How to Furnish a Brooklyn Bedroom Part II: Painting, Finishing & Organizing

July 27th, 2011

thrifted salvation army dresser

HELLO and happy Wednesday, vintage lovers!!!

Some of you may remember last week’s post where I shared the experience of thrift shopping for my good friend & first Sammy Davis Vintage personal shopping client Sabrina Newman.

Sabrina is a friend of 5 years + who I first met interning in the magazine industry way back in the summer of ’06. After living in Manhattan for nearly 3 years, she recently made the jump and crossed the East River to live in the Williamsburg, Brooklyn neighborhood known as Greenpoint.

She recruited me to help her find the remaining pieces she needed for her new bedroom, and to help her cleanse & organize her room for a balanced, beautiful space!

We thrifted a beautiful oak dresser from the Hell’s Kitchen Salvation Army, and this past weekend was spent visiting Home Depot, finishing & painting the dresser and beginning to shape order in Sabrina’s stylish Brooklyn abode.

Keep reading after the jump to see what we bought at Home Depot for this bedroom DIY project, how I painted the “mirror” of the dresser using gold & silver paint and some easy DIY organization tips to add the “Sammy Davis Vintage” touch to your own living quarters!

The best part about working with Sabrina was the chance to do something creative with a friend.

So often I’m invited to hang out at the “next big bar” or to dance in the sweaty confines of a hipster warehouse. Not that I don’t enjoy these activities from time to time [read: currently craving a margarita and dancing to vintage David Bowie!] but I do believe that it’s the collaborative synergy of shared projects that can really bring people together positively and productively.

That’s why I love thrifting with my friends oh-so-much … it’s a chance to creatively connect and to support one another’s true stylish selves.

I’m sure so many of you vintage lovers have created your own “DIY-vintage spaces” using thrifted and curbside treasures. I’d LOVE to see pictures of your own creations!

One of my recent favs is Serena from Thrift Diving, a great DIY project and thrifting blog. She has great tips on taking furniture from thrift stores and DIYing it into modern magic, including some great advice on chair makeover ideas that have me wanting to redo Sabrina’s kitchen next!

Please email them to me, or feel free to post them yourselves to the Facebook page or Tweet ’em at me on Twitter!

And for some shameless business promotion: If you are based in NYC and interested in working with me on a project of your own, please be in touch!

xx, SD


HOME DEPOT: 23rd Street & 6th Avenue

home depot sign

In need of painting supplies, Sabrina and I met at the 23rd street & 6th Avenue location of Home Depot.


home depot employee

I believe in the power of attraction, and as I wandered the aisles of Home Depot in awe [I do believe home & decoration stores are my new preferred shopping experience] I had the serendipitous pleasure of meeting this wonderful man pictured with me above, Peter!

Before retiring from the set decoration business, Peter was a furniture craftsman, artist and all-around-creative-Manhattanite who built original sets and antique furniture replicas for NBC shows like Saturday Night Live and more.

Thanks to Peter’s advice — both from personal experience and as a seasoned salesman of home project supplies — Sabrina and I left Home Depot with exactly the materials we needed, and the best instructions on how to use them.

Peter, thank you for your time and guidance! I am manifesting that House & Garden Network show for you, because you deserve it!


diy projects

We decided that the wall behind Sabrina’s bed would be an “electric violet,” as we dubbed it. We would only paint this wall and leave the remainder of the room’s walls white.

Home Depot had a great selection of paints, and we took home samples from Martha Stewart and yes … DISNEY!

Peter hooked us up with two samples [see him drying the lids shut below] so that we could “test” the colors on the wall without actually having to paint the wall itself.

How? You’ll see how we tested the colors “paint-free” farther below!

paint samples home depot


thrifted salvation army dresser

thrifted salvation army dresser

Salvation Army charged approximately $60 in delivery charges from Hell’s Kitchen to Sabrina’s Brooklyn apartment. The cost of convenience can be high, however at a grand total of $220, this dresser was still a thrift steal!

We moved the dresser from next to Sabrina’s bedroom door to beside her beautifully lit windows, directly in front of the foot of her bed.


adding finish to thrifted salvation army dresser

After using nail polish remover to magically erase some of the polish and ink stains from the top of the dresser, I used a beautiful gloss finish to add a touch of brand-new-shine to this good-as-new piece.

I love how the light from the windows is reflected in the finish. Almost like a radiant glow!


empty drawer

The dresser drawers before …

easy diy projects

… and the dresser drawers after!

What did I do? I bought a roll of light floral paper that feels like a sponge material to lay down on the inside of the drawers for a pop of DIY luxe.

The oak finish of the drawers didn’t look quite “done.” It had a raw feel to it that I thought would exude a tad more formality with some liner paper.

