Monday, 3 September 2012

It's NOT Spearmint, it's EAU DE NIL!!!

About a month ago, Significant Otter and I helped a friend of ours move house. It was one of those slightly unorganised, chuck-everything-in-a-van-and-hope-for-the-best moves, where several bits of furniture that were deemed too bulky or knackered to survive were left behind to take their chances with the next occupants.

Among the newly-orphaned pieces was this chest of drawers:

"Save me", it seemed to cry....

Battered and bruised, it had loyally held the socks and pants of several studenty males over the years and deserved a dignified retirement.

So I decided that I would take it home and rehabilitate it.

"It'll be great!" I cried, lovingly stroking the cracked veneer and trying to avoid the suspicious stains, "I'll sand it all down and take off all the handles and fill in the holes and put new vintage ones on and paint it duck egg blue and use it to replace that IKEA thing in the bedroom"
SO was not so sure. "You won't", he sighed, "you'll never get round to it and it'll sit in the house taking up space and bruising our shins until we wish we'd just left it here."
"But it's SOLID WOOD", I declared, bringing out my trump card. If there's one thing I know about furniture (and there literally is only one thing, and this is it), it's that if it's solid wood you have to keep it and cherish it and never let it go because it might as well be made out of unicorn hair and fairy dust.

After a lot of eye-rolling SO decided that lugging this ridiculous thing down the stairs, emptying out a load of stuff that was already in the van to make space for it, then driving it round to our house and lugging it back up a load more stairs was going to be a lot less painful than arguing about it any more.

After a few weeks of its temporary internment in our kitchen, it became clear that SO's prediction was becoming horribly true, so after I had barked my shins on it for the 15468724th time  I decided it was time to evict the cats from the drawers (they were very pleased with their new feline apartment building), and do something about it.

So, one trip to B&Q later, SO had an electric sander and I had a tin of the most middle-class paint I have ever bought - Laura Ashley Eggshell in Eau de Nil. We also had a ton of plastic sheeting, bought on my insistence after it became clear that SO was planning on using bedsheets as dust catchers ("It's ok, I'll wash them afterwards.")

SO erected a Murder Screen, which made the kitchen look like something out of Dexter:

SO - Not Doing A Murder

....and he happily sanded away.

For about four hours.

While I filled in holes with wood filler and accidentally threw white spirit in the toaster. I was quite glad of the Murder Screen myself at that point, as SO didn't see my little accident. It brought the chrome up a treat.

Several hours (and one exploded sander), later, the chest of drawers was denuded and I was happy.

SO was not so much:


Neither was the basil plant on the windowsill, which was COVERED in sawdust. As was the winerack, the sink, the radio, the dishwasher and everything else that was on the Murder Screen side of the kitchen. Planning. SO does not have it.

The rest of the process was easy-peasy (and therefore I did most of it). One coat of white undercoat/primer, two of the Posh Paint, and one of Matt Satin varnish. Top tip - make sure you get water-based eggshell emulsion - it washes off the floors. And the walls. And your hands. And your shoes. And the cat.

Then all it needed was some posh new knobs (arf), which we sourced from This mail-order shop is based in Wales, but when the handpainted ceramic drawerpulls (I'm saying drawerpulls because every time I write 'knob' I have to stop to snigger), arrived it turned out they were made by Gisela Graham in  SE17, so we had unwittingly supported a local company after all.

And here's the finished product:

Even SO admitted that it was worth all the hassle in the end. Despite his insitence that it came out 'looking all spearmint'. It's not spearmint, it's EAU DE NIL.

I'm really pleased with how it's turned out, and it is now in the bedroom lording it over all the inferior furniture. I want to paint the whole house to match.

I reckon it probably cost about £60, a lot of which was kn.....drawerpulls, which were £2.50 each. And posh paint. You could argue that I could have bought something brand new for that much, which wouldn't have (as I later discovered), slightly sticky drawers where I really should have sanded down the varnish, and which wouldn't have given SO the Black Lung after spending the best part of a weekend inhaling sawdust, but where would be the satisfaction in that?


 In other, Lemur Lady news, check out my new large wallets. Card pockets, a bit for change, and more space for gubbins than you can shake a stick at. More designs on the way!


  1. Your chest is LOVELY :D And so are your knobs! :D *snigger*

  2. *snork*, thank you. My drawers did indeed scrub up well.

  3. HAHAHA ^^

    i am lol-wheezing (in dust-sympathy) and clapping at your spectaular efforts!
    i wish i could share my own murder room pictures. i really am beginning to think we are the same person...

  4. I am also beginning to think you and Fiona T are the same person.
    Come to think of it, I've never seen you both in the same room at the same time?

  5. It's probably a Very Good Thing that you are all the way up in Northern parts so that our DIY genius is evenly spread across the UK.

  6. oh but p.s. Where are my manners?
    I do think you have lovely pretty drawers.
    Well done.

  7. oh seriously, this captcha is IMPOSSIBLE! i am just guessing here

  8. I KNOW, right? I don't know why Blogger insists on writing its captchas in Klingon, or Venusian or whatever it is. I can only apologise on its behalf.

  9. omfg i LOVE this post <3 <3 <3 AND your classy drawers!! and attractive knobs.

  10. Thank you. Mother always told me that a lady should have classy drawers.

  11. Brilliant stuff - I once did up some old chests of drawers when I was a student. The main difference, though, is that you appear not to have fucked it up.

  12. glorious drawers and I don't think fionaT has ever erected a murder screen. I think I would like one in my kitchen just as decor.
    lilipopo x

  13. Hahaha Jay I am exactly the same!! I LOVE these drawers! I tried to make something similar today but it all went really wrong. I was too eager and didn't wait for the primer to dry before adding the paint. AND I didn't choose Eau De Nil...What was I thinking? instead I chose duck egg, it just isn't the same. Do you have any tips for fixing it? Should I just sand it down and start again?

  14. Um....I'd like to be able to give you lots of useful advice but to be honest when I did this I just Looked It Up On The Internet. If it was me, I'd probably just paint over it all again in the other colour, but that's mostly because sanding is quite traumatic....