Stanley Chest Before & After | Vintage Furniture

This chest... Such high hopes for this little Stanley piece, but alas, it ended up being one headache after another. Before I go into details (and warnings for other furniture refinishers), here is the before and after.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Stanley Chest Before and After
Elizabeth Burns Design | Stanley Chest Before and After

It started off well. We cleaned, primed, and painted as normal. I loved how the paint color looked. It was the perfect shade of off-white.


I sparyed the hardware an oil-rubbed bronze and then highlighted the features in gold dry-brushing.

Elizabeth Burns Design

Still smooth sailing at this point. The last thing to do was a clear coat for protection and this guy was ready for a new home. I painted the clear coat with polyeurothane (mistake #1) at night (mistake #2). When I looked at it the next day, I found that my clear coat was streaky, had turned the color of melted butter, and looked terrible.

Elizabeth Burns Design
Elizabeth Burns Design

Ugh. So we did some research and found out that ployeurothane is not the right finish to use on light paint colors; you should use polyacrylic. All of the other furniture projects I have attempted were darker colors, so this was never an issue. The only option is to sand down, re-prime, paint, and clear coat. Ain't nobody got time for that. So it will stay as is - an "aged/antiqued" finish. Lesson learned.

*UPDATE: Some nice lady bought the piece to create dog beds out of the drawers. All is well in the world.

Craigslist Luxe for Less - Pink and Gold Dresser

For a while now, I have had my eye on this dresser. I love the design, the big gold pulls, and the soft pink color.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser

However, the $2000 price tag is something I could do without. While browsing on Craigslist one night, I came across this dresser. It had good lines, ample storage space, and I knew I could re-create the above look for next to nothing. This little gem was a whopping $40.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser
Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser
Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser

The existing hardware was okay, but the center pull was broken in half and I knew just the perfect hardware to create the high-end version I had in my head. D. Lawless Hardware was kind enough to send these amazing Solid Brass Ring Pulls for my project. They are just as pretty in person as they look online! If you are ever in the market for furniture or cabinet hardware, I cannot recommend this company enough. They have the best selection and the best prices around. I have ordered hardware for two kitchens and have been totally impressed with each order.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser
Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser

The piece of furniture is laminate, so it ended up taking two coats of primer as well as two coats of paint. I used Sherwin Williams Intimate White. It is a really pretty, soft peachy-pink and is actually the same color of our previous office/guest bedroom.

Sherwin Williams Intimate White - Elizabeth Burns Design
Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser

After multiple coats and quite a bit of soreness later, this little Craigslist dresser has a brand new look!

Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser
Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser
Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser

And here is a little side-by-side before and after action.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Pink and Gold Dresser

I am thinking this slightly pink dresser will be great in our future office. With the ample storage space and pink/gold accents, I think it could be pretty fabulous, but Brian may disagree... What do you think - would you have pink furniture if you shared a home with a male significant other? ;)

Chest Before/After | Vintage Furniture

My poor little blog has been awfully boring these days. Spreadsheets, floor plans, and budgets do not feed the creative mind, so today I thought I would go back in the archives and show a fun before/after of a little vintage chest of drawers we refinished a few years ago while we are waiting for the fun parts on the Myrtle House.

This cute chest was a $50 Craigslist find. A previous co-worker (also an Interior Design major) actually bought the matching dresser. That is Craigslist teamwork right there. It was pretty solid and only needed some paint.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Black and Gold Dresser DIY

Loved that Greek Key detail.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Black and Gold Dresser DIY

So here is the part where I went astray. You see, I was trying to prove to my neutral-loving self that I too can be bold. I can have brightly colored furniture in my house. I am capable. Well, I was wrong. Here is our first attempt. NC State red!

