This is the story of why my DIY mantra is “If it’s more than 4 steps, better not.” I will definitely walk you through my upcycling process in case that’s helpful. But things never go as planned, and that’s just fun to read. So whether you want to use the painting tips, the reconstruction tips, or just learn what NOT to do, then buckle up.
Tip One: Pick Out the Right Piece to Upcycle
One of the things Pinterest DIY professionals don’t tell you is how they picked out the piece that they decided to upcycle. To be honest, it’s difficult to look at a piece and see what it could be in your head. Because there are some hideous pieces of furniture that suddenly become gorgeous with a fresh coat of paint.
My best advice here is this: pick a piece you would be perfectly happy just painting and switching out hardware. If you choose to do more, do it to make something even more beautiful.
I thought this piece would be gorgeous in my head. And it’s a good piece of furniture overall. But it originally belonged to a woman who must have morphed into a chimney by now from all of her smoking. It stank. It also was a bit bulky for my taste… but luckily now I have a better understanding of how to spot the right piece. Pro tip: fall in love with the bones and you have a much better shot of loving it later.
Tip Two: Pick Something that You Don’t Need to Knock Out Supporting Beams
This one blogger made me think it was so easy to knock out the supports for the drawers in the front. Maybe it was for her, but not so much for me. The back on my dresser was warped… from the smoke, from exposure to water, I don’t know. But it had to go, and I had to create a new back. FYI: if you’re upcycling a dresser, most do not have a floor. So if you take any of the drawers out, you will need to build a floor. Which in my case, led to an uneven floor and an adult tantrum since I couldn’t get it level. But hey, you do you boo.
Note: if you need to make a new back or floor, go with particle board. It’s cheap, solid, and only becomes compromised if you literally soak it in water.
Since the original back of the dresser I had was of lesser quality wood, it meant that the front vertical beam of my dresser was a main support. Which meant if I knocked any of it out, it would compromise the stability of the entire piece. Ugh. So I purchased a long metal L bracket to screw into the front underneath where the original support was to distribute the weight. The things I do to make sure my furniture doesn’t come crashing down to earth.
Tip Three: DIY Painting is Great if You Have the Right Paint
Annie Sloan‘s chalk paint is my absolute favorite for DIY projects. It’s smooth, it dries beautifully, and my favorite: you use less coats of paint. I used Graphite for the top and handles, Old Ochre for the sides and front, and Paris Grey for the inside.
Annie Sloan also makes soft wax, which can give a really great antique look to furniture. It also helps seal the wood and keep water from damaging the paint. I used the dark wax on the entire top, and the clear wax everywhere else. (If you’re going for a vintage feel, you can use the dark wax on light paint in the corners to create your shadows)
Pay close attention to the quantity you need… that’s all I’m gonna say on that.
One other tip I have on the Annie Sloan chalk paint is that you definitely need to look at the photos on their website for what the color will actually look like on furniture. I’ve found the swatches to be slightly misleading. But I absolutely love their products, and highly recommend them if you’re painting furniture. One last thing… there is such a thing as too much chalk paint.
Tip Four: Hardware Can Transform a Piece
Unfortunately, another thing that my DIY project didn’t have going for it was the hardware. And by hardware, I mean the handles. I wasn’t a fan of the look or feel of them, but alas, no amount of pulling, threatening, or banging on them removed the hideous handles. So I was stuck.
Just in case no one has told you before, Home Depot and similar stores are not the only places to purchase hardware!
I just wanted to put that out there because I didn’t know that at one point. (Or that you get what you pay for when it comes to skincare and makeup, but visit my skincare and makeup section for that)
Here are some of my favorite places to purchase hardware:
- Local antique shops or secondhand stores (mismatched ones look cool if you do it right)
DIY projects can be incredibly fun, but for someone like me who has the patience of a 10 year old, I plan to stick to my 4 step rule. But hopefully some of these revelations I’ve experienced will help you in your crafty projects! Leave me a comment down below with some of your DIY project mishaps. Because who doesn’t need a good laugh?