Dresser Restoration

Sometimes, I can’t explain why I do the things I do and why I choose a particular moment to do them in, particularly when drugs or alcohol are not contributing factors. Why did I put in that late-night ASOS order last week? Beats me. Why do I NEED to reorganize my kitchen cabinets at 2 in the morning? Can’t say. Why did I up and decide to restore a whole dresser on a Saturday afternoon while Max’s lovely mother was staying at our apartment? No reason that I can think of.

But I did, and I’m lucky that when Max and his mom got home from an exhausting day of non-stop exciting action to find me covered in grime with dresser drawers strewn about the apartment and the air reeking of furniture wax, they took the whole thing in stride. Those close to me have mostly developed a certain tolerance for this sort of thing by now. “Oh, there he goes again,” they say, rolling their eyes. “I guess we’ll just come back in a few hours when he comes down.”

dresser-before

So Max and I bought this dresser a few months ago, and I’ve just been too busy with school and work and procrastinating to devote any time to fixing it up. I mean, it’s a nice dresser—totally looks pretty nice and there’s nothing functionally wrong with it, so it wasn’t exactly first on my list of priorities. All I really did was wipe out the drawers before we started loading clothes into it, and Max threw a bunch of art books on top before I even had a chance to clean it off.

It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but it had a bunch of little nicks and scratches and bumps and bruises and chipped veneer and little bits of paint and cigarette burns and rings on the top. We did buy it for cheaps from a dead person’s house in Long Island, so.

Also, every time I did wipe it with any cleaning product, the towel would turn a shade of dark brown, which was a bit disconcerting. I love some nice rosewood, for sure, but decades of smoke and tinted furniture polish and wax and crap probably weren’t doing the wood a lot of favors at this point.

supplies

Here was the restoration supply kit, which is a little modified from how Morgan originally taught me at The Brick House, but using the same basic principles. Since there wasn’t any existing finish on it like varnish or polyurethane, I didn’t want to touch it with sandpaper, since it’s easy to get carried away and remove more than necessary. Since the drawer-fronts are veneer, that’s definitely something to think about. Instead, I opted for some fine steel wool and soapy water, which did double-duty of scrubbing the shit out of this thing and smoothing out some problem areas where the solid wood had noticeably chipped or scuffed.

progress1

That top image is the top of the dresser before, which kind of shows the surface damage and general sadness going on with this dresser. I started by unscrewing all the hardware, which I’ll get to shortly.

Then all I did was fill a bowl with a few tablespoons of Murphy’s Oil Soap and some hot water and went to work with the steel wool. This thing required a LOT of scrubbing to liberate the wood from so many years of general grime and horror, so I just kept dumping out and refilling my bowl so that I wasn’t totally just moving gross water around. It’s important to only scrub the wood WITH the grain (duhz), and I followed up with a few rags after scrubbing so that water wouldn’t sit on the surfaces long enough to penetrate and ruin anything. As all the old crap came off of the wood, it got noticeably lighter and the beautiful grain really started to show through, which was all very exciting. So I just rubbed my wood until it felt nice and soft and it didn’t seem like any more weird stuff was coming out of it. That came out all wrong.

(by the way, I’m basically making this up, but it worked for me so I guess it’s a good method totally worth emulating and basing your furniture restoration and entire life around)

Fast-forward a few hours, and my arm felt like it was going to fall off, a symptom that should persist no more than a few days. If it does, call your doctor.

Before I moved forward with messing around with my wood any more, I wanted to give my hand, wrist, and forearm a break. Damn it!

handleprogress

This is the part where this post might get controversial because I showed no mercy on the old brass hardware. This is a personal decision I made in a fit of “OMG SHINYYY!!!!!” but in retrospect it might have been better to use a less intense product and keep some of the patina on the brass. Brasso probably would have done the trick nicely, but I went all-out and scrubbed these things with Barkeeper’s Friend (also known as EVERYBODY’S GODSEND) and the rough side of a sponge until all the tarnish was gone and the brass glimmered like melted sunshine. I used an old toothbrush on the tricky inside-bits.

Yeah, I like my furniture to look its age and whatever, but brasssssssy. I couldn’t stop. I just couldn’t.

