Category Archives for Furniture Flips

How to Make a DIY Tilt Out Trash Can

After my kitchen remodel, I was left with a bunch of old, dirty, dingy cabinets. They were kind of disgusting, and I really, really wanted to drag them down to the curb and let somebody take them away. But my dad convinced me cabinets are useful, and since I had the space, I should keep them in the basement just in case I found a use for them one day.

He was right. Not even six months later, and I’m ready to turn one of them into a fancy trash can. Truthfully, a short and stubby base cabinet would probably be prefect for this project. But I only had one of those, and it was already in use in the basement. So I decided to grab one of the many wall cabinets for this project instead. My trash can table is a little skinny and tall, but hey, it works for the space, right?

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

Note: This blog contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

DIY Tilt-Out Trash Can
(From a wall cabinet)
Materials:
  • Cabinet- I used a wall cabinet because that was what I had, but a base cabinet would work too!
  • Trash Can- Since my cabinet was so small, I had to work pretty hard to find a trash can that fit inside the cabinet. I ended up with this one. If you have a larger cabinet, this is less of an issue.
  • 1" x 2" Furring Strip- For the door.
  • Beadboard- For the door and sides
  • 1" x 12" (or appropriate size wood)- This is to make the "top" of the cabinet and the supports for the trash can inside the cabinet. I used a 1" x 12" plus a piece of furring strip to cover the top. Use what works for your cabinet.
  • Pair of Hinges
  • Cabinet Pull
  • Paint

I know that was a lot for a cabinet that looks so simple! If you need some help getting this (or other) projects organized, check out my Project Planning Worksheet below! Given that I live an hour away from the home improvement store, I use it all the time to make sure I get everything I need for a project when I go shopping.

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Step 1: Add Beadboard to Cabinet Sides

I started with a 15" wide wall cabinet:

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

I cut some beadboard left over from my thrift store desk project to fit the sides of the cabinet. They attached to the sides of the cabinet quickly using wood glue and brad nails.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

Most beadboard furniture has a frame that goes around the beadboard section. I had some quarter inch plywood that I could have cut down to make a frame, but since I don’t have a table saw, it would have been a lot of work. I decided it looked fine without a frame, and moved on.

2) Make Door

Since the door was front and center of the piece, I decided it did need a frame, plus that would add some stability to the door. I made the frame out of 1 x 2 furring strips, cutting them so the frame (and therefore entire door) would measure 1/4” less than the opening. In this case, my opening measured 32 1/2” x 11 1/2”, so I made my frame measure 32 1/4” x 11 1/4”.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

At each joint in the frame I used wood glue and a single screw. I used a 2” screw and screwed it from the outside edge of the frame into the joint. This was a bit tricky to do since the wood is so thin. Next time, I think I would go ahead and attach the joints using a kreg jig.

Finally, I attached a beadboard panel to the frame using wood glue and brad nails.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects
Step 3) Paint

While I could paint the piece once it was fully assembled, painting now means I don't have to avoid the hardware, hinges, or other parts that don't need to be painted. And I am always in favor of making things easier for myself!

I painted this piece using plain old latex paint. "But what about chalk paint?" you ask. While I enjoy admiring all the vintage furniture flips I find on pinterest, the chalk paint look is actually not my personal style. I like the semi-gloss look of typical latex paint much better. In this particular case, I went with Behr’s Polar Bear White, if you were curious. Plus, there were a number of holes in the cabinet that needed to be filled with wood filler and sanded down anyway, so it wasn’t really a big deal to do a quick sanding with my sander before painting the piece.

Step 4: Add Trash Can Supports

The tilt-out trash can model relies on the trash can being attached to the door, and therefore tilting outward when the door opens. With this in mind, I designed a shelf that attaches to the door for the trash can to sit on. 

