Jenny: Cottage Saturday: The Front Bedroom Girly Bureau

Krissie’s bedroom (aka Lani’s bedroom, aka the front bedroom, aka the guest room, aka my bedroom for right now) is tiny (9′ x 9′) with an even tinier bathroom attached. It has a ridiculously small closet under the stairs–the hanging pole is twelve inches–and that means we have to have supplementary storage: a coat rack and wall racks for hanging clothes, a tower for storage boxes, hanging organizers for make-up and meds (no bathroom cabinets, either), and a chest of drawers for folding clothes. Did I mention this bedroom is tiny?

Front Bedroom Floorplan

I own two bureaus, one of which is too big for this room. The other is a beat-up 1940s, boxy, cracked-veneer-covered, three-drawer chest with a round mirror on top. It’s awful, but I love the mirror, and it fits perfectly against the small wall across from the bed, so it’s going in the bedroom. Clearly paint was in order, but what color?

The front of the house–the living room and this bedroom–have been gravitating toward girly pale blues and aquas with a little pale yellow, a scheme I find restful and calming. I wouldn’t want these colors in a work space, but for public spaces and places to relax, they’re working for me. I’d painted the walls in the front bedroom Ice Rink Blue because bedrooms should be pale blue, and I’d put up blue thermal curtains I’d brought from Ohio, planning on covering them in something bright and then discovering that their one-shade-darker-than-the-walls helped make the room seem larger. Then I painted the floor a darker version of the blue walls. Thatsa lotta blue. So when I got to the bureau, I knew blue was out and spray painted it white. It was a little boring, so I spray painted just the top drawer a brighter blue:


Uh, no.

I had a tester pot of a spring aqua that Lowes was pushing (Tranquility), so I repainted the top drawer in that. Then I looked at how good that looked with the wall color and decided to do a girly bureau in pale blue and pale aqua (or Ice Rink Blue and Tranquility, if you prefer to be specific).


The top drawer was easy: I just taped off stripes and painted blue between them. However, I wanted the darker stripes to be over the drawer pull holes, and when I taped those off, that spacing meant that the strips between them would be irregular. A year ago, that irregularity would have made me nuts; this year I just thought, “Of course they’re irregular; what am I, a machine?” and admired their spontaneity.


I painted the middle drawer plain blue, which I’m still cogitating about. And then I did the bottom drawer in checks. I’m not a fan of painting checks because they’re tedious to do, but I love the way they look when they’re done, and this was just a drawer front, so I bit the bullet and taped off the pattern.

I did want these to be regularly spaced, so I put a strip of tape down the middle, and then measured off the rest of the strips from there by using another strip of tape as guide. That is, I put the first paint blocking strip down in the middle, then I put a guide strip down next to that, then I smoothed down another paint-blocking strip next to that, then I peeled up the guide strip and moved over to the other side of the blocking strip. Then I smoothed down another blocking strip, and so on across the front of the drawer.





Then I did the same for the horizontal stripes.

Then I cut away the squares made by the overlaps and peeled them off the drawer front. I believe I mentioned this was tedious.

Finally, I painted the drawer with one coat of the color already on there and followed up with the contrasting color. And then when it was dry, I peeled off all the tape. See, TEDIOUS.


Then because it’s a Girly Bureau, I added some bling in the drawer pulls, including extra ones on the top drawer because I thought the Girly Bureau needed a necklace. After that it was just painting some of the details in aqua and blue and attaching the mirror to the back. I found an even girlier pink lamp in the garage and wound some pink china roses that the previous owner had left around the base and put that on top with a picture of Mollie as a little girl, a fancy little box Krissie gave me that I love, a flowered box to hold my make-up, and a candle. Two of those things will have to go because I think three things are the most a surface can hold and still make the things distinctive and noticeable (after that it’s just clutter), but for right now, Ta Da! The Girly Bureau:


I like it. It makes me want to paint checks on the hall and bathroom doors (and you know how I feel about painting checks), but I’m going to live with this for awhile and see if I feel compelled to fancy up the doors or leave them plain to showcase the Girly. The blingy knobs took this out of the range of cheap–the big ones were eight bucks each–but they were worth it because they make me smile every time I see them. Who knew I was a Girly kind of decorator?

