When I moved into my apartment 14 months ago, my parents gave me some second-hand furniture from the depths of their house. We raided the attic and pillaged the basement to find pieces that they weren't using to tide me over until I could afford things of my own; I assumed it wouldn't take long before I returned or donated everything I'd been given.
Then reality hit and I realized I had to make peace with stretching the definition of "temporary" when it comes to furnishing my apartment. Any acquisitions I've made since April 2013 have been thanks to Craigslist, curb finds, and yard sales (like the console and side table I picked up from my parents' neighbor for $30) and I've been coming up with creative ways to make cheap and/or old pieces feel like they have a real place in the apartment.
Amongst the hand-me-downs my parents generously passed on to me were a pair of Ikea nightstands from the 80s. One is a cupboard and the other has four drawers, and they both featured bright red plastic handles. They are totally functional, but 30 year old white laminate looks yucky even when clean and the handles were absolutely not my style so, when I realized that I wouldn't be replacing the nightstands for quite some time, I started thinking about making them into my next project.
Over a couple of spring weekends, I took the nightstands out to the courtyard, placing them on sheets of plastic on the grass in the sun. I unscrewed the handles and filled in the holes with spackle. (The holes were 6" apart, and I couldn't find handles of the same width that I liked so I knew I'd need to drill new holes for smaller handles.) As recommended by every Ikea hack/DIY website, I started by sanding the laminate. I then used Zinsser BIN primer to spray paint the nightstands white, using a foam brush to smooth out any drips. Once the nightstands were dry, I put them back on either side of the bed, covered them with plastic sheeting to make sure the new paint didn't get damaged, and started plotting out the next steps.
I really wanted to stencil something pretty on the front of the nightstands. Jon has a different aesthetic than I do so I knew I couldn't pick a design that was too floral or feminine; I emailed him a few options - this one and this one were my favorites - but he really wasn't a fan of anything he saw. In the end, I just stuck frog tape to the front of each nightstand to create borders and then used metallic gray acryllic craft paint, leftover from the wedding signs I made last summer, to fill in the rectangles and squares.
When I texted him photos of the finished nightstands, Jon loved how angular the borders were. I, on the other hand, thought it looked a bit too harsh. So, on my next trip to JoAnn, I picked up a packet of Martha Stewart stencils and a little bottle of white pearl acrylic paint and went to town on my nightstand. The finished product looks fab and it clearly partners the nightstand on Jon's side of the bed even though it has a more gentle feel.
Because of that, I got two different types of handles for our nightstands: a white one with rounded feet from Home Depot for the cabinet door on mine and four gray metal ones with all right angles from Ikea for the drawers on Jon's. They do look like they belong together even though they're not identical and, although the borders and stencils aren't perfect, I'm so proud of my work!