This shelf has three main pieces: The base that the trash can sits on, and two side supports that connects the base to the door.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

These were all cut from a 1" x 12". I believe the angle on the side pieces is around 37 degrees, but I wasn't measuring too closely. Instead, I just made an angled cut that I thought looked good. In fact, you don't even have to make an angled cut here. Rectangular pieces will be just as (and maybe even more) structurally sound.

I drilled three Kreg jig holes into the shorter sides of the side pieces. This will ultimately connect the supports to the door.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

Try not to make your bottom hole too close to the edge. Once the bottom is attached, if the hole is too close to the bottom, it will be difficult to add the screw.

Then I connected the bottom to the sides using wood screws. Note that I'm not using the Kreg holes here; they're for connecting the supports to the door later.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects
Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects
Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

Finally, I used the Kreg Jig holes I drilled earlier to connect the support to my door. I was super careful to make sure my supports were lined up with the furring strip frame on the door.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects
Step 5: Assemble

I started by attaching my door to the cabinet with the set of hinges I'd purchased. These are typical butt hinges that go between the bottom of the door and frame of the opening. If you've never installed hinges before, look at the pictures below super carefully before you install. Hinges can be confusing, so make sure you understand where they go before you start!

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects
Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

At this point, the weight of the supports pulled the door a little to far into the cabinet, so I added a stop piece of wood inside the cabinet.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

I attached it to the top of the cabinet with wood glue and screws

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

I attached my top pieces to the cabinet with brad nails and wood glue, nailing from the top down. While the brad nails are visible, they're small enough that they're not super obvious if you're just glancing at the piece. If they ever bother me, I can add wood filler to the holes to disguise the nails a bit more.

I did not add any screws, since I had no way to keep them invisible. I figure that gravity will hold the top in place. If in a few years I forget that it's not screwed down, and accidentally pull the top off, I figure I'll just fix it. That's a risk I'm willing to take.

Finally, I attached the cabinet pull to the door, and called it done!

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

I love having a trash can in my office. This is a stupid thing to be excited about, I know, but I've gone a full month without one, so now it seems like a luxury.

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects
Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

And I have another place for a fake plant! I do love pretending I have plants...

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

This was an awesome use for one of the many cabinets that are cluttering up my basement, and I'm so glad I thought of it. It matches my desk (another furniture transformation; check it out!) perfectly, and really completes the room. Which, by the way, is almost done! Stay tuned for the official reveal of my office!

Grungy wall cabinet becomes beautiful and functional tilt-out trash can in this simple DIY! #FurnitureFlips #DIYProjects

Before and After: $11 Pottery Barn Knock Off Desk

How much money are you willing to pay for a desk? I imagine there’s a spectrum from $0 to Kardashian amounts of cash that most of us are willing to spend. It probably depends on the type of desk, personal philosophies on money, and the current financial situation of the buyer.

I’ll admit, I am on the lower side of the spectrum. At the moment, I couldn’t imagine spending more than $100, although I can imagine a future me that has money to burn being willing to spend a couple hundred.

However, even in my ideal imaginary daydream where future me is a billionaire with more money then I know how to spend, I can't imagine spending more than $1000 for a desk. I just can’t think of reason why a $1000 desk would be necessary, when there are plenty of beautiful, high quality desks for under that amount.

And yet, Pottery Barn exists. With all of it's beautiful, $1000+ desks that someone must actually buy and the rest of us just covet. So this week, I set out to recreate a desk I saw on Pottery Barn (specifically, the Aubrey Desk,) but with my $100 budget in mind.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

The $50 Pottery Barn Knock-Off Desk

I started with a nice and sturdy $11.75 desk I found at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. 

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Yes, this desk transformation happened in my living room. It was super cold outside, so the porch and garage were out, and there was no way I was going to be able to get this thing into the basement myself.

If I need a furniture piece, I always try to transform an existing piece rather than build a new one myself. It is A) easier, B) significantly cheaper, and C) better for the environment. I can't always find what I'm looking for, but I got lucky this time and found this desk after only three trips to Habitat. It checked all my boxes of 1) medium sized, 2) made of wood, 3) fixable if broken, and 4) under $50. I purchased it as soon as I saw it.

