Hi Friends! Can I just say that this has been one of the biggest transformations that I have ever seen in a before and after of one of our projects?! I can’t believe the change! I’m so excited to take you through this process and fill you in on all of the details. Let me start off by saying, my husband did most of the labor here, minus the painting and staining. Had I drilled in all of these boards, we may have had some crooked night stands. I mean, you guys have seen my measuring skills in the past. I was just the commander in this project…telling him what to do when and where to put what. He is just the sweetest…and knows there is payoff coming his way, lol.
These are the nightstands that we started off with. I found these at a thrift store, years ago for about $30 for both of them. I painted them years ago and they were well loved for quite some time but I was ready for a change. I wanted something original and well built. I feel like I can’t find things that are affordable and well built in the stores these days, so we decided to change up these puppies. This older furniture with dovetailed drawers is made so much nicer and sturdier that what they make today. The boxy shape was perfect for the project that I had in mind.
Supplies List: (Affiliate links are used in this post to assist in finding supplies used)
Project Furniture Piece
I removed all of the hardware and the drawers. I started by sanding the front edge of the dresser with my hand sander. I wanted to get all of the paint off of the part that would be showing in the future. I knew that we would be covering most all of the dresser with birch plywood so this is the only part that I needed to be stripped. I painted a fresh coat of paint on each side of the night stand because as you will see later on, the sides are showing a bit in between the wood pieces.
My hubs then removed the bottom of the nightstands since we were going to be replacing the legs.
We picked up the smaller sheets of birch plywood from our local home improvement store in size 1/2″ thickness and my hubs stripped them down into the sizes that we needed. The birch plywood is a little pricier than other pine plywoods but I wanted something that was not going to suck the stain and in that regards, leaving the stain color a lighter tone. I’m so glad we paid a little more and went with the birch plywood.
After my husband measured and cut all of the pieces of plywood that we needed for the drawer fronts, tops, bottoms, and sides, I used this Old Barn Milk Paint Stain in color “weathered” to stain all of the boards. I only stained the front/top sides and the sides of each board, as the back side would not be showing because it will be attached flush to the dresser. I have to say that this is my favorite stain that I have used thus far. It has NO SMELL and it’s non toxic! Can you believe that? I think anyone would appreciate getting rid of all of those nasty chemicals and smells from other stains from the stores.
We had the plan all laid out in our minds of what we wanted to do with the nightstands before we started so my hubs knew that he needed to cut pieces for the sides and fronts and so on and so forth. I wanted the tops and the bottoms of the nightstands to come over the edge a little so he cut them a 1/4″ larger on the fronts and the sides before attaching them. He used adhesive to attach the boards and then finished attaching them with trim head screws. These screws are amazing because they don’t require a pilot hole. As you can imagine, there is a lot of screwing going on when putting these together since most of the nightstand is covered in new wood. “That’s what she said”… I just said it for you because I knew you were thinking it. The first boards that he attached were the side boards, followed by the tops.
After we had the sides, tops, and drawer fronts all attached. He attached the legs to the bottom. He did use longer trim head screws to attach the legs for extra support. The size of the screws will be unique to each one’s project, as board sizes and thicknesses may be different than ours. After measuring where we wanted them, (I wanted them lined up with the outer edge of the vertical piece of plywood going up the side and aligned with the front facing) he used screws to attach them to the piece of plywood that he had cut for the bottom of the dresser. Then we flipped the nightstand over and applied adhesive to the bottom piece of plywood that had the legs drilled into it.
He then used the same trim head screws to drill the bottom piece of plywood into the dresser, making sure none of the screws went too far in, where they would run into where the drawers would slide in and out.
Prior to attaching these strips of wood to the drawer front to appear as they were separate drawers, we painted the drawer fronts black so that any space showing through would appear as though it were the dark space in between drawers. I just bought a sample of black paint at our local hardware and we used a foam roller. Before he put the drawers in, he attached them with adhesive and then drilled in each piece to the front using a trim head screw under where each pull was going to sit. This allowed for the process to go much quicker and easier than gluing each drawer front, clamping, and having to wait for the glue to dry before we went to the next step. The hole on the front is hidden under each pull.
He them used a small piece of metal, tied to the end of a jute string and hung it down across the front of the nightstand as a way to mark where the edge of each hardware piece needed to be placed. The pulls here are set in 3.75″ from the edge for the drawer front. This is where the nightstands would have looked like a fun house or Dr. Seuss book, had I drilled in the hardware. I wanted the pulls to appear as though they were in the center, which made it a little more difficult, as exactly centered per measurement would have made them “look” lower than eye view of centered. My hubs used the string for the side measurement but mostly “eyed” what center would be to place the handle. They turned out perfect! He used this same process to attach the label holders in the middle front too.
These nightstands were a lot of measuring, screwing, gluing, etc. You know what I mean. Get your minds out of the gutter, lol. I think they were well worth the work but remember I was watching and conducting most of the time. I think my hubs enjoyed the process minus his sore back. To finish them off, I used some dark wax on the sides to tone down the white paint and I think it works perfect with the antique look that I was going for.
I love the look of old map cabinets and I’m sooooooo happy to have this map cabinet look of our own! The pulls and label holders were so affordable. (linked in supplies list at beginning of post) I thought I was going to have to spend a fortune on hardware but it was actually the opposite, they were such a great price! I showed how I made the labels and antiqued the paper on my IG stories and will add it to my saved stories there if you missed it. I may eventually add a tutorial here on my blog but for now, you can catch it there.
I would love to hear what you think of our mid century modern nightstands turned map cabinet nightstands. Thank you so much for stopping by! If you ever tackle this project, I would love to see it! Tag me on IG (@vintageporch). Happy Day my friends!