Introduction: Contemporary Nightstand Makeover

About: Where there's a will, there's a way! Never give up, never give in...BE the good you want to see in the world. :)

One of my favorite things to do is breathe new life into something old, unused, and/or trashed. This project was no exception. Read on to see how I transformed this boring, ugly, and trashed nightstand into something amazingly beautiful!


-Electric handsaw with blades (I used a jigsaw with a general purpose blade)

-Electric sander with sandpaper (60-120 grit)

-Drill with drill bits

-Screwdrivers (flat and Phillip's)



-Measuring tape

-Wood putty

-Putty knife

-Liquid Nails Fuze-It (gray kind)

-Paintbrushes (large, medium, and small)

-1 sheet 5/8" plywood

-1 gallon white paint

-1 sample size aqua blue paint

- Nails and Screws (sized to your particular project needs, I used 1" to 1 3/4")

-Gloves and eye protection (as needed)

-Old nightstand to makeover

-Wood round taper legs (4) with hardware

-Contemporary handle with hardware

-A bucket of hot soapy water and an old rag

-Cleaning wipes

-Paper and pen / pencil / marker

Step 1: Acquire the Piece

This old, unimpressive nightstand was found for free on the side of the road in a neighborhood near my house. Perfect!

Step 2: Acquire the Inspiration

Scroll through Pinterest, Google images, magazines, etc to find inspiration that really speaks to you. This picture hit me as the "ah-ha, that's the one!" image. :)

Step 3: Inspect Your New Piece

Take out the drawers and look over your newly acquired piece--that way you know exactly what you're up against.

As you can see from the photos, the wood veneer was peeling from the top, and the bottom was pretty much a hot mess.

On the flip side, there was this awesome old newspaper-printed wood inside the drawers that was still in great condition! Score! :D

Step 4: Get to Work

To begin, remove all unwanted things from the furniture.

In my particular case, I had to remove the bottom trim pieces with a hammer (tapping it off from the underside) so it gave my furniture the contemporary style and clean lines I was going for. I also had to remove unwanted nails, staples, etc. Finally, I hammered out the middle bar because I was going to make the bottom drawer area an open shelf, therefore the bar was unnecessary.

Step 5: Time for Power Tools & a Sponge Bath

Now it's time to cut off the yucky, rotting legs. I first determined that the rest of the hardwood sides were NOT damaged with the rotting parts. And, thankfully, the place I needed to cut the sides down to was just above the rotted areas (with no other areas of the sides affected)! Phew!

Measure and cut both sides evenly. I cut as high up the side as I could go without damaging the bottom of the nightstand drawer area. You can see where I cut to in the 4th picture.

After cutting the legs down, stand the piece upright. Use a level to check if the legs are even. If they are uneven, measure how much more needs to be cut off to make them even and re-cut. Double check one more time that it's level. Yay--it's level now!

Lastly, it's time for a good bath! I thoroughly cleaned the wood inside and out to get rid of all the built-up spiderwebs, spider egg sacs, dirt, grime, and leftover debris.

Step 6: Remove Peeling Wood Veneer

The top of the nightstand had wood veneer on it and was chipping and pulling up. It needed to go.

Here's how I got rid of it:

1. Using a putty knife and hammer, push the tip of the putty knife under the wood veneer.

2. Working horizontally, tap the hammer on the handle end of the putty knife to help it scrape up the veneer.

3. After the veneer is off, sand down the wood underneath. My wood was pretty rough underneath, so I used 80 grit, 100 grit, and 120 grit (in that order) to smooth it down nicely.

Step 7: Making a Double Sliding Drawer (pt 1)

So, this step I'm so proud of. Silly, I know, as it's probably been done enough times to be nothing new. But I felt so proud to have accomplished it using my own brain. It's just one of those little things that makes ya happy! hahaha :D

I needed to have just the one sliding drawer (as opposed to the original two) as previously addressed. However, I don't like just the one slider the drawer came on as the drawers can get wobbly and stuck, etc. So I decided to turn my onesie into a twosie.

Here's how I did it:

1. Unscrew the slider's wooden rail from the middle of the nightstand.

2. Unscrew and un-staple (using a flat-head screwdriver to pop the staples up) the metal slider from the bottom of the drawer itself. SAVE all the hardware and screws of all pieces!

