Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chest of drawers makeover - from fugly to funky

Our first baby is on the way, and so gradually our nursery is coming together. I'm more than happy to buy second hand or repurpose furniture that we've already got, but I still don't want to compromise on the prettiness!

We have a set of wardrobes, chest of drawers and bedside tables that have lasted since my husband had them as a child - they were all still in great condition for just being your basic laminated furniture. But they were Ugly. Pale barely blue laminate paired with slightly beige drawer fronts plus chipping gold coloured plastic strips and knobs. Eeek. Not what I wanted. But I was pretty sure I could give the chest of drawers an easy, funky makeover with relatively little trouble and far far less cost than buying a new set. And I'm ecstatic with the result.

drawers before and after

No the chest of drawers did not double in size as part of the makeover. I just forgot to take a before picture of them, but the bedside tables are exactly the same so you can still see the transformation.
It's really super easy - anyone can do it.

You need:
-Fabric for drawers in chosen print (or coordinating prints.)
-Mod podge or similar glue
-Paint brushes
-Fabric scissors
-Drawer pulls (unless you can reuse the old ones)

-A weekend or a couple of week nights. (The actual work doesn't take more than a few hours, but you need to let the layers of primer and paint dry thoroughly.)

How I did it:
1. First I removed the old drawer pulls and the plastic strip glued to the front. Most of these peeled off easily with no residue, probably because the glue was 20 yrs old.
2. I marked which drawer went where - you'd think they'd be identical but sometimes they don't fit quite right if you put then back differently - then removed them and set them aside.
3. I cleaned the laminate of the chest of drawers but didn't sand it or anything. Make sure it's completely dry before you start painting. I applied two coats of a general purpose primer, leaving a few hours between coats. Then I left it to dry completely for about 24 hours.
I also painted the new wooden drawer pulls with primer too. (the old plastic ones were too shiny and slippery I didn't think repainting them would work too well.)
4. After the primer had time to dry, I painted on two coats of acrylic paint (on the drawer handles too.) I used the left over wall paint we had from when our house was painted, rather than buy new stuff since I just wanted plain white anyway. (or more specifically, a shade of white called Chalkdust). Same as primer, at least 2 hours between coats, and then I let the paint dry for a day or so before I moved the chest of drawers to make sure the paint was super dry and hard and not going to mark up easily.

painting laminate furniture

At some point while the paint is drying you can cover the drawers.

covering drawers in fabric

1. Lay the drawer face down on your chosen fabric and cut around. I left at least a few cm / 1inch over hang to stick down. Will depend on how thick your drawers are.

Iron the fabric.

I cut out all three pieces at the start then glued one drawer at a time.

2. Paint the drawer face with an even layer of mod podge. Doesn't need to be super thick. (make sure the glue hasn't filled up the screw holes for the drawer pulls.)

Lay your fabric down onto the drawer face. You'll have a bit of time to reposition it, so make sure the print is straight and even, then press down and smooth out. You could use a dry clean cloth, or even a credit card or piece of cardboard if your fabric is particularly wrinkly or bubbly, but I found my hands worked fined. Make sure they're clean.

3 & 4. Now use a smaller paint brush to paint the glue on the edges of the drawers and smooth the fabric down on to it. Do one edge at a time. I used my thumb to push down from the top and down over the side to get a nice sharp edge.
covering drawers in fabric
Corners: I tried a few different methods for sticking down the corners. Folding left too much bulk, so the best method for cutting I found was this. Once two adjoining edges are stuck down, pinch the excess fabric and then cut straight down with sharp fabric scissors. The drawer stops you trimming off too much.

5. Flip the drawer face down on a clean, protected surface (away from where your were previously gluing so no stray drops that got on that surface get on the fabric on the drawer front.)

Paint glue along the back of the drawer fronts, and stick the fabric down. You want the fabric to wrap right around like this so that you don't get any peeling or lifting that would be visible on the front. If the edges do lift at any point in the future it's all hidden. Trim a bit more at the corners if there's too much.

6. Finally I lightly mod podged the edges of the fabric so that any fraying or lifting is minimized.

Leave to dry. (I wanted the texture of the fabric to stay as it was so I didn't mod podge or put sealer over the top of it or anything. Have yet to see how the fabric will hold up in terms of marks or stains, though. I don't think it would be that hard to recover later if they get too dirty.)

One everything is totally dried, put the drawer pulls back on. I put the screw in from the back to slightly push out the fabric and then used the tip of the scissor blades to snip a little hole for the screw to emerge through. Then screw the handles on.

Voila! Pretty simple for great results! Now someday I've just got to do the same with the rest of the bedroom suite...
before and after furniture makeover

If you do any furniture makeovers, or have any more tips or tricks I'd love to see them/ hear about them!

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