October 18, 2017

Let Them Fly: Dresser Makeover by Up & Coming DIYer


Nov. 2012

“Mom, can I please get my own dresser? PLEASE? It’s not fair that Abby has one and I don’t have any “real” spot for my clothes.”

“Honey, there’s just not enough room in there for another dresser, but we can talk about it after the holidays.”

Dec. 26

“Mom, I am so excited. I know the perfect dresser for my room. You know the one in the attic? It’s a great size.”

“That one is so old. I am not sure if it will work, plus it’s not really after the holidays yet. I said after the holidays.”

Jan. 2


“I know, I know,ย  but I just can’t really think about it yet. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by the thought of it. To actually make room for that dresser, there’s a LOT of work that needs to go into your room. We need to move the table, clear out all the bookshelves and move all your clothes. I just don’t have the time to tackle a new project when I have so many messes everywhere else.Your room is actually the only one that’s nice and clean right now. Can we just kick off getting back into the swing of things and then I promise, we will talk more about this.” (Yes, this is the first time I promised.)

Last week

“Mom, I did it all.”


“Yep, I did it. My room.ย  The table is cleared away. I have three bags of clothes ready for Goodwill, and I made a perfect spot to put the dresser. Then I went up to the attic, cleaned out all the drawers and have the dresser moved away from the wall to paint. I got Joey to help. Come look.”

What can a mom say to precious nine year old girl who has persevered, worked diligently at a task without being asked,ย  and made her dream a reality?

Not much, except for, “I am so proud of you. This is amazing. I can’t believe you did this all by yourself. Let me get a rag so we can wipe down the dresser. It needs to be all cleaned off from any dust or dirt, and then let’s just take a slight piece of sandpaper to the glue stuck on the top of this.” (No matter that is was now nine p.m.)

I was just full of excuses, but she found solutions for each of my delays, even to the point of finding a dresser hiding in our attic that I had forgotten about for years. That old brown dresser was one I picked up at a yard sale when my husband and I first got married. It was our first dresser. When we moved from WI to NC 17 years ago, it went in an attic and has been there ever since.

It needs a new purpose, and she’s determined to love it back to life.

Our children teach us so much about life.

That precious nine year old worked for days to get her own dresser, and she determined in her heart she would not take the easy way out. She didn’t whine to me each day. She didn’t insist that I help her.

She just did it. By herself. It was an amazing thing to watch. Why can’t I be more like that?

That’s one of the reasons I don’t have a good “before” picture. She started on it before I even could get a snap shot and then painted away at night until about ten pm.

I know you’ll all ask what paint we used. Annie Sloan Chalk Paint is the perfect paint for beginners because you just can’t mess it up. There’s no need for priming. You just wash off the imperfections and go to town creating. It’s what I used for my big Pop of Color Hutch Transformation.

We had two sample pots of Duck Egg Blue and my daughter did the entire dresser with just one and a half sample pots. She painted right over the hardware, which I often do as well, but since some of the pieces were missing, I was going to switch then out. She loved it as is (she didn’t want to wait another minute) and I used a few miscellaneous IKEA drawer pulls for the top until I can purchase alternative ones.

She painted the ENTIRE dresser all by herself. Nine years old. I did help wax it to make sure it was sealed well, since this piece will get a lot of wear and tear, but otherwise, start to finish – all her. Our plan was to distress it, but again, she was so excited, she didn’t want to take any more time. We can always do it later.

This whole exchange has reminded me of how our children soar when we let them fly. Their potential is unlimited, and often only held back by our own “No’s.”

The final “staging” pictures show where I had to really let her fly and keep my mouth shut. I tried to have her see my interior decorating ways of symmetry, but she would have none of it.

“Honey, let’s just center your bookshelf right on the dresser. Look how cute that would be. You can put scrapbook paper to dress up the shelves and keep all your special things there.

“Nope, mom. I want the shelf all the way pushed to one side so that I can put this basket on the right side.”

“But sweetie, it will be so much cuter in the middle, don’t you think?”

“No, I want it all the way to the left.”

So I let it go.

It’s a bedroom. It’s her bedroom. It’s her sister’s bedroom. She was so intentional and had such a purpose and vision for that basket, and she knew that if the shelves were in the middle there would not be enough room to put the basket on the side.