3. Now, to obtain the second slider for the drawer, I used the slider from the bottom of the discarded second drawer. (Ingenious! hahaha!) SAVE all hardware and screws from the second slider.

4. Measure the distance from the bottom of the drawer that you want your sliders to go. I measured 2" from each side.

5. Since there isn't a gap here to fit the slider into the base of the drawer flush, we have to use our electric handsaw to cut one out on each side. I did this by laying the slider down where I wanted it to go, and making lines on either side of it (to give a little extra space than the slider is itself). Do this on both sides for both sliders.

6. Then, I measured the depth of the center gap from the original placement of the slider, and copied that depth on to both sides of the bottom of the drawer between where I drew my lines.

7. Next, I used my jigsaw to cut out the gaps. You can use whatever saw you have, or whatever works best for you. Since I had to remove the sliders to make the gaps, I marked where they were at by putting a dot in the holes of the sliders so I could match them back up again afterwards (see picture #8).

8. Attach the sliders to the bottom of the drawer. For my sliders, the one side that went toward the back of the drawer had a flat end that pushed underneath the wood before securing it with a screw. The side of the slider that went toward the front of the drawer (the opening to where the drawer would slide into) was originally stapled, but I didn't have a staple gun at the time so I simply put in a screw and it worked perfectly.

Ta-dah! A drawer with double sliders! :D

Step 8: Making a Double Sliding Drawer (pt 2)

The sliders are just the half of it, it's time to finish this puppy by adding the wooden sliding rails back on to the nightstand.

Here's the way I did it that was easier for me (might be a cheater's way, LOL):

1. I slid the wooden rails into the metal drawer sliders so they stuck out (as seen in picture #1).

2. Now, I set the drawer (with the wooden rails in it) where I wanted the drawer to go inside the opening for the drawer in the nightstand.

3. With the drawer setting there, I marked where the wooden rails sat. (Because I am sanding and painting the nightstand, these marks will not show.)

4. Pull the drawer back out and pull out the wooden rails. Place them back between the marker lines on either side, and screw them in place.

OPTIONAL: Measure the width between the drawer's metal sliders just to make sure it's all perfect.

5. Slide the drawer onto the rails and there ya go!

Step 9: Remove Handle and Sand 'Er Down

I removed the outdated drawer handle and sanded everything down, starting with the drawer face which will remain a natural wood (ooooh!!!! I loved the results of the drawer face!!! Soooo beautiful!--you'll see it in a future step).

You can do as much sanding as you want. I just stuck with the 80 grit, 100 grit, and 120 grit for mine. You can go up to 1000+ grit if you want, but I didn't need mine that silky smooth, LOL.

Step 10: Measure and Make a Plan

In order to turn the bottom drawer area into an open shelf, I needed to put plywood walls in it. I also needed a plywood base on the very bottom (underneath the nightstand) to drill the legs into and to make everything perfectly even. Therefore, I needed to measure E-VER-Y-THING.

For the outer bottom piece (a basic rectangle):

-Measure the length and width from the outer edge to outer edge.

For the inner bottom piece (has a "lip" edge):

-Measure the length and width from the inner edge to inner edge.

-Measure the depth from the front edge to the back wall.

-Measure the distance between the two "lip" edges of the front.

Measure the "lip" length and width.

Draw all of these measurements out to make a blueprint for yourself.

Step 11: Cut the Pieces

On a sheet of plywood (I think my plywood was 5/8" plywood...It's whatever I had on hand) draw out the measurements you took and cut out the pieces. Then double check that the pieces fit snuggly on the nightstand.

Step 12: Fill in Any Gaps

When the very bottom board was put against the nightstand, there was a gap that needed to be filled so not to be a giant eye-sore (and random junk collector). A piece of plywood was exactly the right thickness to fill this gap.

So I measured how deep the plank was in the front and used that as my guide to make the width of the plywood gap-filler the same as this front plank.

Step 13: Putting It All Together

Now it's time to put it all together and add the cut pieces to the nightstand.

1. The hardest part by far was getting the piece with the "lip" edges into the nightstand to make the bottom part of the open shelf. The major culprit: these annoying corner blocks preventing my plywood piece from pushing down flat (see picture #1)...go figure hahaha :D But once these were removed and the piece was in, it was super snug. I secured it down with a few finishing nails.

