April 23, 2012

Reimagined Monday: Apple Box Boutique's TV Cabinet

Last week I was fortunate to have the opportunity to write a guest blog for To A Pretty Life.  I wasn't expecting the influx of notes and FB messages, but what a nice suprise... thank you so much for your support!

In that blog, there was an image of my family room from when we were in the throes of remodeling. It seems to have taken on a life of its own, and I've been asked repeatedly about the cabinet seen in the picture.  So today I've decided to focus Reimagined Monday on how it went from a fairly hideous brown behemoth to the shabby chic "wonder" that has garnered its own fans.

Here is the picture that was posted on To A Pretty Life:

In seeking out a new console for our big screen TV, I wouldn't have guessed that the answer would be a 1970s oversized gazillion pound dresser in the ick brown so popular in that era.

But here it is, as it looked when it first arrived at the studio, in several parts:

One of the things that caught my eye about the dresser was the detail on the drawers, and the fact that they were floral.  I thought that would fit well with the Regency look I was going for (think Jane Austen) but the colour and the gold knobs had to go!

"Back in the day" when I finished this piece I hadn't yet discovered Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.  If only I'd known I could have saved myself a LOT of time and trouble!  More on this later!  For now... here is the painstaking process of reimagining this dresser:

I started by washing the dresser well with TSP (it was pretty filthy), then primed the cabinet and each of the drawers.  I used Kilz Original stainblocker.  It smells AWFUL, which is why I carry Kilz Original Ordorless at the boutique... anything to help a fellow DIYer avoid that ordeal!

After it dried, the Kilz left a 'bumpy' finish so I sanded afterward.  If you use more than one coat of primer, it is best to sand between coats as well, wiping it down afterward with a lint-free cloth.

Next, all pieces were sprayed with two coats of cream paint.  I wish I could tell you what colour it is, but it was a magic concoction of several I had on my paint bench.  All of it was Behr latex, though.

On to distressing.  I sanded with heavy and light sandpapers in areas I knew would have been worn by use. Because of the primer and the latex, this took a crazy amount of effort and time.  Then I wiped it all down again, making sure not to leave any dust or other particles.

Then came time to lacquer.  I prefer a spray and with latex I like a matt varathane finish.  Two coats with a sanding in betwen gave just the right amount of lustre and durability.

I was so excited about getting this into the space that it came in without the hardware, so that was the next project.  I didn't like the original gold knobs, so I painted them to match the pulls I purchased for the centre column of drawers.

The following pics show the some of the distressing in more detail (a bit blurry... I had a sketchy camera back then).

And finally, after it was finished and we could stand back and get that thrill one always gets when a big project is finally finished.

Here's "the big picture":

We love it, but I have to say this... before I started using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP), I spent an inordinate amount of time and money on things like priming and primer, sanding (before, after and often between coats) and sandpaper, waiting, waiting waiting for paint to dry between coats and distressing, trying to get the lacquer right, sanding between coats of lacquer, final distressing with LOTS of elbow grease and lacquering again... you get the picture.

This dresser took me 2 full days to finish, and that was without stopping for lunch.  Grant it, I'd only painted a half-dozen furniture pieces before this so some of it might be attributed to learning curve.

Now that I know better, I use ASCP.  No priming, no sanding, no lengthy wait-time, and just a velvety wax to finish.  Having completed many similar pieces with it, I know that even back then I could have finished this dresser in a matter of a few hours and had everything set up to watch Oprah the same afternoon.

That is why we carry the chalk paint at the boutique... I know what it means to a DIYer to get a project completed quickly, have a beautiful end result and get on to the next creative idea.

Ahhhh, live and learn!

Here is how to share your reimagined paint project at On the Apple Box:

Send us a description of how you used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to get from your vision to the reimagined piece, before and after pictures, pictures of your project in progress or a couple of it in its finished state, and you may be highlighted on our blog!


  1. That piece is definitely beautiful! I've seen a lot of that kind of 1970s furniture at thrift stores, but have always passed them up!

    1. Thanks Joanna! Some of them can be super-cheesy, but every once and a while something like this turns up :)

  2. Oh Leanne, you're not going to believe this! My hubby's dresser/side table set looks very similar! It's a bit broken where the bottom drawer basically falls out but if we can manage to find the other matching side table, I'm definitely taking inspiration from this and re-painting the sucker.

    1. Hi Sandy! I'm thrilled that you are feeling inspired, and if the pieces are dated like this one was, what a transformation story that will be! If for any reason the bottom drawer can't be repaired, perhaps consider a couple or few baskets tucked into the drawer space, and maybe some other unique side table rather than one that matches.


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