Summer 2011 017.jpg

If red is right, I think I want to be wrong. Fail. This is the part where I look at Brian and say, "Sorry, I know you love red, but this has got to go". With a sigh, we take it back outside for round two. This time around, I went with my gut and stuck to a more neutral palette of black and gold.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Black and Gold Dresser DIY

Red is not easy to cover, my friends.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Black and Gold Dresser DIY

The finish came out with this really neat antique finish with slightly crackled paint. Probably because we had painted the heck out of it.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Black and Gold Dresser DIY
Elizabeth Burns Design | Black and Gold Dresser DIY

This little guy now has a new home thanks to Craigslist. So in your opinion, would have you kept the red? Or are you a neutral gal like me and prefer the black?

Craigslist Luxe for Less - Nursery Edition

So, since this week has seemed to be all about Craigslist, let's continue with this topic, shall we? :) The older (and hopefully wiser) I get, the more I refuse to shop at actual stores for home items. When we bought our first house, my motto was: no matter the cost, it has to be perfect. Well, this ultimately led to a lot of stress and strain on my wallet. Next go around, it will be different. I am going to try and buy almost everything second hand to 1. save money and 2. be a bit more friendly to the environment and local economy. Don't believe me when I say you can find awesome deals on Craigslist? Well let me prove you wrong! Here are a few finds on CL and their much more expensive, new counterparts.

Exhibit A. Changer

Elizabeth Burns Design | Craigslist Luxe for Less

I adore this changer. The lines, the unique hardware, the PRICE. Your baby will be out of diapers soon (maybe not soon enough for your liking) and spending $2000+ for a changer that does not convert to a dresser does not compute in my head. Tack on an extra $50 for paint/supplies to this bargain piece and you have a brand-spanking-new pretty fancy changing table if you ask me.

Exhibit B. Crib

Elizabeth Burns Design | Craigslist Luxe for Less

I love a classic Jenny Lind crib. Those spindles! This $20 crib is a steal and I don't even know if I would paint it. I kind of sort of love that off-white cream colored goodness going on. And, it is $20. Compared to it's $840 custom-made twin, it is the deal of the century.

Exhibit C. Armoire

Elizabeth Burns Design | Craigslist Luxe for Less

Armoires are great for a nursery since they provide so much storage and can hold your little guy/gal's clothes if you are short on closet space. The lines on this Craigslist armoire are gorgeous, and I think with a bright coat of paint and new hardware, this gem could shine again. You could even remove that wood detail at the top if you are going for a slightly less traditional look.

So have I made you a believer yet? I hope so as I plan on continuing these kinds of posts. :) Plus, if you are in the Raleigh/Durham area, let me know if you are on the hunt for an item. I will keep an eye out for you in my searches! Also, if you have a house filled with refurbished treasures, please send me your photos/links!

Craigslist Part 2: Selling

On a whim, I decided to sell most of our furniture. I was getting tired of having so much stuff, and I kind of like the idea of finding items from scratch for the Myrtle House (especially since that part of NC has so many amazing furniture finds). It feels SO good to get rid of unused furniture that is just collecting dust. Therefore, I have a few pointers on selling your furniture on CL. If you missed Part 1: Buying, here is the link!

1. Buffer your price
Everyone loves and has come to basically expect an awesome deal when buying off of Craigslist. This being said, know what you really want to get for your item, and then add a bit on top. If you want $200, list it for $250 or $225. People are going to want you to lower your price, and this way you will still feel comfortable with the price and the new owner will feel like they got a bargain. It's a win-win. You can always lower your price later on if it doesn't sell right away.

2. Take lots of detailed photos
There is nothing worse than when you go to get an item and realize it is not at all what you expected. A lot of times, buyers will back out. Make sure to take lots of photos of all angles.

3. Be honest
Is there a crack or tear in the item? List it in your description. It says a lot about a seller when they are honest about the imperfections. Plus, this will eliminate any potential problems upon pickup.

4. Try to meet in a neutral place
While I like to assume everyone is a decent person, this is not always the case. If an item is easily transportable, agree to meet the buyer at a public, well-lit place. This way the person will never know your home address in case he or she is a little crazy.

5. Hold your ground
Unless you have to sell, hold off on accepting low ball offers. Usually the person will either come up on their offer if they really want it, or another person will pay a better price. Sometimes multiple interested parties can start a sort of "bidding war" on your item and make closing the deal more time-sensitive in their mind. I like to say, "I have had multiple emails about this piece, so I probably will stick close to the asking price" when I get low offers. Usually works like a charm!

