Tag Archives: upcycled furniture

Vintage Dresser Rehab


I’m no stranger to Craigslist.  If you have been a regular zween reader you may remember the red, white and chrome retro kitchen table and the awesome vintage buttons I found within the last year.

Now that we’re expecting our first baby, my interest in Craigslist has been renewed with a new purpose in mind; to find useful items for this new addition to our family.

One such item that I’ve been searching for is a dresser.  But it couldn’t be just any old dresser.  No no no, I wanted this dresser to do double duty; booth as a chest of drawers to store clothing and cloth diapers, and as a changing table.  That meant that the perfect dresser had to be of an appropriate height for the latter use, thus rendering taller bureaus out of the running.

I also wanted something older because not only do I like and appreciate vintage furniture, but because buying second-hand can be cost-effective without sacrificing quality.


Which brings me to this little gem I found just two days ago on Craigslist.  I have no idea what style or era you would consider this dresser to fall into (though if you do, I would be interested in knowing!), but I had a hunch that this would be the perfect fit for our needs.  Although the listing only gave a very minimal description and one terrible cell phone photo, we decided to take a chance and check it out.  What did we have to lose?  The item was located less than 2 miles from our house!

When deciding when to go for something and when to pass I very quickly calculate mentally its pros and cons which include things like quality, functionality, aesthetics, and price.  This dresser was listed on Craigslist the day before we went to see for $40.  After taking a good look at it and debating on whether or not it would fit into our Toyota Carolla (it did), Jon offered $30 and it was accepted immediately.

A lot of our furniture has a mid-century modern feel that we really like and although I don’t think that this piece really fits into that era we still really liked it because of its simple, tapered legs and the well-worn and smooth feel to the wood.  Jon really liked the unusual stains of the dresser top.  I really liked the height of the legs which make the very heavy and sturdy piece not feel too heavy visually.



So on the outside we are both more or less happy with this find, the inside of the drawers was the only thing we wanted to change to make this dresser more functional for our needs.  The drawers are dovetailed and well made, but the bottom of one drawer was severely warped and partially braking away from the frame.  Also, all of the drawers were partially covered with an ugly contact-like paper liner.

Some big heavy books (and my typewriter) along with some wood glue and a couple of claps fixed the broken drawer problem, and as for making the interiors of the drawers more inviting, we did a non permanent take on the contact paper idea by making our own fabric-covered cardboard inserts.  It’s basically exactly what I did for my suitcase restoration project a year ago.

The sequence of photos below show Jon figuring out the measurements needed for cutting down the cardboard, cutting the pieces of board, and what the finished cardboard liner looked like before the fabric was added.  The fabric, by the way, was all recycled from some horrible curtains I made years ago.  The color was a perfect complement to the wood tones and I had plenty of it for all three drawers.





Now all we need is a changing pad for the top so that it can function as a changing table!  Using a dresser as a changing table is a great idea, especially since we plan on cloth diapering.  Now we’ll have plenty of storage for those cloth diapers and have a piece of furniture that can be used for many years to come!



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Type Set Drawer Coffee Table Mash-up

What do you get when you take a vintage type set drawer and add sleek Mid Century Modern legs from the ugliest coffee table you’ve ever seen?  A very awesome furniture mash-up!

I’m really proud of this piece.  Mostly because I made it nearly all by myself.  Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures of the entire process, or the original coffee table we cannibalized the legs from (trust me, it was truly hideous) but I’ll try to explain the process as best as I can.

It all started last June when we found these two gorgeous type set drawers at a yard sale (just $10 for the set!).  When we saw them we decided that we wanted to make two tables out of them; a coffee table and an end table.  Well, a few weeks later we found a really great end table at yet another yard sale (also for just $10) that was very cute and had that Mid Century Modern feel that we like so much.  We also had a lot of trouble trying to come up with legs for our type set drawers.

What a odysey that was.  For the complete story, please read my post from June titled “A Local Hardware Store, Home Depot, and a DIY Project; a true story.”

But then our luck changed when we came across a really awful coffee table with really great legs at a thrift store.  (again, I’m so sorry that I didn’t take a picture of the monstrosity before it was dismantled.)

Luckily the thrift store was in my home town and we were able to use my Dad’s tools (vice grips) to fully dismantle the table before even getting it home.  The legs are the screw-on kind with a metal bracket that attach to the underside of the table.  Since the base of the drawer is super thin, and because I wanted to damage the original drawer as little as possible, I wanted to find some scrap wood to screw the brackets onto.  Again I was in luck because my Dad has a bunch of scrap wood and a chop saw so I decided how I wanted my wood pieces to be and he cut them down for me.

For the next step I needed to pre-drill the holes for the screws.  I was really excited about this part because it was my first time using my “new” drill (also found at a yard sale this summer).  Then I went to work sanding the rough edges of the newly cut wood and staining it with some dark stain that I had.  We decided not to refinish the legs themselves at all.  As luck would have it they matched the drawer nearly perfectly as they were and though they are a bit scratched up, we don’t really mind.

After all of the legs were attached to the wood scraps with screws I decided where I wanted them to be on the drawer then glued down two of them using wood glue and clamps.  I only had two clamps so I had to glue only two legs at a time and let them set for 24 hours each time.

Now came the fun part; filling the compartments!  We don’t collect a lot of little trinkets, but I was still able to find plenty of treasures; coins, shells and rocks from our travels, old keys, buttons, spools of thread, wine corks, feathers, lapel pins, an old pocket watch, etc.

To finish it off we went to Lakewood Hardware for them to measure the drawer and have a piece of glass cut for us.  They had to order the glass, which took about a week.

Now we have a one of a kind, upcycled and totally awesome coffee table that is truly a conversation piece!  If you enjoyed this project then like zween’s facebook page to get updates on similar posts.

Thank you for stopping by!

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P.S.- Did you notice the fun paper mache fire in the fire place?  That was the brain child of my husband.  To read about how he made it, check out this post.


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