Tag Archives: dumpster find

Artsy Antique Dresser

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here – it seems the “scientist” part of our lives has been taking over recently. Nik and I are planning to graduate this summer/early fall, so unfortunately furniture has to take the back burner sometimes. But, we’ve still managed to wrap up a few projects in the past couple weeks, so I’ll write about one of them today.

We picked up this antique-looking dresser from the guy with the huge furniture warehouse in Durham, for $85, which is more than we usually spend on a dresser but it was unique and we didn’t want to leave empty handed from his warehouse, so we went for it.

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Nik started off by removing the weird back panel, and although I was against this at first, I think I like it better without it in the end.


We had discussed doing some varied pattern of paint and stain in the little cut-out sections, so Nik decided to strip/sand the inside portion and the top and stain that, and then just do a rough sand/prime the rest of it. In an effort to save money since the piece cost us more than usual, we decided to go with a strange color that we actually found in the dumpster in our neighborhood earlier that week. It was more than half a gallon of good Valspar paint…flat sheen and a strange mint green color, but importantly, it was free! After testing out different stain options with this paint, we decided on dark walnut – the special walnut was too red, and we thought the classic gray stain with the green paint would look too coastal.


So, on the stain went, then priming and painting! We sealed the whole thing in water-based poly. We had thought about sealing with wax since the paint was flat and you need porous, flat paint for wax to really seal a piece, but we were concerned about wax getting into the little wood carving lines and being difficult to buff out.

Here’s how the finished piece came out, with original hardware:

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And for good measure, a before and after:

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Rescued Piano Bench

Nik found a solid wood piano bench in the dumpster a while back, so we decided to upgrade the bench we have, since this new bench has a lift up lid and area for storage. We’re both piano players, so this will be a place to hide our unsightly piles of sheet music.

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We decided to keep this bench simple, since it was made of lovely wood that just needed some TLC. We first wiped it down, and then Nik and I used the sander to strip off the old finish/stain and water marks – its been too cold to use the stripper gel to get off the old varnish, but some 80 grit sandpaper on our sander got through the old finish pretty well on its own.

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We then did our medium and fine sanding and got ready to stain. The top panel looks like its mahogany, whereas the wood on the legs seemed like something different. Mahogany is a naturally “redder” wood, so Nik experimented with some stains, and found that the top panel would get special walnut, and the legs got a coat of special walnut followed by a coat of red chestnut to match the natural red coming through in the top panel.On the left picture, the left side is the top, and the thin piece of wood is one of the legs, testing out the stain combination.

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After matching the stains, we gave it a few good coats of water based poly, and here’s the finished bench. I think the stain-matching came out perfect!

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(sorry for the grainy pictures, my phone doesn’t like indoor light it seems.)

Weathered Gray Dining Table

Nik dragged this solid pine table out of the furniture dumpster months ago, and we finally wrapped it up on Monday. It started out like this:

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And we stained it with Minwax weathered gray stain and sealed it up:

IMG_1086The legs and table skirt were painted off white:

IMG_1085And we put it all together. One of the legs was missing the attachment bolt, so we figured out how to use some L brackets to attach that leg firmly. Here’s how it turned out:

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Dumpster Dive Table #1

There’s an area in our neighborhood that people can drop off large things they want to dispose of, so Nik and I venture over there to scope it out once in a while. This past week we found a couple of nice tables that we promptly claimed and dragged home: IMG_1222        IMG_1223 The weather wasn’t too bad last weekend, so Nik got to work on the smaller table. He stripped and sanded the top, then stained it dark walnut. We used the blue paint that I had refinished a side table with a couple weeks ago, and then I sealed the whole piece up with water-based poly. IMG_1270                IMG_1268 IMG_1267        IMG_1266 I love the carved wood details this delicate little table has. It was a perfect (free!) weekend project.

