Thrift Store Find: A Dresser We’ll Make Into A Media Cabinet

We’ve been on the hunt for a new media console for our living room since, well, as long as we’ve lived here almost. That “hunt” is mostly defined by periodic stops through our favorite furniture-rich thrift stores to see if anything grabbed us. We were probably a couple of months from giving up entirely. But then I got this text from Sherry.

Sherry had run into Diversity Thrift while I stayed in the car with Clara. This is how discouraged this hunt had become… I didn’t even get out of the car anymore. Here’s the pic Sherry sent me, which was enough for me to get my butt out of the driver’s seat and check out Mia in person.

She fit the criteria we were looking for in a new unit – which mostly consisted of “just be bigger than our current piddly little guy” – which you can see below from this post about our new TV (which further dwarfed it). A bonus would be more storage. Six drawers or more were on our wish list.

So we brought Mia home. We were eager to put her directly into the living room, but she had some wobby leg issues (as we were warned on the $59 price tag). As in, every leg was wobbly. Which probably explains why a handsome clean-lined dresser like this sat at the thrift store for over a month (the tag indicated that it had originally been $79, but after going unsold for a month it was dropped down to $59).

Wobbly legs can definitely be a deterrent because they go to the heart of that item of furniture. You know, it’s not something that a little paint or some stain can fix. It’s filed under “structural integrity.” But Sherry and I examined all the drawers (which slid easily and were made solidly) and checked the rest of it for any functional damage and found none. So we decided not to let those wobbly legs scare us off…

I hadn’t ever fixed wobbly legs before, so I was going into it a bit blind. But I figured I could just identify what was loose and hopefully tighten it. For instance, this center brace shimmied back and forth waaaay too easily.

In fully removing it (which I did before reattaching it) I discovered an old screw on the side that was supposed to hold that leg in tight. So with a quick replacement screw, I was already making progress.

When I reattached the brace with more new screws, the center section got significantly better.

And having discovered the secret leg-screw (wait, that sounds wrong) I was on my way to tightening all of the wobbly legs. But In some cases I found that merely replacing the screws and getting them in there nice and tightly wasn’t enough to stop the wobble completely (although it was a huge step in the right direction). So thanks to some Googling, I read about the suggestion to add some wood glue around the joint. I used the end of a paperclip to really work the glue into the seam as well as possible. Then I used a moistened rag to wipe off the excess glue around the outside so it didn’t look all messy like it does in this picture (this was taken pre-wipe):

Once all of the legs were glued and screwed (again, my wording is less than stellar here) Sherry helped me turn the piece upright and – resisting the temptation to test its wobbliness – we let the glue dry for a good 24 hours. The next day we went in and gave it a gentle shake.

It was AWESOME. No more shaking or shimmying at all.

Unfortunately Mia, even with her new solid legs, isn’t quite ready to come inside to the living room. She needs a good cleaning – and possibly some refinishing or painting, depending on how well the cleaning goes – before we let her in. You can see her bumps and bruises pretty well in this photo taken back in the thrift store…

… so we’ll be back with the updated & cleaned up Mia after we’re done scrubbing her down, bringing her into the living room, and getting the TV all set up (we anchor it to the wall to keep things kid-safe). Sherry’s actually scrubbing away on it right now so as soon as she finished up, takes pics, and writes the post we’ll be back with that info. In the meantime, how do you guys find furniture? Does one of you run in while someone else stays in the car? Are the photos texted back and forth? Do you accidentally end up naming things thanks to text typos? We can’t be the only ones…

Psst- Clara shared a few more holiday-fun-ish details with her penpal in Germany over on Young House Life.


  1. says

    I find most of my stuff at the Restore! I usually go by myself or our 3 yr old tags along. Hubby would definitely rather be left in the car but the kids wouldn’t stand for it so in we all will go!

