Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The Making of a Nightstand for Baby Girl

I am so happy to announce that I am FINALLY FINISHED with this nightstand, and it turned out just as I dreamed! I'm so glad I went the DIY route with this one. It was most definitely a labor of love, and it came with quite a few challenges, but I feel a great sense of pride knowing that I created it for my baby girl.

I didn't always know I'd use this particular table for a nursery nightstand, though. In fact, when Victor and I went to IKEA a couple of weeks ago to get another Hemnes dresser for Max's new room, I was also on the hunt for a cute little nightstand/side table for the baby's room. I considered getting one that matched the dresser, but since it was $99, I figured I could find a cheaper option. I found Max's nightstand at the local vintage barn that I love so much for $45, and I loved the look of it. Another chalk-painted piece seemed fitting, so I thought I could try to find something at the barn.

Then I remembered that my late maternal grandmother's old sewing machine table was just collecting dust in a spare bedroom. It needed some serious TLC, but it could be beautiful again.
The top was in really rough shape.
With my mother's blessing, I decided to chalk paint it myself. I've never used chalk paint before, but one of my aunts is a chalk painting pro (for realz, she has a cute little shop in Cincinnati where she refurbishes old furniture. She's quite talented), so I consulted her for advice. I decided to use the brand of paint she sells in her shop, Chalk Country Paint, and she helped me find the perfect color I was looking for: a light, minty green. "It's Jade" was the one I decided on, and she shipped it out to me.

As I waited for the paint to arrive, I got to work prepping the table. It's super old--so old that my mom remembers it in their house when she was a kid. I needed to remove the hinges and take off the flap-style flip-up doors, which proved to be quite difficult. I tried to no avail to get the ancient screws out of those hinges. Then Victor came home and removed them without breaking a sweat (likely because I had already loosened the screws for him...). One of the hinges was missing a pin, so I found similar hinges at Home Depot, but it turned out they weren't the right width, so I couldn't use them. I took off the table top, as well, as it was missing a screw. I wiped everything down with a damp cloth in preparation for painting, then set up shop in the basement (I normally would've done this project in the garage, but it was so cold outside that I couldn't bear it).

Chalk painting is nice because you don't need to do any real prep work before you begin painting other than a good wipe-down of the piece. No sanding or priming required. I quickly added the first coat on Saturday during nap time.

I swung by Home Depot on Sunday to find new knobs and some sort of solution to the missing hinge pin dilemma. Victor and I thought of using a nail to serve as the pin, but we later decided that wouldn't work since the hinge sits up and away from the table and the nail could slide out. I needed something that fit snugly. I thought some thick wire would work, so I hung out in the picture-hanging aisle and shoved various gauges of wire into the hinge (so important to bring your stuff with you to help shop!). A 14-gauge wire fit the bill! I came home, changed my clothes, and got to work adding the second coat of paint, and I also cut some wire to fit into the hinge and put it into place. It worked perfectly!

On Monday after playing in the snow, I lightly sanded the entire piece using a 220-grit sanding block, then dusted it with a dry cloth. 

I did some Googling to figure out how to clean off the hinges; they were all completely tarnished and looked almost black, but in a few places I could see some hints of brass peeking through, so I knew they could be pretty again. I first tried a paste of baking soda and vinegar, which sort of worked, but then another trip to Google suggested just plain vinegar. After a few hours of soaking and some serious scrubbing with a metal brush, the hinges looked good as new!

Nicole Curtis of Rehab Addict would be proud!

Unfortunately, the screws didn't fare so well. It turns out they were not made of brass like the hinges, and they totally rusted out after being soaked and scrubbed. 

On Tuesday during naptime, I waxed all surfaces of the table and its components using Minwax Paste Finishing Wax (Chalk Country Paint has their own recommended brand of wax, but my aunt said I could save a little money and use Minwax and get the same result). I decided to do two coats of wax since the first coat was a little streaky. I simply used a foam sponge to apply the wax, then once it was dry, buffed it with a soft dry cloth. It left a nice, satiny finish.

After naptime on Tuesday, Max and I headed to "the tool store" (aka Home Depot) to return the knobs i bought on Sunday/search for smaller ones and find some new tabletop and hinge screws. We were armed with some original rusty screws and one of the table's doors to help with comparisons and sizing. I still had the new sets of hinges that I had previously bought and decided that if I couldn't find anything else that would work or if the prices didn't match up, I'd just use the screws from those hinge packs. Max and I found some cute glass knobs and some perfect screws for the tabletop. I found some screws for the hinges that would work, but they came in packs of 6 and I needed 16 screws. Instead of waiting to return the hinges and purchasing 3 packs of screws, we headed home with the hinge packs (which had exactly 16 screws).

After Max went to bed on Tuesday, Victor helped me reassemble the table. We hit quite a few unexpected roadblocks at this point in the project:
  • The screws for the knobs were too long for the doors. Luckily I have a handy husband, and he used some heavy-duty wire/bolt cutters to cut them to size. 
  • The screws from the new hinge packs were slightly longer than the original screws (which I was aware of), and two of the screws poked through the top of the wood on the table (they worked fine in the doors). We removed those screws and decided to use the old rusted ones (after I wiped them off with a cloth, which helped a little. I Googled how to remove rust from metal, and one popular suggestion was to use vinegar. Since vinegar was what caused the rust in the first place, I opted against that solution).
  • When we were attaching the last couple of hinges, we realized we were missing a screw! To troubleshoot, we used a screw from one of the original wooden knobs, which was slightly bigger and longer than the hinge screws and was difficult to install--it later broke in the hinge! Luckily the coats of paint on the doors helped hold the hinges in snugly, so a missing screw wasn't the end of the world.
  • As I was attempting to add the last screw to the last hinge, we learned that a screw must've broken off in that hole since I couldn't get the screw into the table--so a wasted effort was made in replacing the screw in the first place!
  • When it came time to attach the table top, the screw wasn't attaching well to the tabletop in one location due to the fact that the tabletop was warped, so we shifted the top over a bit and made new contact points with the tabletop.

Finally, after about 45 minutes (I was expecting the reassembly process to take close to 10 with no snafus), the table was completely reassembled and she looked divine!

Admittedly, this is not a project I would typically take on. I like projects that can be done from start to finish in one sitting. This one took 4 days. That's a monster test of my patience. Had I not needed to work around nap schedules and such, I probably could have done it all in 2 days. I give a lot of credit to the people who do this process on huge pieces! Needing to remove old hardware made this project a bit more difficult than I anticipated, so perhaps a future project with no disassembly/reassembly required will be less time consuming.

In the end, I'm glad I took this on and came across a few issues in the process. Being a stay-at-home mom is rewarding and challenging in itself, but it was nice to be challenged in a different way and be able to use my problem-solving skills.

Doesn't that gold Target lamp just look precious on that sweet table?

1 comment:

  1. How sweet! Don't you love when a DIY project comes together so well?!


Please leave a comment! I would love to hear from you!