Sarah's Room

A New Pink Dresser

For months, we'd been on the lookout for a proper dresser for Sarah. Her wardrobe is now substantial enough to warrant full-size shelves, and the piddly little corner dresser was no longer cutting it. We scoured our options, looking for a dresser that:

  • Had classic/antique lines, to fit in with the charm of The Manor. It didn't have to be 1900's proper, but we wanted something old-ish looking.
  • Was easily accessible for a 4 year old. We needed something with drawers she could reach (no standing on a step-stool, please) and drawers that easily opened and shut.
  • Made of solid wood, with good construction. We didn't want it falling apart after a few years. 
  • Was under $200, since -- come on -- she's 4 years old.

After much searching on Craigslist and through antique stores, we scored a great find. It was a little knocked up, but had great bones. I also loved the curved front.


Unfortunately, in my haste to get started, I didn't get a great "before" photo. Instead, you get the "in progress" photo below.

This was my first experiment with painting furniture, and it was moderately successful. There are a billion furniture-painting tutorials on the web, so I'll spare you the blow-by-blow process. Suffice it to say that there was a lot of cursing, a lot of extra coats of paint, and ultimately, the purchase of my very first power tool -- an electric sander.

I gave the existing hardware a quick coat of spray paint in a coppery-bronze color, along with countless coats of primer and soft pink//peach paint. The results was a very delightful dresser, fit for a very happy 4-year old.

A Month Later...

I've had a firsthand chance to see how the realities of a painted dresser stand up to the fantasy. Here's what I've found:

  • There are already marks on the top of the dresser -- some crayon, a few scuffs from legos dragged across the top. Overall, it's stood up pretty well, and I think that it would look pretty close to perfect if I cared enough to spend five minutes with a magic eraser. (But I don't.)
  • The drawers are such a tight fit on this model that multiple coats of paint were too much in some places. A few chips have appeared, and the bottom left drawer is REALLY hard to open and close. (We put the "too big clothes" there, so we don't need to open it very often anyways.)

Overall, I'm really happy with the result -- it looks a bit shabby chic-er than I wanted (I would never choose to have scuffs and chips) but it does the job.

A few years from now, I may take another crack at painting it -- I learned so much from this experience that I'm sure a second go-round would result in significantly improved results. Maybe when I have confidence that crayon marks won't appear every other week..

Small Updates

Home improvements at The Manor have stalled for the last few weeks. I attribute this slowdown to three main causes:

  • I've been working crazy hours. With my new office space and a new employee, plus a last burst of travel, I haven't been home nearly as much as usual.
  • The kids are out of school and that means a lot more "quality time." Basically, they are constantly in our personal space and that isn't particularly conducive to swinging a hammer.
  • It has been f***ing hot, and I refuse (on financial and also sadomasochistic grounds) to turn the A/C on. It's hard to see the potential glory and grandeur of your home when you are sitting in a sweat puddle. (Thanks to Bill for that endearing term.)

Nonetheless, we plod on.

Last weekend, Bill and I walked through the main floors of our house (not the attic, because it's hot like an oven -- or "hot like a turkey being cooked" as the kids say) and made a list of all the things we'd like to do to each room. It took several pages and included things as big as "gut the kitchen" and things as small as "remove dead bugs from window wells". 

So we picked a handful and got to work.

Sadly, the kitchen renovation wasn't at the top of the list. Instead, we chose small items that could be accomplished with a minimum of effort and perspiration. (Did I mention that it's sweltering down here?)

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It began in the linen closet, where the overhead light had been too high for me to reach. For the last three months I have been rummaging around at night in the pitch black to find random things that had been stored in the closet. So first on the agenda was tying a pretty ribbon to the cord so that I can reach it without hauling out a stepladder.

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Next on the list was organizing the closet. I whipped out my sadly neglected label-maker and got to work. (While there are still a few more organizational pieces to add to this closet, I'm generally pleased with it's progress. Now we'll see if the blue towels can be successfully segregated from the beach towels...

Oh, and Bill fixed the bi-fold doors that keep coming off the track. I think we'll eventually replace them with something else (curtains, maybe?) but for now they do the trick.

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Then Bill tackled the much-awaited crib removal from Sarah's room. We had converted it to a toddler bed, but since she is thoroughly enjoying her new big-girl bed, we decided it was time. I wanted to move it straight into Bill's office (which I am determined to turn into a nursery "just in case") but Bill wasn't on board. Instead, he dismantled it and stored it up in the attic. From here on out, you will note that he's especially sweaty after braving the top floor.

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There is still so much to do in her room that I'm ashamed to share photos. But we're trying to be thoughtful about new furniture. She will need a proper dresser and a desk, but we want them to be something vintage (circa 1910) that we can refinish in a modern palette. Once we get those bigger pieces in place we can decide on toy storage and lighting. Oh, and we intend to eventually replace the carpet with hardwood. 

One small thing we did, however, was to put up her "art pocket" -- a series of 4 vinyl pockets that she can showcase her latest artwork in. I hope this will help us tame some of the clutter around her "drawlings" -- so far it is a hit.

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And last but not least, we finally got around to removing the religious decor that the previous owner left. This one is a mixed outcome -- our walls got barer (which is already a problem) but we don't have random Gothic portraits of bibles confronting us at the top of the stairs, so I'm going to call it a win.

What's Next?

The weather forecast says it will be in the mid-90s with thunderstorms every afternoon for the next week, so I don't anticipate the sweat issue to abate any time soon. I think we've talked Jason (the least squeamish member of the family) to remove the dead bugs from the window wells -- so that might get checked off the list next.

As ever, I dream of renovated kitchens.

Big Bed, Tiny Girl

Rather than jump from the toddler crib to a twin bed, we went all out. Or rather, Bill's parents did. They bought a full size antique four-poster canopy bed for Sarah's birthday, and we finally got around to putting it up in her room.

It's massive.

The photos below don't do the size of the bed justice -- it almost scrapes the overhead fan, and when we originally set it up catty-corner on the other side of the room it took up at least 1/3 of the floor space. She is just a tiny lump in the bed during nap time.

Fortunately, there was exactly the right amount of space to wedge it into the nook on the far side of the room. (There is less than a quarter inch of space on either side of the bed.) It overlaps the window, but is much less overwhelming. Plus, she can only fall off one side now.

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At some point, we'll upgrade the tiny dresser to a more formal version -- maybe another antique piece that we can refinish? Oh, and a bookshelf. And maybe a better lamp.

We'll also get a proper set of steps so that she can get into bed at night without having to scale the industrial step stool. Also on the list is a detachable bed skirt -- right now there is no easy way to cover up the gaping hole underneath the bed. I'm thinking that some combination of command hooks and velcro will do the trick. 

Don't command hooks and velcro *always* do the trick?

She would probably love for me to put some frilly fabric over the canopy and down the sides. At the moment, however, all I can think of is the cat climbing up the tulle and getting caught in the canopy. Then all hell would break loose as we tried to free her from her fabric bondage, and we'd have to remove the entire thing to prevent a nightly recurrence.

For now, the cat will just have to stay on the bed proper.

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