Thursday, June 12, 2014

Quilted Dressers: An Adventure in Decoupaging!

Anyone love Ikea?  The swedish meatballs alone warrant a trip, right?  Not to mention the awesome children's play zone so you get to shop in peace.  They also have a funky, fun European vibe to an affordable price.  There are a few drawbacks to Ikea.  The layout is way weird (to me anyway).  The fact that you have to assemble EVERYTHING they sale.  Perhaps the biggest drawback is that much of their furniture is in fact particle board covered in laminate.  My official policy is not to purchase anything that wasn't made out of solid wood.  However, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.  Desperate times, of course, translating to I have FIVE daughters that needed immediate clothes storage.  Desperate measures roughly meaning that I couldn't find what I needed on craigslist.  Which is rare indeed.  So we invested in four white Ikea Malm 4 drawer dressers.  

Again ignore the ghetto floor.  We still haven't put down a finish floor in the formal living room.  Señor Hotness has been beyond crazy busy, and if the project requires me to use more than a power sander unsupervised, it doesn't get done until he is available.

They were cost effective, and available immediately.  Not my ideal choice, as that would be solid wood, but it was the one we went with.  These were also purchases done prior to me starting Backwoods Babies when I thought I needed to buy already done furniture (translation the stuff I looked at was generally a fortune).

Fast Forward a few years, and they have held up relatively well but not awesome like I want them to be.  I have been surfing craigslist for a while looking for something with a bit more character that will still hold enough clothes.  No such luck so far.  These two are the dressers that my 3 youngest use, but most of the dressers/chest of drawers I have been finding have a odd arrangement of drawers that would provide the storage needed for one or two but not all three, for sure.  So while my search continues I decided to snazzy these two up a bit, and make them a little less boring and a little more girly and fun.  My three youngest are very much still a fan of everything glittery and pretty pretty princessy.  So over the top girly was my goal.  These are made of laminate over particle board, and while I know that laminate can be painted I'm way too lazy to deal with having to properly prep the surface to make sure that the paint can't just be scrapped off at a later date with the fingernail of a bored child.  Also there were a few blemishes that I was afraid might give me problems. 

Clearly I have a budding artist whose specialty is carvings that display the stark beauty of a tic tac toe grid.

This unfortunate blemish happened during our last move, and it is pretty badly damaged as the particle material underneath is completely exposed.  Its only saving grace is the fact that it is so small.

After evaluating my options I decided to consider decoupaging craft paper on the surface.  I have successfully decoupaged on plastic buckets, and on other small laminate items but certainly nothing of this scale.  Also I had a super low budget for the project as in less than $15 dollars (for both, not each).  At first I considered using the mega book of craft paper that has been calmly passing time in storage under my bed until it is called on again to make something awesome.  I quickly discarded this idea since it is a big book of funky, cool damask patterns and not at all in the realm of pretty, pretty princess.  Then I remembered the Hobby Lobby gift certificate that has been burning a hole in my pocket for a while now.  The only down side to using my gift certificate was that there were numerous projects that were needing to get a start with that one gift certificate.  I won't go into details since those are projects that I will be featuring at a later know when I have both started and finished them.  So suffice it to say that the magical, wish granting, crafting fairies were with me on my errand, to stretch my money, that day.  As I was able to get ALL that I needed for my upcoming crafting delight.  I love Hobby Lobby.  I was able to get all the things I needed for the future projects because they were on sale 30% off, and then I was able to get super cute (although more expensive) craft paper because there was a phone app coupon for 40% off any regularly priced item.  Bringing that $20 book of paper down to just under $12.  Can't beat that price to completely make over TWO dressers.  It was also exceptionally awesome as it meant zero dollars out of pocket.  As for the decoupage glue that I used...I have never purchased real bona fide decoupage or mod lodge glue.  There I said it.  I have only made my own using the following recipe.  Be careful to follow every step precisely and write it all down for later use.

Sarah's DIY Decoupage Glue Recipe:
-1 part water
-2 parts elmer's white school glue

Doesn't get any better than that.  Honestly I have used watered down wood glue before, but wood glue can alter the color slightly as it doesn't usually dry clear the way regular school glue does.  So the last time I made it was three years ago when I sacrificed a $.30 bottle and a little old mason jar to the cause of cool and fun decoupage projects everywhere (or maybe just my house).  Seriously I have been working off of that same jar for years.

So after I found the perfect paper.

See?  Isn't is so wonderfully girly?  Each pattern had glittery sections on it.

