Makeshift Workshop

After living in my apartment for two years, I decided I'd had enough with the mass of clothing beginning to push the closet's limits and began the search for a dresser; starting at my local thrift stores with none other than my dad in tow. Hours later we had found dressers, but none that could be proclaimed  "the one," leaving me yet again with a grand idea lead astray by the available selection. I expressed my desire to family and friends hoping someone would come across the perfect dresser.

Good things come to those who wait.

In casual morning conversation, a co-worker mentioned he was having a garage sale of odds and ends including a variety of furniture. An offer was made to allow me to stop by before the sale started to peruse his collection. First dibs - you don’t have to ask me twice!  

As soon as I stepped foot into his garage, I laid my eyes on this beaut and was instantly in love. I knew I needed to have it, and after a little negotiation I was driving home.


It was old, well loved and needed a little TLC to revive it. I’ve never taken a project on solo before and was apprehensive to dig in only to ruin the piece I had finally found! Throughout this period of hesitation I'm pretty sure I talked the project over with every handy man I’ve ever come across from my dad and grandpa to the maintenance guys at work. With a little encouragement, I dragged the dresser into my bathroom.

No lie. I live in an apartment and needed somewhere to contain the dust when I sanded it down. I didn’t want to ruin the drawers, so I decided to test myself with the top and sides first. My grandpa has a woodshop, and I grew up inhaling sawdust, stain fumes, and learning the craft he so loves. I knew what I was doing I just had to prove to myself that I could do it on my own. I started in, my excitement taking over my nerves and soon the dust was flying. A couple rounds with the hand sander then dedicated elbow grease to smooth out the entire piece by hand.


I’m going to be honest here and say my indecisiveness got the best of me. I purchased stain only to return it for a new color. Purchased brushes only to buy more because I wanted to make sure everything was smooth and pristine. And new handles…don’t even get me started. I now understand why it’s called The Home Depot – it becomes a second home.  

I settled on Red Mahogany stain and as soon as the top coat was applied, I was in love all over again. I continued on to the sides, let it dry thoroughly, applied the polyurethane and voila! Even though my dedication and hidden knowledge paid off, I decided to keep the front original; I liked the character and the two-toned look just seemed right.

Seriously my bathroom was officially a makeshift workshop for about two weeks and totally worth all the dust and stain splatters. The red mahogany goes well with my bed and side tables, while the front ties in with the oak everything else my apartment was furnished with. Time consuming, but a labor of love and now my bathroom and abundance of clothes is back in order!


Oh. Did I mention that I got stain happy and decided my mirror needed to match too? Bathroom workshop for two weeks and three days. While loved ones thought I was going insane, they now appreciate my efforts. Stuck in the city, and making a career for myself on the computer has me itching to get hands on. I also have this nonnegotiable desire to make things my own. And now my dresser and mirror are just that - mine and lovely. For more of my diy adventures follow me on twitter and instagram @kendrigins


Kendra Higgins
Master in a makeshift workshop