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How to Paint a Craigslist Dresser in 4 Easy Steps

I finally had it one day with our cluttered hallway. It was full of plastic bins, boxes of diapers, items destined for Goodwill, and all sorts of odds and ends stacked precariously. We knew that some day in the future we would make built-in cabinets, but for now it was screaming for some TLC. So I began looking on Craigslist for some possibilities.

Tip: Use a Craigslist mobile app – so helpful when you’re not at a computer.

Step 1: Choose your dresser
Using the app, I found several that suited my needs both aesthetically and size-wise. I was looking for something kid-friendly and streamlined, no knobs or funky carvings. Just basic. One in particular was priced just right at $20, and solid oak to boot! No particle board for me, thanks. Ironically, there were two of the same model of dresser for sale (see above photo). The other was selling for $195 (and in much better condition)!

Step 2: Clean & Sand
After bringing the dresser home and taking out all the drawers, we noticed some mouse droppings in a few of them. Alarming, but not a deal-breaker. I looked on the CDC website how to properly clean and disinfect the dresser, including making a homemade bleach solution of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water. It sucked, but I wasn’t going to take any chances. Then came the sanding. I was expecting to do the work myself, since my husband wasn’t crazy about my plan, but he kindly offered to do the remaining work for me. He used a palm sander and gave it a good once-over. I recommend using a mask and eye protection. A benefit of this dresser’s flat, no frills style is that there aren’t any details that require special sanding.

Step 3: Prime
We have a huge 5 gallon container of primer left over from when we did our home addition last year. Some people skip this step, and that might be okay on rarely used pieces, but this will be a working dresser. If you don’t want to see chips in the paint the first time you use it, or anytime soon, then you need to prime. Tape off any areas you don’t want to paint, or when a crisp line is desired. Use a roller for ease of coverage, but have a paintbrush handy to swipe corners and other details. We decided to not paint the inner drawers, but I plan to use drawer liners. Once the primer is dry, give it a once over by hand with fine sandpaper (and maybe a sanding block).

Step 4: Paint
Because we were looking for a small budget solution, we decided to use the leftover paint from our bathroom – a medium gray semi-gloss with a bit of blue called “Still Creek”. Make sure to roll it on smooth and constantly check for drips. You can see from the photo that David had a little helper. I thought this might leave streaks on the drawer fronts, but it doesn’t as long as you roll over it while it is still wet. Chloe loved “helping” daddy.

Now that the painting is done, don’t rush to use the dresser until the paint is fully cured. The longer you wait, the harder the finish will be – up to two weeks. Otherwise you risk smudges and marks. I asked at Home Depot about a top coat, but he assured us that one wasn’t needed as long as we waited for it to fully cure.

Ta da! Here’s our dresser sitting in its new hallway spot. Soon it will have a framed wall display to go above it, but that project is still in the works. I hope to be able to share it soon. Until then, good luck and happy painting!


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Musings :: Master Bathroom

I’ve been looking at a lot of bathroom photos lately, now that ours will soon be torn out. Some of these photos just blow me away with their beauty and style. Although the luxe options shown here are way out of our price range, the challenge is figuring out why they look so good, and if it is possible to glean some of their magic with more widely-available and affordable options. For example, I’ve noticed I tend to like the contrast of dark brown and white. I also like glass tile, especially in aqua and other shades of blues and greys. I think bathrooms are one of those rooms that can stand a little drama, especially now that we’ll have more than one.

And here are some important lessons I learned when we remodeled our existing bathroom 5 years ago:

1) Although I like the look, using 1×1 floor tiles and 2×2 wall tile leaves A LOT of grout to clean. Not making that mistake again.

2) In order to save money, we didn’t do any accents. The walls are white and the floor is gray. We call it “classic,” but it really just looks kinda plain.

3) Our current bath faucet doesn’t let us adjust for pressure, just on and off. We ended up buying a special bath toy so Chloe could play with a small steady drip of water in the bathtub and not a loud deluge.

4) We left the old ugly tub because it would have cost a fortune to replace (we’d have to rip out the exterior wall just to get it out). Since then I have always lamented not replacing that yucky thing. The effect of the remodel was ruined by how worn that tub was. It will be a relief when it is finally gone!


