Thank you so much to KILZ®, a brand we absolutely love, for sponsoring this post. As is always the case with partnerships featured here on the blog, all opinions are our own.
You guys know by now that there’s just nothing we love more than a good furniture flip, which is why we’re so excited to be back in the makeover game this week with a piece that we’ve been waiting to find and customize for what seems like a lifetime – a dresser/media console combo for our guest bedroom! Ok ok it’s actually only been about six months since the old hand-me-down IKEA dresser that once lived in there bit the dust and couldn’t be resuscitated, but when you’re missing a key piece of functional furniture in a room and searching far and wide for the perfect thing to no avail, it feels like a lifetime. Luckily today our wait is finally over and with the help of our trusty sidekick that none of our furniture makeovers are complete without, the multifaceted family of KILZ® Products, we’re turning one beat up old wood dresser into the dresser/media console combo of our dreams, and man oh man did we have a blast making this baby shine!
If you follow along on Instagram Stories you had the distinct pleasure of watching me sweat it out in the 106 degree heat in Phoenix last week as I desperately hunted for this unicorn of a dresser, determined to finally end this guest bedroom dresser saga once and for all. And I was NOT giving up until I reigned victorious. I hit every flea market, every garage sale, basically any and every establishment that would have me in search of the perfect old piece that fit my needs and desired dimensions, didn’t break the bank and was just waiting for a Cinderella-style makeover to give it that second act. And after the hunt to end all hunts, I serendipitously stumbled upon this old beauty at a garage sale on the outskirts of Phoenix on the way back from a fishing trip, and to say that I’m in love is the understatement of the century. That solid wood goodness! That floral drawer detail! Those knobs! The possibilities! It was fate.
Why is it that when we’re not searching for anything in particular, we find about a thousand pieces that we completely don’t need that would be perfect in various locations all around the house, but the second we start searching for something specific it’s like finding a needle in a haystack… that’s also been swept up in a tornado… and flung to the far reaches of the Earth? Does that happen to you guys? It’s the cruel joke of our entire DIY home decor existence. On top of that, this could have been a much more painstaking search if I were intimidated by the slightly scary imperfections that can come with old furniture that’s been used and loved for many a year in all kinds of conditions, but hunting for old, unwanted pieces to makeover doesn’t really scare me anymore because when we have KILZ® Primer waiting in the wings, we know we can easily combat a host of problems that can pop up and make any flip ten times harder to tackle, like questionable, unwanted odors, weird stains, old dark paints and varnishes and other general surface issues and imperfections. It makes prepping to paint a total breeze, which is a serious game-changer in what we do because the prep process can make or break you when you’re giving an old piece like this a fresh new look!
We’ve said it before on here and we’ll say it again – breathing new life into an old, unwanted piece and giving it a second act is one of our greatest joys in life, and really speaks to the ethos of this little blog of ours. There’s so much beauty and craftsmanship that exists out there in the world and so many treasures that are deserving of a new chapter, so finding easy, accessible, design-driven ways to not only make old new again, but make it fit our style and our taste is one of our missions in life. And it’s so funny because when I think back to that first old antique wood piece I decided to fix up and customize in my style way back when, I remember having this grand design vision that I had absolutely zero clue how to execute, and one day I came home and on my counter was a can of KILZ® Primer with a note from my mom that just said, “Start here.” About a thousand DIY projects and furniture makeovers later and just about every element of my approach has changed and evolved, except for one important piece – KILZ®. It’s still right by my side, helping make all my fun, cottage-cool furniture dreams come true!
