harmonizing bedroom dressers and night stands

Part of the fun/charm of moving in with a partner for the first time is the combing of your worldly possessions that, often, don’t match.  Between the 2 of us, we managed to have 2 night stands and 2 dressers.  Every one of them had its own style & color.  I’ve wanted to do something about it for a long while now.

Finally, I decided to pickup 2 shades of blue paint in the same family so they will look cohesive, without being overly matchy.


  • $24 for paint
  • $3 for sand paper
  • $0 for old dressers and night stands


  • small night stands took about 1.5-2 hours EACH!  sanding really took a while.
  • dressers took about 2-4 hours each with all the sanding, prepping, and painting.

-room before-

-night stands: before-

-night stands: after-

-Night stand #1 & #2 + Dresser #1 & #2-


Plant shelf


  • $0 for shelf  (already had)
  • $0 for paint (left-over )


  • 1 hour

The shelf I had painted previous was actually only 1/2 of the original shelf.

The other half had been sitting on the side of our dining room, looking quite confused without a purpose.  We had used it to just pile on stuff that didn’t have a home and hide all the homeless stuff in the big closet before guests would come.  Finally, an ah-ha moment came.

I am going to put my herb plants on it.  The plants have been sitting on the cabinet in the kitchen, toward the side that’s hard to reach and getting too much direct sun.

I painted the middle shelves the same brown color as the dining chair.  Then, I tried using the blue paint I had for the side panels.  The blue I have is really too light and looked weird on a wood shelf in the dining room.  I then performed custom blending that I’m so *good* at… NOT!

plant shelf

Fortunately, gradually adding the darker paint into the lighter paint was the key to control the color change.  It also created better blending.  I’m quite happy with the shade of blue it ended up…. matches with the new blue carpet we got for the living room.  maybe some day I will do a post of apartment tour.

Until then… our newly trimmed herb plants are sitting quite nicely on the painted shelf.  The biggest pot is the newest addition — Tomato plant!  I can’t wait to start harvesting.

plant shelf (2)

plant shelf (3)

Small table/shelf for the Water Closet


  • $3 or $0… part of a large chunk of stuff I got from a guy in a moving sale

  • $0 for paint (left-over )


  • <1 hour

A new feature in this apartment that I never had in any previous apartments was the separate bathroom (with tub and sink) and water closet (just the toilet).  I was told it is a very “San Francisco” and “charming” characteristics.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I bring reading materials when I “do my business”.  There’s got to be a place to set down the materials when you need to.  However, with our small space, it needs to be something with small foot print.

SO, I’ve been on a search for that perfect little table.  Finally, over the past weekend, I found it in a moving sale!

Small blue stand (1)

It was used outdoor with planters on top of it.  There was quite a bit of rust, especially on the tray.

Small blue stand (2)

After cleaning & painting, ta-da!

Small blue stand (4) Small blue stand (3)

I left the pole section the original color to provide a little contrast.  Now we have  a little “table” in the water closet! 🙂

Small blue stand (5)

Updating bookshelf + arranging books by colors


  • $0 for bookshelf (inherited from an old roommate)
  • $0 for paint (left-over)


  • 2.5 hours

Our apartment was painted with a lot of cream wall colors & white trims through out.  It’s nice and  serene and makes white furniture disappear.

I have inherited a large white bookshelf from an old roommate years back.  It’s a nice size and decently built  but definitely showing its age. While brainstorming what color to paint it with by using what I already have, nice boyfriend suggested “grey”!  Perfect.  I have black, and I have light blue and white.  Isn’t grey just black mixed with a lighter color?

So the great mixing process began.  Hand mixing paint colors reminded me of mixing baking batter without recipe.  You have your base of whatever already in the bowl.  Then, you slowly pour in the additional ingredient.  Too much, your cake won’t rise.  Too little, you cake tastes funny.  My mixing bowl looked like this:

Grey bookshelf (3)

Oh, forgot to mention that before any paint job, you need to prep your surface.  That means sanding, wiping with damp towel, and taping the edges so you don’t paint over the area that you don’t want to paint.  This is also my least favorite part of the painting.  It’s time consuming, and I’m much more interested in taking my paint brush to the object.

I decided to go with grey on the exterior to the bookshelf while leaving the interior white so the color wheel that I am going to organize the books by will stand out.  To be clear, I didn’t invent this method.  I saw it on a HGTV show sometime and have been wanting to try it.  Here is my top 3 reasons why I think it’s a good idea:

  1. Visually Appealing: organized colors make the space look more thought out, instead of just piling books on your shelf.  Would’ve been even cooler if I had a horizontal shelf.

  2. Discovering new books: sure, organizing books by subject makes perfect sense.  I had been doing that for as far as I can remember.  It’s great for finding a book that you already know you’re looking for.  But what happens to the other less-favored ones?  When will they ever get read if you don’t pick it up?  This way or organization throws you in an unfamiliar order and forces you to pick up more books.

  3. Why not?  I’m not operating a bookstore or a library here:  It’s really not like I have seas of books that I need to reference to all the time.  Besides, it’s in my own space.  As long as the 2 people living here are happy with the arrangement, it’s all good.

