I found this beautiful, wooden waterfall dresser... OK, it was pretty ugly actually, but I needed a dresser and it had potential. This one was going for pretty much nothing on Craigslist, so I picked it up and started playing dress-up with it. :)
You can see from the pictures that the veneer on the top of the dresser was peeling off. It was the same story on the dresser sides at the bottom where there was water damage. But the refurbishing ideas were brewing....
I'd heard that you could peel off the veneer on waterfall dressers and still have a decent top. So I did it - and immediately regretted it. As you can see from the picture below, under the veneer was warped, cracked, and sorry looking to say the least.
The next idea was to cover it with contact paper. But to do that I would need a smoother surface. So I tried to glue it down, then attempted a sanding and paint job...
...but to no avail. Leaving me with a severely misshapen surface, this dresser was determined to look ugly.
Calling on my clever sister Summer, she suggested I try covering the damage with duct tape and THEN with the contact paper.
I gave it a go.
I was delighted with how well it worked! Seeing that the duct tape was sticking firmly to the painted wood (no peeling up) and it smoothed out the surface, I covered the whole top with a duct-tape veneer.
Yes! Now it was time to test out the contact paper and see how well it stuck to the duct tape.
Beautiful! The contact paper had a bit of a hard time adhering to the back of the dresser (which was NOT painted). Another strip of duct tape just along the edge did the trick (of course, where no one will see).
Time to address the water damage on the bottom of the dresser (thankfully just on the sides). I covered them with contact paper, but seeing that the warped wood showed through the contact paper, I turned again to my sister's brilliant idea...
...and covered every cracked and peeling piece of wood with duct tape!
I even covered the underside of the dresser because it looked pretty sorry too. I was afraid the contact paper wouldn't stay tucked under if it didn't have a good surface to work with.
I didn't bother painting the underside. I simply cut off the pieces that were destined to fall off anyway, cleaned the surface of any dust and splinters, and put the tape right on there. And it worked!
I finished applying the contact paper, using my trusty library card.
The edges got a perfect trim with my never-leave-home-without-it pocket knife.
Once I finished covering the dresser sides with contact paper, I tucked the contact paper up and underneath the dresser sides. And just like I did with the top of the dresser, I tacked on a couple strips of duct tape over the edge of the contact paper to make sure it wasn't going anywhere.
With all the water damage and peeling veneer now taken care of, it was time to make it pretty!
After taking off the hardware and painting each drawer front white, I taped off a thin square on each drawer and gave it a sharp black edging.
It looked a little unfinished, so I grabbed a rubber stamp, dabbed it in black paint and PRACTICED ON A PIECE OF PAPER! Always practice first. It keeps you from making really dumb mistakes and having to repaint your stuff.
The first stamp always blobbed, but the second one looked good and the third looked even better - perhaps a bit distressed. The slight imperfections of the second 2 stamps were perfect!
So I stamped a beautifully *imperfect* row of flourishes across the bottom of my dresser. Press rubber stamp in the paint, stamp on paper (to remove blobs), stamp on dresser once or twice, and repeat!
And that did it! It was finished. I put the handles back on (which already had a great worn finish, almost an industrial look to them) and put it in my room.
See? Much better!
And just so you know, I made this project about a year ago and everything is holding up really well!
Just remember to follow the contact paper instructions... I should have overlapped the contact paper on the top more than just a quarter inch. Half an inch to an inch would have been best since I had plenty of contact paper to work with, and you can't even see the seam in the design across the top.
But everything else - duct tape, contact paper, paint and all - is working out just swimmingly (and with a couple of young kids that love to use everything as a hammer on my dresser, that is saying something)!
I hope this helps someone out there refurbish their water-damaged, warped, or peeling furniture piece that needs a little love. I'm tickled with the way my painted waterfall dresser turned out. :)
Happy DIYing everyone!