If you're interested in my Thrift Store Furniture Checklist, which helps you pick out quality used pieces, click below!

The Transformation

Since I had plans to store a computer in this desk, in addition to the just changing the outward appearance, I need to convert one of the sides of drawers into a cabinet space. I decided to start with that, then work on the aesthetics of the piece once the structural components were complete.

Part 1: Structural Changes

I started by taking out all the drawers on the left side, and cutting out the front dividers with my jigsaw. For those of you that are considering doing a similar project, know that getting started is the very hardest part, and I sat there nervously for about 5 minutes before actually being brave enough to start cutting.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Since the computer I'm going to store in the space is pretty heavy duty and creates a whole lot of hot air, I decided to remove the back panel so that the space had some ventilation. I drilled holes in each of the four corners, then cut out the panel with a jigsaw.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Then I added some scrap wood bars (with wood glue and screws) so that the space wasn't totally open. Note that I countersunk all the screws so that I could fill in the space with wood filler and they wouldn't be visible.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Finally, I flipped the desk over and added scrap wood cut from a leftover 1"x 8" to the bottom to create a "floor" for the cupboard. I used wood glue and screws to secure these pieces to the bottom of the desk. I also did a whole lot of measuring before I did this step to make sure my computer would fit in the space.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Before adding "floor" of cabinet.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

With new "floor."

You've probably noticed that there are spaces between the boards- this wasn't super thought out or or intentional, I was just too lazy to cut another piece, so I just spaced the three pieces I had out.

You also might notice that my cupboard is currently door-less. There will be a door eventually, but I'll get to that later!

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Part 2: Aesthetics

The Pottery Barn desk I was particularly coveting had significant base molding and beautiful beadboard sides. The website implied the whole series was meant to resemble built-in furniture, hence all the molding. But guess what? I, too, am perfectly capable of adding beadboard and molding to a desk, with the added bonus of not having it cost thousands of dollars. (Am I bitter? Maybe a little.)

The legs on this desk were almost 7 inches tall. I couldn't find molding that tall, so I added some 1/2" plywood to cover the space between the top of the molding and the bottom of the desk. I secured this to the wood pieces I had already added to be the "floor" of the cabinet.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I did this on both sides, I promise!

Since I had to make a trip to Lowes to purchase the baseboard molding, I actually did the beadboard next. I had some leftover from the mudroom project, and simply cut it with a combo of my circular saw and miter saw to fit in the indented places on the sides of the desk.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I secured the beadboard with wood glue and brad nails, using my awesome Ryobi Electric Nailer. Seriously the best thing ever- super versatile (I don't think there's a single project I haven't used it on) and easy to use. I was even raving to my friend about it at Thanksgiving, because clearly, everyone should own one.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Once the beadboard was in place, I moved onto the baseboard molding. I purchased the tallest molding I could find (5 1/4", if you were curious) to wrap around the bottom of each sides. This was the biggest investment I made in the project, costing me around $25 for two 8 foot lengths.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I am not at all a molding pro- maybe someday I'll get better and write a whole post on how to apply molding perfectly, but in the meantime, you should probably read somebody else's advise on applying molding. That being said, I'm pretty good at covering up all my bad corners with caulk, so I guess there's that.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations
Part 3: Doors and Drawers

Since I hollowed out one of the sides of the desk, I needed to make a door to replace the drawers that were there before. I wanted to keep with the beadboard theme, so I designed a three layer door. I had 4" wide 1/4" plywood strips left over from my kitchen floor project, so I used those combined with the beadboard to create my door.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations
An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I attached it to the desk using these hinges that I special ordered from Home Depot. I struggled a bit to find hinges that I knew would work with this door since I wanted it to be inset style.

