I have had and used the same dresser since my Mimmie (grandmother) purchased it for me when I was a teenager. She instilled in me that when purchasing furniture you get the best you can afford and always, always purchase real wood whenever possible in a classic style that won’t fall out of fashion. And so we hit up the local furniture stores of Southern Oklahoma until we found something that filled her requirements for quality with a look I wanted. In the end I got a short and wide dresser stained in a gorgeous, very red cherry color. And that dresser stayed that way until about 10 years ago.
You see real wood when stained changes color over time and my bright, pretty red turned into a darker brown-ish burgundy color that I really learned to dislike. It reminded me so much of the office furniture I would see at the oil company my dad worked at and where I did summer work during my teenage and young adult years. I wanted something hip and modern but I was broke. So I grabbed a few cans of spray paint and that sucker became black and stayed that way for a decade, still well used and well loved.
And with the changing tide of personal taste that is affected by modern decor it was inevitable I would eventually come to despise that black finish with those very dated silver drawer pulls and long for yet another change. And since this dresser is still real wood with good bones and a classic design, it’s the perfect piece to change into something mid-century modern inspired with a tiny investment in some Devine Color + Target.
As it turns out the third incarnation of my childhood dresser is, hands down, my favorite. I waffled between colors to use for my dresser makeover and, in the end, I nipped out to Target to grab a quart of Devine Blue Jeans Chalkboard Paint and I’m super pleased with my choice! Isn’t that the most gorgeous blue, ever? Even if this is my childhood dresser, I really wanted to be sure I didn’t choose a childish blue. This isn’t going in a little boy’s room, but instead the master and I wanted the color to feel sophisticated and mature. NAILED IT.
In order to go for this mid-century inspired look I decided to strip down the entire piece, painting the drawer faces this fab blue, staining the body of the dresser a medium, reddish color and replacing those outdated, silver pulls with some long, gold bar handles.
What do you think? Love it? ‘Cause I LOVE IT.
Want to see how easy it is to turn something old into something new and fresh again without breaking the bank or your back? Learn from my mistakes and successes…
For this project you will need:
- Devine Paint, in your choice of color
- Devine Peel & Stick Wallpaper + sharp craft knife/razor blade
- Smooth bristled paint brush
- Wood stain, in your choice of color
- Wood staining pad or brush
- Polyurethane top coat
- Modern drawer pulls
- Wood putty + flat scraper
- Orbital sander
- Paint stripper + scraper
- Lots of old rags
- Mineral spirits for clean up
Now I managed to take some pics of my dresser in the bedroom prior to this makeover but, unfortunately I dropped my camera and broke the darn thing. Since I sent it off to be fixed with the media card still in there (after I had already left it lost one the week before) I have no good “before” pics. At least you can kind of get the idea from this one! I found this in between pics Rob took of the pets on the bed. At one point the cat was just gone and there was a very blurry picture of the dresser. But see it back there? It looks nice enough but I’m kind of bored with it. And the top has a big problem area where something got spilled on it that ate through the paint and into the wood on the top that needs to be dealt with. Sounds like the perfect time for a makeover, right?
The first part of a furniture makeover is to clean and prep the piece to take on its new look via paint and stain. To do that you’ll need to take the piece apart. Remove drawers and then take off any hardware from their faces. Even if you’re not reusing the hardware for this project, toss everything in a zipper bag so that you can use it in the future or you can give it away to some place like a second hand store or charity.
Now our first instinct for this dresser was to strip away the old paint and varnish with a belt sander. Having never used one before, my dad gave me a bit of a scare and I was frightened to death about digging holes into the wood or taking away too much altogether. In the end, I freaking HATE belt sanders and it’s never going to see the light of day again. They are difficult to maneuver and getting a nice, even sand is super difficult and frustrating. In the end it just made the job so much more difficult! Look at that gummed up paint. How is that even happening? It’s TEN years old!
In the end some citrus based stripper was brushed onto all surfaces and allowed to sit a few hours.
The paint and varnish were then easily scraped away and it was so much easier, but still the wrong call.
The wood had to be cleaned several times over with mineral spirits to remove the stripper which began to bleach the wood in places giving me this blotchy surface that was not going to look good once stained, not good. In the end and after a lot of research and advice seeking, the fastest and best option was using an orbital sander. Stronger than my mouse sander, but not an evil thing like the belt sander, I was able to strip the old paint, varnish and stain pronto and NOT have to clean the surface with multiple passes of foul smelling chemicals that then had to dry. Seriously, next time I’m going first with the orbital sander and a breathing mask and really knock that business out quick smart!
Once you’ve gotten your piece stripped it’s a good time to repair any damage the piece has taken over the years. Having been moved a whopping SEVEN times since I was a kid, there were a few things that needed patching up. Any back or bottom pieces to have come loose can be easily tacked back down with small nails or a heavy duty staple gun. Gouges can be filled with wood putty and sanded smooth and shallow, superficial scratches and marks can be lightly sanded down.
