Have you ever had a project just absolutely not go your way? Everything you tried just didn’t work?
Well, you’re not alone. There haven’t been too many pieces of furniture that I simply want to give up on. But this little dresser just about made me throw in the towel. Ugh.
Don’t worry, I’ll share all the juicy details of the challenges I faced making over this project for this month’s Thrift Store Upcycle challenge.
The Rules of the Thrift Store Upcycle Challenge:
- Upcycle an item(s) from a thrift store, resale store, or garage sale into a new piece of decor.
- There’s no monthly theme.
- There’s no budget to stick to.
Meet the Hosts
Amanda | The Kolb Corner Erlene | My Pinterventures Kim | Made in a Day
Dru | Polka Dot Poplars Maureen | Red Cottage Chronicles Pili | Sweet Things
Shirley | Intelligent Domestications Debra | Shoppe No. 5 Marie | DIY Adulation
Chelsea | The Johnsons Plus Dog Jes | My DIY Envy Ann | Duct Tape and Denim
Molly | Just a Little Creativity Ashley | 3 Little Greenwoods Kimm | Reinvented
Kim | Farmhouse Made Victoria | Dazzle While Frazzled Sara | Twelve on Main
Chelc | Inside the Fox Den Sue | A Purdy Little House Michelle | Our Crafty Mom
Sherry | Savvy Apron Jennifer and Vicki | 2 Bees in a Pod Lora | Craftivity Designs
Ali | Home Crafts By Ali Denise | My Thrifty House Colleen | Life on Kaydeross Creek
Toni | Small Home Soul Jeanie | Create & Babble Michelle | Michelle James Designs
Medina | Grillo Designs Karen | Dragonfly & Lily Pads
Make sure you follow our board on Pinterest for more upcycled decor inspiration!
I actually didn’t find the dresser at a thrift store, but from one of those online garage sale apps. The way our local one works is, someone posts an item they want to get rid of. You have to buy it according to what the photos and descriptions show. Once you commit to buying something, it’s yours. If you don’t like it, you can resell it, but you’re stuck with it until then.
So, I found this dresser for a steal. It was advertised at solid wood, great condition. And it really was cute, the shape of the legs, the size, everything was great.
When I picked it up, I realized it was wood and mdf, not solid wood after all. And the mdf wasn’t in great shape. It was scraped and bubbled from getting wet at some point, and frustrating. And on top of that, BOTH drawer tracks were not working. At this point I was stuck with it. So, challenge accepted.
The drawer tracks were fixed fairly easily.
I researched how to fix mdf furniture that’s been wet or bubbled, and found there’s really not a whole lot you can do. I figured it was messed up anyway so why not at least try, it couldn’t get any worse, right?
In the areas the areas of ruined mdf, I actually dug out the damage a little deeper and then filled the spaces with Elmer’s Carpenters Color Change Wood Filler. This stuff is pretty great. It goes on purple and dries white when it’s ready to be sanded, painted, or stained. I finished this process and then the dresser sat for about 6 weeks before I came back to it. I just got busy doing other things.
When I finally felt inspired enough to pick the project back up again, I had some milk paint products left over from this set of farmhouse end tables.
Following all the instructions, I added the milk paint Extra Bond to the paint for a first coat to act as a primer on the dresser.
Imagine my surprise when, about an hour after I finished the first coat of white on the dresser, I checked on it to see that all the places with the wood filler repairs turned back to the bright purple! Okay, okay, maybe this stuff would dry clear again right? Nope. I let it sit for about a week and purple it stayed.
I messaged the milk paint company on Facebook because I love this brand and their customer service is excellent. They’ve never seen this happen before and weren’t sure why it did. We both came to the conclusion that the Extra Bond must’ve reactivated something in the wood filler and the bright purple made it’s appearance again. Of course, I didn’t do the recommended “test in an inconspicuous place before using the paint” on the dresser because I never in a million years expected this to happen.
Let me go ahead and say that I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with any of these products. I think that we discovered an important lesson, that the two products simply don’t play well together. I will use both products again, just not together.
So what to do? I definitely didn’t want a Barney colored dresser, and the only thing I could think to do was paint over the entire thing in a darker color. So, I used my Pure & Original slate color from this furniture makeover and painted the whole thing in slate blue. The color was actually beautiful this way. I even bought new silver drawer pulls and everything to make it work.
But in the end, I just didn’t like it. The milk paint underneath it was doing it’s job and crackling and distressing, and it just wasn’t looking right with the blue. The blue needed to be sleek and smooth, and this just wasn’t working.
So, back to white. I went right back over the blue with my white milk paint. Lo and behold, it was finally perfect. It’s not everyday you see a slate undercoat when you distress a piece, but the blue turned out absolutely perfect under the white.
I gave it a few coats of Daddy Van’s wax (my all time favorite) and replaced the drawer pulls (again). And as a final touch, I lined the drawers with a floral contact paper.
I honestly didn’t think I would finish this one, nor would I be able to recoup the time and expense I put into it. However, I went ahead and put it up for sale, and wouldn’t you know it was gone by the end of the first day!
So in the end, my takeaways from such a challenging piece are to test your products if you’re using something new (in my case it was the wood filler). Also, reach out to a company if you’r having a hard time with a product, they’re usually quick to try to help. And last of all, don’t give up on a project, just keep trying until you find a creative solution.
You can find all my Thrift Store Upcycle projects HERE.
And now for more thrifty goodness!
Check out what my fellow upcyclers created below!