Now that it’s been replaced by a larger one, I’m doing a pine chest of drawers makeover. I bought it used several years ago, particularly cheap because it had some pretty major scratching and staining, but never got around to refinishing it because it was needed for storage. While not top of the range (plywood drawer bottoms, and lacking the dovetail joints you find in the best pieces), it’s a solid piece with plenty of potential.
The chest is now going to be part of staging our old house for sale. It’s a listed period cottage being sold in winter, so the look I’m going for is cosy, slightly rustic and built to last. This piece will be the only wooden bit in what I’m dressing as the guest bedroom, so I’m aiming to bring out the warmth of the wood and also add a bit of rustic/period charm. The dings and scratches are suddenly an asset!
It’s finished in antique pine varnish. That’s fine, but it’s also mass-produced. I think a low-sheen, waxed or oiled, finish gives a more period look. Which means getting the varnish off. I had a go with stripper, but it really wasn’t working very well (it seems to do much better with paint than varnish), so I switched to my orbital sander. That’s taken off a lot, but also revealed a hell of a lot of previously-invisible dents where the varnish stubbornly remains! Since these add character, I don’t want to sand them out (plus that would take ages), so it’s on to the wire wool. (I ended up using the stripper to soften the varnish a little and then mostly wire wool to scrub).
I also filled in the second set of hardware holes with antique pine filler. I definitely should have used one for natural pine, because it was really orange. Curiously, when I sanded it down with wire wool it went pink. Was that a reaction with the metal or does it always do that? Hmmm. I had trouble getting rid of the light circles around the holes too. To be honest, I didn’t solve that one.
You may have noticed that I haven’t sanded the top (actually I have, but only lightly). That’s because I have other plans for it. In the same vein as my Ikea Latt table makeover, I’m using marble-effect sticky back plastic [contact paper] to cover it. I love seeing old marble-topped pine washstands and other furniture, and this is the closest thing I can afford – not to mention get up the stairs.
So how did that work? Pretty well across the top. The plastic is available in 45cm, 67.5cm and 90cm widths and can be bought in one or two metre lengths, so for this I needed one piece 67.5cm by 1m. I cut out a piece slightly bigger than I needed and then trimmed it when it was stuck down. I removed the backing a little at a time, smoothing it down to remove air bubbles. I got most of them – with a bit more patience I probably could have got all of them. I had more trouble with the sides and it really wasn’t sticking properly underneath. I ended up applying super glue, and using a wooden baton and clamps to hold the plastic in place while it dried. That worked just fine. I made a mistake with the corners though, by cutting them to size rather than folding the plastic over. It came unglued a little when I was moving the chest.
The chest originally had plain wooden knobs, but I picked up some white ceramic ones with a tea cup design on them, which I thought would go better with the marble. I do like them, but I think they would have coordinated better if the marble had been more black and white rather than grey and white.
So here’s the result of my pine chest of drawers makeover! Despite the problems, I think it looks pretty damn cool and a lovely addition to the room. Certainly loads better than before.