If replacing hardware and the holes for the new pieces don’t match up, you’ll need to patch with wood putty. Allow the putty to dry and lightly sand with a fine grit sanding block until the surface is smooth and the holes no longer appear. Because I wanted to use new hardware, that’s a part of why using the Devine Chalkboard paint was so appealing, the paint easily covers the patched areas for the old holes and the drawers look good as new!
Once the holes are patched and dry you can drill holes for the new hardware. I went ahead and got each of my drawer faces ready for the new handles so that there would be less handling of the piece before the paint that was to come had a few days to cure.
So prep work is always the longest part of any furniture makeover. It’s not fun but totally necessary and really not nearly as bad as you ever think it’s going to be. Even though this project had its ups and downs, it seriously was no big thing. Once the prep is done it’s time to get to the fun part! Painting and general prettying up…
The base of my dresser was stained with English chestnut, a shade that is kind of reddish like when this dresser first found its way into my life. After staining and allowing to dry, 2 coats of satin polyurethane were brushed on with a light sand in between each coat of poly. Remember, poly top coats will make your stain appear darker, so keep that in mind when planning out your color choices.
Now the thing that I LOVE about the Devine chalk paint is that didn’t prime my drawers and it took 2 coats for PERFECT coverage. On my first pass I was thinking it was definitely going to be a 3 coat project but, huzzah, 2 was PERFECTION! Now I used a “good” quality brush but I suggest purchasing a better quality, nice and soft bristled brush, or even a smooth sponge roller.
After realizing that I wanted gold handles even though I bought silver, I stuck some nails into the box of my microwave I got on sale for a steal the same day I bought my paint. From those nails I attached the pieces of my hardware and gave them a quick spray of gold for a whole, new look! I allowed these guys to cure 2 days before I even tried touching them so that the paint would get nice and well set.
After a second coat of paint the drawer faces sat overnight to help the surface cure. Allowing time to cure lets the surface harden which helps to prevent scratches and even fingerprints embedding into the paint when it’s time to handle the drawers.
Now way back when after I had painted my dresser black I had thought it would be neat to cover the sides of the drawers so that when pulled out they would totally pop. I only ever covered a single drawer… it was meant to be a test because I wasn’t quite sure whether or not the paper would rub when pulled in and out of the dresser or something. As you can see, it worked perfectly well for years and so I decided to peruse the Devine Peel and Stick Wallpaper to see if there was a pattern that would work well with my design.
The Devine Blue Jeans color perfectly matches the blue in my peel and stick wallpaper. And it’s just a really fun print, isn’t it? Plus the gold dots and splotches subtly complement some gorgeous brass and marble pieces I got from Target to decorate this beauty once back in place in the master bedroom.
To cover the sides of 7 drawers I only needed a single roll. This pattern wasn’t sold in the store so I ordered it online and was super pleased that I got it in the mail just a few days later.
To start cut pieces of the wallpaper that are slightly larger than the sides of your drawers. I measured out the size for my sides and then cut all 14 pieces for my 7 drawers. I moved this party inside the house so I could enjoy the air conditioning for just a little bit and it was divine!!!
Peel the back of the paper away and then place a straight edge along the seam of the side and drawer face. Use a gift card or other plastic item to burnish the wallpaper onto the drawer. Use a new razor blade or a craft knife with a new blade and trim away the excess paper. Go along the sides with your burnishing tool (a.k.a. gift card) and make sure that the paper is sticking down as well as it possibly can.
Pop those drawers back in and you’re all set and move that baby back into the house.
Isn’t that so polished and put together looking? Just a little bit of time and super easy and the results… I LOVE IT!
I love how fresh and new my dresser looks. You wouldn’t believe it’s several decades old, would you?
It sure doesn’t hurt that I’ve got some awesome decor items on top of it, either. Remember those gorgeous accessories I got at Target that I was talking about earlier? Here they are! We snagged that awesome gold mobile at Target in the clearance section a few days ago. For me it was love at first sight and I had to have it.
And while we strolled down that Target aisle on the end with the newest decor items Rob fell in love with that awesome lamp up there largely because of how prominently it displays an Edison light bulb. The base is super heavy and looks like it might be marble with brass colored industrial pipes for the lamp portion. Rob wanted that lamp so badly that we actually paid full price for it. We were too worried if we waited for a sale the 2 on the shelf would get taken home by other shoppers and we didn’t want to miss out!
Oh, and that super cool turtle is also a Target find. Its shell opens up and inside are the remotes for the TV! I also added in a plaster cast of my hand that is holding the rings and bracelets I wear most often right now and I tossed in all of my favorite dog statues that were commandeered from other areas of the house. You can never, NEVER have too many dog statues!
Or real dogs for that matter ;)
Even though I hit a few bumps in the beginning, this was a super easy project that when spread over a few days worked out really well. And there’s no denying that our new dresser fits in much better with the way our decor has been moving AND it only cost us some stain plus a quart of Devine Paint and a roll of Devine Peel and Stick Wallpaper. Not bad, right? Want more color design and inspiration? Be sure to check out Devine Color on Instagram
Written by Allison Murray - Visit Website