Belted Chair

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Nik had found a new treasure in the dumpster up the street (in his defense, it was OUTSIDE the dumpster). It was an interesting old arm chair with nice wooden details in the arms and legs, and Nik was able to look past the puke-yellow-green crusty (yuck) velvet that covered this chair and see something with potential. I let him drag it inside for a picture, and then I shunned the chair to our outside patio.

chair 1Nik went to work stripping off all the old fabric and stuffing:

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After all that, just the bare bones were left:

chair 7Nik painted this in the same color we painted our bar in, a dark blue color:

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Then Nik had the idea of using woven belts to make the back of the chair. We had gotten this idea after seeing an entire dining set at an art gallery in which all the chairs were made out of belts. We made a trip to the Goodwill store and cleared out a fair portion of their belt section, at $1.29 per belt. Nik figured out what belts would go where, and started neatly screwing in the belts to the bottom part of the frame…and then to the top.

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Then he selected belts to go horizontally and he wove them into the vertical belts. They got screwed into the back of the chair as well, and trimmed off with a sharp razor.

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Of course, he had to do a comfort check, and luckily it passed!

chair 17The antique cushion on this chair actually had metal springs in it covered with a weird burlap material, but to make all that metal cushy again, Nik put a layer of batting, a piece of 2″ foam cut to shape, and then another layer of batting over it. The final batting was stapled into the wooden frame of the seat to hold everything securely.

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Next, he put some cushioning batting and a layer of our upholstery material on the little arm pieces, and stapled that in place.

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And finally came the hard part of upholstering the cushion. This was hard because this cushion had no normal straight edges! Through much effort though, we decided how to do it, and had to put a few neat tucks into it to accommodate the curved edges. The fabric was the same material we made our upholstered headboard out of, over a year ago, and it is simple, cheap canvas drop cloth from the hardware store, about $13 for I’d say about 10’x14′ piece of this material.

IMG_0024Here are some pictures of us in the middle of stapling the front down:IMG_1233

And tucking the sides:

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Then we added trim with a hot glue gun over all the stapled areas:

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And here’s the finished piece! Some of the upholstery tucks look a bit funny on camera, but it looks a little nicer in person and most importantly, its very comfortable to sit on!

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This is yet another piece that I was very skeptical about, but as usual, Nik pulled off his creative idea and made a beautiful statement piece!

Green Accent Dresser

On my way home from work, I saw this beautiful dresser sitting by the curb of a neighbor’s house with some other unwanted items. I couldn’t turn down a free dresser, so after getting home, I dragged Nik and his car out to see it. We loaded it up and brought it home.

IMG_0426On another blog, we had seen a piece similar to this. She had stripped off all the veneer from the front drawers of hers, and found beautiful wood slats underneath. Nik was feeling adventurous, and started soaking the drawer fronts and removing veneer. For the most part it came off easily.

IMG_0853And look what was underneath! Wood slats!

IMG_0854We stripped the veneer off the top as well, but the wood here wasn’t in as good condition. The drawers had little worm holes in them which gave it such a unique look. We sanded them down and scraped all the saw dust out of the little holes. Then we stained the drawers with special walnut stain. We sealed the drawers with water-based poly since we didn’t want to get any yellowed oil-based polyurethane in the holes. It worked beautifully.


The top didn’t come out as nicely when we stained it, so we took a step back and decided to resand and paint the top and the rest of the body. I wanted to do a colorful piece, and Nik picked out a vibrant green color to try. After the first coat it was a bit shocking, even with the primer still showing through!

IMG_0576Since we painted the top as well, it was a lot of bright green. We decided to white wash it to tone town the fluorescence a bit.


We sealed the top with water based poly, but since the paint was satin (with a little sheen) we didn’t seal the body since sheen is protective on its own. We went to put it all together, and due to the humidity of the lovely NC summer, the wood had swollen so much none of the drawers fit! We had to sand down the lips of each drawer, and finally we got them in smoothly. We sold this piece for $200 to a couple expecting a twin boy and girl, who plan to use it as a changing table and dresser in the nursery.

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