Tips for DIY Furniture

“Creativity is intelligence having fun.”

– Albert Einstein


As a result of some recent life/family events, I have moved back home to my mother’s house.  This move has given me the opportunity yet again to call on my decorating creativity.  Going into this move I knew that a) I would have to move a LOT of things–namely clothes– from a much larger space (an apartment) to a small, condensed, single bedroom, and b) I did not have any money, nor any desire to spend money, for new items.  Therefore, everything that I wanted to put into the bedroom needed to be things I already owned or could easily create, or re-purpose, from my existing pieces.  Oh and I should also mention that I am PICKY… I like all of my furniture pieces to coordinate in some fashion or another.  So, for example, when my mother offered a large extra dresser of hers for additional clothing storage, I knew that wasn’t happening, because it definitely didn’t fit with the rest of the pieces I was planning on putting in the room and I knew she would restrict me from taking any freedoms in refinishing it :).

I should also note that almost all of these pieces that I already had, and needed to fit into the new bedroom, were ones that I refinished/created with the help of my father a year and a half ago (I bought the colorful chair from Overstock) when I first moved into my old apartment.  Here’s a few DIY tips from what I learned through that process, for all you out there like me who have champagne taste and a beer budget (and we’re talking generally speaking my budget hangs somewhere around the metaphorical land of PBR, and my taste is unwaveringly particular).


  1. Get a handy father who has a large space for woodworking, every tool you could possibly need, and a clear understanding of how picky you are.  — No but in all seriousness, don’t be intimidated about using tools. As a girl whose father was and is very talented when it comes to woodworking, I grew up around tools and thus have never had a fear of diving in.  Honestly, more people out there would find they can use power tools if they would just try.  But help is definitely a useful thing, so don’t be afraid to ask friends you know who have tools and experience.  Often people are more than willing to lend their time and knowledge.
  2. The above-mentioned space is key.  You need an area where you can spread out and work at things in stages.  It’s not realistic to think you’re going to get a piece totally refurnIMG_0077ished or built all in one day, or even a few days.  Therefore you need a space where you can ideally let your things out as you work on them.  Trust me, it’ll get annoying to have to pack and unpack them every time.  Even something as simple as being prepared to not park in your garage for a week would work.
  3. Don’t settle for less than what you love.  If you’re like me and one of the reasons you’re interested in is DIY because IMG_0078you are very particular, there is no point in redoing a piece of furniture if you’re not going to love it at the end.  Why?  You won’t use it.  Or you’ll look at it for a few months and realize you want to redo it yet again.  Therefore, even though I’m a huge proponent of going cheap (as I said, PBR budget over here), I do think you should spend a little bit more at times if it makes the piece something you love.  For example, the refurnished dresser and TV/night stand pictured to the right and below both have knobs on them that were definitely not the cheapest options.  Why? Because those knobs absolutely created the IMG_0087look I was going for, and in the grand scheme of things, expensive knobs are not THAT expensive.
  4. No piece of furniture is too far gone to be brought back–be open to when and where and how you can find them.  Many of the building materials or refinished pieces I had in my apartment came from garage sales.  The crates that I have tucked into the corner and stacked behind my door were from a barn.  Those puppies were NOT pretty before I hosed, and scrubbbed, and wiped, them down.  Repeatedly.  The wood my dad and I used for my headboard came from an actual broken-down barn that his friend had.  The nightstand, turned TV stand, turned nightstand again was picked up by my mother from a recycling area.  It was literally someone else’s trash (thank you, mystery person, byIMG_0083 the way).IMG_0024
  5. A coat of paint goes along way.  And sometimes, 5 coats of paint goes further.  Seriously, it can work miracles.  For my garage sale bookshelf, all I did was paint it.  Repeatedly.  The bookshelf started out looking dingy and dirty (yes I did clean it before painting it) and old, and then wah-la!  Five coats of white paint later, and picky me is okay with putting it in my house.  Trust me people, paint is like magic.  This even applies to decorative accessories.  Throw a little paint inside some dollar store mason jars, and all of the sudden they don’t look so cheap anymore.

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So, the biggest hurdle that I found that I was somehow going to have to make it over, was the issue of where exactly to go with all of my clothing.  I am definitely a lover of clothes, no doubt about that, as future blog posts and my friends will attest to, sooooooo needless to say, I filled the two walk-in closets in my previous apartment with ease.  Therefore, the one wall closet in my current bedroom was causing more than just a little headache as I anticipated moving home.

The first key thing I did was go through my clothing (one of my favorite activities actually), but of course I always somehow manage to have an insane amount remaining even after getting rid of what feels like an entire wardrobe.  I knew I was going to need another piece of furniture in addition to the dresser and the small closet.  And I also knew, as I said before, my mother’s dresser wasn’t going to cut it for me.  This room needed to be 100% my space.  What does one do when you need another dresser, don’t like your mother’s extra dresser, and have no money for a dresser you might like?  Why, you fashion one out of a bookshelf of course.  Honestly, I like my bookshelf closet-dresser better than a normal dresser.  I can see each individual stacked item of clothing in it, so I won’t forget I have it, instead of the black hole that my dresser drawers always seem to end up being.  Now clearly, I’m a closet kind-of-girl.  If I could have all those clothes hanging again, I’d be in paradise, but for this space and this time, my new piece is quite perfect.  All I had to do was buy a curtain (thank you Target for having a clearance on the curtain I loved–yay $12), find a hammer and a few nails, some hemp string, and there ya go.  ALL of my clothing stored.  ALL of my clothing accessible.  And ALL of it hidden away in a manner appealing to the eyes.  Now that folks, is a success.

     IMG_0022                        IMG_0023

Take a look ladies and gents, this is the new abode.  One apartment condensed into one room.  I’m not going to lie to you, I love it.  Yes, yes you should be jealous.  Oh and, to give credit where credit is due, my amazing father also made the floating shelves on the walls for me for Christmas (matched the stain to my dresser, the smart guy) as well as framed and stained my standing mirror.  My heart applauds him for his work.

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                             IMG_0015             IMG_0016IMG_0017                    IMG_0027                IMG_0021                 IMG_0018  IMG_0019      IMG_0020                                       IMG_0014

Hugs and love,

Maggie Mae

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8 thoughts on “Tips for DIY Furniture

  1. Well written 🙂 Thanks for sharing . Nice post overall
    love the quote

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  2. Hi. I came here from your comment on Hi Sugarplum. Your bedroom looks amazing. I have moved from a large house to a 2 bedroom small cottage so may have to pinch some pointers off you. Thanks for sharing, and all the best with your blog!

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