The drawer fronts were much easier. I wood filled the holes left from the pulls, and then sanded down the fronts:

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I glued on some a frame made from the 1/4" plywood, then painted so the drawers matched the rest of the desk.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations
Part 4: Finishing the Desk

Before painting, I liberally applied wood filler to the desk. Any visible screws, brad nails, and damaged portions got filled with wood, then sanded back down. Caulk was applied anywhere there might have been a gap; behind the molding was the most significant spot. Then, the desk got a thorough sanding with my orbital sander

Finally, the desk could be painted. It got a coat of primer followed by two coats of latex paint. While I've seen chalk paint produce some gorgeous vintage-style pieces, I much prefer the semi-gloss finish of latex paint in my own home. As long as I prime and sand before painting, I've never had an issue using latex paint on furniture.

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Once the desk was painted, I was able to attach the door and replace the drawers. When I was finished, it looked like this:

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

It's so much better, right? And it has just the right amount of storage!

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

It was definitely a bit time consuming of a project; I probably spent a 3-4 days working on it. But for less than $50 ($11.25 for the desk, $25 for the molding, and $10 for a half sheet of beadboard), I consider the time investment totally worth it!

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

I'm so excited for my sunroom to be finished! Stay tuned for the upcoming posts about the other furniture I made in this room- a standing lamp and tilt-out trash can! In the meantime, if you found this project inspiring, go ahead and pin it to Pinterest so you can find it later!

An $11 thrift store desk gets a makeover in this DIY Before and After! #FurnitureMakeover #ThriftedTransformations

Before and After: $1 Thrift Store Desk Chair

I love the Habitat for Humanity Restore closest to my house. They have tons of furniture, and it starts at a pretty decent price then discounts by 25% every single week until the item is gone.

I was browsing the store about two months ago when I first laid eyes on this chair.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

There were four of them, clearly some kind of dining chair set, priced at $10 a piece. I investigated them pretty closely, since I knew I’d need to procure myself a desk chair for my office eventually. But I walked away. It didn’t seem very office-y, and the back cushion looked hard to reupholster. Plus, I was really there for a desk, which I had already decided to purchase and haul home. Did I really need a desk chair too?

Two weeks later, the chairs were still there, now $5 each. I laughed a bit to myself but walked right past, intent on purchasing something else that day. I think I bought a fake plant, since goodness knows, I can’t keep a real one alive.

A full month after I first spotted the chairs, I returned to Habitat and two of the four chairs remained. Now priced at a single dollar each, I had no excuses. I hadn’t found a suitable desk chair in the month I'd casually browsed, and it was getting to the point where I actually needed a chair. Plus, the castors, metal, and wood of the chair were in pretty good shape; the cushion was the only thing that was particularly sad, and that was pretty easily remedied. 

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

So, finally, I bought the chair. For a dollar. A single dollar. That’s it. In fact, I paid in cash and everything, since I couldn’t justify pulling out a credit card for a single dollar purchase.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click and make a purchase, I may receive compensation (at no additional cost to you.) I only recommend products that I personally use and love, and any support helps keep this little blog going!

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Have a clear plan for your project with our FREE Project Planning Worksheet. Simply click the button below to get your Project Planning Worksheet delivered straight to your inbox!

The $1 Thrift Store Desk Chair Remodel

The remodel was actually a pretty simple one. The wood actually screwed right off the chair, making it pretty easy to spray paint. I felt pretty accomplished after I spent 30 minutes spray painting and was already halfway done with the remodel.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

Not going to lie- I totally cropped out the giant mess that is my work space.

The Seat Cushion

Reupholstering the cushions was a bit trickier. As it turns out, blush colored faux suede is a bit harder to find than I was anticipating. I ended up ordering it from Amazon (here.) I got two yards just in case I screwed up, which is more likely than you might think, given that I am terrible at sewing.

The seat cushion was pretty easy. I tore out the staples and ripped the old stained fabric off. Turns out the cushion was pretty stained too, so I covered it with some leftover batting from my barstool project so that the dark (probably coffee) stains didn’t show through my fabric.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

Then I wrapped the seat with my new fabric and stapled it in place.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
The Back Cushion

The back cushion, as I anticipated when I first saw the chairs, was by far the most complicated part of the project. My sewing skills are mediocre at best, so I knew from the beginning that this would be a stretch.