I remembered my 31 Days of Good Enough Things. This was good enough. If she wants the shelf pushed to the left, why should I let the incredible lopsidedness of it bother me? It’s not about me having a great “After” shot for my blog.ย  ๐Ÿ˜‰

Every time I walk in her room, it’s a constant reminder of my sweet little girl growing up, and how she wouldn’t take a silly NO for an answer.”

I hope she carries that perseverance with her for when the “No’s” are really tough ones. If she does, she’s going to fly.


  1. That’s wonderful, what a great job she did! She’ll always remember that you let her do that by herself, and it will mean so much. ๐Ÿ™‚


  2. That reminds me of when I was 13 and my parents went ouf of town for the weekend. I’d been begging to change my pretty pink room. I rode my bike to the paint store, used my babysitting money and bought a gallon of gray and some little pots of red, black, and dark gray, rode to Penney’s and bought a gray comforter. I proceeded to rip out my gold shag carpet and rolled it into the hallway (it was too heavy for me to move further and I was scared to tear it into strips plus we had gorgeous wood floors underneath). I painted my baby pink room gray, splatter painted one wall with the other colors (it was the 80’s and splatter paint was very cool). I thought my parents were going to lose it when they saw what I did. They were pretty cool about it and I loved my room. The day I moved out when I went off to college my mom repainted, lol.


  3. I don’t know this precious girl, but my heart is singing at her perseverance and her determination! Her accomplishment has made me so proud of her! Is it illogical to be so proud of a someone you don’t even know? Thank you for sharing photos of her project and please tell her that a lady in Oklahoma thinks she’s amazing!


  4. Way to go E! It is beautiful and really your OWN! Great initiative!


  5. You’ve got a special child, Jen. Love this kid! She needs her own blog. Can’t wait to show this to my nine year old granddaughter.


  6. I think your daughter showed great initiative on her project and she did a very professional job of getting it done. She is one fantastic kiddo!


  7. Beautiful! I wish I were as brave as your daughter. To go for it, dive right in..instead of worrying and wasting so much enery on “what if it doesn’t come out right?!!”
    Thanks for sharing this wonderful post..so much to learn from our kiddos!


  8. That’s a really neat story! What a cool kid you must have! The dresser looks great! ๐Ÿ™‚


  9. Too Amazing! She is amazing but also has seen and learnt how to tackle a project from her amazing mom. Taking risks and learning by doing is something that can be taught, encouraged and fostered in our children. Everyone is born creative!


  10. What do you say to such a precious, darling girl? You say “I am so proud of you! Please don’t forget your dear old mom when you become president”. She did a beautiful job.


  11. What a precious girl you have! Thank you for sharing this story! Its wonderful to see that perseverance and creativity at such a young age! I also love how the dresser came out!


  12. She did such a great job. I love the dresser and, more importanly, her perservance. My children have taught me so much about following your dreams – even when mom is not super supportive.

    Tell her she’s inspired me to paint my daughters’ furniture. We’ve been making over their room but all the furniture has paint coming off – that’s what happens after 4 moves in 4 years. I’ve been dreading the job. But no more….


  13. OhMyGoodness, your daughter did such a great job. I love her spirit!


  14. Great reminder for all parents! And wow, your little girl is sure talented!


  15. Wow! I am SO impressed with her. She showed amazing maturity and did a beautiful job. (And I think she’s right about the bookcase; I like it to the side too. Maybe add one more picture or a tall item to balance it out and it will be just right!)


  16. What a gorgeous dresser, sweet girl, and beautiful story! =)


  17. That is amazing! Can you teach me how to help my son have more gumption??


  18. I think it is wonderful that your daughter got to follow through with her idea from conception to finished product! If she keeps that persistence, she will make it far in life.


  19. Tell her all the ladies are pulling for her to keep her persistence in life. I never had a dresser , a closet or a room, so I am glad she didn’t take No for an answer. I got a bedroom when I got married 21 .5 years later I got a car to sleep in.


  20. I love this! I love how independent your daughter was in making her dream a reality. Now I want to paint the wooden dresser in my room!!


  21. That is AWESOME! I have a 9 year old boy. I hope I do enough to encourage that kind of “get up and go” in him (and his siblings). You’re a great Mom!


  22. Way behind on this post since I’m just now catching up on a few of my favorite blogs, but have to say I love that she did this. It’s wonderful to see someone so young with such focus. And I have to add that I wouldn’t have centered the bookcase either – but mostly because I’m more comfortable when things are a little off balance ๐Ÿ™‚


Share Your Thoughts