• Empire I Desire

    So… sometimes this happens: You get inspired to revamp a beautiful piece of furniture, you know EXACTLY how you want it to look, you take all of the necessary steps to MAKE your artistic inspiration become a reality, you re-take those steps because the piece of furniture doesn’t cooperate, you re-re-take those steps again because you are stubborn and this piece of furniture WILL be what you want it to be, you drop plan A and go to plan B because you work full time and re-doing furniture IS NOT supposed to be this HARD, plan B also fails after numerous attempts, so you threaten to move to plan C which is…have all of your friends over and roast marshmallows over a bonfire that WAS a dresser once upon a time, BUT you can’t stand the thought of WASTING all of the time and effort you have already put in so you throw in the towel and drive to Tennessee so that someone MUCH smarter than you can FIX what you’ve done, then you LOVE plan D SO SO much that you won’t sell the dresser and you WILL keep it for your own home! (PS I know that sentence defies all rules of grammar!).

    If you remember the previous blog post “Empire on Fire” then you know that Tori and I have been on the hunt for empire style furniture. It is just really pretty, and we both adore the curved lines. I found this guy at a store in Tennessee, and when I say store what I really mean is a building piled floor to ceiling with STUFF that puts all episodes of hoarders to SHAME! Anyways, stores like that are ALWAYS the ones where you find GEMS! I bought this beautiful piece and brought it home.




    The entire dresser was covered in a really WEIRD finish. It was orangey-brown and bumpy. Just strange. The top of the dresser was covered in a veneer. Tori had sent me a tutorial of how to remove veneer from furniture, so I gave it a try. Basically, you pour steaming hot water onto a towel and let it soak. Supposedly, it loosens the glue and allows you to easily peel the veneer right off.


    HA!! Hilarious. That.Does.Not.Work. Nor does an iron, blow-dryer, or heat gun. Maybe it was just too cold outside, but nothing seemed to help. So my husband and I forcefully pried the veneer off, and guess what- the wood underneath was not too shabby!


    This process took hours. Honestly, if my husband hadn’t come over to help I probably would have given up! While he worked on the top, I sanded the drawers and base. I didn’t sand to bare wood, because I knew I was going to paint the piece (Mistake number 1- Don’t take short cuts. They WILL come back to bite you). There were also a few spots that needed wood glue and clamping, so I went ahead and took care of that too.


    My husband obsessively sanded the top of the dresser for me. When I say obsessively… what I really mean is a family of tiny elves could go ice-skating on the top of this dresser, because it is so very smooth.

    The next day I mixed a very pretty creamy shade of paint that was going to be just PERFECT for the dresser. Because I didn’t sand down to bare wood… the orangey-red color of the old finish bled thru this pretty paint color. No matter how many coats of paint and primer I used I could still see red splotches.



    Although I really wanted to try my hand at a “light and airy” piece of furniture, I decided it was time to go to plan B. I went over the whole base in a medium gray color, and I promise you that dumb stain was still visible. Two more coats of light gray and I thought the piece FINALLY looked presentable. In the meantime, I worked on the drawers and top. I mixed up a special formula of stain, and put the first coat on the drawers and top. The top looked awesome, but the drawers had a red tint to them. I decided to try to alter the color of the top by adding some red undertones to the stain mix (Mistake 2- Don’t try to make something you LIKE look like something you DON’T just so that it matches- how illogical is that??). Even after several tries to color match the top and the drawers, they STILL didn’t look quite right together. Oh well. I distressed the base and added the hardware to the drawers and let the piece sit around for a few days. I thought maybe the color choice would grow on me..(Mistake 3- Don’t wait for something to GROW on you. Either you like it or you don’t! Trust your gut).


    Finally, my trusty design expert came into town (My mother-in-law AKA the genius behind Wild Heart Studios Designs). She took one look at the piece and gave her blunt opinion, “I HATE IT!” This is when this image came to mind… burn pile anyone??


    I kept trying to tell her the things I liked about the piece, so that I could convince her to LIKE it. I would even take a C+ on this project just been done with it! (Mistake 4- If you have to rationalize why you like something… you probably don’t really like it. I was just being lazy.) Anyways, she gave me some ideas of how to make the piece more my style. And UNFORTUNATELY for all of YOU, but FORTUNATELY for me- I fell in love with my final design! I guess from now on that should be my gauge of whether or not something is “booth-ready”…. Would I put it in my OWN home?


    I love how this piece turned out! The top is perfectly rustic,


    the base coordinates perfectly with my bedding,


    The drawers are elegant with just the right amount of distressing,


    and the hardware really pops!



    The mirror is also awesome and OLD! The cracks are just divine in my opinion!


    And I’m a little bit ashamed of myself, because at some point during plan D- I KNEW I was going to keep this piece. I even lined the drawers to match the pinstripe on my pillows and bedskirt! Anyways, I am so happy to be done with this piece and I really love the way it updates the character of my bedroom!

    Thanks for reading!