$10 Junky Dresser to Grain Sack “Secretary” – A Budget Makeover

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Yay!  I am so incredibly excited to share today’s post with you!  I have been working hard on this piece and I am so happy with the way it turned out.  How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!

If you read my “Tour Through Blogland” post, you learned that right now we are living with my in-laws while we save up to buy a house.  Due to the limited space, we have had to get creative with storage and organization.  A few months ago I realized I really needed a desktop where I could keep my calendar, and have a workspace and a place to get organized.  We also needed some extra storage and a spot for a few books.

We have a little nook next to the couch and the closet in our room that I knew I could squeeze a dresser or bookcase into.   I have a 3rd idea in mind for what I want to use this space for, but I will be revealing that in a later post.

My budget for the new piece was $15.  I spent a few weeks scouring craigslist and the FB yard sale groups for a dresser that had the right dimensions, the right qualities, and the right price.  Then I found this thing listed for $10.  Pretty homely, but she fit the bill.  The photo is from the sale ad.10401366_1492317224389226_3899831619505730036_nNow the drawers in this thing were shot.  The bottoms were made of really thin, cheap particle board and were falling out.  And of course the drawer slides were ancient and weren’t working either.  That was actually perfect because I wanted to make this into more of a bookcase or “basket dresser” with open storage and didn’t need the drawers.

I love the way open storage gives you the opportunity to use cute baskets, crates, vintage suitcases and the like, to decorate and function as storage at the same time.

Here’s how I transformed my junky $10 dresser into a gorgeous “secretary” with shelves for open storage – on a tight budget!

First, I took the thing apart.  I took out the drawers, removed the back (made of thin particle board again) by prying off the staples, and took out the drawer slides by unscrewing them and then giving them a few sound taps with my hammer.How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!

Then I used a hand saw to cut through each of the crossbars at the back and removed them.  For the front trim, I only kept the bottom piece in place.  I carefully removed that top trim with the detailing and later reattached it where I wanted it.

How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!Next I had to strip the paint.  I don’t normally strip old paint before I paint a piece, but in this case it was necessary, due to the 6 layers of paint that were already in bad shape.  I wanted a smooth finish, so I started fresh by stripping all the old layers of paint using Citri-strip.  Citri-Strip is biodegradable and safer to use than other paint strippers.  It works great, too!

After scraping off the 6 layers of paint, I let it dry out overnight.  The next day I sanded it down really well with my Makita Random Orbit Sander – love that thing!

How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!

Covered in Citri-strip

Now comes the tricky part.  I knew I wanted to put in some drawer slides and have a desk top I could slide out to work on, then push in to get it out of the way, so first I determined how high I wanted that and marked it.

I knew I would need one shelf on the bottom, tucked in behind the existing trim.  For the shelves above and below the desk top, I used two different sets of storage baskets to decide the location of the shelves.  Once I had the location of all the shelves, I measured very carefully to get the size I would need to have the shelves cut to.

Luckily, I had just enough scrap plywood to make 3 shelves and the desk top.  I just took the scraps to the orange store and they made the rip cuts on their saw.  I also had some drawer slides left over from when we ripped out our old bathroom vanity during our main bath remodel (still about %5 unfinished).

To install the shelves, I simply drilled pocket holes on the ends using my Kreg jig, and then screwed them into the sides of the dresser.  Easy, and it had the added benefit of reinforcing the dresser, since I took out the cross bars.

Installing the drawer slides was a matter of screwing in a 3/4 thick board to attach the slides to, and then attaching the slides.  The biggest challenge with this is getting the two sides perfectly level, otherwise they won’t slide properly.

How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece! How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!Now the fun part – the finishing!

I knew I wanted a distressed white finish, so I stained the whole thing with Minwax Dark Walnut before painting.How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!

I’ve been wanting to try Devine Color paint, which is sold at Target, so I used their white color, “Lightning,” to make my homemade chalk paint.  It took 3 coats to cover completely.  I sanded the surface smooth before painting on the stripes.  For the grain sack stripes I used Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paintin the color Artissimo.  The color is gorgeous; the perfect navy blue, and exactly what I was looking for.  I think I am going to repaint our actual dresser in this color at some point.

To tape off the dresser I used FrogTape .  I usually use Scotch Blue, but I’ve had quite a few fails with that and I have heard good things about FrogTape.  It worked pretty well, so I would definitely recommend it if you want nice crisp paint lines with {almost} no bleeding.  After painting just one coat of the Artissimo and letting it dry, I sanded and distressed with my sander.  Lastly, I applied two coats of Minwax Finishing Wax to protect the finish.
And that’s it!  It took about 4 days from start to finish, working on it when I could – usually just a couple hours a day.

If you are on a tight budget and need to create multifunctional storage, this is a great way to do it!  Plus, as with all things DIY, you enjoy it more because of the hard work you put into it!

How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!

I covered the piece of particle board that made up the back of the dresser with some ticking stripe fabric using my hot glue gun.How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!

The slide out desk top and a basket holding linen.How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!

The folding chair is antique and made of solid wood.  Its in really great condition and I got it for a song.  Yippee!  You can see how I made the grain sack pillow covers in this post.How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!The chair folds and fits perfectly into that little space between the “secretary” and the couch.How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!How to transform an old, used dresser into a bookshelf/desk showpiece!I am loving her so far!  She works great and has a ton of storage.

What do you think?  Isn’t she a beauty?  Have you ever repurposed a dresser?  What did you turn it into?

From my {domestic} ♥ to yours,

Shelly


 

Comments

  1. says

    I love the blue striping you added to this piece. It turned out just great and I am crushing on that wooden box you styled it with! Thanks for sharing! Also wanted to let you know about a new linky party starting this Saturday at 8pm called “Found & Foraged” I think your project would be perfect for it! Can’t wait to party with you at http://www.houseofhipsters.com
    Kyla @ HouseOfHipsters recently posted…Thrift Score ThursdayMy Profile

  2. says

    AHHHH girl, I’M IN LOVE. You seriously blow me away with your talent!!!! First,I’m totally jealous. Haha, I SO need a compact work space like that! Currently, my computer and blog “workspace” is on our kitchen table. HATE IT. Second, I love not only the functionality of it all, but the stripes!! I have a dresser in my garage waiting for me to get to, and you give me inspiration for sure! NICE WORK!! :)
    Amanda @ Dwelling in Happiness recently posted…Broccoli Beer Cheese SoupMy Profile

  3. says

    I have never seen anyone transform a dresser into a secretary before, Bravo!!!!! This turned out beautifully and I love the grain sack stripes. Featuring on this weeks Be. YOU. Tiful link party. As always thanks for joining us, can’t wait to see what you come up with next :) Hugs Adrienne
    Adrienne recently posted…Thanksgiving Table SettingMy Profile

  4. SANDY HOLLY says

    OH MY GOSH, I LOVE WHEN I STUMBLE UPON A SITE I HAVE NEVER SEEN BEFORE! I LOVE THIS DRESSER AS I AM OBSESSED LATELY WITH THE FRENCH GRAIN SACK DESIGN!! THANK YOU YOU HAVE GIVEN ME AN INSPIRATION FOR MY REHAB DRESSER!!! :0)

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