Monday, July 30, 2012

North and South

I had great ambitions to do one big "Before and After" post. But as I have been compiling things, I think it might lend itself better to several smaller posts. So I thought I'd start with one of the more exciting transformations, like the North/South dresser that I sold in the Spring barn sale.

You all have already seen this somewhat sorry "before" picture:

It was such a beautiful, broken thing.

A friend of mine had kept it for years after buying it at a garage sale, hoping that she would eventually be able to get to it. Sadly for her, the time never presented itself. I just happened to be there one day when she opened her garage; there it was, this beautiful dresser. I almost melted right on the spot when I saw the double bowed front, the pretty cabriolet legs, the lovely glass handles. I could just hear it whispering how magnificent it would be painted a Prussian Blue. She was going to donate it...I took it home.

Once it was here, I noticed a few things. First, the entire bottom drawer base had been water damaged to the point of unusability. I would have to chuck it and build an entirely new bottom for the drawer. The other drawers also had a bit of water damage, but it was minor by comparison. And the whole thing just smelled kind of old and musty. So I got out the bleach, and got to work.

I bleached the drawers twice and set them out in the sun to kill off anything that might even think of remaining in the wood fibers. I even turned the dresser itself upside down, bleached, and sunned the interior just to be safe. Then I reglued the drawer bases to the drawer frames, as they had slipped over time.

By now I was in pretty deep and getting a little nervous. My dad came to the rescue and cut the drawer base for me on a neighbor's scroll saw. He also showed me how to use my Dremel to route the groove so the new board could slide into the drawer base.

As you can see, my dad enjoyed the Dremel. I think he was totally amused by the idea that I had a tool that he didn't own yet.

Anyway, once all the structural stuff was fixed, I could start painting. I opted to prime both the inside and out with a low VOC oil-based primer by Zinnser, just to be on the safe side. It takes a long time to prime and paint the inside of a dresser. I should have taken pictures of it upside-down in my garage. This dresser really did spend an abnormal amount of time upside-down.

It was about here in the process that I figured out what to call this piece. I knew I needed to do something to accentuate all the crusty "used" grit visible around the handles. I knew the piece could come across as deliciously old. (It actually was pretty old.) I already knew I was doing the Prussian Blue and I was leaving the top natural wood. Grey just seemed like a natural base for both. And this being Virginia, the capital of the South, I thought the "North/South Dresser" was historically appropriate. And kinda amusing.

I went on from there to coat the inside and the outside of the dresser and everywhere on the drawers with 2 coats of French Grey chalk paint. It really does take a long time to paint the inside of a dresser. I followed that with a coat of clear wax on all the parts staying grey- the dresser "guts" and the whole drawer, minus the front.

Then came the moment I had been waiting for. I finally got to see that pretty blue that had been singing to me. One coat of Annie Sloan's Aubusson Blue almost made my heart stop.

I think I started hyperventilating when I started sanding:

And it was all over, once I added the dark wax.

And didn't my garden look wonderful this spring?

I cleaned up and restained the top as well.

But all the work was worth it. What a pretty thing!
Here it is all set for the Barn Sale. It lasted 2 hours.

Don't you love it when you can actually recreate the image in your head?

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