Dresser before makeover

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I decided to refurbish a large dark wooden dresser that I bought almost ten years ago. It has six large drawers that provide lots of storage space, so I didn’t want to give it away. However, the dark wood and dated hardware meant it desperately needed a facelift.

The dresser before the makeover.

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.

Applying the stain to the dresser top.

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Next I was ready to stain the wood. I wanted to create a vintage look with a lighter wood tone that had a slightly grey undertone. I first applied wood conditioner across the grain using a rag until the top was saturated. I allowed it to dry before removing the excess by wiping in the direction of the wood grain. Allow the conditioner to penetrate for 30 minutes before staining.

Before applying the stain, make sure you test it on your wood to ensure you like the color. I decided to use a pickled-oak and a weathered-gray stain. Stir thoroughly before applying.

Applying the stain to the dresser top.

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. Image middle: Spray painting the silver brackets. Image right: Spray painted bracket.

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 drilling spots and creating the pilot 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.

Some before and after pictures of the dresser.

Before and after pictures of the dresser.


Text and photos by Nina Naqvi

Tools for This Project

01X4220 - 143mm x 40mm Rect.

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Recess Rectangular Pulls

From: $10.90

01W3513 - 79mm Pewter Card Frame

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Card Frames

$3.60

00B7120 - Pair of Jigs

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Drawer & Cabinet Jigs

From: $9.40

54K8502 - 3X Sandpaper 80x, each

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Norton 3X ProSand Sandpaper

From: $1.20

27K2732 - Osmo Polyx 3051 Satin Pigmented, 125ml (4.2 fl oz)

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Osmo Polyx Satin Pigmented Hard Wax Oi...

From: $24.00

Norton ProSand Discs

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Norton ProSand Discs

(Pkg. of 10)

$14.90

27K0690 - Spray Can Trigger Handle

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Spray Can Trigger Handle

$6.80

09A0260 - Chinese Fan Brushes, set of 4

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Chinese Fan Brushes

From: $3.40


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