Dressier Dresser | Bower Power
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Dressier Dresser

2010 December 3
by Katie

You guys didn’t think that we used an entire gallon of paint on our new bed, did you?

Oh no. We are much too thrifty to let perfectly good paint go to waste. That is why hours after we finished our new farmhouse bed, I frantically walked the rooms of our house looking for something else to ‘brush up’. When I didn’t find anything…well, color me frustrated.

Then a couple days went by. And I made my weekly visit to my local Goodwill. That’s when I saw this beauty:

I remembered the piece that my girl Holly redid that I posted about long ago in an ironic how-to about Goodwill shopping tactics. Here’s Holly’s dresser after she got her amazing paint-spraying-mits on it (prayin’ for you girl as you recover from your surgery!):

Looks pretty close to me! You know…except the color and knobs and overall condition. It’s like the ugly sister.

But every ugly sister can get a makeover and then turn into the gal that Prince Charming wants to marry forever and ever. All you need is a little magic and a fairy Godmother (in this case, her name is True Value because that is where we scored the paint, the wood filler and the tools to make over this ugly duckling).

Here is how we did it.

First, I assessed the situation.  It’s like lifeguarding…you don’t just jump into a lake if someone is drowning.  First, you check for alligators in the water. 

It had quite a bit of damage on the sides to the veneer and especially at the bottom.

 

After my assessment, I took off all the hardware. 

Then I decided to sand the entire thing lightly. Since it was veneer and I have primer that sticks to just about anything, this step isn’t always necessary but in this case, I thought it was a good idea. You see, it was plagued with sticky stuff. Some visible. Some not so much.

I could tell some of them were leftover stickers. Like the fully intact chicken sticker. Nothing jazzes up a dresser like a chicken sticker. You can quote me on that.

Sand sand sand sand sand. 

Sanding it would allow the dust to settle onto the sticky parts – making them all visable.  Then I used my trusty mineral spirits spray bottle (yes, it is a Pantene Pro-V detangler bottle that says Paint Thinner but it provides the perfect fine mist and that my friends is priceless) and a scraping tool.

Just spray spray spray. Scrape scrape scrape. rinse and repeat till all the chickens are gone.

Then it came to cleaning it up. I just wipe all the pieces down to get all the bits of dust and dirt outta there.

Since the veneer was so badly damaged, it needed quite a bit of patching. Enter Elmer’s wood filler.

I have loads of this stuff because I love it so much. It is perfect for painting projects because it dries fast and it is easily sandable. You just shmear it onto the places you need patching and wait for it to dry. Then you sand it till it’s smooth with the other parts of the wood.  I use medium grit sand paper.  Nothin’ fancy here in redneckville.  I also filled the drawer handle holes but then later I realized I didn’t need to on the one-handled ones. Oh well…live and learn.

 

After patching, waiting, sanding, you gotta clean up again. This is when I had to assess some of the other damage to the piece.  Back to lifeguard analogy – so there was only one little alligator and now you must navigate the waters to avoid the toxic waste floatin in the water :)  

 The bottom of the sides were so badly beat up, I knew that my patch job would never look great. That’s why I decided to raid the scrap pile in our shed. I knew that there had to be a piece in there that would kinda look ok but look way better than the jacked up sides.

I found some leftover trim from a kitchen project that looked very similar to the front piece with it’s little curvy lines. So I just cut a could to the same depth of the dresser and tacked them into place.

I actually did it to both sides.  You know…so this girl wasn’t lopsided :)

Then I had to tackle the bottom left hand side drawer slide rail. It was coming off. I just removed the piece (WITH MY BARE HANDS! I know…I’m such a beast) and then hammered out the old staples before jamming it back into place and securing it with a couple new staples.

 

Time for priming! I love love love this Zinnser shellac based primer. It’s unbelievable. It dries uber-quick (perfect if your project time is only as long as an 8 month old’s nap) and it sticks to everything.

After priming, I painted it with my semi-gloss Antique White that I had color matched at True Value. At this point I realized that I wasn’t getting the same even coat that I wanted…so I switched to a mini roller. It worked way better. I kept using the brush for the edges and curvy parts…but the mini roller worked great at applying a more even coat.  Then came time for hardware.  I was torn about the hardware decision but ended up going with the new Martha Stewart line of knobs and handles.  I love the worn-in look on the finish. 

It was at this point I realized that I didn’t have to fill all the holes for the handles.  These ones fit perfectly in the existing holes.  My bad uglyducking dresser. 

Okay…so are you ready for the afters?  Here she blows:

 

We moved it into the kitchen (obviously Katie!) because the other black open shelving unit was…open.  And we officially have a mobile baby.  So this was the first big step in baby-proofing our first floor.

