This was my inspiration. This beautiful nightstand that looks like an old steamer trunk from Pottery Barn. That costs $600. And I need two. Hmm, what's a girl to do?
Here's why it works:
a) It's cheap
b) It's roughly the same size as the Pottery Barn piece
c) It's just a box with no fancy, ornate legs or rounded corners - just like the inspiration piece
d) It's cheap
I managed to find a very gently used one on Craigslist for $25. Even better! Now I only have to buy one more at regular price. If you have a different dresser to use, just try to find one that's shaped like a cardboard box without curves along the edges.
Here's what you'll need:
1) Stain, paint, or fabric to cover the body of the nightstand
2) Approximately 103" worth of metal L shaped aluminum that's 1/2" wide on one edge and 3/4" wide on the other (Find it at Home Depot or Lowe's in the section called angle iron and steel rods)
3) Decorative nails
4) 8 corner brackets
5) A piece of thin plywood that's at least 2'x3' and less than 1/4" thick
6) An old leather belt (real leather, not vinyl please)
7) 6 bolts for attaching the new handles (aka the belt)
You'll also need screwdrivers, a hacksaw, possibly a table saw, paintbrushes, and other general tools.
(I'm assuming your nightstand is already assembled.) Begin by removing the knobs and the drawers. Ikea uses these little plastic screws inside the drawers that keep the drawers from falling out when you open them. Unscrew those to remove the drawers. I used pieces of painters tape to pull the drawers open because once the knobs are removed, it's reeeeeeeeally hard to open the drawers. Tape works perfectly. Use wood filler to fill up the holes from the previous knobs.
Next, we want to remove the horizontal board across the bottom front of the nightstand. It's recessed too much and we want it to be flush with the front of the dresser. Unscrew the two screws holding it in place and also the two screws at the top of the dresser on either side of the top drawer.
|The nightstand is upside down. You can see how that kick plate board is set back about an inch . Gotta remedy that.|
There are little dowels holding that board in place and if you don't remove the screws at the top of each side, you can't get that board out. I had to put a flat screwdriver down inside the tiny little gap and tap it with a hammer to widen the gap enough to remove the board.
So now we've removed all the drawers and the bottom kick plate board. You'll notice that the sides of the dresser are about 1/4" taller than the top of the dresser. We don't want that, we want it to be level and flush. You can either cut a thin board to size and attach it on top, or just cut a tiny bit of length off the sides. That's what we chose to do (Hubby said it was easier this way and he's the guy with the power tools so I defer to his opinion when it comes to construction.)
|That's the edge we're going to cut off.|
So we also picked up a sheet of very thin plywood to cover the back. The luan sheets (hardwood plywood that's stain grade and looks pretty) at Home Depot come in a 2'x3' size for about $6 and guess what? That nightstand is 2' wide! All we need to do is make one cut to make it the right height and attach it to the back.
|It's the perfect width so all I have to do is make one cut and attach it with some wood glue and a few screws .|
|Here's Hubby and his beloved Shopsmith. ;) He ended up taking each side off the dresser, cut off that top lip, and used a belt sander to make it smooth and perfectly flush across the top.|
|And here he is cutting the plywood.|
Now just put it back together. That's it for the prep work. Yay!
Or you can just stain the wood your color of choice.
But what I chose to do was a faux linen paint technique. You need latex paint, primer, clear glaze, and a brush that's made for this sort of application. I got all these at Lowe's.
MONEY SAVING TIP: I bought the Sherwin Williams brand of paint. This "sample" size is only 1/16th of a quart less than a full quart. It cost less than $4. A regular quart is about $16. They will custom mix the sample color for you and it has a screw top and a handle! WIN WIN WIN! The only caveat is that it comes in eggshell and that's it, no flat, satin, gloss, or semi-gloss. So if you paint your furniture with this eggshell paint just use a clear gloss topcoat if you prefer a shiny finish. One sample size will cover the entire nightstand and you might even have enough for two if you go heavy on the primer first.
|Sorry this is sideways. I uploaded it and cannot figure out how to rotate it! Must mean I need more coffee.|
I decided to paint my nightstand green for a pop of color in the room. My bed looks like this and my next project will be a faux printer's chest in a dark gray/black so bits of green here and there look amazing (in my head, anyway! Hopefully I won't regret this decision.)
P.S. Want to make this barn door headboard for less than $200? See it here!