2. Add the gap-filler piece just under it by flipping the nightstand over. Secure this piece to the first piece with finishing nails.

3. Finally, secure the last piece (the big rectangle) to the base with screws in the four corners and in the middles between the four corners (for extra stability and strength).

Looking good! :) PS, here's a sneak peek of the drawer face...oh it's so beautiful! <3

Step 14: Boxing It In: Adding an Inner Wall

The two side walls of the inside open shelf were already wood, so I just needed a wall on the back (in front of the cardboard-like backing).

I measured the inner wall's length and height (granted the length was the same as the inner shelf piece, but it's always better to measure twice and cut once). Then I cut these measurements out of the remaining plywood and added this new wall to the back. I put nails through the back wall from the outside of the piece (as seen in the last picture) to secure it in place.

Step 15: Finishing Touches Before Painting

Before I can paint the nightstand--phew! we are getting close to being done!--there are a few finishing touches.

1. Clean out the drawer. I used a cleaning wipe so as not to cause damage to the printing on the wood.

2. Fill in the gaps and even out the base pieces with wood filler. I wanted a smooth finish on the front so you couldn't see that there were 3 separate base pieces, so I used wood filler to obtain this effect. I also wanted a seamless finish to the inside shelf (so it looked like it was built as an open shelf from the beginning), so I used wood filler on all the seams there too. I also added wood filler to any nail holes on the rest of the piece (like where I secured the back wall from). NOTE: I applied the wood filler with my finger to get into all the gaps well.

3. Sand down all the wood filler (once it's dry) per the manufacturer's recommendations. Usually 100 grit sandpaper is just right.

Step 16: Let's Paint!

I grabbed a "White" Grab-N-Go paint gallon from Walmart. Yes, these don't have primer in them (on that note, WHY WOULDN'T a grab-n-go have primer? If you're that rushed to get a grab-n-go, then you're too rushed to get an additional primer too, LOL), so more paint layers will be necessary. BUT, it was cheaper and quicker and I needed to get this project done. :)

I decided to paint the rails and base under the drawer white too so that when the drawer is ever pulled out, it's not a yucky color.

Also, don't forget to paint the bottom!

Ta-dah! Isn't it looking SOOOOOOO good!? The white really makes the drawer face pop! LOVE IT! <3

P.S. If you need to take a break from painting, make sure to simply roll up your paintbrush inside of a plastic bag and it will keep from getting dried out until you're ready to use it again.

Step 17: And Paint Some More...

Now it's time for the aqua blue open shelf paint!

I found that there wasn't much paint needed for this, so I got just a sample size paint for a few bucks.

Paint the inside walls and base shelf. When you get to the edges, tape them off and finish painting for a crisp line. NOTE: I removed the drawer to paint so it wouldn't get painted accidentally.

Step 18: Adding a New Handle

So I found this beautiful handle at Lowe's for just over $3. It has that streamlined, contemporary look I'm going for, and darn near matches my inspiration picture to a T.

The holes that were left by the original handle were drilled at a 3 1/2" distance. Unfortunately, all current handles are at 3 3/4" or smaller than 3 1/2". Bummer.

Since I'm not painting the drawer face, I needed a different solution to wood filling and re-drilling, so I wood-filled the holes and Liquid Nails'd it right over them. When the Liquid Nails was dry, the edge parts that spilled out were easily scraped off (not pictured).


No one will know! You can't even tell there were holes there without extremely close inspection of it...and from head-on, the handle covers up the holes entirely.

Just a note: get the Liquid Nails "Fuze-It" kind (it's gray). BEWARE of the Liquid Nails "Heavy Duty" kind that's white. It will NEVER adhere properly and will NEVER dry. Just a fair warning. :)

Step 19: Gettin' Leggy

So get this...

We were thinking about where to buy these legs from (that matched my inspiration picture), when we walked into the house we just moved into, and on the bottom of a desk the previous owner was trashing, were the exact legs in the exact height we needed! SCORE!!!

