Dresser Refinished, Upcycled and Remodeled

I found this dresser on CL and thought, what the hell… I know nothing about refinishing furniture, let’s give it a try. Both Alanis Morissette and I are fully in favor of biting off more than one can chew.

Here are the before pictures. Please puke along with me as we peruse the following horrifying pictures of this antique dresser gone foul. To be fair, I got them off a college kid who was about as friendly as they come. $40.

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Don’t wipe the vomit from your mouth just yet… more pics to follow! If you’re able to see the potential in the piece note the wavy top drawer and the thick frame. Very cool. Very promising lines.

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Ok, you can wipe off the upchuck. I’ll stop posting petrifying photos of the BEFORE disaster that was this dresser. Now for the step-by-step and finally (gasp) the reveal! Don’t skip ahead, you’ll ruin the dragging out of this surprise!

First I used Elmer’s WoodFiller on the crap verneer cracks. It worked okay, but it sands a little too easily so you have to be careful and use a light sandpaper. I used 220. FYI these pics below are of PRE-SANDING phase.

20140503_145130and another to show more filler…


Next I sanded down the Elmer’s WoodFiller (as mentioned above for the students paying attention) and kinda did a once over with 220 to help the primer adhere. Here is where I will reiterate the fallback to this product (sorry, Mr. Elmer). It doesn’t really sand evenly because it isn’t as strong as, say, the body filler other posts suggest you use. So, I had to do another round of filling and sanding to get the shape and coverage I wanted. This added a long time to the overall project clock because with deep cracks in the verneer I was waiting five hours between application and sanding. That’s a long time to Forrest Gump myself on a log and wait.


Yup. Next I primed the sucker. Bye bye wood color, hello primer mess. This is always when a doubting Thomas walks in and says something like, “eh. barf. I liked it better before.” This is good because you can make them eat their words later when they realize it was only primer and the best is yet to come. Although honestly it already looks better with primer on…. I used Giddeon primer, I wasn’t impressed with it because it looked thin. I applied two coats then lightly sanded with 220 to remove any brush lines. I’ll be looking for a better furniture primer for future projects.


The best has come! Paint! This is everyone’s favorite part. I love watching ugly be hidden by pretty, don’t you? Anyways, I went with red because I feel like, for furniture, it is just a stunning color and you can play around with Asian accents (or colonial, French, etc) for drawer pulls and the like. I was playing with the idea of a bright yellow but then realized that fad (only present in my mind) would fade and I’d be left with a canary dresser. Here is a hint of the color. I put on two coats of light paint (cherry red) so that nothing would run. I used spray paint, which is easier than a brush and doesn’t leave any strokes. If you are going to apply a high gloss later, I recommend the spray method as the gloss will bring out tiny imperfections and lines.


Finally I applied a ton of lacquer. This is mostly to protect it from my toddler, dog, cats, birds and mice. If I lived a different (bachelorette) life where I didn’t have to be terrified of little sticky fingers and dirty paws scratching my furniture creations I wouldn’t have applied so much protection. I’ll take the sticky mess and paws any day! But, if you don’t have that concern I’d say a less shiny protection would suffice.

Drumroll! Here is the before and after picture of my antique dresser refinishing!

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ABOVE: Here is the classic “before and after” shot. Me thinks the red looks fantastic. Sadly, my phone photography skills at night are lacking.

20140510_191124ABOVE: The front looks super sleek.

20140510_191531ABOVE: This is probably how Tarantino would photograph his furniture (at night, with odd lighting and no real explanation).

20140510_191208ABOVE: You can’t really tell what this is in the dark. I’m thinking I’ll get more photos loaded in daylight.

20140510_191133ABOVE: Finally, a good shot of the knobs. I got each unique knob attached and love the look it lends. Up close it doesn’t look childish, it looks eclectic and adorable. Very Alice in Wonderland meets Marco Polo.


ABOVE: Another close up of my knobs.

Well, there you have it! My dresser remake. Most of the time was spent fixing the cracked verner and sanding. Actually painting and putting on finishing touches accounted for a fraction of the time but all of the fun.

I am playing with the idea of adding a black antique glaze to this to kinda give it a pop, tone down the red and add to the Marco Polo side (while taking away a bit of the Alice in Wonderland feel). Thoughts?

Ok, I did add it. Here is a sneak peak!


To date, the total cost for this project is: Dresser: $40; paint: $14; Knobs: $32= $86 + spray sheer coat protector (+8)= $94

You can find this dresser for sale at Melange, in Winston-Salem, NC. See my other items on Etsy at Fernweh Originals or visit my Facebook Page, Fernweh Originals.


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