6. Add lots of product information
If possible, list all of the manufacturer bullet points. Always make sure to include the dimensions, too. I try to do a keyword list on the bottom of the ad to catch any random searches. For example, if you are listing a buffet, try adding console and sideboard to your description in case a potential buyer searches differently than what you might call it.

7. Offer delivery
If you own a truck or larger vehicle, sweeten the deal by offering to deliver the item if the person is somewhat nearby. A lot of people these days drive compact cars and may have a difficult time figuring out how to get that gorgeous six drawer dresser home in their Prius.

One of the items I am selling is this Campaign Dresser. Do y'all remember the Campaign Craze that happened a few years ago? Finding a Campaign was like finding gold. :) I have someone coming to "look at it" (grr, hate this!) tonight. Hopefully it goes to a good home this evening as I do NOT want to lug this monster back up the stairs. Drexel Heritage made some heavy furniture!

Elizabeth Burns Design | Tips for Selling on Craigslist

Craigslist Part 1: Buying

I am on Craigslist more often than I like to admit. I have a love for old furniture and repurposing items, and as you know Craigslist is the mecca for getting a bargain on a vintage piece of furniture. I thought it would be fun to share what I have learned over the years when buying on Craigslist and how to score the best deals.

1. Check often
Things have been selling so fast on Craigslist, so you have to be willing to put in the time to check often. I like checking first thing in the morning and late at night. A lot of times people post after work and you can usually check out the fresh inventory at this time.

2. Creative keywords
You may know that you are on the hunt for the perfect Campaign dresser, but the owner of your perfect dresser may have no idea of what it is called. Instead of only searching for "campaign dresser", trying searching for "old dresser gold hardware" or "Drexel heritage dresser". You may be surprised by how many other viable options popup and usually at great prices since the owner probably doesn't know what he/she has on their hands.

3. Travel
Sometimes it is worth it to travel to a neighboring town to get the perfect piece. If you live in a big city, the price on a piece of furniture is usually marked up higher than if you were shopping in a smaller town. I have saved hundreds by travelling an hour outside of the city.

4. Generic searches
While time consuming, doing a broad search can sometimes lead to great results. I searched "old bed" one time and after sorting through the hundreds of results, I found an amazing solid wood antique bed with curved headboard. Your treasure can be another man's junk. Put in the time and reap the rewards.

5. Haggle - to an extent
Craigslist is all about getting a deal, so it is important to to negotiate for the best price, but don't be insulting. If an item is listed at $600, chances are they will not sell the piece for $100. When making an offer via email, I like to use this wording: "would you be willing to take $xxx?" or "would you be willing to consider $xxx?". To me, if you just throw out an email reading "I'll give you $xxx" it can come across as rude and the seller may not want to deal with you. You never know, you may be in competition, and being nice goes along way.

6. Pick up quickly
Another way to close the deal on the piece you really want it to let the seller know you can pick up ASAP. Usually the person is moving or needs it gone, so the sooner you can declutter their home, the better.

7. Don't go "look" at an item
This is a personal preference, but I HATE it when someone wants to come take a look at an item for sale. If it is under $200, you should be able to decide to buy from the photo or not. Craigslist is not a store, and you should not go into someone's house to decide awkwardly in front of them if their item for sale is good enough. If you commit to meeting, you should just commit to buying.

8. Look at nearby results
At the bottom of the search results on CL, it will show similar items that are in nearby towns. Make sure to check these out! Usually they are not too far away and are often overlooked by other people.

9. Sort by newest
I love how Craigslist is starting to incorporate more filters and options, and the "newest" sort button is awesome. It will bring the freshest inventory to the top.

Any good Craigslist finds recently? Did I miss anything? I will post Part 2: Selling later on this week! In the meantime, I have to share these amazing dining chairs from CL with you that I so so so want. Someone please tell me I need them in my life.

Elizabeth Burns Design | Oval Cane Chairs - How to Buy Furniture on Craigslist