Diverting attention away from the wood to the hardware also gave the wood a chance to dry out, which is what you want before applying any type of finishing product. Trapping water in wood is not a good plan FYI.

drawersprogress

So I went back to the dresser and the whole thing looked more or less like this. If you’re doing this sort of thing, this is the part where you might be tempted to panic because your wood will be so dry and hazy and sad looking that it seems like nothing will ever save it and you’ve ruined vintage rosewood and you should be put to death immediately. You are a very dramatic person and possibly need medication to get a handle on your feelings.

This is where the Danish Oil comes in. After using Danish oil, Teak oil, Tung oil, and Restore-a-Finish in the past, my favorites are definitely Danish and Teak. Tung tends to darken wood a bit (I think), and I don’t really trust Restore-a-Finish for a project like this because all you really want is the natural color of the wood to come out. There’s a time and a place for Restore-a-Finish, I’m sure, but it’s not when you’re dealing with rosewood or teak because it’s pigmented and that freaks me out.

After the oil (leave on about 15-20 minutes, wipe off excess, repeat if necessary), I finished off the whole thing with Howard’s Feed-N-Wax. This stuff is magic and smells terrific. Then I just screwed the hardware back on and…

dresserdrawerdetail

Hello.

dresserafter2

What’s your name? Can I get your number?

So I was kind of lukewarm on this dresser before because the drawers are kind of annoyingly shallow and it isn’t the most functional thing on four legs, but now I love it? I can never get rid of it?

topafter

dresserradiatordetail

A couple people have pointed out that this dresser sits verrrrry close to the old radiator, which is not generally a good idea. However, it’s probably an OK idea if your landlords are cheap and turn the boiler on about twice every winter, and your boyfriend keeps all the radiators turned off (and a window open, and a fan on) year-round anyway. You are also probably cold all the time and worry for the life of your plants.

At the very least, I’d like to paint this radiator white like the other one, but I also have fantasies of just removing the whole thing and capping the pipe. This project sounds difficult and scary and heavy, but it would open up an alternate room layout that I’ll admit to finding very exciting and enticing. I should be restrained is what I’m saying.

dresserafter3

I’m out of things to say about this dresser.

dresserafter1

GIVEAWAY: 20×200!

It’s the last giveaway this month on Manhattan Nest, and it’s gooooooooooood. And quick! Let’s go shopping for art together, shall we?

20x200-(1)

Oh geez, I love these so hard: Baby Donkey by Sharon Montrose | Bildudalur by Tom Kondrat | Orb 5 by Carlo Van de Roer | Apres Grande 12 by Christian Chaize | Reindeer by Lisa Congdon

There’s something totally amazing and fun about buying an original or limited edition print of something that you just totally love. You know you have something special. It forges a certain bond with the work and (I like to think) with the artist who made it. It’s about collecting and cherishing something because you love it and value it—it’s personal, and that means something. 

20×200 is an amazing company because they make collecting great art so accessible, simple, and affordable that you want to buy all the art ever for yourself and everyone you love. Working directly with incredible artists to created exclusive, limited edition prints at affordable prices, 20×200 curates quality pieces that you’ll always be proud to own or feel great about giving as a gift. And with Christmas just around the corner, the window of opportunity to buy art as a present for yourself or somebody else is rapidly closing. I can’t really think of any gift that says “I think you’re great and I care about you and your home and happiness and well-being and did I mention I think you’re great?” better than art. Lucky for you, 20×200 has put together a supremely useful and very cool gift guide to aid in selecting just the right print for that special lucky someone, if you need some extra help choosing.

Art is a million times cooler and more unique and personal than that Avengers DVD you were thinking about. Trust.

 

20x200(2)

I will gladly accept any of these fine options if anybody wants to buy me presents: Momento Vitae by Alexander Beeching | Untitled by Todd St. John | Newfoundland 7 by Carrie Marill | Portrait of Sandy From Far Away by Ticker Nichols

SO. The super awesome brains, brawn, and beauty behind 20×200 are offering a lucky winner a $100 shopping credit for anything in the store! Maybe you want to buy yourself a little extra special Christmas surprise for your digs? Totally possible. Maybe you have somebody special in your life who could use something amazing on their walls and in their hearts? You’re going to want to listen up.

TO ENTER:

1. Go to the 20×200 website and pick a couple of your favorite pieces!

2. Come back here and leave a comment telling me what your favorite pieces are! If you’re buying for yourself, where would you hang your new art? If you’re buying for your lucky special friend, who’s it for? 

Want more good news? Try this on for size:

20x200discount

To receive your art by Christmas, standard shipping ends TODAY and 2-Day shipping ends WEDNESDAY. So you might want to get to gettin’ over to 20×200 so you can take advantage of that action ASAP.

