Monday, January 26, 2015

The Ugly Ugly Ugly Duckling

Over the past 3 years I've learned to overlook the ugly and the REALLY ugly.  It's not often I run across a piece of furniture that makes me want to gag. 

 I like details, curves, sexy legs, know the drill.  Sometimes I like clean lines, but most of the time I just really don't.  Mid-century isn't really my style (although Reeves from The Weathered Door does an absolutely incredible job with it and she almost has me converted).  So, when I run across these kinds of pieces every once in a while I hem and haw about buying them.  The price was right on this one and I already had someone looking for a dresser so I bit the bullet and bought it. 

It looks nice in this picture.  In real life it was green.  Yep, a ghastly, anemic, putrid, pale green.  With an undercoat of pale blue, which I'm assuming was some kind of stain blocking primer because when I started sanding on it guess what it was (well, technically still is)?  It is cherry!! 

Who in the world would put that putrescent color over cherry??  And, as if the color wasn't bad enough I can barely bring myself to look at the hardware.  Almost like Medusa's head.  Yep, it's that bad.  Now, I've said this before and have had people say. "I like that hardware!"  I just say to each his own because it is certainly not my cup of tea. 

My client said she was going to use it in her nursery and wanted it to grow with her new baby through the years.  She's having a girl, so I knew I wanted to go soft.  After staring at it (after I took that hideous hardware off) for a long while I finally decided I wanted to do something special on the bottom drawers to frame it in a little.  But, I still wanted it to be subtle, too.  

I had the biggest smile when I was done.  She turned into a lovely little thing. :)


Ummm, yuck.  That all there is to say. 


I didn't actually tell my client what I was doing so when I showed her the finished dresser (minus the hardware) she said she was thinking of doing the nursery in a french country theme.  Could this be any more perfect for that?

I darkened the top for contrast and chose stripes two shades darker than the cream I used on the rest of the dresser for the bottom drawers.  I like how it defines the bottom drawers but doesn't overwhelm the piece.  I then did the stencil a shade darker than the stripes and kept it inside the outer border (if that makes sense). 

Antique brass pulls finished it off and I am in love with the monochromatic look. 

 She wanted something girly with a pop of color for the hardware. I thought these knobs were perfect, not too over the top, but still fun. :)

 My new favorite thing!!

 I always sand, never strip (mainly because I detest doing it).  Which means I have to be mindful, especially on these pieces as the veneer is really thin and you can actually sand through it.  Big boo.  So go easy!   One coat of Java Gel (cherry is naturally darker) and 3 coats of Varathane. 

What do you think?


  1. I can't stop giggling. Who knew? Oh my golly, just wow - I didn't see it coming. That was a truly ugly duckling and I too detest last midcentury 60s looking straight lines but holy moley you made it a beautiful swan!

    VERY well done, Lisa. Sheesh, you never seem to truly amaze me. I am completely freaked out by this transformation.

    1. I just love you Michele. You always make me smile! :) thank you for the kind words.

  2. This was like a rabbit being pulled out of a hat! Just love all the details...and to think you didn't know what the mom had planned. Spooky perfect! :)

  3. Hi Lisa - this is an unbelievable transformation. When I saw your before photo I didn't even think making that nice was even possible. you are very inspiring! love it

  4. Absolutely Gorgeous! I had to go back and look at the before again, it didn't seem like it could be the same piece. Hugs,

  5. You are a brilliant artist! I'm in awe of what you've done with this piece! Brilliant, just brilliant! :)

    1. Thanks Robin. Wish I could give you a big hug right now! You're too kind.

  6. Perfection! That's one lucky little chickadee who gets to grow up with that piece. :)


  7. Another beautiful creation Lisa - you have some really unusual and very creative ideas - love it and specifically the stripes and the stencilling on the two bottom drawers - making it look very classy indeed and who would have thought by seeing the 'Before' that in actual fact it was Cherrywood! You are one very inspiring lady :)


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