DIY Up-cycled Painted Dresser

 Thank you for all the positive feedback

on my first ever DIY post a couple weeks back. You have convinced me that I should share my SECOND ever DIY project today :)

As you know from the previous post, I was helping my mother in law update her “blah” guest bedroom over the holidays. She wanted to create an inviting space with a cool colour scheme and contemporary furnishings.

The challenge? A tight budget and an even tighter timeline since guests were scheduled to arrive in two and a half weeks from the beginning of the project.

The solution? Another attempt at a DIY project that could help transform the space on the cheap and save another beautiful piece of furniture from death by landfill. All for the whopping price of $80.

BEFORE: Pine dresser in all its traditional and dated glory.

The pine dresser is old (purchased in 1978!) but it has great lines. I like the variation in the drawer sizes, and the drawers themselves have dovetail joints – a sign of quality craftsmanship. Nearly a decade ago, we “updated” the dresser by adding brown wood knobs in place of the brass ones that were original to the piece. Over the holidays, it was time for another change….a litttttttle more drastic :) A new paint job and some funky knobs to turn the tired-looking dresser into a fun, new piece.

Using the same spray paint that we used in the DIY custom bathroom mirror frame project, we (…aka…Jeff-the-Passport-To-Design-mascot) sanded off the sheen finish of the dresser, spray-primed it, sprayed four coats of white glossy spray paint (which again, was not as glossy as I had hoped), bought shiny glass knobs for the top drawers and iron oblong knobs for the rest of the drawers…and voila! A new dresser was born. I admit, we took the easy route due to a lack of time and budget to keep the sides and interiors of the drawers in the original colour and finish, but I think it worked out nicely because now the inside drawers don’t smell like toxic spray paint – a bonus for storing clothes and linens.

Here’s a quick Step-by-Step breakdown of the “grand transformation”:

STEP 1: Remove the dresser drawers and sand the surfaces to be painted. Removing the varnish will help the paint adhere better. Sand the surfaces until the glossy sheen is gone.

STEP 2: Remove the hardware and sand the drawer fronts.

STEP 3: (optional) Cut corners by refusing to sand and paint the interiors of the drawers...


STEP 4: Apply a coat (or two) of Rustoleum Spray Primer in white.

STEP 5: Apply 4 coats of Rustoleum Spray Paint in glossy white. (Note: if you apply the spray paint in a cold room, like the garage seen here, you could end up with a blotchy finish...or...if you manually sand the surfaces you might not evenly remove the sheen and end up with blotchy finish. We did both).

STEP 6: Install interesting hardware on the fully painted and dried drawers. I used glass knobs for the top row of drawers to add a custom look. Both knobs shown are from Home Depot Canada.

BEFORE AND AFTER: Now that's better! A fresh new look for a great piece of furniture.

Add some styling to the surface of the dresser and admire your new piece of furniture that cost around $80 in spray paint and sand paper.

I think I am getting used to this DIY stuff…it’s pretty rewarding to be able to transform something old into something new. I wonder if there will be any DIY projects in 2012? I kinda hope so :)

Have you repainted a dresser before? What challenges did you face? I found it difficult to keep the paint application even – again, likely because of the cold environment and a hack-job on the sanding. I considered painting the top of the dresser a different colour for fun, like a punchy bright blue, but it didn’t seem like the right thing to do for this particular space.

Maybe next time!




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  1. You make it sound not too difficult. I love the finished product!

  2. ThanKS, wasn’t TOO difficult..then again, I did most of the supervising and less of the grunt work. haha! :)

  3. It is hard to refinish with regular paint and keep it even. That is why, if anyone can get to a place that uses lacquer paint (like at a cabinetry shop), it will be even steven! Mostly because it’s sprayed! However, that costs cashola!

    This is a great tranformation! I have found with any painted pieces I have done, a glass top fit to size, helps avoid chipping, stratching on the top of the dresser.

    Keep at it Tania! It’s an artform that, you are right, is SOOOO satisfying!


  4. Looks great! I love the combo knobs :)

  5. Thanks Miss K! I am glad you approve and agree it’s a satisfying process :) I’ve been keeping up with your blog but unable to comment because of a slow internet connection in the lobby of my client’s condo, but I think you will enjoy seeing the photos of the beach condos after your inspiring post on BLUE design ;)

  6. Thanks, Sharon :) I miss you around the blogosphere – I’ve been SO SWAMPED with work I’ve been M.I.A. on your blog. Looking forward to catching up once things settle down.

  7. The dresser looks so fresh and the two different knobs are a great twist. Plus, putting some interesting dresser the candle holders and framed photos makes everything looks so boutique.

  8. Gosh it looks so rewarding. What a transformation.

  9. The dresser looks great! I really like the look of the two different styles of drawer pulls.

    I have a feeling that once you get the DIY bug, you’ll be looking for all kinds of things to make over! It’s so rewarding to breathe new life into an old piece, and it’s good for the environment too :-) My current DIY obsession is chalk paint – I’m looking around my house for pieces of furniture that need a chalky makeover :-)

  10. Tania

    Glad you like it, Kelly! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I hope to have more DIY projects on my plate soon but need the time first. But you are right, they are rewarding, and addictive! ;)

  11. Nice post, For coating use ultimate linings

  12. So glad I saw this! I’m going to be doing the same thing to two old dressers in my bedroom this summer. Only instead of white, we’re going to a medium gray color to compliment our fabric dark pewter colored headboard. So excited!!

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