The materials Minwax water-based polyurethane $6; self-leveling picture hangers and nails $4; optional sheets of sandpaper (pack of five) $3, all at Lowe’s (locations around the city, lowes.com). Total cost: $10–$13.
Found Wooden dresser drawers (without the dresser frame) at a beachfront park on the North Side, 10am on February 21.
The process I used a rubber mallet to separate the front pieces from the rest of each drawer. After a few good whacks, each piece broke free. Then I removed the original dark finish by sanding each section for a few minutes with an orbital sander. (You can rent one at Menards (menards.com) for $35 per day or, better yet, ask your building’s handyman if you can borrow his. Another cheap alternative is to hand sand with sheets of sandpaper.) This exposed the lighter, natural wood underneath, which I sealed by brushing on a coat of polyurethane. When it was dry, I nailed a self-leveling picture hanger to the back of each piece. With a tape measure and a pencil, I measured and marked where to hang the four pieces above the bed. I hammered in four small nails and hung them as a wall headboard. This look works especially well with the shapes and finishes of IKEA beds, such as the Malm bed pictured here.
—Collected and salvaged by Diana Durkes (finedivingchicago.com).