Adding a small detail to make it more interesting, I also painted the very bottom black.  It kind of reminds me of the ‘exposed legs’ of couches/sofa/love seat.

After painting, I left the shelf to dry for hours.  I touched up some of the backing with white paint I had because there were scratch marks.  The colors weren’t really a match.  Oh well… the books will color them.

Shelf finally dried.  I sanded it with super fine steel wool for the finished look.  Then the great arranging began.  I arranged the books by colors first.  Then within the piles of the same color, I divided them by shades.  Having a color wheel image near by was pretty helpful.

Here is the finished look!

Shelf 003

Making a Basic Upholstered Head Board


  • $12 for 1/4″ plywood
  • $20 for fabric
  • $27 for extra loft batting


  • about 30 min for putting it together.
  • probably an hour of shopping
there's quite a bit of ranting & rambling in this post.  be warned.

Our bed recently got upgraded from sitting on the floor to having pallets underneath.  Yep, pallets.  Why pallets, you ask?  Well, the basic metal bed frame squeaks & I always have a fear of falling through the middle.  So, I prefer to have my bed sitting on a solid foundation, i.e. the floor, or platform.  Since our bedroom is large but not quite big enough for a platform bed, we kept brainstorming.

I initially grabbed the first pallet when we went wine tasting. My grand vision was to make a headboard out of 2 pallets.  Wouldn’t that be really rustic and creative?  1 pallet grew to 2 (thanks to a willing and helpful bf).  Unfortunately, the 2 did not match!!! oh darn!  1 pallet was just too narrow standing behind the bed by itself.

After more pallet hunting & brainstorming later, I decided to make a upholstered headboard instead.

Trekking out to Colma from SF (I know, such a LONG 8 mile drive!), I was happily browsing away in Jo-Ann.  I had decided that I needed 72″ of fabric.  Not bad.  However, I somehow thought the prices I saw was per foot, instead of per yard (yes, quite silly, but that just showed how inexperienced I am at buying fabric… and also made me miss being in a metric-based country, where calculation was simply moving the decimal point!).

Anyhoo…, foam also turned out to be quite expensive (well, expensive in the sense that I was still in my false yardage calculation state of mind).  I took the advice of a store staff to go with the extra-loft/thick batting and get the thickness by using a super large sheet and fold it a few times.

Finally I got all my components home.  🙂

The assembly process was surprisingly quick.

Step 1: wipe down the plywood.  It was pre-cut at Home Depot when I bought it.  They will do the first 2 cuts for free if you need it.

Step 2: iron the fabric.  ahhh, pretty coral pattern.  I think it’s not too girl-y.

Step 3: fold the batting as many times as I could to cover the board & staple it.  I did this process quicker than I expected and had too much fun to take pictures.

Step 4: staple the fabric all over it.  Try to make the fabric as smooth as I could.  Ta-da!  I got a headboard. 🙂

Painting an old IKEA shelf


  • $0 for shelf (already had)
  • $0 for paint (left-over)


  • 1 hours

What to do when you take a very basic tall stacked shelf that’s lacking back support?

Unstack them and keep them low to the ground!

Sand, paint, *holding breath to not inhale toxic fume*, flip, and paint again.

Picture 187

Let it dry & sand it down lightly with steel wool.

End Product – shelf for DVDs and speakers.

Picture 192

Reupholster Basic Chair


  • $0 for chair (already had)
  • $0 for paint (left-over)
  • $3 fabric from garage sale
  • $9 staple gun


  • 2 hours

This chair has been in my bf’s family for many years.  In fact, he recalled the time the chair was last reupholstered when his older sister owned it in college.  Well, that was 10+ years ago.  As you can see, the fabric is torn as some place, and the print on the fabric, well, is not exactly what I see working for our new place.  (For anyone that knows me, you can see that ‘French country’ isn’t quite my style).

I’ve been wanting to practice upholstering for a while, and this is a great starting point.  I’ve watched tutorial videos online.  This seems like a very straight forward project.  Slowly, I purchased my first staple gun. *yay!*  and found a large amount of fabric I like at a garage sale.

Step 1: remove the cushion from the chair.  It was held together by 3 long screws.

Step 2: sand the chair with sand paper/block & wipe down with damp towel.

Step 3: Paint the wood chair frame itself with black paint.  Unfortunately, this was ‘rust resistant’ paint with LOTS of odor.  yuck.  Beggers can’t be choosers, I suppose.

Reupholster chair (9)

Step 4: Remove the fabric from cushion.  There were many staples on it that was quite time consuming to rip the fabric off of. 

Step 5: cut the new fabric to a shape bigger than the cushion.  Line up the cushion on top of fabric.

Step 6: start stapling the fabric onto the cushion.  The corners are a little tricky.  It took me some arranging & rearranging to grab the fabric in the way that it had the least amount of folds.  Reupholster chair (1)

Step 7: put the finished cushion back on the painted chair [when the chair has dried completely].  Screw the long screws back in.  and Viola!