65 thoughts on “Jenny: Cottage Saturday: The Front Bedroom Girly Bureau

  1. Liz H. says:

    That looks fantastic. As does the fireplace. You’re giving me “be creative and make things” urges.
    Is there room to elevate the bed? Once, long, long, ok only 5 years ago, I lived in a 6×10 room. (NYC apartment, enough said.) I found that lifting the bed an extra foot and a half made a big difference. It added fantastic storage space- get the containers that slide out like drawers, not the ones with lids; nicer looking and better functioning. And it makes the room more cozy somehow. It’s not just a bed in a corner. It’s an elevated spot of peace and comfy and comfy. (And I finally figured out what bedskirts are good for.)

  2. Melissa says:

    I have been a long time reader but have never taken a moment to leave a reply until now when my work-self insisted. An easy solution to your guest bath storage needs would be to install a tall medicine cabinet recessed into the wall between the bathroom & bedroom. It may require some reframing but if the remodeling gods are smiling you could simply open the wall and insert the medicine cabinet. Let me know if you need a few inspirational pictures!

  3. Kelly S. says:

    I just looked at the full photo of the fireplace in the previous post and noticed what looks like the checkered bottom drawer of the dresser in front of the fireplace. Is it a rug or was the dresser drawer drying there or have you started another checkered item or …?

  4. nightsmusic says:

    What a fun dresser! It all came together perfectly, and really, I don’t think the top looks cluttered at all.

    And FWIW, for my first 17 years, I lived in a 9 x 9 bedroom. I learned to get very creative with ways to store and such. And my closet was under the stairs too. I finally figured out a way to get all my stuff in, but it took awhile and a lot of playing with it all before I did. You will too.

  5. Maine Betty says:

    I’m inspired to go get the new shelving for the studio.
    My own new bedroom is fairly girly, with a blue-purple wall, a kind of French floral pattern rug, lots of pillows. I enjoy it, but it’s not what people expect, since I tend to wear jeans and fleece tops a lot. They don’t know I have colors and lace underneath. Maybe I should let that be more generally known, it’s been a long dry spell. But how? Facebook?
    So….love the bureau!

  6. The bed is pushed up against the bay window so that can be used as a bedside table, and it’s almost level with it now. Also, the storage space underneath is being used to the utmost: it’s where Krissie keeps her suitcases (I sleep above The Pig).

  7. I just got the walls closed, plus there aren’t that many open walls, plus the whole bathroom is a shower, so putting meds in there is a bad idea. But the ridiculously small closet in this room has just been made over into a linen closet/medicine chest and it’s working pretty well.

  8. It was a plain gray slab which I was going to leave until I found out there’d be no fireplace there. So since those are the same colors I’m using in the living room, I painted the slab in checks, too, to lighten it up. It still needs the bricks along the edge painted white, but I like it. Hate painting checks, though, and that was awful.

  9. Envy. Love.

    Maybe next time, use a cardboard stencil for a check paint job. It’s probably easier to glue down cardboard strips into a grid and then fix them to the drawer using, um, I dunno? Bulldog clips! 😀 😉

    Then move grid for next colour. Best bit, a grid made for other checks when needed!

  10. I am completely inept when it comes to stencils. I think I must be missing the stencil gene because everything I’ve ever stenciled has been a disaster. I admire what other people do with them, the possibilities are endless, unless you’re me.

    I’m hell on wheels with a paper punch, though, so I’ve thought about punching out squares and gluing them on and then varnishing over them. Even easier would be getting checked fabric and modpodging it on the drawer fronts and then spray varnishing over that. But I wanted these colors, so back to the masking tape.

    I’m thinking seriously about using fabric on the other dresser if I ever get my second bedroom, though . . .