But before we get to the all important step-by-step of this pretty in pink makeover, I have even even more exciting things to cover! We’re joining the insanely talented design genius that is Liz Marie Galvan from everyone’s favorite cozy farmhouse-fabulous home blog, Liz Marie Blog, in the KILZ® Street to Sweet Sweepstakes. Liz is tackling her own (totally gorgeous) furniture makeover project over on her blog, and you guys can all head over to the KILZ® site to vote for your favorite project of the two for a chance to win a $1,000 prepaid Visa gift card! Ok Ok in all seriousness Liz and her adorable hubs are total pros and we completely anticipate getting whooped in this little head-to-head DIY challenge, but it’s an honor just to be in their virtual presence, so we’ll have tons of fun getting schooled by the experts over there! Either way, we hope you all vote and capitalize on your chance to enter to win a seriously epic prize from a brand we love with our whole hearts!
2” China Bristle Brush
2” Nylon Brush
Spray Bottle Filled with Water
100-grit sanding block or sandpaper
120-grit (or higher) sanding block or sandpaper
Large Soft Brush (optional)
Scouring Pad (optional)
How To: DIY Chalk Paint Dresser Makeover with KILZ
1. Our first mission was to try to re-work the look of the legs to the best of our ability by removing the geometric detail at the front. Luckily, those were actually their own separate pieces of wood that had been glued onto the wood bar on the bottom of the front of the dresser. That detail is super fun, but it doesn’t necessarily fit our style and because they were separate pieces, removing them wasn’t a big to-do. First we tried using a chisel and a hammer at the seam to pry them away from the wood bar and get them detached, but that glue was serious business, so we upgraded to just hitting that geometric piece with a hammer to see if it would pop off at the seam, and much to our surprise and delight one of them popped right off using that method! With a little bit of sanding, the wood bar was back to perfect. The other side, though was a different story. Part of the geometric piece broke off when we hit it with the hammer, but a good chunk of it stayed put, so Chris busted out the big guns, the articulating saw and started carefully working the seam with it to get the rest to break away cleanly. And luckily, it worked like a charm without damaging the wood bar at all. Phew!
Side Note: We also took those center doors and their hinges off at this stage, too so we could use this as a media console by simply unscrewing them, filling the tiny holes with wood filler and quickly sanding that filler down so it was all flush. Easy breezy.
2. Next it was time to sand. This old piece was stained and sealed with some sort of varnish originally, but because we were using KILZ ORIGINAL INTERIOR PRIMER to prep the surfaces to paint, we could get away with just giving it a nice light sand using our finishing sander and 100-grit sandpaper instead of doing something more drastic. That’s the beauty of a great primer – it makes your prep for these projects so much easier!
3. After sanding we always give everything a good wipe down with a soft, damp cloth to make sure all of the dust is gone.
4. Now, we prime! We typically use KILZ ORIGINAL INTERIOR PRIMER, an oil-based primer, when we’re prepping a piece to paint because it’s so versatile, but they have an entire lineup of awesome primers for all sorts of different purposes, problems and types of projects, so make sure you hop over to their site to see the whole range and read all about their specific uses. Over the years and after tackling countless furniture flips, I’ve learned the hard way that priming and prepping the piece properly before painting is probably the most important step of a furniture makeover project, for so many reasons. Not only does using a great primer like KILZ ORIGINAL INTERIOR PRIMER combat a whole host of problems that you commonly encounter when you’re fixing up old used and loved vintage or antique furniture pieces like weird unwanted odors (full disclosure, this dresser smelled super funky when we picked it up), strange stains and uneven surfaces, it also makes applying paint so much easier and faster. Your paint goes on more evenly and adheres properly even when you’re not working with bare wood and have funky old varnishes to battle, and it also means that you’ll use less coats of paint to get your piece to full coverage (and that one’s huge). For me, prepping with KILZ® not only seriously reduces the amount of time it takes to paint a piece, it just plain makes for a more beautiful, professional finish in the end! Basically is makes me look much more expert level at this whole furniture painting thing than I really am.
TIP: When using an oil-based primer, I like to use a China bristle brush for smooth, even application, sans the appearance of brush strokes. Also, the goal with primer isn’t to cover your piece perfectly and turn it totally white, it’s simply to make sure you give all of your surfaces a once-over, so not too much, not too little, somewhere in the middle is right about where you want be when you’re brushing your primer on your piece.
