I'm a big fan of Chicago's alleys. They often seem to provide what I need just when I need it! In this case, cheap (aka "free") craft storage.
Step 1: Is It Worth It?
If I'm going to spend time working on furniture, it usually has to have good bones. This thing... it really doesn't. It's poorly made from the cheapest materials. And I could only salvage 3 of the 6 draws. But I still wanted to see what I could do with it. Possibly because of the gang tags.
In my part of the city, we see the work of the Latin Kings and the Gangster Disciples with enough frequency that I've learned their names. And I've called the city to remove their handiwork from my building, more than once. This dresser - apparently a child's dresser at some point - had been tagged. By a kid having a little fun with a marker? Who knows. But I was oddly thrilled by the idea of painting over those marks myself. Also, I really needed storage. So this thing was going to become that storage... so help me.
Step 2: Go Latex Paint!
First, I cleaned it. A lot. Yuck.
Then I used heavy duty latex paint left over from repainting laminated cabinets several years ago. I gave everything about 3 coats. Not sure what else to say ... I painted it white and covered all its marks, scars and tags. I also repainted an old bookcase so I could stand it on top of the dresser and have them "match" somewhat.
Step 3: Drawer Pulls From a Purse Strap
I've always wanted an excuse to turn a leather strap into drawer pulls, and now I had one. And this old blue purse had been in storage for ages, just waiting to be used for something. I followed these directions and very quickly, easily and cheaply, had made-over drawers!
Step 4: Something to Think About
One small thing: I made the holes with an ordinary nail. Since I was using pleather, it didn't take much effort to push it through. Then I widened each hole a little with a phillips-head screw driver, before pushing the bolt through. I used regular bolts and I think it looks just fine.
Step 5: Make a Cabinet Curtain From Scraps
So now the 3 drawers were in ... but...? I've seen this problem solved with a curtain of sorts; something I know my grandmother once did for a doorless cabinet under a bathroom sink. So I made a curtain using fabric samples I've been using on and off for a long time. They've been turned into doll's bedding and many other things I can't actually remember. This time, I joined them to make a curtain.
Step 6: Create a Wire Tension Hanger
I hung it using heavy gauge jewelry wire and the little hooks usually attached to the back of pictures. The wire sagged, of course. The solution to this: once the fabric is hanging and the wire is firmly attached to the hooks, grab pliers and slowly turn the hooks. Like tuning a guitar ... go slowly and stop when the tension looks good.
Step 7: Grand Finale
And there it is. My alley dresser turned craft storage. Total cost: about $3 - for the nuts needed to attach the drawer pulls (I had bolts lying around but no damn nuts!).
Step 8: In the Room ...
It ended up being exactly what I needed. And I took some risks with it that I probably wouldn't have with a nicer piece.