I cut the old fabric away, and was left baffled by the buttons which seemed to be very securely stuck in my cushion. Luckily, my mother was sitting nearby, and her 1950s era school sewing classes came through for me when she went “Oh, those just screw off.” Sure enough, with a bit of twisting, they came right off.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

I re-covered the buttons with the ultra-official method of hot glue.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

I don't know why I didn't take any pictures of the finished button... but here's a half covered one!

The old fabric that I’d cut off seemed perfect for making a new pattern, but it was actually kind of crumbly and making a mess. I just ended up tracing the cushion on my fabric, adding a 1/2” or so to account for the sides, and cutting it out. I did this twice, so I had a front and back panel to sew together.

With right sides together, I sewed the panels together. I also tried to sew some ribbons on to them so that I could tie the cushion to the chair. I did this completely wrong the first time (mediocre sewing skills, as mentioned), and ended up ripping out stitches and resewing the ribbons so that they’d ultimately end up on the outside of the cushion cover (not the inside… where they were after my first attempt…)

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

The ribbons need to be between the two fabrics to end up on the outside of the cushion. In retrospect, this seems really obvious...

Finally, I threw a zipper on the bottom and called it day. I’d tell you more about that, but I am 99% sure I did it wrong.

I then put the chair back together. It was so exciting to see the final product!

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

Super cute, no? And it cost me right around $30 total for the chair, fabric, ribbon, and zipper. Considering there is no way I could have purchased a new desk chair for that (I think they start around $60) I am thrilled. And it’s actually pretty comfy. I thought about adding more cushion to the seat, or putting in an ergonomic pillow back instead of the cushion that came with the chair, but I decided it was comfy enough without those things.

Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture

It looks great next to my desk (which is also a Habitat remodel, check it out!) and I am so excited to sit and work every time I have the opportunity. It’s actually causing me to find reasons to work at my desk, which is fantastic and I hope lasts forever.

Like this chair? Save it to Pinterest!
Check out this thrift store desk chair before and after! A bit of fabric and spray paint went along way in this furniture flip! #FurnitureFlip #ThriftStoreFurniture
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How Not to Strip a Table | Stripping Furniture Mistakes

In the early 1970s and nearing retirement, my grandparents decided to purchase a small cabin (and a boat!) a little over an hour away from their western Wisconsin home. They had quite the social life back then, with an array of family and friends rotating through to play card games, go boating, and sign the meticulously kept guest books.

As we approach 50 years of ownership, some things have changed. Cabin decor is now managed by my aunt, while my father is in charge of cabin maintenance. The boat is considered "vintage," and is a regular conversation piece when we take it to the lake. The guest book is much emptier than it was back in the day, so we now encourage all guests to write a full paragraph to help fill it up. One thing, though, that hasn't changed, is this table:

Don't make these mistakes when remodeling furniture! #DIY #DIYProjects #BeforeAndAfter #Furniture #Table #FurnitureFlips #AButterflyHouse

Rumor has it, the table came with the purchase of the cabin in 1970 and was considered "old" then. In the past 48 years, it has possibly seen a coat of fresh paint and the addition of support braces. That's it. 

Don't make these mistakes when remodeling furniture! #DIY #DIYProjects #BeforeAndAfter #Furniture #Table #FurnitureFlips #AButterflyHouse

Snazzy support brace, right?

In addition to the unpainted support braces, the tabletop was warped and stained, and the paint was very, very chipped, and not in that cool "distressed" chip way, either. More the "check out how well this neon orange color from the '60s goes with the turquoise color this table was in the 40s'" way. And so, after my plans were approved by the decor manager, I refinished the table.

