As you might have realised by now each time we stay in Italy for a bit we put ourselves in the position of doing some huge diy project that we manage to finish just few days before leaving. I am not complaining, at all: we love the things that come up like that, at the very end, without planning, just hard work and fun.
So before moving to Australia one of the various projects we tackled was a media console for Matteo’s mum.
If you’ve been following this blog you know that we love some good thrift store find and what better than a 35 euros dresser! It was sitting there, in the middle of the store and I immediately thought it was the perfect piece, exactly what we were looking for. My mother-in-law wasn’t completely sure, but we assured her that we could create the perfect addition for her house, and after a bit of thinking she accepted.
You might notice in the first picture that there is huge mirror behind it: well, that came with the dresser, which must have been used in a bedroom. Of course we weren’t going to use the mirror, but it come home with us anyway.
The dresser is made of solid wood, except for the bottom part of the structure and of the drawers, which are all made of a thin plank. The wood though was not painted, but veneered, and the brow-reddish colour made it look really cheap. So of course we knew we wanted to give it a fresh paint.
But first we had to pimp it up!
We didn’t like the legs. The overall shape was fine, especially since it gave the dresser a lighter and airy aspect, but what bothered us was the decoration on the central longer part: the vertical grooves didn’t fit with the design. So of course we decided to try to eliminate them and make the legs as smooth as possible. We tried by hand with some sandpaper, but it was almost impossible. So we tried with a file but of course this would create to many angles and the leg wouldn’t be nicely rounded anymore.
So we headed to our friends at North East Custom where Matteo used their lathe. Working at a very low rotation of the machine and with the help of a file first and later of various grits sandpaper he was able to achieve the best result! [Matteo knows how to use a lathe since he studied the procedures at high school. One should always remember to use protective equipments while working with that kind of machines, especially when dealing with harder materials such as metals].
We knew that in one of the drawers Matteo’s mum would set a dvd player, stereo and other stuff connected to the tv. So we thought that it would be nice to try to create an easier access to these devices. We decided to modify the top right drawer and make the front panel open downwards. After removing the from panel with the help of a jigsaw, we reinforced the bottom of the drawer. Matteo glued the thin plank to the corresponding grooves and then added a leftover board of OSB wood. He glued it and added some side screws on the side; and once dried he stapled the original plank to give more adherence.
We opted to reattach the front panel with some snap hinges. Unluckily though we didn’t have the right tool to create the indent for the hinge to fit properly, so Matteo used his imagination and handiness. After various measuring he drilled several holes creating the perfect shape for the hinge. In order to prevent the holes from being to deep, Matteo added some tape to the point of the drill: this trick helps you stopping at the right point, once you reach the tape. He then screwed the hinges and the drawer was ready to go. You might probably notice that there a thin slice of drawer missing: Matteo had to cut off the bottom and sides, to create more space for the front panel to open properly. And he also varnish the rough part so to create a smoother and protected surface.
That same drawer and the back of the dresser had to undergo another minor modification. We needed to pass the cables from the devices inside the drawer to the back of the dresser and attach them to the tv and to an electrical plug. So of course we had to create an opening: Matteo drilled two pivot holes and then with his jigsaw cut off a little square.
After that we had to disassemble the tiny handles and the corner decorations on the drawers. All of them are made of brass but had a sort of ageing effect. We decided to try to bring them back to their original aspect. So Matteo, with the help of a polisher and a lot of elbow grease, passed each and every single part until they were bright and shiny. I then cleaned them thoroughly with water and soap and let them dry overnight. At that point they were finally ready for a quick varnish with some matte spray paint. The varnish in fact prevents the metal from oxidising and helps keeping the handles clean from fingerprints.
And finally the last step before the real fun part: prepping the surface for paint!. Since this is veneer we just sanded the entire dresser with a sander and some thin sandpaper and made sure that the surface was rough enough for the paint to stick properly.
And now stay tuned for the second part….
p.s.: we didn’t have an immediate use for the mirror, so after leaving it lying around in the garage for a bit we decided to sell it. So the dresser turned out even cheaper!