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How To Repurpose a Dresser into a TV Stand
While skimming through Pinterest one day, I happened upon this picture from apartmenttherapy.com.
When I bought my condo 3 years ago, I bought new furniture to fit the space and style I had picked for the downstairs, but for some reason I just couldn't find the perfect stand for under the TV. So for the past few years, it's been sitting on an eyesore of a wire shelving unit that has been everything from shelves, to a desk, and everything in between as I moved around during and after college.
My Current Eyesore
I think I was waiting for something long enough that the TV was proportional to the stand (which is harder to do for a 55" Flatscreen than I thought it would be), and didn't feel super low to the ground. So I sat on my couch, looking from my makeshift TV stand in front of me (Pictured Right), to the pretty blue image on my screen thinking, "I could make that!"
I like the idea that it would be longer, and decently high, as well as have drawers to hide some of my, uh, clutter that accumulated on that area. I'd probably have to get rid of my old CD player from High School, but all I do is play my ipod through it anyway and could buy a cable to do that through the TV or get a little dock and speakers.
What You'll Need
- Wood to create shelves
- Flathead Screwdriver (or paint key)
- Paint brush (to get in the cracks)
- Men's knee high socks or rags
- Top Coat
Find The Dresser You'll Be Transforming
After a few Pinterest searches and some googling, I had an idea of what I wanted my piece to look like. The first week I went into every Goodwill Store and Savers that I passed on the road, only to realize that they didn't have the best options, and I was wasting my time. Craig's List was actually where I struck gold. One search in my area literally brought 2,500 results ranging from single dressers for $25 to $2,000 full bedroom sets. Granted, many were in less than stellar condition or weren't the style I wanted specifically, but I did find something that spoke to my sense of style and vision of the project for only $60.
Amazon General Finishes Java Gel Stain
Plan Your Piece
Here's the fun part: envision the piece and how it will look transformed. Consider the color you want to paint or stain it, what drawers you'll remove, and a general view of how you want the finished piece to look. Most of my furniture is a dark, chocolatey, Pottery Barn brown, so I did some extensive research on stains. Online I discovered really high praise for General Finishes Java Gel Stain, which people said you just had to lightly sand the pieces instead of fully strip them because it has very opaque coverage. It's kinda like a cross between paint and a stain the way it feels. The other Home Depot gel stains were much more watery and gave thinner coverage, so I decided to order it online (it's not carried at most of the major home improvement stores) and see if it was as great as the reviews said.
Strip Your Piece
The white paint on my Craig's List dresser was really thick. I didn't want any white showing through, so despite the fact that the General Finishes container just said to lightly sand the surface, I tried to strip off the old paint first for good measure. It didn't want to come off easily. I tried two different Home Depot paint strippers as well as a soy based one (which worked the best, but was still not an easy task). Finally, I gave up on getting the white off, decided to trust the reviews, and moved on to converting shelves into drawers.
Convert Drawers to Shelves
This next step depends a lot on the structure of the actual piece you are working with. In my case, I wanted to leave the top drawers, convert the two middle ones to shelves for my DVD player, cable box, and Wii, and then keep the bottom two drawers for CD's/DVD's. I also pulled off the little adornments on each side and the bottom and then hammered in the tiny little nails that were holding them on (they broke off when I tried to pull them out with pliers, so hammering them flat was the next best thing). The way my Craig's List dresser was constructed, putting in the two middle shelves meant removing the entire back of the dresser because of angles and opening width. Since I didn't need a woodgrain to show through, I used MDF boards for the shelves. Using a skill saw and jig saw, my little brother and I cut the shelves, and then ran a router along the outside edge to mimic the detail groove at the top of the dresser.
We decided to countersink screws to attach the shelves. From the underside of the shelf area, we used the end of a large drill bit to create a groove in the supporting "beam" so that the screw head would sit flush and not be visible from the front of the TV stand. Then we screwed up through the beam, into the shelf at a slight angle.
