"" Rendition Road: Dresser Details and Harlequin Pattern How-To

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Dresser Details and Harlequin Pattern How-To

All right, so I've already shown off the hot little pink dresser that I just finished. Now it's time to discuss the process/techniques and some troubles I ran into that hopefully you all can avoid on your projects.

Above is her before-before shot, along with her first makeover, and finally her final makeover. Even though she was pretty in her Ocean Blue outfit; she was meant for other things. Even as I was painting her blue, I wasn't in love and knew she would need a new paint job. She only stayed blue for about 3 months until we got a new piece for the tv and then she sat patiently awaiting another makeover. I think she sat & waited for about 4 months.

During the process of her first makeover I did learn a few things about her. Here's what I figured out:
~ She needed attitude
~ I had a new design element I had been wanting to put on everything--her included
~ She was never meant to be a shiny new piece
~ She needed her legs back (I had removed them while using her as a tv stand)
~ She was definitely a "she" & she loved pink

I stripped her down, cleaned her up and sketched out my design plan. {I have a couple of ways I pre-design my pieces before committing that I will share in another post.}Once I had a blank palette again I primed her up with 2 coats of Krylon white primer. I chose white because her base color would be white. I would recommend however, trying to match your primer as close to the final paint color as possible, especially if you plan on doing any distressing. 
Once she was primed, I painted her with some satin white {sorry, it was an oops white so I don't have a name, but it was your basic white} I sanded lightly between coats since I found out the hard way, paint adheres much better when you give each layer some grip.
Once she was all primed, I sketched out a stretched harlequin pattern on top, very lightly with a pencil. I used my yard stick and a regular ruler to keep things on target. I chose to do a stretched harlequin because she was a very long dresser & I didn't think chunky diamonds would look right on her. I'll explain real quick how I made my pattern in case anyone is needing help making them. Ignore the roughness of the Photoshop sketch ups, just pretend they're perfectly even, k?
First you make a line from each corner to it's opposing corner...like so. Also ignore the typo in 'corner' since I'm too lazy to go back in & change it.
Then you decide how far apart you want your lines, which will determine how large the diamonds are. I chose 3 inches for mine and my dresser is 58 inches long to give you an idea of scale.
Then you do the exact same thing going the other direction. 
And now you have a nice stretched harlequin pattern. If this was a perfect square, you would have a nice chunky diamond shape perfect for the shape of the piece. I'm sure there are many other ways to do this, but this works for me 95% of the time so I wanted to share.
Once she was sketched out, she was filled in, with two coats of homemade pink chalk paint. (We'll go over the chalk paint in another post too)
Painting in the diamonds with my chalk paint
 I used Glidden's Briliance Collection paint + primer in one color matched to Dutch Boy's crushed berries. I chose this paint because I had just recently used it and  fell in love! It has such nice, thick coverage that on a couple of projects I only had to use one coat. Another perk is no VOC's which we all love, especially when we're painting in smaller spaces.
I knew I wanted the drawers painted and covered.  I went ahead and painted both the outside & inside walls, just the side walls, of the drawers. My plan was to line the bottoms of the drawers with some adorable American Greetings wrapping paper I had purchased. If you've ever lined drawers you know it can be a tedious job to measure, cut, measure, cut and that gets magnified when there's 9 drawers! Once I had my beautiful paper ready to go, I sprayed the drawers with spray adhesive & lined them with the paper. When I went back to cover it with mod podge, disaster struck.
It's pretty hard to see in that photo but it just wrinkled right up. Not wrinkled up in a normal kind of mod podge way, wrinkled where they settle as it dries and cannot be salvaged way.  I was so irritated at this point because I made a special trip just to get that specific gift wrap and was so excited to use it. I had to rip all the paper out of every. single. drawer. All 9 of them. This entailed a water spray bottle, a straight razor, and a lot of patience.
And this is one of the drawers where the paper came off easy!
So be smarter than I was and if you notice that your gift wrap is paper thin when you start to unroll it, don't use it & save yourself the headache. I should have known better and stuck with my Hob Lob paper, theirs is so thick and absolutely great to work with.
Once the mess above was all cleaned up I decided to just paint the base of the of the drawers to match the sides. In the long run it turned out that I almost liked it better.
I went over the drawer fronts and sides with the pink paint in a dry brush fashion, just barely giving it a first coat.  I really wanted to give it an old, well used, thoroughly loved look. In my 'blah to chic chandelier table' post I wrote how I dry brush furniture pieces. Check it out if you're interested.
Since I wanted a more whimsical dresser I decided to paint the legs pink and add white polka dots. I'm sure you've all heard the tip of using a pencil eraser to make perfect polka dots. Works every time.

At this point I went to town with my sandpaper and paint scraper. I wanted her to be heavily distressed when it was all said and done.

~I used 60 to begin with and really hit the spots I wanted to show wear like edges and corners.
~ I also used the blade on my scraper to make it look like it got scratched up or banged in the process of being moved over the years. This included edges and corners as well as a few random 
spots throughout the piece.
~ I moved up to 100 grit and went over all the spots I already did, as well as lightly hitting some other spots like more on the edges edges and the spot one would grab to open the drawers. 
~ I finished off with 220 the 400 grit over all the entire piece to smooth everything down for a nice finish.

This part is fun because there is really no set standard for distressing. You have to begin with a picture in your mind of where you want to end up though, or you could easily go overboard. If it feels like it's not looking right, step away for awhile and come back to it later with fresh eyes. Usually you'll find you like what you see.
Yes, I am in my dining room sanding the dresser and yes, I always have this much help. You can't judge me though, it was below zero outside and even with the heater, the shop only reaches around 58 degrees. Yes, it is okay if you refer to me as a wimp...I can live with it. *wink*
Once it was all painted & sanded how I wanted it, I went ahead and glazed it with some water and coffee bean acrylic paint mixed together.I chose the water method of glazing because I was going over top of chalk paint and I felt like I would have a little more control over the absorption of the glaze this way. As a matter of fact, I used such a light layer, I went over some areas twice to deepen it.
As I've mentioned in other posts; I like to let my pieces sit for a couple of days before I wax/poly them because I feel like like they finish better. I chose to go with my Johnson's paste wax for this piece to get that soft sheen I like on distressed furniture. I gave it 3 coats in total, but I might yet give it one more. You just simply apply it with a brush (one made for applying wax) or a clean rag, let it haze over for approximately 10-20 minutes, then buff off. Some waxes are different in set time so make sure to follow the directions on yours.
In some areas on the dresser you can see just the tiniest peek of the blue and I like that. It adds to the vintage feel by reminding you there are 'layers' under what you see. 
Even though the drawers were sliding open and closed nicely, I went ahead and ran an old bar of soap along the tracks to ensure they would continue to do so. This just helps lube everything up, especially when summer comes and the humidity can make wood swell. 
That's it, she's finished. I'm completely happy with how she turned out and am glad I let my imagination run the show! I do a lot of 'safe' refinishing jobs with your basic neutral colors so getting to have fun every now and then is great.
If you have any questions or I didn't explain something clearly enough, feel free to e-mail me or leave a comment. I would be more than happy to elaborate on anything. 
I'll have that chalk paint recipe and tutorial later this week so don't forget to check it out. As always, there is a pin it button at the bottom of every post so feel free to pin away on anything you see and like!

Until next time!


  1. Try using rubber cement when applying the gift wrap - You can reposition the paper several times before it sets - When my son was in 4-h we used this for posters - works great!

  2. Thanks for great information you write it very clean. I am very lucky to get this tips from you. this content


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