I needed to devise a plan of attack execution how to arrange the paper on these bad boys to make it superbly awesome.  Now something I have been desperately wanting to do is a herringbone pattern, but alas, I am so super lazy/impatient that I don't want to have to fully tape that off then wait for certain areas to dry before repositioning tape and then painting again.  So I thought that this would be the perfect way to pull it off I just had to cut these 60 sheets into even width strips. Which isn't hard if you own one of these.

Behold my paper cutter...isn't it wonderful?

These sheets were all 12 by 12, and I decided that 3" widths would make the decoupaging much less tedious.  Note I didn't say there was NO tediousness...just less of it.  So because my powers of estimating truly stink and math is not my strong suit I cut up the entire book.  Each pattern had three pages, and I got four strips per page...I'll let you do the math there.  Let me just say I went a little over kill with it, but cutting paper is something super easy to do at night when the tv is on and the kids are in bed.  

So then I started with the very tops.  I decided to do a random alternating pattern.  The only thing I tried to do was pay attention that there wasn't too much color in one area, and maybe not placing all the super busy patterns all in the same section.  During the course of this I realized that it looked like a super awesome quilt pattern...and I LOVED it.

Each time before I started gluing, I would lay out a few pieces just to get a feel of how it would look.  Then I started gluing it down using my trusty foam brush (probably my most frequently purchased item as a DIYer, I use a ton).

The finished product looked like this

This was the close up sneak peek that I put on Facebook to wet everyones appetite.

The tops took me a few hours.  The beginning of every project I do starts out slow.  As every project is slightly different, and generally needs to be approached in a slightly different manner.

After the tops were done I decided to only do the very top, and the drawer fronts so that the busyness of the over all look wasn't so overwhelming.

By the end of the first night I had the tops and the top drawer done, on both dressers.

I just pulled out two drawers at a time, and took my project into the family room to do while Señor Hotness worked on his stuff, and we let TV be our back ground noise (holy run-on sentence batman).

The next day I worked like mad all night, or you know, one hour during nap and then again two hours after the kids got into bed. 

And I...

Finished it...well the decoupaging part at least.

So five coats of Minwax Polycrylic in gloss, a move to the little girls bedroom later and...

All the drawers are in, and I love it.  It looks super cute with their flower light (also from Ikea).

Princess Almost Two was helping me get everything just so.

Here is a side view.  I love the colors with the yellow wall paint.  Which is good because I am NOT repainting for a while.

We obviously have three Minnie fans in the room.

Princess Almost Two is super happy about her new fabulous dressers, and over the fact that I didn't bust her when she got into the chocolate this morning.

And now for the REST of the story...............

This may have occurred when someone (who will remain nameless and blameless) decided that she was awesome enough to move these all by herself without the help of Señor Hotness who was at work.  This crack while mild looking is actually kind of bad.  What may or may not have happened is "Nameless" decided that it needed to move back just a smidge, and may or may not have accidentally put her knee completely through this piece.  It can be fixed with a piece of wood on the back side to brace it, and wood glue with clamps to hold it all together until the glue has formed an unbreakable bond (screws or nails may also be called for).  When Señor Hotness gets home "Nameless" will most likely confess to her own stupidity, and humbly ask him to fix it.  

So with a little bit of money and willingness to do tedious work you can make that ordinary piece of furniture that you have kicking around something truly extraordinary.



  1. Hey Nameless in Texas...someone here may have done the same thing while attempting to move those same exact dressers by herself...only the Nameless on this end hasn't done a darn thing about it lol. Love the finished product!

  2. That is just an adorable up-cycle! Love that you used scrapbook paper! Pinning this one!

  3. These are adorable... love them - pinning...

  4. These dressers are absolutely amazing! I would never have thought of that. They are so bright and cheerful and fun! You did a great job! We would love it if you linked up with our party this week!

  5. Love it! I would love it if you joined and contribute your awesome posts at my link party at City of Creative Dreams, starts on Fridays :D Hope to see you there at City of Creative Dreams Link Party.

  6. Wow. I would love to ladies. Thanks for the invite.

  7. SOOOOO pretty, love them!
    Is it really sad that when my kids were little we would go to Ikea for a day out - not the crèche either, We would just visit all those lovely little pretend houses, sit on every single chair we could find, then finish in the cafe for a refillable fizzy pop. (that UK speak for soda) Finally I would buy one inexpensive thing and bring it home, put it on the table and then wonder why my whole house doesn't look like an Ikea showroom!

  8. This looks fantastic!! I can't believe you had the patience to do not one, but two dressers. You are a bigger person than I. I would love it if you linked this up to my Motivate Me Monday linky party at IT'S A ginger SNAP.

  9. Adorable - what a great re-use for a piece that might get thrown away. I love it!

  10. What a fun way to decorate a dresser! I need to re-do mine so now I have more inspiration, thanks! Sharing on Twitter today & pinning!