You can do the same by just using remnants of wall paper. I tried gluing the liner with rubber cement first, but found that epoxy was much more efficient and laid smooth.

easy diy projects


martha stewart paint

Peter had the excellent suggestion of adding some modern day touches to the dresser’s mirror by using a mix of metallic paint & glaze by Martha Stewart Living.

Using a few tiny paintbrushes, I worked some artistic magic into the crevices of this vanity mirror …

martha stewart paint

painting dresser

painted mirror

Using a mixture of the silver & “vintage” gold colors, I painted each “ripple” of the mirror [I know there is a more appropriate term. If anyone knows how to describe, please comment!] a corresponding color. So, one ripple would be gold, the next silver, and so on and so forth.

Because the silver & gold were in the same “metallic” family, their similar shine complements instead of contrasts. So standing back to look at the dresser as a whole, it looks like an overall sheen rather than “stripes” of color.

painted mirror

painted mirror

I ended up painting the entire mirror! I unfortunately forgot to grab a final, FINAL picture — but here you can see the difference between the painted sides and the raw bottom.


sabrina and thrifted salvation army dresser

FLASHBACK! This dresser from Salvation Army has come a far way from the date of its purchase, hasn’t it?


jewelry organizer

Sabrina has the most gorgeous corner hutch/shelfing hutch made from metal and glass. She uses it to organize a mix of jewelry and lotion/everyday beauty products that she likes to keep within reach.

We re-arranged the focus of each shelf — placing the beauty products on the bottom shelves, and organizing each shelf to hold a different “type” of jewelry — say bracelets on one shelf, short necklaces on another, etc.

In the process of re-arrangement, we decided which pieces she no longer wore / had no use for any longer in her wardrobe. These pieces we placed in a “giveaway” bag that Sabrina plans on donating to her local Salvation Army or Goodwill.

Donating: It’s called “thrift karma!”

jewelry organizer

jewelry organizer


jewelry organizer

One of the most frustrating grievances of loving necklaces is having so many that they get tangled and in the process, become permanently stuck or broken from attempts of de-tanglement.

The easiest DIY method of showcasing your necklaces and keeping them organized [read: tangle free!] is by creating a display wall of them using the simple tools of a hammer and some nails.

We made Sabrina’s necklace display into two rows of three nails each on either side of her closet door. The symmetry is attractive, and the organization? Absolutely necessary!


organizing room closet

Sabrina admits it herself: She is a closet clothing HOARDER!

Not to say that hoarding is a bad thing, but I do believe that by having a “manageable” wardrobe, you can actually be a more stylish individual because you know where things are located and they are easily within your reach.

How many times have we been “late for work” and just couldn’t throw together that perfect outfit we would have wanted with more time on our hands?

With a smaller selection of style that you actually WEAR, you can more easily reach into your closet to pull the piece that flatters you best.

So I always encourage women [myself included!] to make annual “closet cleansings” so that they can keep their wardrobes under control and their creative potential within an arm’s reach.

pile of shoes

Look at all of her shoes!


testing paint

testing paint on wall

I referenced this miraculous “testing the paint without painting” trick earlier in this post.

Thanks to Peter’s advice, we gladly took home a sample can of each “electric violet” color — one from Martha Stewart, and the other from my personal fav: Disney!

Peter reminded us that paint looks different at various times of the day. The lighting of your room shifts as the sun shifts in the sky, so you want to feel 100 percent happy with the color perception when you wake up, at noon, around 3 PM and into the early evening.

So to “test” the color on the wall at all hours of the day without actually painting the wall, I grabbed some cardboard off the street [in front of a grocery store — how appropriate!] and painted the cardboard slabs each color to “hold” against the wall and give a hard view from afar.

As of this post, I’m not sure which color Sabrina decided to go with! Which one do you prefer?


diy room project

The greatest lesson I learned in helping Sabrina to furnish, decorate & paint her bedroom? These projects take a few days’ worth of investment!

It’s important to take your time, not only to make the right decisions for you but to have the moments of pause to truly stretch your creative imagination. If I hadn’t paused in the aisles of Home Depot, I wouldn’t have met Peter. That meeting was an important one because it helped to shape how the rest of the project would unfold.

Sabrina and I will probably meet again to complete the finishing touches. She’s buying a vanity from Target, and we’re still in search of the perfect knick knacks from her local furniture & home decor thrift store, JUNK!

diy bedroom project



Nassau Avenue Station G train

Sabrina lives across the street from the Nassau Avenue “G” train entrance. This is how it appeared the first day I worked on her bedroom …


things get better graffiti tag subway
…. and when I returned the next week for round #2, I found this “after” version of the SAME subway entrance! A local graffiti artist took the time “creatively pause” and leave his own impression upon the neighborhood.

I’m happy to say that I agree with him: Things are ALWAYS getting better!

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