NOTE: The height of your finished nightstand should be roughly 2" TALLER than the height of your bed on its frame (aka: when it's completely assembled). The height of my nightstand without legs was 18". The height of my bed is 24" (floor to top of mattress). So I needed 8" legs to put my nightstand at 26" (which is 2" taller than the bed height). My legs were 7" and the wood bars they were screwed into were 1", so it made 8" total height from floor to top of the wood piece. :)

I took the metal caps (aka "shoes") off of the legs (after trying to redeem them to no avail...not to mention that only 3 legs had the metal caps anyways), and decided that after I sanded off the paint to make them wood again, I'd just paint on the "metal" look with metallic silver spray paint. Easy enough. NOTE: If I were putting this nightstand on hard flooring (instead of carpet), I'd need to keep and use the feet on the caps (the feet have ball joints in them) so the nightstand can sit flat on the hard floor. But I am putting it on carpet, so the carpet absorbs the weight of the nightstand evenly to securely keep it sitting flat.

Now, the legs were secured into these wooden "bars" that were just screwed to the bottom of the desk....another big SCORE! That means I don't have to angle the legs and try to get the angles right, nor will I have to drill circular holes into the wood just right etc (plus I don't have the drill bit necessary to do that kind of drilling), so I just reclaimed these wooden "bars" as well for use on my nightstand (I'll just paint them white).

But, they were too long of "bars" to fit nicely on the nightstand, so I cut them all down to the same size that would fit perfectly in the four corners on the base.

On to sanding and spray painting....

P.S. this leg style is called: "wood round taper table legs" if you are trying to look them up online or on a store's website.

Step 20: Refinishing the Legs

1. First, I sanded down the legs (and raw cut edges of the wooden bars) using 60 grit sandpaper up to 120 grit sandpaper. The 60 grit was necessary to get through the thick layers of paint that covered the legs. As I sanded them, I could smell the pine smell of the wood, and since pine wood is a soft wood (and damages easily) you have to make sure to be careful sanding it. Therefore, if you have any pine wood on your project, don't push too hard or go sideways (against the grain) when sanding, as it will show in the final product. I went vertically up and down with the grain of the wood to sand it, applying only medium pressure.

You can see the before and after pictures...HUGE difference! :D

2. Next, I taped around the base of each leg with painter's tape, so as just to expose the tips. Use little pieces of tape to get around the curve nearest the tip so you get a nice clean, crisp line. Then a longer strip once around. Lastly, I used a plastic bag wrapped around the rest of the leg to make sure no little splotches of paint got on the wood.

3. The spray paint I used was Rustoleum American Accents in the color "Bright Silver." First, shake the can for 1 minute once you hear the mixer balls rolling around inside. Then, holding the can roughly 12" from each leg, spray evenly around the base and on the undersides (the part that will sit on the floor). I let this dry for roughly 3 minutes, then sprayed a second coat in the same way. Beautiful!

Step 21: Add the Legs to the Base

Set the legs on the base of the nightstand so that the two on the right face outward to the right, and the two on the left face outward to the left. If my wording is confusing, see picture #1.

I spaced the legs out about 1" from each side that they were closest to. So for the top right leg in the picture (for example), it is spaced out 1" from the top edge and 1" from the side edge, and so on for the other three legs. NOTE: The spacing is 1" from the wooden edges of the bars, not from the legs themselves.

The best way to secure these to the base would be to drill through the wood and the base, then screw them in. However, my drill's charger decided it wanted to die and stop working (therefore, not charging my battery), so I used Liquid Nails Fuze-It (the gray one) to secure the legs on. Adding weights on top of each side of the wooden "bars," I let it dry for 24 hours. (After 7 of the 24 hours, I painted the wooden bars white with the same white Grab-N-Go paint that I used on the nightstand. Then, I let it all sit for the remaining 17 hours.)

And the final makeover reveal...(drum roll please!) 3...2...1...

Step 22: The Big Reveal!!!

Oh my word! It's gorgeous! I'm soooooo happy with the final result...I just LOVE IT!

What do you think? Does it resemble my inspiration picture?

Now, I'm considering adding a thin sheet of 1/4" glass from Lowes on the top of the nightstand, just to smooth it all out and keep the wood from getting any water damage on it. But for now it's still a lovely piece!

I hope this has inspired you to tackle your DIY project transformations. They may seem daunting, but remember that your only limit is you. You can do anything you put your mind to!

Many blessings :)

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