Sunday, May 20, 2012

Not Quite Steampunk: Bedside Dresser

I'm actually working on a bunch of steamy projects right now, but they are all far from complete.  The only creative project I've completed recently is my new bedside table/dresser.  It's not REALLY steampunk related, but I wanted to make a post about some of the difficulties I had doing and it might be of interest in anyone working on steamy home decor.

I spend a lot of time in bed due to my back condition and as a result I have a LOT of stuff that accumulates by the bed.  When my husband and I were at IKEA looking at storage for my fabric, we ran across the unfinished Rast 3 drawer chest and I thought it would work next to the bed and might actually hold all my stuff and keep it hidden.  At $34, the price was right and so it came home with us.

 I've been reading too many DIY blogs, so I knew I wanted to try to do a cool paint job on it.  The bedroom has a lot of black and dark blue, with some natural wood furniture.  I decided on a grey and black color for the chest.  What I really wanted was a nice grey with purple tones, distressed with black showing underneath.  The black would tie in with the power coated black steel furniture of the room, but the grey would lighten it up.

So I painted the wood with white primer, cause it's what I had.  Then painted a coat of black wall paint.  The grey was a lovely grey (I think it's called Serious Grey?) from Sherwin Williams.  Just a tip: if you're looking to buy a small amount of paint for a furniture project, pretend it's a tester for a large wall project. Much cheaper that way.  I did at least two coats of grey, in places probably more like three.  I used a small roller to apply it evenly.

So, the next part was where the distressing was meant to take place.  I had experimented with distressing on a couple of other pieces, but in both of those I was distressing a black top coat to show the white primer underneath.  It didn't take much work with sandpaper to get the white showing in those cases.  But when I went to work with the sandpaper on this project, it was immediately more difficult.  It took a LOT of elbow grease to get through the top grey layer, and I wasn't really uncovering much of the black. I had wanted a LOT of black showing, and I wasn't getting there.  And my arm was really tired.

So I decided I needed power tools.  I used a sanding bit on a rotary tool (Dremel) and tried that out.  It worked, but mostly it revealed either the white primer or the plain wood.  I could have tried my husband's orbital sander, but I was really afraid of exposing large patches of either white or wood, cause that wasn't what I wanted.  After spending a couple of hours working the edges with the Dremel, I decided I was going to have to give up my original vision and resort to plan B.
Close up showing as much black as
 I ever got to show through

Plan B was to add some black to the chest by painting it on, instead of taking the grey off.   For this I took some flat black arcylic paint from my husband's nerf gun painting supplies and mixed it with water.  I used a paper towel dipped in this watered down paint and used that to make streaks of black on my chest.  I tried to keep the most black on the edges, but I decided I liked the look of washing the whole thing in streaks of black "glaze."   In fact, I kinda wished I hadn't done the distressing at all and had just gone with this style of paint job.   But, as my husband pointed out, at least I don't have to worry about the cats scratching it.  It will just add to the look!

I did find that some areas where my coats of grey had been thinner (like at the very bottom and the back) were much easier to distress with the sandpaper, and I got closer to the black showing through look I had wanted.  So what I SHOULD have done was to skip the white primer or used a black primer, and done several coats of black, and only one light coat of grey on top.  That would have made the distressing much easier.  So if that's what you want, think about your coats carefully.

For the sealant I used furniture wax.  I used Minwax regular wax, which I actually had to order from Amazon because Home Depot didn't have it.  I didn't want a finish that was too glossy or plastic-y, so I decided to try wax.  I was REALLY happy with it.  It was totally easy to apply: the key is to wrap a glob of wax in a very thin cloth and apply that way.  I used an old men's handkerchief, but you could use muslin or cheesecloth.  I applied about three coats, allowing them to dry in between.  I buffed it with a soft cloth.  It's got a very nice smooth finish, not gloss or matte.  And it seems pretty well protected.  If I ever feel like it needs it, or if it gets messed up from standing water or something, I can just add some more coats of wax without a lot of trouble.

I'm actually really happy with how it turned out, even if it's not exactly what I planned.  It looks good, and it holds all my books, knitting, knitting tools, computer components, medications, lotions, chap sticks, snacks, etc.
Mostly this picture is here because of the cute cat butt.  
That's Grimmie 's tuft .  She's a Manx, she has no tail.
 Just an adorable, adorable tuft.


  1. Looks awesome and I am totally impressed with your abilities

    1. Thanks! I'm a total beginner at this kind of thing.

  2. I love the drawers. And that is the cutest cat butt ever! :P