Dresser Redesign

Get ready you are going to get a story AND a tutorial! (I know, I know – two for the price of one!)

Two weeks I finally attempted and completed my DIY dream (or plan rather) of redoing a dresser! I know, I know – not that big of a deal but for me it is HUGE! Growing up (and still if I am being honest) I really disliked the look of painted wood. I can remember hanging out at my sorority house in college and grimacing over the white painted trim thinking to myself “I really don’t care for (re)painted wood…” I honestly cannot tell you why but for the longest time using paint (and not stain) over already stained wood just pained me in great detail, I just could not do it. And while I have slowly moved forward with the times and realizing that there is a lot of merit and artistic quality that can come from painting wood I can still tell you there are certain pieces of furniture that I have no intention of ever painting, maybe staining but not painting. I guess there is something almost final to me about painting furniture/wood. (I know it is silly, because I have completed my research I know a lot about painting and staining furniture/wood.)

Years ago I made up my mind that I really never wanted a changing table for our child’s room.  For me personally, while it served it’s purpose while the child was little, I wasn’t quite sure what I would do with it afterward when the child was older.  I made up my mind that I wanted a dresser.  A dresser is something most people use to hold clothes or make into a buffet.  In my pragmatic mind this was the best of all worlds.  A dresser as a dresser/changing table. While we were going through the process of what we now know as infertility I could never bring myself to go and by a dresser.  They were so expensive and it was so hard to see “the light at the end of the tunnel so to speak” – so I never bought one. A few weeks ago it became quite apparent to me that this whole process and journey of adoption was going to happen.  That at some point in the future we would have a child.  I was determined at that point to find a dresser!  I decided I didn’t want something new, something small or something cheap.  So we set out to search for an older dresser already painted or one I could paint.  I searched for nearly a month only to find dressers that would work that were over $200 (and not exactly what I wanted anyway) or were not what I wanted at all. I joined facebook groups, went to Antique and Thrift Stores and nothing within my budget or what I wanted. Needless to say I was disappointed.

Then one random Saturday I happened to get on Craig’s List and there listed were two dressers each for $100.  The listing said they were wood and they looked big.  $100 was at the top of my budget but both dressers looked pretty close to what I had in my head.  I text the guy and he graciously measured the length and height of both dressers (one is going in our room).  After conferring with J I called my dad and he met us to get the dressers. (Oddly enough the dressers were located less than a mile from our house – small world.) Sideways picture of the dresser (sorry our garage had not been organized and this dresser was much too heavy to move by myself!)

photo So a few days later I got started (because while it wasn’t necessary I wanted this dresser finished before our home visit!) I decided to use a chalk paint but in all honesty I am way too cheap to pay for it so I did my own version.  Now with chalk paint there is the notion that you don’t have to use primer and while that may be true the way I ended up mixing up my chalk paint there was no way I was going to paint this without primer. Some before pictures:

photo 1

photo 2

I used zinser primer (the 3,2,1 Bullseye kind I think).  To make my chalk paint I used a tutorial by LiveLoveDiy.  The color we chose is a neutral cream color by Valspar from Lowe’s.  (And as much as it pains me it was the color Josh picked.)  Keep in mind when making your own chalk paint that you may not always get the clumps out of the paint after you mix in your plaster of paris.  In most cases the clumps won’t show up but just be prepared.  Also it is much easier to use a small roller (like ones for cabinets) and a brush to paint this on furniture. Primer! photo 3   Two coats of primer and two coats of homemade chalk paint later! photo 4   I was wanting to the distressed look and to be honest I was not confident in my skills to attempt to make something look “distressed”.  Normally you would sand and let the original wood stain show through but that was not my plan for this dresser and honestly I really didn’t want any original wood to show up so my goal was to cover it!  So distressing with paint was the answer! photo 5I tried to use milk paint and make it look “distressed” but I got frustrated so I decided to cover it.  As you can tell that really didn’t work because we didn’t want a brown dresser.  So  . . . . . . . back to the drawing board. photo 6Finally decided that I needed to try dry brushing again.  This time I got another color of latex paint (the color we are going to use on our other dresser), mixed it with glaze and added water.  I then took a ton of time to dry brush all over, each drawer and section at a time.  I am quite pleased with the look. Once the paint was dry I then began the process to use polycrylic to seal the dresser.  I chose polycrylic because the smell isn’t as strong, several blogs have used it and recommended it and the upkeep would much better in comparison to wax. 3 coats of polycrylic, carrying it across the house and you have . . . . photo 7A new dresser and eventual changing table! photo 8   Since I quickly painted the inside of the drawers I decided that they needed a liner.  I found two rolls of aqua (not quite the color of the room but adorable anyway) shelf liner on Amazon for around $10.  The price was great and 5 drawers took a roll and 1 drawer was used by the second roll (there is still a lot left on that roll). While this room is slowly being transformed into a room for a child, it still holds my desk and is therefor my “office” (though I don’t always call it that anymore).  This dresser is being used as a dresser to store various things and until our child comes that is what it is – a dresser.  Then it will be their dresser and changing table.  Either way I am loving the piece and this room gives me such peace.  So I will take it!

Coming up soon – I have more things in the works for the room (now if the heat and humidity would cooperate so I could paint!)


  1. Sherri says:

    I feel the same way about painting over stained wood ! It just bugs me. It started with the cabinets on 21st . I worked so hard stripping them (w/out any help) . Only to end up having to paint over them,as there were so many layers of paint on them. So I said I never would paint stained wood. I have ate those words many times. Low and behold my kitchen cabinets in this house ate painted white

  2. elle says:

    Sherri, I can’t quite bring myself to paint anything like cabinets . . . yet! We talk about buying a house in the future that we will have to update so I have a feeling I will be doing the same thing eventually! =)

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