5. After the primer dried (I gave it a couple of hours, but everything dries insanely quickly in this dry, Arizona summer heat!) I gave all of my surfaces a quick, light sand with a 120-grit sanding block and wiped them all down with a soft, damp cloth again just to make sure I hadn’t raised the grain at all and had completely, 100% even surfaces to work with. You can also use a big soft brush like the one I have in the pics instead of a damp cloth. Dust be gone!
6. Then it was time to paint! I’m going to be totally honest – chalk paint intimidates me, especially when using it on larger pieces like this. We’ve always found chalk paint to be slightly tricky to work with, mostly because it’s so thick and has that super flat finish. We’ve just never had a very successful outcome when using chalk paint for a project, which I’ll admit is totally all user error. Rookie! BUT I was so in love with this KILZ CHALK STYLE PAINT in this pretty Cameo Coral LB180-02 color when I saw it at Walmart, and just couldn’t get it out of my head. It’s the most perfect, warm, subtle ballet pink and I’ve been dying to do a pale pink dresser in our house for as long as I can remember, so I decided that this was the moment I’d finally take the plunge! This time, though I decided to watch about a thousand YouTube videos to improve my chalk paint approach and arm myself with some tried & tested wisdom from some amazing home blogger superheroes who have mastered the art of chalk paint, and I’m so happy to say that thanks to some seriously awesome tips and tricks, I’m so much more comfortable working with chalk paint now and more than that, I love it! Game. Changer. You can absolutely use a chalk paint brush or other more appropriate brushes, but with my newly learned trick below, you can kind of use any brush you like and it will work all the same – I used an old brush I had hanging in the shed, and it was perfect. Also, thanks to my priming job, this only required about 2 coats of paint, though for a lot of projects this KILZ CHALK STYLE PAINT doesn’t even really require a primer. I needed it, though because with an old, slightly darker piece like this you can get some bleed through of the wood/paint/stain underneath if you don’t prime.
TIP: The most amazing chalk paint tip that I’d somehow never heard of before this round of research is to keep your brush wet the entire time by spritzing it with a spray bottle when you dip for more paint, and using it to water down the paint a little bit. My biggest qualm with chalk paint was always how thick it is and how, despite my best efforts, I always ended up with visible brush strokes or “pilling” when I applied it. With this little trick I found zero brush strokes left behind on my surfaces and the entire application process was so much easier and smoother. It applied perfectly and dried quickly with absolutely zero tackiness lingering. I also got to read reviews from other ladies out there in the home blogosphere that said that the KILZ CHALK STYLE PAINT is just plain easier to work with and a superior formula to a lot of other chalk paints available, so that definitely contributed to my success this time!
7. Once the paint dried, I did a little bit of distressing around corners of the dresser, the fronts of the drawers and that floral detail with the 120-grit sanding block again and I love how the effect turned out, exposing the detail and just a little bit of the beautiful original wood underneath the paint. I always start small with this process and slightly inch my way up to the desired amount of distressing. You can always go bigger if you want a more distressed look, but it’s much harder to work your way back with another coat (or two) of paint if you go big too big at first and don’t love it.
8. After that I gave every surface a light once-over with a very fine grade plastic scouring pad like you see in the pics to smooth out any lingering imperfections and give it a slightly more velvety look than the naturally flat finish of the chalk paint.
9. Then I brushed off all of the excess dust from the sanding/distressing and scouring pad with that large soft brush. You can see how this little tool really comes in handy for projects like these!
10. My last step was to seal and protect my paint job with the KILZ® CLEAR SEALING WAX. You can certainly use a brush to apply, but I always use a soft cloth because it’s just easier/more natural for me to work with. Adding a wax on top of your finished paint job will enhance the durability of any piece, especially when it’s something like this that will get a lot of use.