The plan was to strip and stain the tabletop, and give an new coat of white paint to the legs. I debated what to do with the legs for a long time. The problem is that the early layers of paint are almost certainly oil-based, which is why the white (probably) latex paint is chipping off. The only real fix for this problem is to strip the table legs completely, like I'm doing with the tabletop. But do you see those grooves?? It would take forever, and frankly, I just don't love this table enough for that. So I settled for just plopping another layer of white on them, and having to recoat in a couple years when it starts chipping off again. 

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My dad, the cabin maintenance manager and generally a trustworthy source of handiness tips, recommended that I strip the tabletop with a belt sander (which we already had) instead of chemical stripper (that we would have needed to purchase.) So with my dad's (un)trustworthy Harbor Freight belt sander and 36 grit sandpaper in hand, I got to work.

It started out well. Here's a picture from about a minute of sanding:

Don't make these mistakes when remodeling furniture! #DIY #DIYProjects #BeforeAndAfter #Furniture #Table #FurnitureFlips #AButterflyHouse

I kept going...

Don't make these mistakes when remodeling furniture! #DIY #DIYProjects #BeforeAndAfter #Furniture #Table #FurnitureFlips #AButterflyHouse

And eventually:

Don't make these mistakes when remodeling furniture! #DIY #DIYProjects #BeforeAndAfter #Furniture #Table #FurnitureFlips #AButterflyHouse

At this point I had clogged up not one, but two new 36 grit sanding belts. The sander moved so fast that instead of tearing the paint off, it melted it, clogging the belt. That's what all the grey in the picture is: white, turquoise, and neon orange paint melted together. At this point, it was apparent that unless I wanted to go through 10 sanding belts, the belt sanding method was not going to work. As a sidenote, it was also about at this point when my dad said "Oh yeah, I remember running into this problem with the garage in the early nineties. I forgot about that, sorry." Thanks a bunch, Dad.

Chemically stripping the table was also probably out at this point: who knew what the stripper would do to the melted grey mess that was now attached to my table? So my dad goes into his massive garage (he has a habit of building monster garages on every property he owns. This is his 3rd, if you were wondering) and pulls out this contraption:

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Yes, that is a wire brush attached to an angle grinder! It is apparently super dangerous and can quickly take a huge chunk out of your arm, as evidenced by the fact my dad was not inclined to let me, a 28 year-old regular operator of power tools, use it. So instead, I have a bunch of pictures of him attempting to strip the table with this thing.

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The angle grinder brush thing was moderately successful- it got enough of the paint off the table that when I tried the belt sander again, it didn't clog a fresh belt. I ultimately ended up with this:

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Note the mess in the lower right hand corner. Here it is up close:

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We suspect that this table was used as a cutting board in it's early days. I sanded as much as I could to get rid of the jagged bits, but I would have been sanding for quite awhile to get rid of the knife marks, so I didn't really try.

After fully sanding the table, it looked like this:

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I sanded for quite awhile with the 36 grit sandpaper to make sure that the boards were even, and that the tabletop was flat (unlike when I started.) If you were curious, when I was done sanding the cutting board area looked like this:

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You can't see it in the pictures above, but there were considerable marks from the 36 grit belt sander sandpaper. I used my orbital sander and sanded with 50,80, 120, 150 and 220 grit sandpaper in an attempt to get rid of them. I wasn't successful, and it was really obvious when I stained the tabletop.

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See all the vertical dark marks? That's from the belt sander.

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If I was going to do this again, I'd try a higher grit sandpaper with the belt sander instead of the orbital sander, and see if that helped remove the marks. I'm not too upset about them though; it adds an appropriate distressed look to the tabletop, and blends in with all the cutting marks that were there anyway.

I stained the tabletop with some Minwax English Chestnut stain that I had sitting around, and topped it off with 3 coats of Waterlox Original. The Waterlox was left over from my countertops, which is why I used it. That stuff is expensive, and I don't think I'd recommend purchasing it for such a small project (you'd have so much leftover, and it does not keep!)

Finally, I painted the legs. This was the project of things we already had (I bought nothing to refinish this table!) so the legs were painted with this random paint my dad had in the Monster Garage.