 

Now Will can’t get into the breakables PLUS I was able to move in our corkboard (the same one from last year’s advent calendar project) so that we can see our calendar, our christmas cards, and our appointments.  And surprisingly, I didn’t lose any storage space.  In fact, this white dresser holds everything that the black shelves did and then some.  I still have two drawers to fill!   

So now for the breakdown – the dresser cost $15.  The paint, primer, filler, scrapers, and sandpaper was FREE (leftovers from our master bed building project – curtesy of TRUE VALUE (hollah if you love em – WHOPWHOP!) and the hardware was $28 (Ouch I know).  That brings the total to….drumroll for those of you who can’t add quickly….

$43! 

  

Not too shabby, huh? 

Or maybe you think so?  Maybe you think the hardware was totally overpriced?  Or you have a better wood filler?  Or you like a different primer?  Or you would have fixed the side veneer issue differently?  Or maybe…just maybe…you love the transformation?  Maybe…just maybe…you think that this ugly duckling got her wings?  Maybe…just maybe…you are frothin’ at the mouth to head to your own local thrift shop to pick up your own princess-in-the-rough?  I’d love to hear your answers.

And again - a big thank you smooch to our fairy godmother of transformations, True Value.    

“I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as my writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.”



144 Responses leave one →
  1. Lalypop permalink
    July 9, 2013

    I absolutely love this idea! I have a wood desk that I’m dying to paint white.. it’s not badly damage or anything… do you think I need to sand it, or can I go straight to the primer and paint? would appreciate the help :)

    • July 9, 2013

      Oh yes I do. Sanding is for reducing nicks and scratches but it’s mostly for good adhesion!
      xo – kb

  2. Missy permalink
    August 24, 2013

    That dresser should have been in the trash pile! I am so amazed and, yes, thankful that people like you exist to repurpose things that others think is trash. Truly inspiring! I really can’t believe my eyes.

  3. October 28, 2013

    all I can say is WOW! hard work really pays off ♥

  4. Dixie Lee permalink
    November 3, 2013

    Sanding – I must say that one of the best investments ever was our little palm sander – 1/4 sheet – have used it on furniture projects like this one, to sand and paint our kitchen cabinets, the elaborate Chinese Chippendale style railings on our deck, etc – things go so much faster with it.

  5. November 4, 2013

    Amazing thank you for sharing this step by step… i love the idea of restoring the Dresser and it`s easy to do….

  6. YukonChick permalink
    January 26, 2014

    That is an amazing transformation – you did a fabulous job. And who doesn’t love a chicken sticker on the side of a dresser? I’m pinning this for future reference, you did an excellent job to walk us through each stage. Thank you.

  7. Irma Camp permalink
    February 14, 2014

    I too love hitting those Goodwill stores and found a beautiful china cabinet that had the same damages as yours but down the front drawers I have bubble water damage. Do I scrap open those bubble then sand and fill. Also I want to keep it the natural wood grain color how do I go about that. Thank you for showing the step by step process.

    • February 14, 2014

      That is one approach. If the veneer is still salvageable…then you can always squeeze a ton of wood glue behind the veneer and then use wood filler and sand the heck outta it. If the veneer is patched, then there isn’t a whole lot you can do for the natural wood grain except fake it with paint.
      xo – kb

  8. Wendy permalink
    March 30, 2014

    Hi,
    I love this project , you did an AWESOME job! I have one question,.
    I’m thinking of doing this, but I’m afraid the paint will be ” sticky”
    How do you avoid this, do you coat it in clear wax, or does it not stick?
    Thank you,
    Wendy

    • March 31, 2014

      It wasn’t sticky for me but I know that sometimes paint does do that. You can always do wax or a poly coat.
      xo – kb

  9. Sonia Steckert permalink
    August 1, 2014

    Love the transformation. I am working on a large bookshelve media center units (4 parts) and I am nervous about picking a color. I think I’ll go with white like you did. It’s a crisp clean look . Thanks for the instructions on how you did this. Off to the store to buy the pain.

  10. Kristin permalink
    August 7, 2014

    This is absolutely beautiful! I so badly want to go out and fix up a dresser now! Haha!

    The chicken sticker was a Pokemon btw! :P

  11. Samantha permalink
    August 24, 2014

    I just bought a old dresser that I want to refinsh and it is veneered also. So when sanding does the veneer stuff come off??? It does need alittle patch work also so should I do that before sanding. Thanks you finished dresser looks great.

    • August 25, 2014

      If it’s really thin, it might! Veneer is just thin wood…think thick construction paper that looks like wood. Sanding too rough can cause issues. I would patch first and then sand and then prime and paint. Hope this helps!
      xo – kb

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