First I tried out my technique on the leftover plywood. I rolled on a coat of green, then mixed 4 parts clear glaze in a tray with 1 part green paint. I rolled it on, used the dry brush to drag vertical lines through the paint. Wiped off the brush, did the next section, until the whole thing was covered with vertical lines. Let dry. Then do it again but horizontally this time. Sadly, I just couldn't see the pattern.
Then I bought another sample of a lighter green. I tried various combinations of dark with the light color glaze on top, light with the dark glaze on top, mixing in white, etc. Here are a few of my mockups.
|You can KIND of see the linen grain in this closeup but from two feet away it's not visible at all.|
Here's what it looked like once it was painted and sprayed with a clear gloss topcoat.
|I think the faux linen treatment worked out really well! It's very subtle but by finishing with a gloss topcoat it will be easy to wipe down and clean.|
Now that the paint is dry we're going to start wrapping metal around all the edges. Here's a reminder of what the inspiration looks like. (I love that my other tabs are open in this screen shot! I was trying to find a DIY cleaner using vinegar to clean leather. That black leather armchair in my bedroom came from Goodwill for all of $20 but it smelled like an old lady's attic. Phew, it was stinky. And in case you're curious, vinegar cleaned it beautifully and a bag of activated charcoal under the seat got rid of the smelliness.)
You're going to measure each edge of the nightstand and cut the metal to fit using a hacksaw. (You can use an electric saw if you have a blade for cutting metal, but I didn't. Man, that was quite the arm workout, let me tell ya!) The corner brackets with cover the seams so don't worry if it's not too pretty right now.
|Here's a good close-up of how we had them meet at the corners.|
BE SURE TO HAVE THE THIN EDGE ALONG THE FRONT OF THE NIGHTSTAND. I can't reiterate this enough. Otherwise the drawers won't open.
Also, wear work gloves. The metal isn't thick but it's still sharp and pointy. You'll also have to drill pilot holes for all the screws and nails so mark those using a Sharpie. Any extra marks will come right off with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or some steel wool.
|Laying out the aluminum and imagining how it will all fit together.|
We were thrilled to find aluminum at Home Depot and Lowe's that's 1/2" wide along one side and 3/4" wide on the other. This is perfect for our project. Skinny side toward the front, thicker side wrapping over the top and sides.
|See how it's wider on one side?|
That one little flap in the front overlaps the drawer by mere millimeters. Arrgh! This is turning out to be more work than I'd thought it would be.
I also bought these corner brackets at Home Depot and spray painted them antique bronze. They look good, but not as much like a steamer trunk.
|Here are the two different brackets I got.|
Hubby said he can cut off the one little flap on the two brackets that will cover the top drawer. The rest of the brackets won't be a problem. But they also don't lie flat against the wood like the other ones do because of the thickness of the aluminum. Decisions, decisions…
But for a bit of good news, I was going to buy the leather handles at Rockler to be the new drawer pulls. They're 10" long, and they look like the handles on our inspiration but they'd have been $10-15 each. So as I was pissing and moaning about the accessory hardware costing three times as much as the dresser itself, Hubby said, "Why don't we buy an old leather belt at Goodwill and cut it up?" See, that's why I love him. He has such great ideas!
We stopped at Goodwill on the way home and picked up a brown leather man's belt for $3. It's nice and broken in with all those creases and folds and looks vintage, which it is. It's wide so I cut it into 10" pieces first and then I'll cut each one in half lengthwise to get 6 drawers out of it (remember, I'm going to make two nightstands.) I'm thinking of rounding the ends too. We'll see how well I can cut a half circle.
Instead of buying mounting brackets for each side we'll just use a carriage bolt on each end to attach them to the drawers.
After attaching all the metal, we put on the corner brackets (which I had sprayed with a combination of bronze, black, and silver spray paints to make them look aged), attached the new handles, and ta da!
How'd we do moneywise?
Nightstand $25 on Craigslist (it was less than a year old an in perfect condition - score!)
Belt: $3 at Goodwill
Aluminum strips - $36
Corner brackets - $12
Bolts and decorative nails - $6
Paint - $4 (I already had the white paint and glaze)
Spray on clear finish - $5
|I still have the old nightstand on the other side. It's brown and matches nothing so now I've got |
to make another one of these babies!
The photo above shows my Master Bedroom Makeover in progress. To date I've spent less than $300 for that barn door headboard, complete with lights, about $120 for the apothecary chest/printer's cabinet dresser, and about $90 for the nightstand. That's three major pieces of furniture for just above $500. That's less than one Pottery Barn nightstand. Not bad!