How To Repair Broken Or Cracked Inlay (And The Fateful Tale Of A Craigslist Dresser)

Guys, meet the dresser of my beach house dreams. Perhaps you’ve already been introduced on Instagram, but let’s dive into our love story (think: The Notebook, but with a dresser and a person instead of two people).

blue gray inlay restoration hardware dresser in beach house nook

I actually found this amazing piece of furniture on Craigslist. YES CRAIGSLIST! Sorry I’m screaming, but you can imagine how shouty this entire experience made me. And dancey. And weepy (I tear up over beautiful furniture when I feel like it’s fulfilling its furniture destiny). Yes, I just typed the words furniture destiny.

Anywayyyyy, it’s safe to say this is the best Craigslist score of my life since I got it for $400 and the exact same dresser currently sells for $1,829 (!!!) at Restoration Hardware. The woman selling it on Craigslist originally listed it for $650. She had purchased it for $1200 at HomeGoods and even had a photo of the price sticker that was still on the back of the dresser in her listing. And as much as I loved it (OH HOW I LOVED IT) I just didn’t have that in the budget for any dresser at the beach house – which is where it felt destined to live.

beachy blue bedroom in historic home

So I did one actionable thing to help myself get over it, which was to email her and say “your inlay dresser is so lovely but I’m afraid it’s out of my budget – I’m sure someone will snatch it up, but if you don’t happen to sell it and ever decide to lower your price please email me as I’d LOVE to buy it!” She sweetly emailed back and said “yup, not willing to lower the price yet but I’ll keep you posted.” I stifled a few tears and tried to accept the fact that I’d never feel the warmth of this dresser’s embrace.

But if you know me, I’m incapable of moving on when something in the back of my head is banging around (I call these “persistent ideas” and sometimes John calls them “being in denial”) so I refused to buy any other dresser for that nook in the bedroom because I wanted to hold out for the beach house dresser of my dreams (I also call this “patience” and John sometimes calls this “being stubborn”). But then, miracle of all miracles, over a month later I got an email. And it was my dream dresser’s owner, saying “Ok, no nibbles on the dresser for $650 so I’ll do $400.”

blue gray inlay detail next to exposed brick

Now $400 is probably the most I’ve ever paid for anything secondhand in my life, and she mentioned a few of the inlay pieces needed repairing, but I’d easily pay around $250-300 for a dresser for that nook from some other place like Target or Ikea and this is an extra special solid inlay dresser that sells for nearly $2K at Restoration Hardware. I made the same case to John, who was actually really into it too.

So that’s how this beauty came to live with us at the beach house (trust me I was tempted to keep her at our house, but we didn’t have the perfect spot). And then came the second obstacle in my dresser love story: repairing those cracked and shattered pieces. You could hardly notice them in the shots I posted on Instagram, but this was the corner of the dresser as we bought it. Looking pretty rough, eh?

repair inlay on broken and cracked dresser with spackle

If you’ve ever come across an inlay mirror, tray, or furniture piece in a store with a nice little “as-is” discount (like at HomeGoods) it’s usually because something has been popped out or cracked or smashed… which might deter you from taking it home. But wait. Don’t give up on them just yet.

I did a little research and learned that many inlay pieces are filled with plaster between the tiles, so I pretty quickly made the mental leap that some joint compound (aka: spackle) would be a good, easy DIY option to fill those cracks. It’s sandable so you can get it pretty smooth, and once it dries you can paint it to match. So that’s exactly what I decided to try. Here’s how things looked after I spackled the cracks to fill them in.

spackle fill to repair inlay tile that is missing or broken

Next, I just used the paint we had on hand and attempted to match the colors as closely as I could. Remember: paint always dries darker, so you want to aim for a color match that’s ever so slightly lighter than whatever you’re painting.

mixing paint to cover repaired inlay tiles

The blue-gray was actually pretty easy to match with the colors we had on hand (the dark blue we used for the tub and our soft sand wall color mixed together to create almost an exact match) but we didn’t have anything yellow enough on hand to patch the missing inlay piece in the front right corner, which is why you see that bottom “tile” looking a little whiter and rougher in the photo below:

repaired inlay tile on dresser

It’s not perfect yet – but now that I know this method works, I’m planning to bring some yellow paint the next time we go to Cape Charles so I can mix up a closer match for that area. You’ll also notice I painted that missing inlay circle on the side (see how it’s gone in the picture below) so I’ll touch that up too. Spackle tends to shrink a little as it dries, so I also realized after painting it that it could have used a second coat to smooth things out even more, so I think I’ll do one more “plaster coat”, sand it smooth, and touch up the paint so it matches even better once I have that yellower paint on hand.

before photo of cracked and broken inlay tile

But even as it looks right now, it’s a whole lot better than it was! You really have to be looking for the patched areas to even notice that there has been some work done on this piece in person thanks to the busy pattern, which is really quite forgiving!

blue gray inlay dresser in beachy bedroom

sconce / similar mirror

You also may have noticed that we hung a mirror over it (remember this one from our second house’s guest room?!) and added curtains, which we still need to steam (these are Lenda curtain panels from Ikea – we just cut off the tabs and used ring clips to hang them). With those touches, this front bedroom is really really close to done. There are even coat hangers in the closet! Just don’t look too closely at the art in those frames yet (it’s still the stock photo that comes with the frame).

bench / rug / blue blanket / frames / curtain rods / curtains

I love the airiness of this room. It feels interesting thanks to the high contrast bed frame and the dark curtain rods, yet soft and soothing thanks to all the soft textiles (the curtains, the bedding, the rug), and the little details – like the spool legs of the side tables, the geometric pattern on the lamp base, and the large framed art piece – add just enough “something” to keep things from feeling flat.

metal headboard in beachy blue bedroom with pine floors

art / headboard / rug / blue blanket / side table / lamp

But I still have to hand it to real stars of this house – like the gorgeous heart pine floors that we had sanded and clear-sealed and the doors that we stripped back to their original color. They’re such a nice balance with the cooler beachier colors in the room.

bed in front of window with original pine door

Look at that solid wood knob and the little keyhole under it. Is it weird if that makes me want to tear up too?

P.S. Want to know what paint colors we used or where a certain item in the beach house came from? We created a full source list right here for ya. And if you wanna see more pics & posts about this beach house renovation, we’ve shared dozens here over the past year. 

*This post contains affiliate links*

The post How To Repair Broken Or Cracked Inlay (And The Fateful Tale Of A Craigslist Dresser) appeared first on Young House Love.

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