Cheap and Sleek to Rough and Rustic

2 Materials
$50
2 Months
Medium

My daughter in law asked me to make over a couple of night stands for her for her birthday, so I said "sure!" Then she asked "can you make these look rustic?"
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
  ummm....sure? She picked them up on Craigslist on the cheap- I think 30 bucks for the pair. They were solid and heavy and the drawers were in perfect working condition.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
There was water damage around the perimeter of both tops that had swelled the particle board underneath. Stay with me because they look nothing like this when done!
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
I had luan left over from my stick tables, so I cut 2 pieces to fit each top. I glued the luan to the top of the nightstand using construction adhesive and then secured with brads. I put heavy objects on top overnight while the glue dried so that nothing lifted or warped. I then patched the brad holes with wood putty and also smoothed out the seams on the outside edges. When the putty was dry, I sanded it all smooth.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
After removing the original drawer pulls, I used wood putty to fill the holes. I then measured and drilled the holes for the new cup pulls.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
My son came down to help and we cut Beadboard to fit the sides and nailed it on. We then trimmed it out using wood lath. He sanded everything to smooth all the rough edges.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
Each of the drawers was trimmed with paint sticks, also left over from my end table project!
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
I put a base coat of chalk paint in a charcoal grey on everything. Applying petroleum jelly (the dark spots in the picture) to all the raised edges and corners makes sanding to distress it much easier after its painted.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
I also painted on patches of Elmer's white school glue. Once the glue was tacky, I painted over everything with white chalk paint. The glue causes the paint to crackle. If you go to Elmer's website and search crackle paint, you'll find a tutorial
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
Dry brushing is a technique that requires little paint and a light hand. Dab the tips of the bristles in your paint and tap them off on a paper plate or towel. Lightly drag the brush across your surface. Do this in layers until you like what you see. This is a case where less is more. It's hard to take it off and easier to just layer it on lightly. So I added some lighter grey.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
Then some brown, followed by quite a bit of white. The layers imply age and the item having gone through several paint jobs over it's lifetime. You want those other colors to peek through your primary color. Once I had the paint layered the way I wanted it, I sanded all the raised edges to distress it further. Everything was sealed with 2 coats of matte polycrylic.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
Added the new cup pulls.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
Cut some burlap to fit inside the drawers and sprayed with starch so the edges didn't curl.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
This project took several weeks working on and off. The painting was the most time consuming part because there are so many layers.
cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
But, in the end, she got rustic, and they sure don't look anything like the ones she brought home! I had a lot of the supplies I used on hand. The rough out of pocket for what I didn't have is about $50.

cheap and sleek to rough and rustic
Not too shabby! Well.....actually pretty shabby!

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Why did you put brads on the top then fill in the holes? Im just curious to know if they were decorative then you didn't like the look? Or were they to hold the top on?

    • Barb Orthmann
      on May 25, 2018

      Insurance! The luan was also a little warped so I added the brads to make sure nothing lifted while the glue was drying

  • Annie
    on May 24, 2018

    What is luan please

    • Barb Orthmann
      on May 25, 2018

      yup- useful because it's very thin and didn't bulk up the top too much

  • Teana Thomas
    on Jun 29, 2018

    Did you sand the top before putting the luan on?

    • Barb Orthmann
      on Jun 29, 2018

      No- just cut the luan to fit and glued it down. Followed up with a few brad nails for security and then stacked books on top until the glue dried to make sure it all stayed straight.

Join the conversation

4 of 45 comments
  • Mikie
    on May 28, 2018

    Ya Knocked it outta the park! If ya'll keep make'n this stuff look so good, the companies are gonna start make em look like this at their manufacturing plant's. What then? Ha!!!! Ya'll are gonna have ta start modernizing thing's. Neat job, 10-atta-girls.

  • Cynthia Clarke Saulter
    on Jun 22, 2018

    I have five old desks that are made from partial board. They will not sell and can't give them away! They are very well made and very heavy. I have been trying to figure out a way to redo them! I had not thought about Luan. That is so perfect! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

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