Happy Collecting!

UPDATE: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations, Gabriela! You are a winner!

Countdown

1. Congratulations to Jory for winning the Fetch Eyewear giveaway!! If your name is not Jory and therefore you didn’t win the giveaway, guess what? Fetch is offering Manhattan Nest readers a 10% off discount code from now through the end of the month! Just use the code FETCHNEST at checkout! Help your eyes! Help the animals! 

mekko

So winter break is literally mere hours away and I am running on empty. I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep in at least two weeks, and finals time has just been kicking my ass left right and center. I tried to take pictures of something this morning for the blog, but all the pictures came out terribly. In my very tired, very sleep-deprived, very-we-don’t-have-any-coffee-left-in-the-house state, I wanted to cry and throw myself out the window, but I recognize I might be overreacting just a little.

I basically feel like Mekko in that picture. Give me a pillow or four and I’ll make myself very small and just stay there for a very long time because that’s what I need. I ate pizza for breakfast this morning.

So. This blogging thing and picture-taking thing will have to wait a few days until I can boost up my energy and morale and give it another shot. Also seriously considering a new camera.

Winter break is going to be so productive and awesome that I can’t stand it. So many things will happen. Just you wait and see. You’re going to platz.

Life
Tagged:

GIVEAWAY: Fetch Eyewear!

So the giveaway last week was pretty fun, yeah? What do you say we do another one today? And next Monday, too? It’s totally free stuff month on Manhattan Nest and it’s awesome because you could get in on that with some seriously awesome swag from my seriously awesome sponsors.

A little while ago, I bought my first pair of glasses and started wearing them around all the time. I don’t altogether need glasses, but I have a weak prescription for distance, so basically I see like a superhero when I wear them. Mostly, I’ll admit that I just like wearing glasses because they make me feel smarter, more competent, and like I’m wearing a costume. Who do I want to be today? My glasses will tell me.

So when an amazing little Portland, OR-based company called Fetch Eyewear e-mailed me out of the blue and asked if I might like to try out a pair of their frames, I took them up on it.

Fetch Eyewear is such a cool company because not only do they make super awesome, super affordable glasses, they also give all of their profits to the Pixie Project in support of animal rescue and adoption. Seriously. Just by buying and wearing around a pair of great glasses, you get to help save the lives of dogs like mine and help them find homes. Does it get any better than that?

No it does not.

Picking a pair of glasses is also fun and easy with the Try at Home feature, where you get to pick 6 pairs of glasses, try them out for a week, then send them back to Fetch and order your favorite pair. So cool. I ended up with a pair of Baxter frames and it’s love. I love these glasses. I guess they’re my “artsy academic” look, and I haven’t taken them off for weeks. The quality is excellent, I think they fit my face well, and I love the shape. Also, I get compliments. Like, actual human people telling me that something on my face looks nice. That feels good.

For serious, these glasses are wonderful. Just look at those jolly people being so happy in their glasses. They are all seriously very thrilled and only one of them is holding a cute dog. So.

GIVEAWAY BUSINESS:

The lucky winner will win two (2!) pairs of frames or sunglasses. Any frames! Any sunglasses!

UPDATE: THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. Congratulations, Jory!!

TO ENTER:

1. Go to the Fetch Eyewear website and pick your favorite frames!

2. Come back here and leave a comment telling me what your favorite frames are and who they’re for! Maybe you’ll keep them all to yourself? Maybe you want one for you and one for your boyfriend/girlfriend/husband/wife/child/friend/parent/lover? Up to you!

3. For an extra entry, go “Like” Fetch Eyewear on Facebook! Then come back and leave another comment telling me you did so. If you already like them, tell me that, too.

International entries are welcome and Fetch Eyewear will pay the shipping. However, the winner may be responsible for international duties & taxes.

Mekko and Linus are in full support of Fetch Eyewear. Now go get yourself some free glasses, you sexy four-eyed thang, you!

This giveaway ends on Thursday, December 13th at 8 PM EST. A winner will be chosen at random and I’ll update the post with the winner’s name on Friday, December 14th! Yipee!

Going Rogue: A Story of Betrayal and Componibili.

First of all——PHEW, my first giveaway ever for Ferm Living Shop took in 734 comments! Lunacy! The winner was chosen at random and a big congratulations to Nancy M. is in order! Yay, Nancy!

