Dresser Makeover: Before & After

So, my office has been looking like this for the past couple weeks:

Not a good look, and I was getting sick of it. I had decided that I needed a dresser, and needed it fast. I thought it would be fun (and cheaper) to refinish my own. So I began scouring craigslist ads for the perfect fit.

I hadn’t had much luck, largely because I have no truck/means to transport furniture, so needless to say I was getting desperate.

Friday evening I finally found it. The perfect little rescue project.

Only $25 (plus $10 to deliver)! I didn’t even try to bargain with the guy because I was so excited just to have it.

When it arrived that night, it was clear why it was so cheap. This thing was beat up.

Scratches and gashes everywhere…

Missing dowels…

It was rough. But I was determined to make it useful and pretty. So I made a trip to the hardware store the next morning to pick up some supplies.

I had been carefully studying all of my paint options over at Centsational girl’s blog, and decided that spray paint was the way to go. All of her projects turn out flawlessly, and she uses spray paint on many of her furniture pieces. I only had one weekend and it had to get done, so I knew this was the quickest and easiest solution.

Here’s what I was working with:

I decided to use paint stripper to try and remove the glossy varnish coat. I’m still not entirely sure if that was necessary, or if just some sanding would have done the trick, but I loathe sanding so anything to reduce the amount of sanding time sounded like a good idea.

Here’s the stuff in action:

Looks like it’s working, right? Well, not entirely. Some areas peeled off like butter, others were really stuck on there. I have a feeling it had to do with the thickness of my coat of stripper, so take my advice and lay it on thick if you’re wondering.

Here’s some of the easier areas coming off:

Here’s some of the ensuing mess:

After I had scraped as much as I could stand, I began the annoying fun process of sanding. Sandpaper was something I forgot to pick up at the hardware store, so I was stuck with my 150 grit. Pretty sure from the scratches I was leaving that was way too rough. Next time I’ll remember to pick up some finer stuff (along with a sander perhaps to make my life easier).

After sanding, I went ahead and patched up all of the dents/holes/missing chunks I could find using lightweight spackle…

Probably not the ideal stuff to use on wood, but I purchased some wood putty only to read the instructions which said “this putty does not dry and can not be sanded”… great, what good is it then? I don’t know. But my spackle worked just fine.

After allowing it to dry, I did one more light sanding, then wiped the surface down with paint thinner to clear any dust and debris.

Then came the fun part: prime & paint!

I used a can of Rustoleum Painter’s Touch Ultra cover 2x Primer. After the
can was empty, I had this…

Didn’t quite cover all the way. I foolishly believed their claim that “1 can = the coverage of 2”. Trust me, they lie. Then I became concerned that the two cans of paint I purchased wouldn’t be enough to thoroughly cover the dresser.

My suspicions were confirmed, and it was back to the hardware store. This time I played it safe and bought three cans, and I went with a different paint because I wasn’t fond of the way the Painter’s Touch would randomly spit and splatter the paint out. Not cool Rustoleum.

So I instead got this, which I remembered seeing Kate (Censational girl) using often:

No splattering from this can, whew. I ended up using another 1.5 cans to fully cover. I noticed that this new paint was actually glossy, while the first really wasn’t, which left an undesirable spotty effect on the finish. I tried to capture it in the light here:
See the spotty area where it looks like part of it’s still wet and part is dry in the right corner? Yeah, no bueno. So I gave it one last coat of paint and hoped for the best.
While it was drying, I gave the hardware a coat of my favorite stuff in a bottle (aside from three olives bubble gum vodka), Krylon’s Oil Rubbed Bronze.
I couldn’t help but notice how much smoother and effortlessly this paint went on compared to the Rustoleum. This is the only experience I have with the two brands, but seriously, this Krylon is miles above both of the Rustoleum brands I used. Just my observations.

Anyway, I finally had everything dry and ready for the next step: lining the drawers.

I was originally looking for some wrapping paper to modge podge, but after no luck finding any that I liked at Michaels, CVS and Walmart, I found some contact paper for a few bucks at Walmart in fun lime green stripes that I thought would make a nice alternative:

I measured the drawers, then cut using an Xacto knife (this stuff slices like butter)

Once cut to size, I removed the entire backing off and positioned it until it lined up perfectly.

What’s great about this paper is that the backside is only slightly tacky, so you can move it around as much as you’d like without risking any wrinkles or rips. And it’s not as thin and paper-like as wrapping paper, so it’s harder to crease.

Once in place, I lifted the corners of just the areas that needed it and applied modge podge.

That was all it needed and it was in place. Very pleased at how it turned out and I’m so glad I found it instead of using the wrapping paper. And I can easily remove it and switch it out later on if I wanted to change it.

Behold, a finished drawer:

Finally, it was time for the handles to be reattached:

And here it is, in its new home:

The top area will be a cutting & weighing station, and the inside is filled with all my packing materials.

All in all, I am pleased with the results, and that I accomplished it all on my own in a weekend with a limited budget (and a miserable head cold). I’m glad I finally got my feet wet with this whole refinishing thing, but for my next project, I’ll definitely be using regular oil based paint out of a can. And making sure to take the time to do a proper sanding and priming. The craigslist hunt begins again for the perfect pedastal dining table to makeover 🙂

Oh, and I hate to say it but I wasn’t able to fit all of my packing supplies into the dresser… so I will also be doing away with the existing wire shelves and making some nice built in wood shelves. Brad has opted out of helping me on this one {insert sad face here}, so we’ll see how I manage.

Hopefully back next week in the middle of some more good projects!

psst… this post has been linked to the DIY Showoff!  

11 thoughts on “Dresser Makeover: Before & After

  1. Thanks you guys! Skip, the contact paper did not stick too well. I think it would work fine on flat, smooth surfaces, but since I had a glossy, rough/grainy surface (due to the nature of the wood and the dust that was stuck on from sanding then spraying), it definitely needed the modge podge to give it that extra holding power! And it worked great 🙂

  2. Amazing what paint can do! Just stumbled upon your blog recently and think I might have a couple of tips to help with future projects. I too hate sanding an old finish in preparation for painting. That's how I discovered the magic of deglosser. You can pick some up at Home Depot or Lowe's where the strippers and thinners are. It's great stuff. Wipe on. Let it dry and give the piece a light sand with a 220 grit. Then paint! Far simpler than stripping. Just be sure to use multiple cloths. The original finish will build on your rag as you wipe. So, be careful not to lay it back down with a saturated rag. And for filling digs, dents and holes, try wood filler vs. putty. It's sandable, stainable and paintable. You can even mix your own with good ole Elmer's glue and sawdust. Happy painting!

  3. I have problem with the drawers sticking after they've been painted. Do yours pull out smoothly? This always happens when the drawers are not on tracks.

  4. I don't remember them sticking to the front, but I did use spray paint which dries a lot faster. I find that latex paint usually needs at least a week to fully cure before regular use—longer the better. Hope this helps!

Comments are closed.