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Maybe this paint is actually super high quality paint (it says super premium, right?) that will solve all of my oil/latex paint woes. Probably not...

The finished table:

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Despite the giant hassle of the belt sander/angle grinder brush thing to strip the table, I am so pleased with how it turned out! It was a quick and free(!) project that brought new life to a table that was at least 70 years old.

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Don't make these mistakes when remodeling furniture! #DIY #DIYProjects #BeforeAndAfter #Furniture #Table #FurnitureFlips #AButterflyHouse
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The Ultimate Dresser To Bench Transformation

Let me take you back to Summer 2017. My entryway had problems. Like "needs a serious organizational intervention" level of problems.

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The entryway, Summer 2017. Not pretty.

So when I was wandering around my favorite thrift store and saw a dresser the exact width of the staircase, I jumped on it! Extra exciting bonus: the dresser was under $10. That helped the jumping.

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The Dresser!

Clearly, some of the knobs were missing, and both the bottom of the front of the dresser, and the top of the dresser, were pretty scratched up. Additionally, one of the drawer fronts had a major crack in it- I could have ripped a chunk of the wood off if I'd wanted too. But, anything would be better than the current state of the entryway, so the dresser came home with me anyway.

My end goal was to make this into a bench with two bottom drawers on the left half, and a recycling bin on the right half. To make this happen, I did the following things:

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Step 1: Pry Off The Top- During the purchasing/packing into tiny hatchback car/hauling up elevator routine, I had noticed that the top of the dresser was lifting up slightly. Should I have actually wanted to use this as a dresser, I would’ve smacked some wood glue in, weighted it down with heavy books for a few hours, then went on my merry way. But since I actually wanted to tear the dresser into pieces and make it into something different, I considered this a huge opportunity. So instead of immediately hacking at the top with a giant saw like a power tool fanatic, I grabbed my trusty pry bar (from this really great set, actually,) and slowly lifted the top from the rest of the dresser. Sure enough, the glue was weak enough that I managed this successfully!

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See how the top is lifting up? It was very easy to fit my pry bar in the space and work my way around lifting up the top of the dresser.

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The results of my prying adventure. Note that I also pried out the top drawer divider as well. 

Step 2: Reconfigure Drawer Positioning- Originally this dresser had a top row consisting of three drawers, with three lower rows of two drawers. I wanted all the rows to have two drawers (or, more specifically, look like they had two drawers.) Since I had pried out the top dividers already, it was relatively simple to pry off one of the pieces of wood the length of the drawer. I reattached that piece to the middle of the dresser using wood glue and pocket hole screws

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Detached piece of wood that will now divide the top row into two "drawer" areas instead of three.

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Dresser before drawer "reconfiguration"

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Dresser after drawer "reconfiguration"

Step 3: Clear Out Bench Area- I put the two bottom drawers in to give me a better visual idea of what I was working with, and then started prying out pieces that would be in the way of the seating area. I started with what had been the drawer guides in the original dresser.

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Left side before I started clearing out the bench area.

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Bench area with drawer guides taken out. I was going to have to start sawing for the other pieces.

At this point, I decided I had cleared out as much as I could without actually cutting wood. The first piece I cut I actually used a hand saw- I didn’t think I could get my jigsaw into the small space. Hand saws are not as time consuming as you’d expect- as long as your piece is small.

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After I cut out the top middle divider. I used a hand saw to cut the piece in the center of the dresser. From there, I could just pull it right out. 

Step 5: Create Center Divide- This section separates the left and right sides from each other, and provides support to the side of the bench. I took some of the drawer guides that I had pried out and cut them to fit the width of the dresser, creating the divide. All were attached with wood glue and pocket hole screws. The purpose of these was for the side of the bench to have something to attach to in multiple places.

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Center divide!

Step 6: Add Bench Supports- I used the drawer divider that I had sawed out in Step 4 to create a center support for my bench seat. I also used some of the drawer guides that I’d pulled out to be supports in the back.

