Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Hello Navajo! Giving new life to a foot locker

I am so excited to be introducing you all to Dora from Dora the Restorer.
 I have admired Dora's work from the moment she brought it into my favorite shop, Persnickety's Awesomeness Emporium.

Dora is amazing!  What you see, is an amazing piece of handcrafted furniture.
What you don't see, is the {sometimes ugly} unloved piece of furniture that is headed for the trash pile.
Dora has a gift for seeing the potential in what old cast offs really could be.
Take it away Dora!

 I love giving new life to old furniture. 

One of my favorite things to upcycle and repurpose are military footlockers because they are built to take a lot of abuse (which I like to call character) and they are a great size for so many uses. 

This one even came with the inside tray. 

Footlockers can be found inexpensively at yard sales and thrift stores all over the country, and paired with a thrift store frame, it might be the statement piece you are looking for.

Before picture with supplies

Navajo has always been a timeless style for cabins and lofts. I love the old fashion turquoise color of the traditional Navajo style, and it goes so well with the modern contemporary decor.

 I started by putting 1 x 4's on the bottom of the footlocker so the screws would have something to grab onto when I put the casters on. After a light sanding, priming, and painting, it was time for the finishing touches. 

Footlocker - supports for casters

I added the stencil to the front, then sanded again lightly and topped it off with antiquing glaze. The stencil came from a book I ordered off of Amazon titled "American Indian Cut & Use Stencils" by Ed Sibbett, Jr.

Footlocker and Frame - primed and painted

For the top, I hot glued a piece of 2" thick foam to a piece of 3/8" plywood cut to fit the lid. Then I took batting and wrapped it around the plywood and secured it with hot glue, and did the same with the fabric. 

Foam attached to plywood top

Fabric wrapped around foam and attached to plywood

I clamped the cushion to the lid to keep it in position, until I could get it secured with screws (from the underside of the lid). Last step, was adding the casters, and then I moved onto upcycling the thrift store picture frame into a coat rack.

Plywood clamped to footlocker to attach with screws

I loved the style of this thrift store frame -- a little bit Mexican, a little bit Navajo. I started with the same paint steps as the footlocker - sanded, primed, painted and antiqued. I cut a piece of 3/8" plywood to fit inside the frame and painted it in "desert sand" craft paint from Americana. I chose a sunburst paint design to mimic the carvings on the frame. 
Mirror frame - primed painted and antiqued

I started out by drawing lines down the center in both directions and measuring off of those lines. I applied the painters tape from corner to corner, and painted one color at a time.

Background - Center Lines
Background - Lines measured from Center

  The small mirror in the center is from Ikea, and the hooks were salvaged from another project. I layed the mirror frame in the center of the plywood, and made pencil marks for the sunburst design. I repeated the taping and painting steps from above. After the painting was complete, I screwed the mirror to the plywood from the back and attached the hooks. The final step was installing the plywood into the frame.

Sunburst design painted on back and mirror frame
Finished frame with coat hooks and mirror

This is such a fun, easy and inexpensive project (this was less than $50) that can be customized to fit any style, and takes very little DIY skills. Don't let these character filled footlockers end up in landfills and burnpiles, think of the stories they could tell.

Finished Footlocker and Frame

Supply List:

  • Military Footlocker
  • Sandpaper
  • Stencil
  • Thrift Store Frame
  • Ikea Mirror
  • Coat Hooks
  • Fabric, batting, and 2" Foam -- I used "Panama Wave" from Waverly for the fabric
  • 3/8" Plywood
  • 1 x 4's
  • Casters (set of 4)
  • Paint -- I used "Backstroke" from Valspar, and the accent colors were all craft paints.
See?  Didn't I tell you she was ah-mazing!  Who would have thought?!
Dora exclusively sells her creations at Persnickety's Awesomeness Emporium.  You can also follow her at her brand new blog ReUse, RePurpose, Upcycle.

Thank you so much for dropping in and sharing this amazing transformation Dora!
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1 comment:

Christa @ Controlling Craziness said...

What a great transformation. Love the turquoise color and how the two pieces look like they go together. You are so creative, a frame into a coat/hat rack! Thanks for sharing.