Shiitake, it’s a dresser!

One of my current favorite paint colors is a brownish grey, or as I like to call it, shiitake. So I decided to try to mix up some of my own shiitake colored paint for my next project, this dresser that we bought at a garage sale for $10. He had it listed for $20, but was obviously motivated to sell stuff.

I recently bought a chocolate brown mess-up paint from Lowe’s and thought I could probably use that to get my desired color by adding black paint. Sure enough, it resulted in a lovely brownish grey color…that now I’m sure I’ll never be able to reproduce.

I decided to test out the no sanding + chalk paint method. I really don’t think I believe the claim that you don’t need to sand when using chalk paint. Maybe Annie Sloan really is very different than my DIY version of chalk paint, but I just don’t know that it will really adhere well enough.

I mixed up my chalk paint, which is 3 parts flat latex paint to 1 part Plaster of Paris (full instructions are here), and then decided to test it in my HVLP gun for the first coat. I hadn’t tried chalk paint in the sprayer yet, so I was really worried it would be too thick. I did thin it a little (which hopefully didn’t affect the adhesion too much!) and strained it twice to make sure I got rid of any Plaster of Paris clumps. And I was so excited when it worked perfectly! One of the things I love about the chalk paint is that it has amazing coverage, and it was no different sprayed.

I wanted to brush the second coat so the dresser would have a hand painted look. After that coat was fully dry, I applied a final coat of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax. I had been planning to spray paint the hardware a cream/light yellow color, but after seeing the hardware  next to the paint color, I decided I actually kind of liked the tarnished/brassy patina. I think it adds more dimension to the piece that would be lost with painted pulls. And if I (or any future owners) decide differently, it’s a super easy fix.

There actually were quite a few things wrong with this dresser when we got it, though, which I think is why the guy was selling it for so little. First, it was on casters, but it only had 3, so it wobbled. A lot. You couldn’t replace the 4th caster because the piece of wood it needed to screw into was broken. But that was the only purpose that piece served, and who needs casters on a dresser? Do you really need to roll it around the room with you? Or maybe to the washer and dryer on laundry day? Didn’t think so. So we said buh-bye to the casters, and hello to a super sturdy, but slightly less easy-to-move dresser.

The drawers were the biggest issue. The plastic guides on the back of each drawer that keep the drawers level and on the track when they’re open were broken. (That plastic piece is supposed to wrap around the edges of the track.)

The drawers all just kind of flopped down when they were open, which is not incredibly functional. So we went to my favorite Friday night date spot (Lowe’s, of course) and bought 6 new guides (had to cause they come in packs of 2) for about $6. After a few minor adjustments to the back of the drawers to accommodate the more modern guides, Andrew installed a new guide on each drawer.

Then he added one new plastic slider (included with the guides) under one side of one of the drawers so it would sit level (it was crooked before and gapping at the top), and now we have a perfectly functioning beautiful dresser for under $20. Here’s the before again. 

And $20 later we have this.

Oh, if only I needed another dresser. I do like this paint color in our master bedroom, though. Maybe for future bedside tables. As far as the durability of the finish goes, it does pass the fingernail test, but I think it needs another few days to cure fully.

So what do you think? Do you like the handles au naturale or would you prefer them painted?

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