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Bench seat supports!

Step 7: Clear Out Recycling Side- My plan is to place a trash bin on the recycle side to collect any smaller items, with the remaining space for broken down boxes. That means that I needed to clear out the entire right side of all of the drawer supports and dividers. I also added a piece of plywood to the bottom as reinforcement- I didn’t trust the super old flimsy plywood that was there to hold, no matter how light I’m expecting my recycling to be.

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Before clearing out right side...

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After clearing out right side...

Step 8: Break Apart Drawers- I planned to use the drawer fronts, sides, and backs in the rest of the project, so I started breaking down the drawers. I used both a hand saw and a circular saw to saw them into pieces, since I couldn’t get either my jigsaw or the circular saw to fit on the side with the drawer front.

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How I used my handsaw to cut apart the drawer. Since I could fit my circular saw on the other side, I used my circular saw for the back of the drawer cuts.

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My nice and neat drawer pieces!

Step 9: Build and Attach the Door- I originally planned to buy a suitably sized piece of plywood, and then glue the drawer fronts to the piece of plywood for my door. However, I struggled to find a large enough piece of plywood that was not an entire sheet (which would have cost me around $50 for a ¾” piece.)

So instead, I decided to make the door using the spare pieces of drawer. I glued/screwed the drawer backs together using pocket hole screws to create a flat front to glue my drawers onto.

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The flat portion of my door. The pocket holes are in the back and hold all of the pieces together.

Since the drawer backs were only 3/8” thick, I decided to reinforce this by building a frame on the back. I used some ¾” spare pieces of wood I had sitting around from former projects, of pretty much all widths, to build the frame. In retrospect, this may have been overkill, since it resulted in a really thick door, but the door is functional, so I can't complain.

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Frame on back of door.

I then glued the drawer fronts to the front of the door, and reinforced the glue with brad nails (using my awesome brad nail gun!!) Finally, I attached the door to the dresser using some classic style hinges.

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Door is on the dresser. It's starting to take shape!

Step 10: Make the Bench Backrest- I chose to use the materials from my drawer to form the back of the bench area. I cut these to size using my circular saw, then secured them to the dresser using wood glue and brad nails. This was one of the easiest (and most relaxing!) parts of the project.

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Bench with backrest!

Step 11: Cut and Attach Top- I used the original top of the dresser (that was pried off in step 1) to make the top of the recycle bin section and the seat bench. Ideally, you would make these cuts with a table saw, but as someone who lacked a table saw, I had to make due with my circular saw.

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It looks like a bench!

The top of the right half was secured with a piano hinge, so that I could lift up the top to add things to the bin. I secured the bench seat with wood glue and screws (that I added from below). The top "arm rest" and back of the bench was secured with wood glue and brad nails. At this point, I was mostly focused on how my bench actually looked like a bench! And as an added bonus, it was sturdy enough for me to sit on!

Step 11: Finish- I painted the bench with a nice cream color I found in the "oops" part of Home Depot. I attempted to turn the paint into chalk paint, which did not go well, possibly because the paint was "oops" paint in the first place. But the end result wasn't too bad:

Complete tutorial of how I transformed a broken thrift store dresser into something beautiful and functional. #BeforeAndAfter #BeforeAndAfterFurniture #FurnitureMakeover #Dresser #FurnitureFlip #Furniture #ThriftStoreFurniture #DIY #AButterflyHouse

All done!!

I also made a cushion for the bench; you can find the tutorial for that here!

In Conclusion...
This is the most difficult furniture project I've attempted so far. At the beginning, I wasn't sure how it would turn out. I worried the bench wouldn't be stable, or I'd screw up cutting the top, or I'd get halfway through and realize there was no way I could complete this successfully. But it all worked out, and even if there were things I'd do differently (hello giant, heavy, unnecessary door), I'm proud that I completed this at all. Have you ever had a project that you were scared to start? Did you finish it? Inspire me!

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