Now, if you didn’t win the giveaway, maybe you are sad and bitterly disappointed? Maybe I was worried you would be sad so I had a chat with Ferm Living Shop about how sad you would be? Maybe Ferm Living Shop agreed you might be sad and a 10% off promo code was offered to soften the blow of being a poor, pathetic loser? That’s right: use the code MANHATTANNEST at checkout to get 10% off your order at Ferm Living Shop through Sunday, December 9th at 9 PM! This would be a good time to go ahead and buy that Remix Blanket you wanted before—the offer doesn’t last long!

Go ahead. You have my blessing. Treat yo’self. (just use MANHATTANNEST at check-out!)

Onto other matters. I’ll admit I had a bit more of an exciting post planned for today but——True Life: It’s Exam Week and I am Pooped. Like, more than pooped. Somewhere between dead and pooped.

So last week I was emailing back and forth with a reader named Alicia about the usual (fauxdenzas, wood, anchors, sofas) and she just had to mention that she was putting up an ad on Craigslist for two 3-tier white Kartell Componibili units for the price of one new one. They were only a couple years old, great condition——did I know anybody who might want them?

Um, hello Alicia. I want them. Duhzville. Gimme those Componibilis and we can talk fauxdenzas til my jaw detaches itself from my face.

Only problem? Convincing a certain someone who might also have an opinion on the matter. And I’m not talking about Linus, because he’d never be able to understand complex concepts like wonderful mod Italian plastic storage. He can’t even understand “sit.”

God, Linus is so stupid. But his love language is cuddles and that’s all I care about, so he’s perfect.

I’d been talking up a Componibili for the bathroom pretty much as long as we’ve lived in this apartment, and Max has always been ardently against them. He “doesn’t like plastic” (?) and doesn’t like the way they look (?) and some other hogwash that I probably would have remembered if I had been listening in the first place instead of worrying about my future?

So when this talk of Craigslist posts and Componibilis was happening, Max was at work. I tried to be considerate by sending him this series of text messages, which pretty much gives you an accurate picture of what it’s like to be in a relationship with me.

It pretty much went on like that, but you get the picture.

So I’m the devil, more or less. Whatever. True Life: I’m a Control Freak.

Obviously, the problem here is that if I had waited for a response, at least one of two things would have happened: by the time I could give the green light to the seller (a.k.a. Alicia), they’d be gone,* or Max would say no and I’d have to be both selfish and blatantly disobedient and disrespectful when I went and did it anyway.**

*maybe not that likely to happen so quickly, but work with me.
**very likely to happen very quickly.

Rock, meet Hard Place.

So, much like somebody who is mentally unbalanced and likes a good deal (not me, just somebody like that person), I think I was at the seller’s apartment in less than an hour and carrying Componibilis into our apartment like 10 minutes after Max came home from work. True Life: My Boyfriend Wanted to Kill Me.

He was not pleased, but I am pleased enough for the both of us. This thing is obviously good-looking and pretty adorable and it looks good in the bathroom. More importantly, it HOLDS THINGS. The bathroom’s ONLY storage is that big medicine cabinet. Don’t get it twisted, that thing is huge, but not huge enough to maintain this much beauty. For example, the blowdryer used to sit in the cabinet. Of course, it was too big for the cabinet, so it fell out ALL THE TIME, usually on my face, usually carrying a bunch of other stuff down with it. This went on for like a year and a half, so don’t even try to tell me I don’t know struggle.

The Componibili is great because it holds toilet paper, the blowdryer, and various other excess toiletries that used to sit in a box in our kitchen. It’s nice to have all the bathroom stuff IN the bathroom. Max is getting used to it?

FYI, the bathmat is a bamboo (I think) mat from Target. Another huge point of contention in the bathroom has been getting a bathmat——Max hates bathmats and thinks they’re dirty, vile things, and I don’t understand life without them? I’d be down for a normal bathmat, but eventually we had to settle on this wood thing and…it’s fine. I don’t really understand what function it holds, but I guess it’s nice that it’s there and that I don’t have to wash it all the time? I don’t know.

The soap pump is from West Elm and I love it. It’s soapstone, so it’s nice and substantial and the pump part is actually really nice and sturdy, which I like. I wish I felt the same way about the sink and the floor, but there isn’t a whole lot I can do about either of those.

But Componibili!! I’m so glad this dream came true and that it wasn’t the end of my relationship. You really can have your cake and eat it too, you know?

Back to Top