Antique Dresser

12:25 AM

The last few months of my pregnancy, I kept my eye on the classifieds looking for a small dresser for her.  Both kids are in the same room, so I wanted a smaller dresser to go in the closet.   But luckily a few purchases fell through, and we got this dresser for free from Rhett's brother.  I liked it so much, RJ's red dresser went in the closet and this shorter one gets to be in the room.

Rhett's older brother was cleaning out his garage, and was taking this dresser to the thrift store and I was able to snag it.  It was pretty crappy...and old.  Apparently his mother in law collected old stuff, and they'd had this dresser from her.  I don't know how old it is, but it had been stored outdoors at some point, all the drawer bottoms had warped and the top had water stains.  So it was pretty much a piece of junk. 

It did still have all the original hardware--glass knobs which were cool. 

I'm sure some readers cringe to see I painted an antique.
I originally planned to refinish the dresser with a complete new stain, but as I got sanding, I realized this piece isn't structurally that great, and it just wasn't worth all the effort.  It's kind of falling apart, warped, and peeling beyond repair other than taking the drawer fronts and building new drawers, etc.
Plus I like the paint and stain combo better.  So yes I wanted this free piece of junk to look nice to go in my house, but I didn't want to take my summer to sand it down when in the end it's still a piece of junk falling apart.
So it's in the kids' room with Ellie's clothes inside and RJ's stuff on top.

Dresser Refinish Breakdown
1. Reinforce Drawers
Pretty much every drawer needed reinforcing glue/ nails.  The dresser top also needed to be glued.

2. Sand
I hate sanding.  So when my power sander needed a new pad, this project halted for over a month until I got it ordered and it arrived.  But eventually I sanded the dresser top down to raw wood.

3. Clean dresser in and out

4. Stain and Paint
I used straight Minwax Red Mahogony stain for the dresser top.  I painted on one coat, then went right back to start wiping it off.  So the stain was only on maybe 3 minutes and it was a saturated color, and I was good with that.

Because I wasn't sanding the body of the dresser, I just painted one coat of ivory latex semi-gloss paint.
The dresser was pretty worn down and I didn't prime the dresser first.

The painting method I used on this part was "dry brushing" where you use very little paint in the brush, and brush the paint on thinly.  This way any grooves or dents remained the original dark stain, but overall the dresser looks like an aged ivory.  I liked this method because the dresser is really old, and all the dents and distressing is original for the most part.
It only took one coat of the ivory, I wanted it to look aged and not a perfect glossy finish.

5. Distress edges
I did lightly sand the edges of the dresser and drawers to remove the ivory paint and show the original dark wood.

6. Polyurethane
I painted 2 coats of satin finish polyurethane to seal the protect the dresser, and give it the shine on the wood.

7. Line Drawers
I had to put something in the drawers.  The original wood was clean now, but just looked nasty so I cut contact paper for the bottoms.

8. Add Hardware
I ended up using the original glass knobs for the bottom drawers, but some were busted so I didn't have enough for the top little drawers. I did spray paint the screws Oil Rubbed Bronze to glam them up a little.

These old looking pulls were the original hardware from the sideboard I refinished a few months ago.
I'd like to take a drawer to an antique store some day and try to find a skeleton key that will fit the lock.  That would be really awesome.

Not priming and only dry brushing one coat of the ivory really made this project faster than other furniture remodels.

It has RJ's things on top:
the lamp I painted, photo of his hands on my dad's, photo with his Dad when he was a baby, his initial block, and a vintage copy of My Father's Dragon my mom gave us.

I actually think this was my last project for the kid's room and I'm all done and should take photos of the whole room now.

What do you think of storing that vintage green suitcase under the dresser.
Cool? or just weird and out of place.  It's full of Ellie's clothes for the next size up.

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  1. Absolutely LOVE it and the green suitcase. I think you are very talented and amazing with all of your ideas. I actually created a folder of every post you do and was showing a coworker today (while wearing my new red skirt). You really are an inspiration. Beautiful dresser and I think you'll treasure it for years.

  2. That looks great! I love how it looks with the green items. Such great ideas you have.

  3. The dresser looks great. I've got one on my back porch that needs a LOT of work before it goes in my daughters room. It sat in my moms garage for over 30 years, and in someone else's garage for 30 or 40 before that. As for the suitcase? Cool. I have two, yellow and turquoise that will go under Creamie's bed as soon as she stops rolling out at night and we can put her mattress on a frame!

  4. It all looks amazing, right down to the green suitcase. :) You did a great job and you make me want to get to work on the vintage dresser I found on the curb not too long ago. {My dresser needs a bit more work...}

  5. I love it all!! Even the green suitcase!!

  6. very cute. I think the suitcase looks fine there. I would keep it. I just finished refinishing a buffet table using your tutorial. It looks awesome! I am getting an old table from craigs list that I'm going to redo too. Its fun to mix up those sewing projects with the wood and refinishing!

  7. Beautiful. I cringe when people paint mid-century modern stuff, but even I had to do it when the dresser we bought was graffiti covered and gouged all over. Sometimes we just can't avoid it!

  8. Love it! Especially the hardware.

  9. I think the dresser and vintage suitcase look great. When my oldest daughter was born (way back in 1978) we were young and oh so poor. I actually used and old desk that had been painted white as a changing table. It worked great. Now I wish I still had it.

  10. This turned out nicely Jessica! You will enjoy it for years to come.

  11. I can't believe you got that dresser for free! I have been wanting one of those for ever because I love the look of antique dressers! And I loved how it turned out!! I love the 2 color you did. Great job!
    I remember reading that book in elementary school!

  12. I enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to more travel, thanks.
    Flights to Auckland |
    Flights to Johannesburg,
    Flights to Perth,

  13. i use vintage suitcases for all kinds of storage. my husband thinks "weird!" but I say cool, practical, charming. I only have two closets in my house---funky storage is a must. The green-case looks great with the green frame, book and blocks atop the dresser. My daughter has dressup clothes in one under her dressser. nice work on the refinishing!

  14. I think you should make your own skeleton key. It wouldn't have to have the bottom key part, as that would be hidden in the dresser, just the pretty decorative top part.

  15. The whole thing is gorgeous...but the top is DREAMY!

  16. Omg, I have this very same dresser. I am going to have to try this.

  17. New follower, and I'm showing your dresser as an example in my post tonight. I'll credit your blog, of course!


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