  11. Beautiful! These posts are giving me the DIY bug again and not only do I not have a house or decent furniture (most of it is Ikea), I will be living in someone’s guest bedroom until I find work and then my own place. So I will simply have to live vicariously through you for now.

    I love all the extra pulls of the “necklace” on the top drawer. You are truly brilliant and you can follow out a metaphor like no one else.

  12. merrymac says:

    It’s gorgeous and seems so perfect for a cottage. A friend took an old chest and painted some branches and leaves using the whole front as a single canvas. With the drawers closed, it very cool, but I’m lovin’ those checks. I know they’re a pain to paint, but the finished product is amazing.

  13. I think inspector #12 stamped me irregular the day I was born. I love all crafty things that feel like personal, one-offs rather than clones. And this definitely has a personal vibe. Love the shape of it too with all the curves. This bureau was born girly & you dressed it up just right;)

  14. Jamie says:

    Your decorating reminds me of MacKenzie Childs- the patterns, the lines. Such a perfect fit for your bijou cottage!

  15. I love cottage Saturdays. Talk about living vicariously! That dresser is just sweet. And since my husband would never go for the Girly, it’s so much fun watching you put it together.

    There’s a lesson for me in the way you take this step by step, finding creative solutions that are so much more fun and interesting than things might have been if the house didn’t present these challenges. It’s creative and playful and personal and all together wonderful.

  16. I love the stuff you do. Love, love, love. Now I’m looking at my dresser wondering what I can do to it.

    My bedroom is 10 x 12 or something like that. maybe 10 x 11. The stupid queen bed takes up all the space so it feels cluttered and unwelcoming – besides which I’m a slob so it’s littered with clean laundry. The dirty laundry usually makes it to the basket…

    I think I should put a twin bed in there, but that raises objections with the other parties that live in my house (kids, husband) why it should matter to them I have no idea. But your room is lovely.

  17. I love cottage Saturdays too! The dresser is perfect and magical. And I just finished rereading FAKING IT, which is my all-time favorite Crusie (well, any author really). And those checks make me think you’re channeling your inner Tilda 🙂

    Did you sign it “Jenny Crusie, Her Work”?

    (And not for nothing, I know you’re moving on in other directions, but I’m BEGGING, begging you to do another book about the Goodnights and/or the Dempseys. Pretty please? I’ll make you muffins.)

    I love the dresser, and I think it has just the right amount of stuff on it. I just painted my stairs to the 2nd floor in my little farmhouse–well, second coat courtesy of my pal John, who is better at finish work than me. Last summer I got the wild idea to paint the stairs (which had been by-now-very-dirty white)gray. Only once the stairs looked nice, the wall right above them looked horrid, so I repainted that a medium blue with a hint of gray (Blissful Blue). And it looked so great, that then I had to do the wall above that in a light icy blue (Icelandic). And yes, I know I did this in completely reverse order. There’s a strip in the middle that I mixed some green and blue and white together to make aqua, so going up the stairs makes you feel like you’re under the ocean. Blissful indeed. And completely out of character for a woman who’s entire house is a nice, calm, boring cream color.

    I blame you 🙂

  18. Jessie says:

    This came out really well.

    I’ve been wondering if you top coat with clear varnish. I have to put a coat of varnish over everything or it gets scratched and icky looking. Or is your paint a hard paint that doesn’t scratch easily?

  19. Anything I’ve spray painted with Rustoleum Ultra has stood up to everything except scraping something heavy and metal across the top of it, so the white paint on the dresser is pretty tough. The blue and green would scrape, but they’re on the front. Generally when I’ve top-coated things, they’ve become yellowed, but I have some new stuff I need to try that may not change the color. For this dresser, I’m good with the drawer fronts as they are.

  20. Carol says:

    Oh, this just made me smile! One of those “can’t help myself” smiles. This is a delight and perfect for your cottage vibe.

    And your shower/bathroom is very Japanese.