For fun, I priced the Heath Ceramic Oval tiles (shown above) at Ann Sacks – $75 per sq foot, meaning that the dark blue tile must have cost over $4000 alone, not including installation. OMG!


This vertical blue accent is striking. We’re going to do something like it in our shower, aligned with the showerhead and faucet. Maybe blue glass?

Feldman Architecture modern bathroom
We have gray glass tiles similar to this as our backsplash in the kitchen. Unfortunately they are on the wall that will be ripped away to open the kitchen into the new dining area. Oh well.


Sorry, I don’t have links to every photo – I didn’t collect them originally with the intention of sharing, but I did go back and find links for some.



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Wooden Name Puzzles

When I was visiting Colorado for the wedding, I came across an old wooden name puzzle from when Andrew was a kid. I loved it – the colors, the size of the pieces, and more importantly, the font. The maker’s name was stamped on the back, but an internet search came up empty, which is no surprise since it’s probably almost twenty years old. Then, just yesterday when we were over at a friend’s house for dinner, I noticed their little boy had his own name puzzle, too (I meant to take a picture, but I forgot). Anyway, here are a few that I’d consider for Chloe:


mooo.com.au $30.95 for 5 letters, $14.95 for box


personalizationmall.com $5.95 per letter


personalizationmall.com $52.95 one name, $64.95 two names


puzzlepeople.etsy.com $21.00


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Baby's First Toy

After Chloe’s first play date with Ava and Lorenzo, I thought it might be time to get her an infant-specific toy. I started looking at options online and really liked…

The wooden Anelina Rattle Teething Ring and the Tulpino Rattle, both by the German toy maker Selecta. I loved their simple design and materials. Unfortunately, neither of these seem to be available locally, so…

Instead, Daddy brought home a Rombino Rattle Ring (0+months). I was delighted to see her grasp the toy after I placed it in her hand, and then and bring it up to her mouth all by herself! Two other toys that Daddy couldn’t resist was a Chick-ita (not shown) and a Ballino. The Chick-ita sounds like a mini maraca and the Ballino is made of beech wood, with ecological, water-based, non-toxic lacquer. It is one of those really great structural toys that looks good just sitting on a desk – fun for adults too. ๐Ÿ™‚

“Babies learn soon to comprehend the world around them: holding, observing, putting everything in their mouths รขโ‚ฌโ€œ A baby explores their surroundings with all their senses…”


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Yard Sale Score

Our very first yard sale finds for the future nursery – a set of Pottery Barn Kids Wooden Alphabet Blocks (with a letter, a corresponding word, or image on each side) and 2 Pottery Barn white wood frames, all at a fraction of retail price. Normally, we wouldn’t even consider more Pottery Barn stuff, considering our history there, but these were an exception. There was lots of other baby/kids stuff, but not much that really suited our taste or aesthetic. But, you never know. We’ve been advised many times that yard sales (and craigslist) are the way to go for cheap and still-useful baby goods.


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How to paint a wooden box

After reading this post on Paper Kitty’s blog, I looked up Swap-bot, a swapping community where you can join or host different swaps. To give it a try, I signed up for one called “painted wooden box.” It was listed as an international swap and my particular partner ended up being from Malaysia. Malayasia! How cool is that?

Here are some pics during the painting process. By reading my swap partner’s profile I learned that red, orange and green were some of her favorite colors, so that is what I used on the outside. The inside I filled with red-themed items, a mixture of handmade and purchased goodies. I don’t want to ruin the surprise by showing everything, on the off-chance she somehow finds her way to this blog. This was really fun though. I can see how swapping can get addictive, and I haven’t even received anything yet!


This is the original unpainted box that I picked up on sale at Craft Warehouse. I covered the
glass on the lid with tape and then stained the box with a black walnut colored stain.

While the stain dried I printed and cut this lotus pattern on heavy cardstock.

I traced the stencil onto the box and then painted the image using acrylic paint.
To seal, the outside of the box was sprayed with a light coating of matte finish spray.

For a finishing touch, I cut a piece of stiff craft felt for the interior bottom, then filled the
box with goodies and a card, and prepared it for shipping.
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