Curlicue Dresser

8:27:00 PM

Ya'll. I'm so excited about this DIY furniture redo. I can't even express this. This is a huge triple dresser that I made for my oldest daughter's bedroom. This is a lot of firsts for me: first time using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, first time refinishing a piece of furniture, first time using a stencil I've made on furniture, and first time it's taken me 6 months to complete a project.

Yeah, it took me 6 months, from start to finish. This is me being real, folks. I work full time, I have 3 small kids. If you worked on it non stop, you probably could finish this dresser in a week, even including dry time.

It all started when my husband's coworker called up last fall and asked if we wanted some furniture, for free. Um, yes please? It happened to coincide with when we were trying to figure out how to transition the twins from cribs into a bed. This awesome coworker gave us a full bed, a huge triple dresser, and some other items. Since Lil Bit had been sleeping in a queen bed up until then, we decided to let her have the full bed and put the twins into the queen. So after we finished the bed swapping, I started looking at this dresser. It was dark and massive. The other thing to note is that this dresser wasn't anything special. My husband's coworker had built this dresser out of one of those unfinished wood kits many many years ago.

I really felt that putting the dresser into Lil Bit's room would be wrong, even though her new bed has a dark wood head and foot board. Her room is bright and fun, and this dresser would feel like a massive black hole, sucking in the light (while the bed feels feminine and sweet). I felt that since this piece had been free and it wasn't a very high quality piece to begin with, I could experiment a little and do something more than just paint the dresser a single color. Then I ran across this beautifulcurlicue chest that Yvonne at the Stone Gable had purchased.

(Please, if you love this image as much as I do, click over to her site to pin it!) I loved the curls and swirls on this dresser, and thought that a white  and gray color scheme would work perfectly. I didn't need the texture of the chest, just the pattern, so I settled on stencilling a pattern.  But I still wanted that polka dot look combined with the curlacue pattern. Not your typical stencil look, let me tell you. I had to make my own stencil, and I used my trusty Silhouette Portrait.

My stencil material is the same I used on my living room pillows, which is basically a heavy-duty page protector. The stencil design was an image I found online of a curlicue I liked. Then, I used the rhinestone function on the Silhouette Studio. This function is supposed to make a guide for rhinestones to be applied to a shirt (and I honestly don't know much more than that, having never used the rhinestone part of the program other than right here). But what it did for me was convert the curlicue into little circles, which was exactly the look I was going for. 

Now, if I was going to go for perfect circles, I might have looked at spacing out my circles a little more, but I liked the idea of a little imperfection and bleeding—which is what I got. My inspiration is handmade, with little inconsistencies, and we wanted a little bit of shabby chic going on in my girl's room. After all, if you live with kids, starting out with imperfections is a good idea, since heaven only knows that things are going to get a little beat up before everything is said and done, and I'd like to think that it was on purpose.

I was excited to try out Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. (I actually started this project before the nativity set I did with chalk paintlast Christmas, so this huge dresser was the first project I started with this new medium. Go big or go home, right?) I selected Pure White and Paris Gray for my paint colors, and I used clear paste wax for my finishing. 

I knew that there was a chance that the stain might bleed through the paint, but since the casing of the dresser would be the Paris Gray, I gambled that it wouldn't be too bad. It took 2 coats of paint on everything, but I got the coverage I desired. I then stencilled the drawers and lightly distressed the corners and edges, down to the original stain, and then I waxed everything. I won't lie, there's a learning curve on the wax, too, but I think it all worked out ok.

You may have noticed that when we received the dresser, the center section had a cupboard door. This area was used by the previous owner for a little tv. We are pretty much against having televisions in bedrooms (we don't even have one in the master bedroom), so we wanted to think up a clever use for this area. I didn't bother covering the hole in the back, because eventually, we're going to make this into a walk-in closet for Marie-Grace, Lil Bit's American Girl doll. Stay tuned on how we're going to "furnish" this nook!

There was one finishing touch that kind of stumped me: what to  do with the hardware. I wanted something beyond the ugly brown knobs that were on the original piece, but I didn't want to pay $5 per pretty knob if I had 18 knobs! That would mean  Then, I realized that the hardware wasn't oil rubbed bronze gone terribly wrong—each piece of hardware had been painted with a brown paint.

I stripped the paint off using hot white vinegar and some elbow grease. I found under all that paint lots of 70's era brass. I knocked off the sheen a little with a high grit sanding block and then painted the outside edge with Paris Gray chalk paint. I waxed the knobs, too, and now they have an understated elegance that fits perfectly with this slightly distressed dresser.

All in all, I spent around $90 for paint and wax—my only cost for this beautiful piece. I have no idea how much Yvonne paid for her (much smaller) chest but I'm guessing it was quite a bit more.  And in case you were wondering, Lil Bit loves it!


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