House Beautiful

Archive for the 'Before and After' Category

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Rohan’s Dresser: Before & After

Remember the planning post for my favorite Halle-Berry-lookalike-homegirl Vani’s Nursery?

Well.  #1, the bun’s out of the oven.  Could you die??

And #2, let’s talk about dresser DIY.  After said-planning post and inspiration board, Preggo and I hoofed all over the city of Chicago for rugs, cribs, gliders and a chest of drawers that would serve as a changing table.  For a skinny second and due to a serious lack of viable options, we considered dropping a fat wad of cheese on a really sweet dresser at Giggle that – while lovely, and with a finish that was softasababysbottom – was offensively priced…  no offense to the Giggle folk.  And we almost justified it with the whole, “It’s a great piece, and we can cut corners / DIY the other things in the room, and it’ll all come out in the wash” bit.  Sidenote: Giggle is the mothership of baby stores.  Don’t expect to walk in there and not wanna go getcherself knocked up so you can take the entire store home with you.

But since I’m pretty handy with a power sander and was raised to Goodwill Hunt, and since I love Vani like a fat kid loves cake, I convinced her to let me find a reasonable piece the same size to refinish for her.  Which would free up $$ for the glider (not something you can skimp on) and crib.  So we measured (and in the absence of a measuring tape, I measured the length of the top with my arms, and the height with my *wee-hoo* – and then nearly got us kicked out of the store)…  and the next day, made a trip to my favorite Chi-town antique joint:  Edgewater Antique Mall.  Always reasonable & always fulla good stuff.

And near the back wall, I found this guy:

Perfect size, perfect drawer space, coolio hardware (black Bakelite – bang), a cool minty color on the inside of the drawers, and a perfect price tag – $125Say what??  So after much much sanding (first with 120 grit, then with 220 grit), about 8 layers of Benjamin Moore’s Linen White paint, another round of sanding (220 grit) to make sure it was super smooth and even, 2 more coats of paint and 3 coats of Polycrylic (water-based so it doesn’t turn yellow like Polyurethane does), this is how it turned out:

Don’t you love the art deco hardware??  That was a major score.  And the antiqued brass discs behind the knobs fanned my skirt up big time.  I liked the piece before, but I think the coat-of-linen-white against the black hardware renders it super mid-century modern and way chic.  And I mean that in the most manly way possible, Ro-Ro.  You little stud you.

A word to the wise:  if you’re going to refinish furniture in a humid environment, the wood IS going to expand.  And then you might have a nervous breakdown like I did when the drawers don’t fit back in because the wood’s all fattened up.  So after you finish sanding (outdoors or in a garage), I would recommend hustling that bad boy inside and painting in a cool, dry area.


photo credits:  giggle dresser | antique mall

Big Tacky Plastic Clam Shell Re-Do: VOILA!

Purchased: January 2012

Where: Goodwill Store in Santa Monica

Price: $3

Size: 18″ x 12″

Thoughts: Why would anyone pay any kind of cheddar for a large, plastic, found-in-a-Big Lots-in-Naples-lookin’ clam shell?  Well, I’d been eyeing giant clam shells for quite some time to use as a lovely, natural accent piece in our apartment.  This summer I even participated in an epic, Saving Private Ryan-esque, hour-long haggle fest with some poor vendor at the Pasadena Flea Market.  He wanted $75 for a shell; I acted all hard, then pouted, then melodramatically stomped off, sulking to my visiting mom.  I guess these things are really, really rare (the clam shells… not my tantrums), so you’ve either got to fork over major dough for the real thing, or pay a good amount for a fake version like this one from Z Gallerie.  No thanks to both.

So this DIY was the easiest I’ve ever finished. First, I took it out back like Old Yeller and spray painted it white.  I made sure to leave the tiniest bit of the original blue color to seep through, giving it a slightly more bit of depth:

Then I went to town and filled it with darling little succulents just purchased at Home Depot.  PS, they’ve got some great cacti/succulents for those with a history of killing off regular plants.  Anywho, so I filled the shell, and


My formerly cheap-a@@ looking tchotchke became a pretty miniature succulent garden that’s provided a nice organic touch to our place.  I love it.  And if I defy the odds and am the .001% of the population to kill the succulents, I’ll probably end up using it as either a magazine holder…


Or as a fruit basket on my kitchen table, to hold my new obsession, clementines:


The moral of the story?  As Steph’s pointed out a ton in her Goodwill Hunting posts, you gotta look in the most unexpected places for little gems to emerge.   Go to your Goodwills, go to rummage sales, go to Salvation Armys.  Put on your No Excuses overalls and slap some paint, some new knobs, or some new fabric on your find and there you go: a little dime piece that cost you a fraction of the fancier newer pieces out there in stores!

Jam out with your clams out, people.

Yours truly,