Spruce Up Your Space

Author Photo
By Martin Amado, Photos Venjhamin Reyes

A home should be a reflection of you and your personal style, and I believe it should tell a story about the people who live there. But what if the story or first impression you’re telling isn’t a true representation of who you are? As a designer, I believe that when your surroundings are at odds with your inner self, you’re living in an environment of conflict. When you achieve that balance whereby your exterior space mirrors who you are on the inside, a new world will open up.

You don’t have to spend a fortune to achieve this blissful medium between home and heart. With these projects, you can give your home a fresh look on a budget that will make everyone happy.

Painted Dresser

Painted furniture is a great way to personalize any space. You can take an old piece and give it a new look, or you can buy a new piece and give it a custom finish. It’s a good project to involve the kids in, too, because they can tap into their creative sides and use the furniture as a blank canvas to express themselves.

This chest of drawers was a great price at only $35. It had clean lines that can work in any bedroom style and can be used in multiple ways. If you have a piece of furniture that belonged to your child, and it’s too sentimental to part with, try giving it a modern facelift with this paint project.

If you’re using furniture that’s already stained, you’ll first need to prep the piece by sanding it to get all the glossy finish off and applying primer so the new paint will adhere to the surface. Unfinished wood furniture is easier to paint, and reasonably priced pieces are available in many styles. The cost is even less when assembly is required. Painted furniture can make a fun statement on its own in a bedroom or dorm, or you can paint multiple pieces to create a collection. The possibilities are limitless.

Tools & Materials:

  • Chest of drawers
  • Chalk paint
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint trays
  • Foam rollers
  • Stencil in the pattern of your choice
  • Stencil paint
  • Stencil brushes
  • Decorative knobs


Step 1: Wipe the dust off the unfinished or prepped dresser with a damp cloth.

You can turn a bare chest of drawers into a personalized piece of furniture for your home.

Step 2: Remove the drawers from the dresser. Using foam rollers, paint the front of each drawer a different shade to create a monochromatic color scheme. This also makes an ombre effect by layering the colors from light to dark. Use any color combination that complements your space. Let the paint dry completely.

You can do this project in any colors you would like, or feel fit your home.

Step 3: Align all the drawers. Start with the stencil design in the center and work your way down the entire surface. This will ensure the pattern is repeated evenly for a contiguous look. Hold the stencil in place with painter’s tape to prevent it from moving. Dip the tip of the stencil brush in the stencil paint and then dab off the excess on a scrap piece of paper or cardboard. Apply the paint by dabbing the brush against the stencil openings. Stencils work best when you build the color to avoid having the paint bleed underneath.

You can use your favorite patterns to personalize this project.

Step 4: As you move from one area to another, wash the stencil with soap and water, so your paint doesn’t accumulate. Continue overlapping the stencil to complete the design on the sides.

Step 5: Paint the top and sides in a solid color to complete the look, then add your knobs. Instead of using the original wood knobs, I replaced them with brass knobs featuring a marble inlay for a touch of modern glam.

Overlap the stencil when moving it to make sure your pattern continues flawlessly.

Step 6: For a fraction of what it would cost to buy new, you have a custom piece of furniture that can be used as a nightstand, a media cabinet for a small TV, a dresser, and so much more. It’s stylish and budget-friendly, and it’s a project youngsters would enjoy making to decorate their bedroom.

Your finished drawers can be added as a feature to any room.

Rustic Wood Mirror

A door mirror is functional, but with a few tools and materials, you can transform it to make a major impact in the decor of a room.

Mirrors are used in design to create the illusion of more space in a room. They reflect natural light and can highlight beautiful details, such as a chandelier in a dining room, by reflecting them into your vision from different angles. Mirrors are also considered statement pieces, because they become the art in any room and on any wall. Instead of a painting or artwork, an ornate or textured frame is just as effective to enhance the decor.

Of course, the bigger the mirror, the more expensive they are. With rustic finishes and the farmhouse style being so popular, I decided to make my own DIY version out of a door mirror. This long, rectangular mirror came with a simple, plastic frame. The price was good, but the style factor was lackluster. But it was nothing a trip to my local home improvement store couldn’t fix, simply by shopping in the lumber section for some basic supplies.

Tools & Materials:

  • (2) 8-foot-long 1-by-8-inch pine boards
  • 16-by-60-inch frameless door mirror
  • Wood stain
  • Staining pads
  • Disposable gloves
  • Measuring tape
  • Cordless drill and drill bit
  • 10-inch mending plates
  • 5⁄8-inch wood screws
  • Mirror clips
  • 1⁄2-inch sheet metal screws
  • French cleat picture hanger kit (300-pound weight)
  • Level
  • Polyurethane, optional


Step 1: You’ll use the pine boards to frame the mirror. Begin by measuring and cutting the two boards 1 inch shorter than the height of the door mirror. For the 60-inch mirror, that would be 59 inches. (This is to overlap the frame by 1⁄2 inch all around, so you can secure the mirror from behind.) Now cut the two shorter pieces to 29-1⁄2 inches. (This takes into account the width of the mirror at 16 inches, plus the wood we cut above that will frame the top and bottom at 71⁄4 inches each, which equals 14-1⁄2 inches. Total combined width is 30-1⁄2 inches minus 1 inch equals 29-1⁄2 inches. This allows for a 1⁄2-inch overlap all around to secure the mirror from behind.)

Choose a color for your mirror that will help it pop from your walls.

Step 2: Apply the wood stain with the staining pads, using disposable gloves to protect your hands. Let the stain dry, and then you can give it a finish coat of polyurethane for more durability, if desired. However, since the mirror will be installed indoors, it’s not absolutely necessary. I didn’t use the polyurethane, because I prefer the matte finish of the stain, which looks more rustic.

Step 3: To assemble the frame, turn the boards upside down and use the drill to secure them with the 10-inch mending plates across the top and bottom using 5⁄8-inch wood screws.

Assembling the frame for this project can be done in no time.

Step 4: Secure the mirror to the back of the frame using 1⁄2-inch sheet metal screws and mirror clips.

Be careful when attatching the mirror and frame.

Step 5: Attach the mounting bracket from the French cleat kit in the top center of the mirror frame.

Attach the mounting where you would best like your mirror to hang.

Step 6: Measure the center of the wall, and secure the interlocking track using a level at the height you wish to hang the mirror.

This mirror hangs well in a shared space, like a living or dining room area.

No one will guess this began as a frameless door mirror. It looks substantial without the high price tag. The wood frame can also complement many decorating styles, from global to farmhouse.

Your finished mirror will add color and light to any room.

Excerpted with permission from One-Day Room Makeoversby Martin Amado, published by Page Street Publishing Co.

Published on Jan 3, 2019
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