If At First You Dont Succeed, Keep Trying For Three Months

Faithful friends, sweet family, and devoted readers,

I have wonderful news for you: the search for the dresser is over!  In other words, “See ya later, Craigslist!”

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The beautiful end happened this last Friday, when late in the afternoon I refreshed Craigslist (seriously for the 204th time) and scrolled through the listing for dressers priced $50 or under.  (You know the drill.) Towards the top I found this guy and got a little excited.  Let me stress: a little excited.

It wasn’t love at first sight for me on this one.  First, I was a little nervous about the dimensions—six and a half feet long?! Yikes, Michael Jordan! And the four wood drawers—with what I could only guess was a mirror on top—that little element threw me off.  Is it connected?  Is that technically part of the dresser and being sold as well?  If it is connected, why?  I was also not so jazzed about the double doors in the middle—they just didn’t seem like something I wanted to have.  But I think maybe a good, strong, real reason why it wasn’t love at first sight, is that I’d had such a difficult time finding a dresser in the past.  I had learned not to get hooked on something.

But it was only $35, and located in Wallingford (about a 15 minute drive from our neighborhood), so I gave it a shot anyway and emailed the seller about 45 minutes after it was posted.

"Wait, emailed?!"  I know you’re all asking in bated breath.  ”But that is Rookie Mistake #1!”

Ah, how very true that is, young grasshopper.  But here’s a fun fact about this dresser score: I used none—absolutely none—of the skills I had “learned.”  Funny how that goes.  Apparently, it just “worked out” this time with very little skill on my part.  Aside from refreshing Craigslist for three months.  That’s a skill, right?

So anyway, that evening Kyle and I went over to look at the dresser.  It was being sold from a nice couple getting ready to move to Texas.  Imagine my surprise when I see that the dresser is not brown/wood as I had seen in the picture, but that it was blue!  It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it definitely had a whitewashed effect, in blue. Despite that, I looked it over, opened drawers, and imagined it in our space, all while Kyle and the sellers chatted.  Then, I looked to the back of the dresser.  My heart dropped a bit.  I could see straight through to the drawers.  I tried to communicate to Kyle, "The dresser doesn’t have a back!  Oh no, what should we do?  Does that mean we shouldn’t get it? Are they trying to scam us?  Why doesn’t it have a back?  What do you think we should do?!"  But that doesn’t communicate well through eye balls.  So I casually slipped in, “It doesn’t have a back.”

The sellers quickly let us know that they had bought it from Goodwill and that it just had a plywood back nailed in (which I guess they took off? Still not sure how it came off).  The backless dresser didn’t seem to phase Kyle, and after a bit he said, “I think we should get it. Yeah?”

To which I replied (faintly), “Yeah.”

Ha! I’m ridiculous sometimes. Can you believe we had finally found a dresser, and I wasn’t excited to buy it? But I didn’t feel it, you know.  We gave them $20 to hold it for us until we could come in the morning with a friend’s SUV and pick it up.  We said goodnight to them, and as we walked to our car I remember asking Kyle, “So, we’re getting it? You think we’ll like it?” To which Kyle said something reassuring.

Saturday morning came around bright and sunny, and our friend Thang along with it.  He picked up Kyle and the two of them loaded and unloaded the dresser into our apartment. (Thank you, Thang!) I helped by bringing in some of the drawers. Once we got it in, that was it; I turned giddy.  I said, “We have a dresser!” and did a little happy dance and oohed and ahhed over it and said a dozen times very matter of factly, “I like it.”

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I picked up paint, brushes, and sand paper from the hardware store down the street, and that afternoon got to work using a few tips I picked up from YoungHouseLove (my favorite blog).  I started off by vacuuming out all the dust that had collected in the drawers and the inside of the dresser. Then, I scrubbed the whole thing down with a Magic Eraser (it was pretty dirty!).  The dresser really didn’t smell at all, and I’m the one to ask: I have a very sensitive nose!  But, just to be safe, I wiped the insides of the drawers out with a damp cloth of vinger.  Finally, I cut drawer liners from some lining we had leftover from when we moved in.

Then, it was off to painting!  We moved the dresser to our work shed out back entry way and began the Apartment Tetris Game by rearranging the dresser and drawers in our hallway, kitchen, and entry way as each was painted, dried, and repainted.  Since the dresser had already been painted blue, I didn’t think it was essential to sand it first.  Others probably disagree, but I’m a sucker for skipping steps to get to the finished product more quickly!  It took us a total of four coats of paint (and that maybe had to do with skipping sanding) but it actually didn’t take that long to do, and we only used a quarter gallon of paint.

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We realized that the hallway was not the best placement for the drawers.  A bathroom emergency could have happened at any time, and it would have been one long hurtle jump to relief.  They quickly found a new drying home in the kitchen.

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We did find that some sanding was needed after coat two or three.  Some parts of the dresser dried with little bubbles that Kyle sanded away. We also had some difficulty in painting the sides.  We kept accidentally overloading our brushes, causing the paint to dry in long drips, so we had to sand and repaint those areas as well.

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And, let me throw in a little something here: I had imagined doing this whole dresser project myself (minus the hauling and delivering part).  I don’t know why I thought that!  Kyle was a much needed help, and the whole dresser refresh was really a collaborative effort.  It was a fun project to work on together.

After two days of painting and Apartment Tetris, we finally were able to move the dresser into the living room.  When I had gone shopping for paint and supplies, I also picked up some frames and a cute bowl to place on top of the dresser.  I had wanted to pick up decorations months before, but was really hesitant about buying anything without knowing what the dresser would look like.  So it was really fun to finally buy those items that make the whole thing come together!

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I picked up the frames and bowl at TJ Maxx, and the yellow wreath at Target.  I had been looking for a wreath just like the one below that I saw on Pinterest, so when I found this one in the Easter aisle two months ago, I grabbed it, despite not having a dresser at the time.  I’m so glad I did!  It really ties the colors of the room together, and adds great texture.

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I wanted to include more than just photos for the frames.  I also wanted to make sure that the photos I did include weren’t wedding ones, as we have plenty of those around the house.  So I ended up picking a photo from when Mattie and Justin visited a few weeks ago, and a photo of Kyle and I sailing on Lake Union last summer (it was our goal to make friends with someone who had a sailboat, and we did!).

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For the non-photo elements, I printed out the benediction that was used in our wedding ceremony.  For our first anniversary, Kyle and I listened to the audio recording of the ceremony, which I really loved!  It was so great to hear Rick’s sermon again, and the closing verses were so beautiful.

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I also have desperately been wanting to frame some of Kyle’s awesome architecture work in our house, so I selected an image from his last project—a boat house set on the shore of Lake Union.

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For the top of the dresser, I placed that awesome glass bowl I bought at TJ Maxx, along with another frame I picked up, and an old yellow frame I’ve had since college. The photo in the wood frame is from our engagement session on the UW campus, and the photo in the yellow frame is from Kyle’s first trip out to Colorado.  We went on a group date to downtown Denver with my roommates and their boyfriends and they snapped this shot of us.

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So that’s it!  The dresser project is now complete.  It took me three months to find, and two days to refinish and decorate.  And as far as my $50 budget goes, it breaks down like this:

$35 Dresser
$15 Paint + Supplies (brushes, sand paper)
$50 Total

Pretty good, huh?  Paint and supplies weren’t a factor in the original $50 budget (so I could have actually spent up to $75), but I think Kyle and I are both thrilled that it only cost $50. And a little update on the dimensions: it’s actually 6’ long x 18” deep x 30.5” tall.

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I love it.  Finally our apartment feel likes a fully furnished home!

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