  21. I’m girly–it happened when they took out my girl parts and life got easier and I all of a sudden LIKED being a girl–and I think that’s really pretty.

  22. KAte says:

    Haha, as part of a couple that has occasionally slept in a twin bed I can say it’s not all that enviable. You usually end up with a stick neck or back.
    Maybe measure your space out for a double? Smaller than the queen to give you more space, but still with some room for two people.

  23. Diane L. says:

    I love, Love, LOVE “Cottage Saturday.”

    Thank you for sharing your talent and fabulous creations!

  24. Diane L. says:

    I also thought MacKenzie Childs the minute I saw your finished dresser, except that I like your better.

  25. Mitchiewitch says:

    Rustoleum is a wonderful – they have a product that covers hard plastic beautifully. I agree that the top of the bureau doesn’t look cluttered. The surface size gives enough space between the two groups of items so that the whole looks balanced – at least in the picture. Of course clutter is in the eye of the beholder.

  26. Cathy M says:

    I’ve had better success with polyacrylic over paint for maintaining the original color. Polyurethane has always given what I’ve stained or painted a yellow tint.

  27. Eileen A-W says:

    I absolutely love the dresser!!! I wish I could be as creative as you are. I still use my ugly gray baby dresser (brought when I was born by my parents) and it so needs a do over. This gives me ideas! 🙂 You are the best!!

  28. Maine Betty says:

    You inspired me, and I went off to Home Depot for boards and supports to attach shelved onto the studio wall, which will clear off the drawing/work table. I’m just polyurethaning the boards, but it will make the pine boards look nicer, and clean up more easily. Starting on the third set of supports. A level is a wonderful thing.

  29. Kieran says:


    My favorite thing I ever painted was an antique trunk. I painted it a blue gingham pattern. It went in my daughter’s bedroom at the foot of her bed.

  30. I read this before leaving the house this morning and was too in awe to comment. I’ve been wanting to paint all the things for months now. The kitchen cabinets are first, but that dresser in my room may have just moved up the list.

  31. H says:

    Blue canary in the outlet by the light switch / who watches over you…

    That little dresser is PERFECT.

  32. Reb says:

    It’s touches like the necklace that make you an artist.

    I love this. You make t look so easy too. Maybe this winter I could tackle some of old dreadful furniture.

  33. Micki says:

    I love the idea of using paper squares . . . there’s this common design of a checkboard, and then somewhere along the visual line, the checks start falling off in pretty, random patterns. (Or they morph into birds or something — that’s Escher, I know.) (-: Which is probably not the feeling you are going for.

    Cherry blossom time in Tokyo . . . so scattering patterns are all the rage right now (-:.

    Heck, maybe I should just decorate with sticky paper squares, so I can change things around when spring really comes in . . . .

  34. Micki says:

    When we finally get the bedroom done in the log house, I think we may go for recliners instead of beds. It would solve a lot of problems, and we could figure out how to deal with the disadvantages (if any) of sleeping in chairs.

    My in-laws wind up sleeping in the living room for half the night, anyway, before they head to real bed, so it can’t be that bad.

  35. It is easy. Tedious, but easy.
    It’s the COLORS that are difficult. Fortunately it’s paint, so if it doesn’t work out, you just paint over it and start again.

  36. German Chocolate Betty says:

    I didn’t realize it was a nightlight — I thought it was one of those fragrance plug-ins and was wishing I could find one like it (fat chance over here).

  37. Kelly S. says:

    I’m now thinking cut contact paper into squares and stick them down in a checkerboard pattern…

  38. Maine Betty says:

    But it turns out some of my floors slant a bit, so the shelves are level, but look crooked…

  39. Cathy M says:

    Even though it’s better, I’d still test the polyacrylic on a painted sample before using it for real on furniture. I’ve learned the hard way to be a little patient and do a test board before forging ahead.

  40. Micki says:

    AND Think Geek sends to Japan, no problem, so I’m sure they send to Europe. (-: I think I found out about them here or over on Argh. Love them . . . .

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