Since we had removed the back off the dresser to get the shelves in place, it meant putting a back back on or leaving the drawers open to the back wall. I decided to use a very thin sheet of wood to create a back to the shelf area, but to leave the rest of the area on the back open since the TV stand will be backed up against the wall. On the back of the shelf, we cut a hole about 2 inches for cables and cords to pass through. The area behind the drawers is open to the back of the wall in case I want to feed any charging cables into the drawers themselves after I get everything moved in to the stand to minimize clutter on the top surface.
Paint/Stain Your New TV Stand
Here came the moment of truth - would the original white paint become a problem? General Finishes Java Gal Stain recommends 3 applications, so don't freak out like I did after the first coat like I did.
General Finishes Java Gel Stain After 1 Coat
A few things to keep in mind if you're using the Java Gel Stain:
- Go with the grain of the wood with your strokes - the stain will mimic a woodgrain on your piece.
- Use at least 3 coats, letting it dry 6-8 hours in between applications
- Wear rubber gloves - this is a stain and is much harder to get off your skin than paint! My loofah got a workout after my first coat, and I had some raw spots on my arm from where I'd bumped the dresser and got paint up my arm.
- Apply the Gel Stain with a knee high men's sock. It gives a much easier way to get in the cracks than a rag, and protects high on your arm so you don't have to take off your skin with the loofah. And if you don't have a men's tube sock laying around, go buy them. I did half the project with painters rags that I already had sitting in my garage, and I wish I'd just spent the money at the beginning, because they were so much easier.
Apply your stain until you get the desired look for your project, letting it fully dry in between applications. Since the gel stain is thick, you can get globs and runs if you're being sloppy. I had one run on the front, and when I tried to sand it down the whole thing pulled off. I was able to just stain over it a few times to cover it up. Go in long strokes, with the grain (or the way the grain should go). It will leave a little texture in the way you wipe it, so resist the urge to rub in circles or at an angle.
Put a Top Coat on Your Dresser
For the topcoat, I used General Finishes Gel Topcoat. To apply the topcoat, you want a really smooth finish. The first attempt I used a mini roller with too much nap. For this step, you want to look for something that specifies bathroom/cabinets/really smooth surfaces. I found a lttle roller kit for under $10 that had the mini roller, tray, 2 foam rollers, and two soft smooth nap ones. The foam mini roller worked beautifully for me. It made me wonder if next time I'd try a roller instead of wiping on the stain - we'll find out when I start the next project that this one inspired (recessed wall shelves for shoe storage by my garage - you saw where they'd been living around the bottom of the TV stand). Roll on your top coat and let it dry thoroughly between coats.
Optional Awesome Detail: Cover your Drawers in Fabric
So I thought I was finished and brought my new TV stand in the house. But I just kept thinking maybe I should have painted all the drawers to that the piece was entirely finished feeling. But I wanted some color and whimsical surprise to the drawers. I thought about colored paint, I thought about wallpaper. But ultimately the idea of Mod Podging fabric struck me the most. I went to my local craft store and bought 3 different fabric rolls (mainly because I couldn't decide on just one of the patterns and justified it by the fact that I have 3 different drawer shapes, why not have each be unique?) and hard coat Mod Podge. Armed with my sponge stick, I wiped on the Mod Podge, adhered the fabric, and cut to fit the shape of the drawer as I went. The Hard Coat Mod Podge takes a long time to dry, but is safe to wipe with a wet cloth once it is cured - and I liked that aspect for cleaning ability. After everything was covered with fabric, I applied another top coat over the fabric as a sealer. This takes away the fabric texture and almost makes it feel more paper like, but again, I like that I can wipe it off and it makes it feel like it is part of the piece.
The After Shots:
Remember my before photo with the old TV stand? Well here is my after shot. I'm working on running the TV cords through the wall, but ran into something since the wall backs up to my stairs and it's gonna take cutting and patching drywall to get them completely hidden - so please just ignore the visible cords!