Recycled Painting Project: Repainting and Stenciling an Old Dresser

Every now and then, I like to give my creative muscle a little extra workout in designing or refinishing furniture, testing out new techniques or trying out different tools/products.  (Check out my new dining room chair covers here.)  Recently, we’ve landed upon some of our relatives’ old furniture and I’ve been dying to try something new with them.  (I’ve also been finding a lot of great furniture pieces at local Chicago Goodwill stores and other thrift shops that I can’t wait to get a little creative with!)  With the help of a few coats of paint and a few interesting techniques, I’ve really enjoyed turning these used pieces into custom designed furniture and am even more excited to start sharing them with you!

This dresser was one my MIL had no more use for, so I brought it home to try my hand at repainting and stenciling the front drawers.

Before I began actually painting, I mixed dry putty with water until it was a pudding-like consistency.  Trusted putty knife in hand, I filled all of the holes, nooks and crannies that are oh-so-common in used, thrifted furniture.  Be sure to use the putty as sparingly as possible!  Just keep in mind that once it hardens, you will have to manually sand off any extra to make the surface smooth once again.

Once you have sanded the puttied areas, the rest of the dresser needs to also be sanded.  If the surface is still smooth and shiny from the original stain/paint, the new coat of paint will not have anything to adhere to.  It’s grueling work, but an important step.

Wipe down the dresser to get rid of the dust, remove all hardware and you’re finally ready to start painting … or at least priming!  I have found it’s almost always a good idea to begin with a coat of primer.  It’s cheaper and saves you on coats of paint in the end.  I use a sponging sleeve (part of the roller) to apply primer, always with long strokes in straight lines, up and down for a nice, smooth finish.

(notice the straight lines)

Once the primer has dried, use the roller to apply one coat of paint at a time, making sure to let each coat dry fully before applying the next.  I use the same method for paint as with the primer, using long, straight, up and down strokes, rather than the criss-crossed pattern used for walls.

(and how the lines disappear nicely after the second coat)

Waiting for paint to dry is the perfect time to work on the hardware.  This dresser had brass hardware, which can be cleaned with a mixture of 1/2 C white vinegar and 1 tsp salt.  I used steel wool to scrub the mixture over each piece, rinsed them with water and buffed each one with a soft cloth.  If your hardware is made of a different material, cleaning directions can usually be found online with a simple search by material type (what I did).  Sorry I don’t have a picture!  I got so wrapped up in the process, it slipped my mind!

For this dresser, I wanted to put the stencil on the front face of the drawers.  To do this, reinstall the hardware and tape it off before stenciling so that you can get the exact aesthetic and positioning for your stencil that you want.  (If the hardware is on a part of the dresser that is not being stenciled, this step may not be necessary.)

I bought these stencils online at Cutting Edge Stencils, which I highly recommend.  They’re made of a hard, sturdy plastic, which is perfect for this type of work.  Measuring between the handles to find the middle of the dresser, I taped the stencil to the front of the drawers using blue painters tape on all four corners.  Using a stiff, circular brush, I dabbed the different areas of the stencil with the color I desired – stems green, poppies white.  In this case, only one coat was necessary, but you may need more.  Just make sure you get your paint as dark as you want it BEFORE you remove the stencil because it will be nearly impossible to get the stencil back in the same exact spot as before.

Finally, take off the painters tape and carefully peel back the stencil … Ta-da!  A custom-made piece of furniture designed by you!

4 Seasons Painting & Landscaping not only offers these custom services for your furniture, but can also use them to add a little flair to the walls of your home.  Contact Pam at 773-517-1198 for more information or to schedule a free estimate.

Starting Seeds

container gardencontainer garden for a client

It’s hard to start thinking about Spring with so much snow outside (but how can you not with the promise of such beautiful flowers as above). If you’re planting heirloom seeds (which take a little longer to germinate), it’s just about time. And if you’re using other seeds, it will be soon! Here are some instructions on getting your seeds started so they’ll be ready to plant outside once it’s warm enough.

seeds on a wet paper towel

Materials needed:

Seed soil
Empty paper egg carton, or a seed starter container
Spray bottle, filled with water


1. To get ready for your vegetable garden, fill each section of the paper egg carton or seed starter with seed soil and about 2 seeds per section.  If you want to try sprouting flower seeds in your home, you can also try wrapping them in a wet paper towel and sealing them in a Ziploc bag, as shown in the pictures.

flower seed showing a little sprout

2.  Use the spray bottle to spray your seeds with water, rather than pouring water over them.  This is my recommended watering method for new growth.  Often, sprouts are too fragile to handle water being poured directly on them and may never sprout or die as a result.  A couple squirts of water is gentle enough (and just enough) to keep your seeds and sprouts growing strong until late Spring.

bib lettuce sprouting in repurposed strawberry container

3. Be careful to only place one type of seed in each section/Ziploc bag, and label where you have planted each type of plant/vegetable for future reference.  Different plants often have different care requirements and labeling them will make it that much easier for you.  You’ll also be able to tell what worked and what didn’t for each plant type as time goes on.

 spinach sprouting (L); spinach growing in bigger container(R)

4. As your seeds grow, you may need to move them to a bigger container – please do so.  Some lettuces are fast growers and enjoy the cooler temps (spinach and others), so you may even be able to harvest and eat some before it is time to plant it outside.  If you don’t have the room to grow everything indoors, you may want to wait to plant the fast-growers seeds until a little closer to Spring.  Or, you can just enjoy your harvest before you even bring it outdoors!

parsley on my windowsill

5. Young plants need plenty of sunlight, so try to keep them on a windowsill or somewhere that gets plenty of sunlight for them to grow.

Happy planting!

New Seat Covers in 3 Simple Steps

I bought this cute retro cloth off of Etsy because I just had to incorporate it into my home somewhere.  A little while later – new chair covers!  The material is perfect as it’s durable and won’t wear from frequent use.

I bought it from Jodi Walter Jones’s Etsy shop, Sew Fine Fabrics and she made it so easy!  I just sent her the dimensions of my seats and she calculated how much material I would need.  I had very little left over, so she did an excellent job and I couldn’t be happier.  The proof is in the pictures – a little new material can really transform an old chair!

To revamp your own chairs, follow these simple steps.

diy seat coversMaterials needed:
Some old chairs
Durable material
New/Good scissors for cutting material
Staple gun







1.  Remove the seats from each chair and clean each one thoroughly, removing any screws from the seat if necessary.  Measure the dimensions of each seat and cut the fabric to the appropriate size, leaving about 3 inches extra all around to wrap around and secure to the underside of the seat.  Iron the material so it’s smooth and wrinkle-free.

2.  Lay the material over the seat and wrap around to the bottom.  Beginning with the front side, staple the material underneath the seat, enough so that it is secure.  (You can fill in the empty spaces later to make sure it’s really secure. 🙂  Move to the sides, stapling the material underneath, finishing with the back so that any creases will be hidden back there.  Fill in with staples all around to secure.

3.  Use a screwdriver to screw the screws back into the chair over the fabric, just slightly and cover with tape (we used      painter’s tape) so it doesn’t fall to the ground.  Place the cushion on top of the chair seat and screw back in.

Voila!  New dining room chairs at a fraction of the cost!  Initially, I wasn’t sure how the green material would look with the black metal of my chairs, but I love the sleek, modern look of it.  What do you think?

diy seat covers

Soon, we hope to repaint some bedroom furniture.  Stay tuned!