Glossy Black Dresser Makeover

Hello there, everyone! For those of you in the US, I hope you had a great Thanksgiving holiday! Today I’m back to share the story of a plain, little dresser with big dreams, and a wannabe DIY-er who has much to learn about painting.

Many moons ago my grandmother (aka Nanny) was gifted a simple pine dresser to use for extra storage. After she moved into a nursing home the dresser was evicted from Nanny’s room to my parents’ basement, where it sat for a few years doing nothing but collecting dust. Then one day I got the itch to makeover some furniture. You know how that happens, right? So after giving it a good sanding, my dad sent the little dresser over to my house, where it sat neglected in my garage for months.

And months.

And perhaps a year.

plain dresser makeover tips

Then one day this summer I said “Enough is enough! I shall turn that little dresser into storage for all my craft supplies!”

I fully intended to get all fancy with that dresser. I bought some awesome brown snakeskin embossed wrapping paper and was gifted glorious brushed brass hardware from D. Lawless Hardware. The plan was to paint the dresser semi-gloss white using paint I already had on hand, then decoupage the top and drawer fronts using the same process that I used for my son’s bookcase.

So I primed the dresser with Zinsser’s and rolled on a coat of white paint. It looked TERRIBLE with the wrapping paper. Just awful. All wrong. So bad I didn’t even take a picture of it.

Okay, not a tragedy. I dragged both children to the local hardware store to pick up some black semi-gloss paint, which should have been my first choice all along. One problem: they only had black glossy paint in stock. Seriously? Oy….up until this point I had never worked with glossy paint before, and now I know why.

Back in my garage, and over several nights after the kids went to bed (10pm painting sessions and then getting up for work the next day at 5:30am after inhaling paint fumes), my little dresser started to take shape.

My biggest mistake was painting over the semi-gloss paint without priming it with tinted primer. I did sand it first before rolling on the black paint (I’m not that much of a novice), but glossy paint desperately needs primer, and black paint definitely needs tinted primer. It took me three coats to cover up all the white paint, and the paint didn’t stick at all to the spots that were not well-sanded. Glossy paint also shows every flaw in the wood and highlights poor painting skills. For this reason, I am not keen to use it again.

After the paint dried thoroughly I attempted to decoupage the drawer fronts with my pretty paper. FAIL. Here’s why:

  1. Mod Podge doesn’t take well to glossy paint. It would have been better to just leave the drawer fronts primed but not painted to give the glue something to grab onto.
  2. The drawer fronts’ edges are curved; it would be much easier to apply the paper to flat fronts (think the IKEA Rast dresser)
  3. Heavy-weight wrapping paper is best for decoupage, and my pretty paper was simply too thin.

After several attempts (and even more curse words) to apply the wrapping paper neatly, I cried uncle. The good news is that the glue was easy to clean off my glossy paint job; a damp sponge did the trick. In the end, I wound up with this, which is far fancier than it’s plain-jane previous life.

glossy black dresser makeover This hallway is tough to photograph – very narrow and very little light. You can see how glossy the paint is – just check out the baseboard’s reflection!

Although this dresser makeover isn’t nearly as artsy-craftsy as I intended it to be, it’s still a refreshing change from the piece’s former state. The drawer liner is wrapping paper from Target’s dollar section.

dresser drawer craft storage I’m declaring 2014 the year I finally learn how to use my Silhouette Cameo. Look at all those rolls of vinyl still in their wrappers!

It doesn’t fit all of my craft supplies, but definitely enough of them. Eventually I’ll get around to organizing the drawers. Maybe in 2014. :)

As for that brushed brass hardware (courtesy of D. Lawless), I’m in love with it. The new knobs definitely add a little hint of glam, right?

diy black dresser with brushed brass hardware

At the end of this dresser makeover I learned some tips about working with glossy paint that I hope will help you with your next furniture makeover:

tips for painting furniture with high-gloss paint What are your painting tips for ensuring a fabulously shiny finish? Have you ever  Mod-Podged a dresser?

A Knobby Nightstand Update

When we purchased our home back in 2008, we came from a tiny apartment where we used my husband’s old bachelor bedroom set. We were both dying to upgrade to a king-size bed and wanted to invest in furniture that we’d love for a long time. That was before I realized it wasn’t “in” to have a matching bedroom set.

I will tell you a secret: I like matching bedroom sets. Not all, of course, but I do like ours (Valencia by Pottery Barn). What can I say, it makes me feel like a grown-up!

Yet, after a few years of living with it I craved a little change – something temporary and easily removed. Upgrading the nightstand knobs from the simple original design (below) to something with a little more sparkle was an inexpensive update that was relatively simple to do – but not as simple as we thought.

pottery barn valencia nightstand

I hit up Pottery Barn again and ordered two of their Vintage Glass Knobs in the bronze finish for just $7 each with free shipping. Perhaps foolishly, I thought that ordering knobs from the same place I bought the furniture would mean that they’d be easy to install. WRONG. The screws were much too long, and the knob only had two or three threads to connect to the screw. The screws that the knobs came with have spots along them where you can cut them, but those spots didn’t correspond with the knob. So, Mr. JC used the original knob’s screws plus the washers that came with the new and old knobs. He said it was “just luck” that they fit. So that was disappointing, but I’m glad he made it work.

JourneyChic nightstand update It’s not a terribly noticeable change, but it sure does make me smile when I crawl into bed at night and reach into the drawer for my lip balm.

Please pardon the dust:

nightstand updated with glass knobs

Our nightstand lamps are from HomeGoods and were a fabulous find at the time. I think I paid $80 for both, and the shades are very high quality. As much as I like them, I’m interested in finding something a bit more colorful. Perhaps a gourd lamp?

Shop our bedroom’s look:


Where are your favorite places to purchase knobs? What solutions have you come up with to make knobs fit better? Are you a fan of mix-and-match or matchy-matchy bedroom sets?

Woodsy, Gender Neutral Kids’ Room Design

We’re fortunate to live near my folks, so our kiddos get to spend quality time with Grandma and Grampy on a regular basis. Afternoon visits and the occasional sleepover mean that they need a place to crash, and that place is my old bedroom. My parents wanted to remove most of the girlish accents (hello, pink walls and pink country quilt!) to make it a space that my son and daughter would both enjoy, so a few months ago I came up with a little design scheme for a woodsy, gender neutral kids room to inspire my mom.

Colorful gender neutral kids bedroom design -

We can never coordinate a time to head down to IKEA, so Mom used my color scheme as a guide and purchased the Circo green quilt and coordinating rug from Target that are in this image.

image: Target

image: Target

Since adhering fabric to the roller shade made her a bit nervous (she didn’t want to commit to that much pattern), she found an adorable fabric in a woodland print at a local shop made valances for the windows:

woodland fabric valance Sorry for the flash photo with my old camera! You get the idea, though.

Here’s a similar pattern, Robert Kaufman’s “Woodland Pals” in the “nature” colorway.

image: Hawthorne Threads

image: Hawthorne Threads

Next up is printing and framing the adorable free art, and we’ll have transformed my girlish bedroom into a fun room that both kids will like.

Do your kids have a special room they stay in when they visit their grandparents? Has your old childhood bedroom taken on a new purpose since you moved out?

This post contains affiliate links.