Shabby to Shabby Chic: Dresser DIY

Thrifting called me to this $10.00 dresser. However this dresser needed some love and became one of my favorite DIY project to date.

Starting Point



This dresser needed it all: new knobs, new color, new contact paper.

Basically it needed  a new life!

This first step to this new life was to sand and prime the dresser.

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A quick trip to Home Depot provided all the supplies. The dresser was sanded by hand with sandpaper. you notice the surface was mostly smooth, but needed a bit of evening out to better take the primer. The dresser took the primer and it didn’t smell too bad! I put on two coats of primer and let it dry for about 5 hours before reassembling.unnamed-6

Then it was to paint the dresser. I again found myself at the home depot hunting for a color on the opps rack. I picked up a $2.00 quart of paint. I painted the dresser indoors and the smell was fine.


I applied two coats and within 5 hours. The paint went on evenly didn’t require any special brushes or equipment.

I enjoyed doing this project with my sister and in just one afternoon this shabby dresser became shabby chic after the addition of some $3.00 dollar knobs


Dresser 10
Paint 2
Knobs 27
Total 39

DIY Penny Dresser for mere Pennies!

A new apartment and new dislike of IKEA called for new furniture. However I wasn’t granted a new budget, so it was time to DIY a dresser with the help of a friend.

After some clicking around other blogs I fell in love with penny projects. However other people were doing a crazy amount of work and even had a blow torch. Hard work and fire were not about to happen, so meet my Penny top DIY dresser with no hard work or flames required.

Step one: Buy/Find furniture 

I bought a plain, yet solid wood dresser on craigslist for 30 bucks


Step two: Get pennies and get to gluing

Here you have crucial decisions:  Do you want to glue each penny? Do you want to glue pennies in a frame and just throw in the rest? Do you want to mix bright and faded pennies? Do you want to drive yourself crazy and glue your fingers together?

Why so many questions? Look and see:

I started by making a row and column of pennies to determine how many I would need.

unnamed-1 I estimated I would have 20 rows with 47 pennies in each row or about 940 pennies. I went to the bank and got 10 bucks worth of pennies to play it safe. unnamed-2

Now here is where I made a crucial mistake. I decided to glue every penny! CRAZINESS! It would have been smart to glue pennies along the edges, forming a frame, and insert the remaining pennies into the frame and then gloss. However, in the absences of good sense, I got to gluing my 940 pennies.

I wanted a color blend so I soaked some pennies in CLR, others got a soap and vinegar bath, others got spite and glued haphazardly.

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It took me 4 bottles of super glue and three days to glue the pennies. If you decide to glue individually rather than gluing the fame and arranging, stay away from gorilla glue. Gorilla glue expands and will begin to inhabit the space between pennies.

After the pennies were glued on the dresser top it was time to do some improvements on the body of the dresser.

Step Three: Update other parts of furniture 

IMAG2786I picked up a quart of matte Power Gray from the Home Depot and the dusty lilac gray and I got to work. My lovely assistant, Rachel, and I painted the dresser drawers and body of the dresser leaving the front face the original white.

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Step Four: Glaze the Pennies!

We let the two coats of paint dry. Once the paint was dry it was officially time to glaze our pennies.

To protect the new paint I wrapped the upper portion of the dresser in dollar store cling wrap. The knock off saran wrap worked great!

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We mixed up the super gloss and got to pouring.5b5ec4cd-1f10-49d1-b193-7397092d66b5_400

The gloss didn’t smell, and filled every crack with a little spreading help. There were bubbles from air trapped in the gloss mixture, but we popped them with our fingers or by blowing on them. I didn’t have a plastic squeegee so I used the edge of a dollar store dust pan to spread the mixture. You will have about 10-15 to work with the mixture.

I left the dresser near an open window for about 7 hours and the end result was super shiny, super hard and super fun:

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Dresser 30
Paint* 15
Pennies 10
Glaze** 23
Total 78
  • * I only used half a quart of paint. The other half of the paint will be used in a future DIY project
  • **I only used half the glaze and then had enough to varnish some items for my lovely assistant!

This was a wonderful friend activity!


Reform the Door: DIY Coffee Table

When I’m not trying to make friends, I try to reaffirm  my current relationships and that has taken the shape of building a table!

You read that correct. The him and I salvaged an old door and got to work making the best coffee table pocket change could buy.

Step 1: Find your door

We started at Chicago’s Rebuilding Exchange. This spacious warehouse features everything from cabinets to sinks; windows to plumbing stuff; and yes, rows and rows of doors. They have retail hours throughout the week, but we attended a monthly event featuring local vintage collectors and DIYers. We found our door here for $20.00.  We picked a smaller door as to not overwhelm our couch/living room. Be sure to measure; not all doors are created equal.

We also looked on craigslist and while we found some doors, the Rebuilding Exchange had better quality, prices and a helpful staff that gave us a lot of confidence.

Step 2: Clean your door

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We wiped down our door with old rags. Above picture is what became the underside of our table.

Step 3: Select your colors and get painting

We picked colors to help highlight our chocolate brown couch.

We picked up two store brand  acrylic colors at Blick called blickrylic, for a total cost of $9.00.We selected a metallic gold base color called Metallic Brass  and a red top coat called Venetian Red.

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We layered the metallic brass paint, as named by Blick, on in medium even coats. We completed two coats and left the door to dry outside overnight. IMAG0751

After the base coat dried we painted the door a deep red.

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We layered the red on thick because we wanted it to be the dominant color. After three layers we allowed the red to also dry outdoors overnight. We did, however, do all the painting in our living room and the fumes were faint to non-exsitent.

Step 4: Sanding

This was admittedly my him counterpart’s favorite. We wanted our table to have a vintage look, so we buffed and sanded until our table was a bit distressed. We used an electric sander with a vacuum bag to catch most of the dust. An electric sander saved so much time and clean up, some sweeping required.

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Step 5: Find your table legs

This was the hardest part. The Rebuilding Building Exchange had nothing in ways of legs, so the hunt began. We went through things like: metal braces, pvc pipes, wooden planks; everything we could think of. We even found a craigslist seller who makes tables and table legs, but they wanted 20 bucks a legs.

Everything was earlier not sturdy enough, not the right height, not the right price.

We decided to go to Home Depot to try our luck.  In the lumber department we discovered wooden beams that were typically used for railings. The lumber department cuts wood to request free with purchase so their we picked up what would become our legs. The beams were $3.97 per 8 feet; costing a total of about 8 bucks for the two required beams.

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While there we picked up a pack of wood screws, metal braces, in addition to renting a hammer drill to affix the legs. While we do own a drill we needed more voltage to penetrate the wood, so the hammer drill was necessary.

Step 6: Enjoy your table

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We loved our table, but found we needed a cross-bar to make it more sturdy. So back to Home Depot we went where we purchases two more pieces of wood.

Before adding the extra support beam our table looked like this:

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