Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Bedroom makeover: armoire

As part of the second phase of the bedroom makeover project, I decided to do something with the laminate brown clothing armoire at long last. I'd resisted because it doesn't belong to us (it may belong to our landlord, or maybe was just left by some previous tenant), and I didn't want to sink too much time into something we don't own. But after spending so much time painting and doing other things that also couldn't come with us (and concluding that we'd probably be in our apartment another year or two), I decided it was worth the time to make this less of an eye sore in the bedroom. I should note: it's really not that terrible a piece of furniture. It's just that the room is small and already has a lot of dark furniture in it (including a matching set of two dressers and a night stand, which I love). Of course I'd love to have a normal closet and to ditch the armoire, but that's not an option so I figured I may as well spend a few hours making it prettier.

Last fall I'd already done a quick improvement, which was to slap some white contact paper on the door panels to lighten things up a little bit. I decided I liked the idea of white (a lighter color helps to make a piece of furniture look smaller), so I was leaning toward just painting the whole thing white. But I wanted to add a little visual interest and maybe experiment with a new technique, so I did some googling of "white armoire" and found a few designs that I thought might work well with the shape and style of my armoire:

(Somewhat hard to tell from this photo, but this stencil pattern is very similar to the one above, just smaller)

I decided I liked the larger pattern better, and because it was done by someone who blogged about her experience (including linking to a template for the stencil pattern!) I basically just followed her process. I picked up a quart of off-white semigloss paint and a pint of light gray paint (Ace "Platinum"). Really I should have primed as a separate step (especially for something laminate, where I couldn't sand the surface), but since this piece won't actually need to live through a move - it's a permanent resident of our apartment, unlike us - I decided to be lazy and get a paint and primer in one. Definitely not advisable if you want something long lasting that will stand up to wear and tear, but it fit the bill for a relatively quick makeover.

I applied two coats of the white then let it dry overnight. Then I printed the stencil template (here) and traced it on the door panels using a pencil. Basically the template fits against itself like so, and I left about 1/2" between each:

(Thank you to Jones Design Company for the template and explanatory photos)

Then I used a small brush to fill in the 1/2" lines with the platinum paint. I did two coats, and I really wish I had photos of the stenciling in-process. Basically, I thought it looked awful and uneven the whole time(especially as my hand got progressively more claw-like as the hours passed...), and then when I finished I stepped back and thought it looked amazing. Jesse - the blogger responsible for the project that inspired me - reports having the exact same experience, so I just warn you in case you try a similar undertaking. Actually, I find this about many of my projects: in-process (especially when paint is involved), it can look like a terrible disaster up until the moment it is finished, dry, and you take a step back from crouching right in front of it and obsessing over the details. So I definitely encourage patience and cutting yourself some slack for small issues that can only be seen if you smush your face right up against the finished project (which, let's face it, few house visitors tend to do). That's actually probably some advice I could/should generalize to most things in my life....

Anyway, here's the finished result (with a "before" reminder first, which at this point you've seen a billion times in my other bedroom makeover posts):

I'm pretty pleased! For a few hours of work, I think it's a real improvement. And it makes a big contribution to the overall bedroom makeover project.


  1. That is gorgeous!! You make it sound so easy!!

    1. Thanks! I'm aiming to capture much better the challenges of various projects now that I'm doing them with the knowledge that I have a blog. For everything I did before January of this year (which is a lot of the projects I'm now posting about), I didn't realize I might one day be writing about them so I have a paucity of "in progress" pictures. I imagine it's much more entertaining to read about/see the disasters along the way!