My oldest daughter Tessa has reached that phase that all three year olds inevitably go through… she wants to play dress up. All. The. Time.
So when I saw the Pinterest projects floating around the interwebs of old entertainment center units being transformed into toddler dress up stations, I kept a sharp eye out for a worthy candidate for my little princesses.
It was only a matter of time till we found a gaudy oak beauty at a Goodwill for $5. We nabbed it without thinking twice and stashed it in our closet for… oh… about three months??
We decided we would work a major Pinterest project on this little gem, and it would be the big Christmas gift for our little girls. So a couple of days before Christmas, we packed the toddlers off to Grandmas, rolled up our sleeves, and set to work being Santas Little Helpers!
I really wish I had taken some better pictures of the befores on this project.. this thing was hella gaudy as eff.
To get started on this project we ended up getting:
Dixie Belle Soft Pink Chalk Paint
Citrustrip Paint and Varnish Stripper
Dowel for the Hangers
Pretty Door Knobs from Hobby Lobby
A Pretty Mirror at a Swap Meet
Curtains (aka, bed sheets and lace) from a Thrift Store
Frosted Spray Paint
Foam Princess Crown from Hobby Lobby
Dollar Store Hand Mirrors
Dollar Store Baskets
The total project cost landed somewhere between $60 and $75.
Our Goof Up With the Completely Unnecessary Stripper
As soon as the girls were at Grandmas, we went to work using Citristrip, a varnish and paint remover, to get the varnish off the unit. Everything I read online – I mean virtually every DIY mom blog documenting these types of projects – made this stuff sound easy peasy, great to work with, yadda yadda yadda. Even if you THINK you dont need it, use it. Because it is just sooooo magical.
Yeeeeah, no. Not so much for us. It was a goopy mess, the consistency of yogurt, which was hard to spread, and smoothed on transparently making it hard to determine what was already covered and what wasn’t.
We gave it the recommended hour before we took our scrapers to it, and it was just a disaster. Maybe it was because we were working in the garage, which was about 50 degrees, but what little bit of varnish that DID strip off came off in tiny strips and puny chunks, making for an extremely uneven surface.
So much for the miracle varnish remover…. yuck.
We decided to let it sit overnight (another recommendation on the bottle) and try again in the morning… It was even worse in the morning! We ended up having to run to the store to get mineral spirits to rub the goop off, and then we ended up sanding the rest.
It was a HUGE waste of time, especially since the Dixie Belle chalk paint adheres to most surfaces, and it was so thick and self-leveling that in hindsight we really didn’t NEED to waste precious pre-Christmas hours on stripping the varnish that was already in pretty decent shape to start with. Ugh. Serves me right for trying to do things properly when there are perfectly good short cuts and crafting cheats available, right?!
Getting Started on the Actual Project
So anyway, after we water LITERALLY a full day gooping and then de-gooping and sanding this unit, with very little to show for it, we got to work on, ya know, actually painting the damn thing.
The chalk paint was a joy to work with the the 16 oz. we had JUST covered the unit inside and out. The neat thing about working with chalk paint is that it is self-leveling (as I mentioned earlier) so you don’t have to worry too much about brush strokes, you can get get it slathered on and then worry about perfecting the second touch up coat on your second go around.
The chalk does thicken up pretty quickly while painting, but you can easily water it back down with literally NO change in color tone. I found that I enjoyed working with a bit of a runnier paint mixture, while my husband was more a fan of a thicker texture.
Once we got the paint on the rest was a breeze. We hung up curtains and lace on the unit, installed a clothing rack dowel, and hung up all Tessa and Thymes pretty princess dresses. We also spray painted the glass in the entertainment center door with a frosted spray paint and glued the princess foam crown to the glass. We installed the pretty swap meet mirror, and stashed the bottom drawers with jewelry, make-up and accessories, and VOILA!!!! Transformation complete!
Gaudy oak entertainment center, to super cute princess dress up station! I pulled the unit outside in the front yard so I could take some pictures of it before, ya know, the kids destroy it on Christmas Day. Here is it all primed and ready to go for the big morning!
The Girls Reactions on Christmas Day
So my stinker of a three year old woke up before us on Christmas morning, and walked into her bedroom (we had her in our bed on Christmas Eve) and saw her finale present before either hubby or I woke up. What a little jerk, right?!
But regardless of us missing out on her initial reaction, Tessa and her sister Thyme spend the majority of Christmas morning playing dress up, putting on toddler friendly make up, and prancing around their new favorite toy! Seriously made my heart SO HAPPY.
The chalk finish on the unit is so rustic chic and fits PERFECTLY with the pretty princess theme we have going in the girls room! We are VERY MUCH looking forward to refinishing our bedroom dresser with Dixie Belle Paint.. this time WITHOUT the whole disastrous varnish stripper episode!
A Little More About Dixie Belle Chalk Paints
In case you are interested in embarking on a similar entertainment unit to dress up station project, the paint I used for this project was Dixie Belle Paint (CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE WEBSITE), which is an easy to use product that requires NO sanding, priming or prepping, you just simply clean the surface and paint! (REALLY wishing I had listened to that advice!!!)
Some highlight of the paint include:
High-quality mineral paint– offers exceptional coverage, a rich, flat finish, and dries incredibly fast.
Inexpensive home makeover– Dixie Belle Paint is a fantastic alternative to replacing cabinets, buying new furniture and is super easy to change colors.
Choose from a variety of colors– From Amethyst purple to Pure Ocean blue, and everything in between, there is a shade for everyone.
Use on almost any surface– Wood, metal, glass, laminate, ceramic, concrete and even fabric!
Only needs one or two coats– Most pieces will take one to two coats for full coverage and you can even create a rustic distressed look
Eco-friendly option– No VOCs, water-based, and non-toxic.
Proudly made in the U.S.A.
Dixie Belle Paint came about when entrepreneur Suzanne Fulford was working part-time at a vintage store in Florida while painting and selling furniture, and she came up with the idea for the Dixie Belle Paint Company. Customers would repeatedly come in and ask if the store sold a chalk-like paint. After finding out how expensive it would be to carry that type of paint, Suzanne saw her opportunity.
She started experimenting, and after a lot of trial and error she came up with a chalky paint recipe that she felt confident to use on her furniture. In 2013, she started Dixie Belle Paint. Now it is sold at 600 retailers and continues to increase in popularity… and I can see why! This stuff is just great to work with, and the result it top notch!
I will be following up in a week or so with the results of our bedroom dresser being refinished with Dixie Bell Paints.. this time, we are going to attempt a distressed look! *gasp!* Bum bum bum bummmmmmm!!!!!!! Stay tuned!!!
[Disclaimer: There are no affiliate links in this review. I am an independent product reviewer. I only review products I am truly interested in. I don’t accept payment for reviews. The products I take the time to jabber on about are either items I have personally purchased, or the product has been provided for review after me incessantly nagging for a sample. All of my reviews are unbiased regardless of how the item was obtained.]