I started by sanding the dresser. (Make sure you wear safety goggles to protect your eyes and a mask to avoid breathing in the dust.) I went over the entire surface with 80-grit sandpaper, which is coarse enough to remove most of the original stain. Afterwards, I went back over the entire surface with a higher-grit sandpaper.
Since the original stain was so dark, it took me several attempts (and many pieces of sandpaper) to remove the stain from the dresser’s surfaces. The 80-grit sandpaper removed the stain in broad strokes, and the higher-grit sandpaper used during the next round removed any residual stain. I used 120-grit sandpaper for the second round of sanding and finished off with a 220-grit, which smoothed out the entire surface and left an ideal base for the new stain to adhere to. In retrospect, I should have sanded the dresser outdoors, but since it was so heavy, I opted to do it indoors. If you plan on doing that, either do it in an isolated room or lay down an old sheet or tarp to contain all the sanding dust.
The dresser during and after the sanding process.
After I had applied the stain and a clear sealant over it, I picked out the jewellery for the dresser – the hardware. I chose vintage-inspired pulls from Lee Valley in a burnished-bronze finish, coupled with brass card plates placed above the pulls to transform the bedroom dresser into a storage cabinet.
I also bought some small L-shaped brackets in silver, as they were unavailable in a matching finish. I created my own burnished-bronze finish by spray painting them with black paint and then going over them using a matte-gold paint.
Image left: The new hardware for the dresser.
Images middle and right: Spray painting the silver L-shaped brackets to make them match the burnished brass hardware selected for the dresser.
I installed the hardware last. I used a power drill with the correct drill bit to make holes in the drawers. To make it easier, I used a drawer-drilling template, which helps mark out the location for your required holes.
Marking the spots with the drawer drill template and using a power drill to create the pilot holes for the hardware screws.
Below are some before and after pictures of the dresser. I hope this article inspires you to tackle a project that you can give new life to with a fresh finish and different hardware.
Before and after pictures of the dresser.
Text and photos by Nina Naqvi