    P.S. Ordered the Bubble Glass Pendant over the weekend and it is on backorder with an unknown shipment date. I think I can wait for it though. :)

    • says

      Got an estimated ship date of 1/21 which isn’t bad since I have enough things to keep me busy until then. I think it will be perfect over the sink in the kitchen. I was ready to give up on finding one that I liked/could afford! (Probably a lot like your new media console.)

      P.S. Mia is a lovely piece and it sounds like you won’t actually be removing any drawers permanently which makes me happy! Although I’m happy either way :)

  2. says

    I just found the “Wife – Sherry” phone listing funny. Like there might also be “Wife – Lisa”, “Wife – Dorothy”, “Wife – Margaret”, and you have to keep them all straight. :-)

  3. ali says

    Okay, I was about to comment on John specifying Sherry as the wife who was calling but see it’s been covered :) I read somewhere to label one person as I.C.E. (In Case of Emergency) and that emergency personnel are trained to look for that as well in cell phones, so my husband pops up as IC Emergency, just to make it really clear, ha ha!

    • says

      That’s much clearer! My BFF does ICE but I thought “well if I’m just a nice person on the street I wouldn’t know what that was” so WIFE and HUBBY seemed more descriptive. Haha.


  4. Elizabeth says

    I laughed my way through this one, thanks John! Can’t wait to see Mia when she’s all cleaned and polished. Gives me hope that with some patience, you can actually find those elusive pieces that fit right in!

  5. says

    LOVE that piece. Love, love, love it. It’s going to be a real statement depending on what Sherry wants to do with it. I ALWAYS grab furniture at a Habitat for Humanity store up here. The guy knows me well enough at this point he hooks me up (we’ve furnished my mom’s entire vacation home there)

    I’m impatient. Can I see the pictures now?

    • says

      Haha, I love that you know the guy. As soon as comment die down this morning I’m going back to scrubbing and then it’ll be time to bring it in, wire it up, and share pics asap!


  6. Cassie says

    Looks awesome! Why can’t I ever find this stuff?? I actually almost love our hand me down wine cabinet turned tv stand that we have right now, though!

  7. Danielle says

    I just love that you were watching CougarTown! I’m glad it’s not just me and my Jules-sized glass of wine.

  8. Hunter says

    I’m jealous of this piece, we’ve been searching for a good mid-century modern piece (in Raleigh) for at least 3 months! I haven’t found anything close to $59 bucks, so we’re almost to the point of building our own!

  9. says

    I love it! Looking forward to seeing it in the space.

    We purchased old dining chairs from a consignment store that were crazy wobbly. Taking them apart and reinforcing them was strangely satisfying work!

  10. says

    I like how you got right on the chore of de-wobblifying (true word, honest!) the dresser straightaway.

    I have a great garbage picked dresser in my dining room that I’ve been meaning to re-glue for, oh . . . around four years.

    Should have got right on it!


    • says

      Haha, all the credit goes to John! I was ready to plop the TV on it and call it a day but he was all “um, it will wobble right off.” Men! Haha. So practical.


  11. Beverley says

    what a great find! Love the text screen cap :)

    On a side note – y’all are headed to Austin tomorrow and just wanted to let you guys know that we’re expecting to get some rainy weather (y’all’s streak of less than stellar book tour weather continues!). We’ve been in a bit of a drought for a while now and while rain is great, Texans aren’t necessarily the best drivers when it rains. So, I’m a bit bummed because I was going to make the hour(ish) trip from San Antonio to go see you guys, but don’t want to chance things when we’re expecting 2-4″ on the direct path to Austin :( Have a safe trip & bring a raincoat!

    This is a screen cap of what we’re expecting

  12. Jamie D says

    Hi Youngsters! Not sure what cable provider you have, but Directv has a special remote (called an RF remote) that works THROUGH wood, etc. so you can put your Directv box in a drawer/cabinet/etc. Other providers may have something similar, but it is only $25 to get a Directv RF remote.

    I need to see a BANGS update too! Your instagram followers are going crazy!

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