around so I checked to be sure it was ok to take it – and they heartily encouraged me to have at it.
It was missing a knob (which thankfully happened to be in one of the drawers), and it wasn’t clear if it had been stained or painted. But whatever choice had been made, the task was never fully completed. It looked like a sad, mishmoshed, neglected piece. So I decided to love it up and make it a focal point in our living room.
We had some bright leftover yellow paint (Glidden Sunflower) from a hallway-gone-wrong (it looked so different on the wall than in the can we painted over with grey), and I thought it would look great in the room once toned down a bit somehow. The yellow matched perfectly with some artwork we got in New Orleans, as well as a still-life painted by my Great Aunt… and so I (barely) convinced Andy to trust me and got ready to paint.
The first step was finding a new screw to match the knob that had been left in the drawer. After several tries, I finally found one that fit and was able to reattach the missing pull.
I then sanded everything with 150 grit sandpaper by hand – making sure to pay extra attention to the areas that seemed more slick. Once I had roughed everything up, I began applying coats of yellow to everything except the knobs (which I set aside for later).
After three coats, I could no longer see evidence of the old paint job… and the look of the new color was consistent. Because the yellow of the paint was so bright, I knew I had to tone it down somehow… so I decided to do a bit of an antique effect using some leftover dark brown paint (Behr Volcanic Island) from our daughter’s boat bed project (future post!).
Using a 2-inch foam brush, I painted streaks of brown following the grain of the wood and then immediately wiped over them (in the same direction) with a clean cotton rag. I went a bit heavier in the corners, on the front, and around the feet – essentially just trying to add lines of color wherever things looked a bit light or overly new.
I decided to use the same brown for the knobs. Using the foam brush, I painted them in a purposefully sloppy way, allowing some of the prior natural wood color to show through. This gave almost a golden effect once finished. A happy accident that ended up looking great.
Once it was all done and back in the room, I toyed with the idea of adding some gold leaf effects with a paint pen or even adding a large prairie grass motif on the front with some of our leftover green paint from the dining room… but in the end, Andy and I agreed simpler was better.
Having completed this project, I actually feel more confident in upcycling other furniture finds! Paint effects seem scary, I think, if you’ve never tried them before… but there are so many tutorials out there on the web that you can always get tips if you need them. And it’s only paint – so if you really mess up, you can always cover it all up and try again.
Happily, after completing this project, I found a huge, beautiful, multi-drawer dresser that will make a perfect side table (again – in the alley)! I’ll post pics once that one is underway. It’ll be my first stab at a crackle finish, so I’ll be sure to share any helpful dos and don’ts in case you’d like to try something similar.