DIY Solid Wood Dresser Makeover

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This dresser makeover was one of my favorite and most frustrating DIY transformations. The whole project would have taken only a few hours if I hadn’t been so insistent that I end up with a trendy bleached wood look in the end. I didn’t get the look I originally wanted, but I’m happy to say that despite the many unnecessary hours I added in sanding during this I am so happy with how it turned out!

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We had lived in our house for almost two years and my daughter still didn’t have a proper dresser. We were trying to keep her clothes neatly placed in decorative baskets in her closet. You can see it wasn’t working.

For all of you out there who have closets like this, know that I see you. Life is messy. Literally. And that’s okay. One of my goals is to make my messy life a little prettier. This DIY dresser makeover definitely helped with that! At least when the closet it closed.

Dresser Restoration

Step 1- Sanding

When my friend posted a wood dresser for free on Facebook I texted her as quickly as possible. The one thing I love more than restoring old furniture is restoring FREE old furniture. This one needed a little TLC but it had such a great structure.

Original Wood Dresser

First I removed the hardware and got to sanding. I started with 80 grit sandpaper and moved up to 320 grit. Because I was planning on staining rather than painting I wanted all of the hard coating and previous stain completely gone. For most of my general sanding I use a Dewalt Random Orbital Sander. For this project I also used a cheap mouse sander to get the edges and details really well. If you plan to do a lot of furniture restorations I would recommend purchasing a decent mouse sander.

Step 2 – Staining

I started staining with Minwax Early American. After staining the top and a couple of dressers I decided it was too orange. I sanded it down again and tried Minwax Special Walnut. Again, too orange so again I had to sand it down. At this point I had spent hours sanding this dang dresser. I tried the bleaching method (brushing on a water/bleach mixture and letting it sit for a certain amount of time). The raw wood was quite a bit lighter after, but as soon as I put some stain down it when back to orange.

Stained Dresser

Now, it wasn’t horrible, but it definitely wasn’t the look I wanted.

Step 3 – Painting

It was at this point when I decided it wasn’t worth any more extensive sanding. Off to Lowes I went to pick out some paint. Because I wanted to show as few imperfections as possible I decided on a Valspar interior semi-gloss paint tinted in the color “Secluded Garden.” Sounds romantic, eh??

The best part of painting was that I used my new paint sprayer!! Let me tell you, it was AMAZING. No more brush strokes and it was seriously SO fast. I 100% recommend using a sprayer over a brush for a project like this. I bought the HomeRight Super Finish Max sprayer. For around $100 you can’t beat it!

HomeRight Super Max Finish

Step 4 – Sealing

I finished up the project by brushing on a couple coats of Varathane Water-based Polyurethane to seal the paint and protect my beautiful new dresser! I could have put it in the sprayer as well, but the one downside of the sprayer is that you lose some product to overspray and I needed to conserve the little polyurethane I had left. I definitely recommend the water-based polyurethane. It’s a bit pricey, but it dries hard and doesn’t have the oil-based smell.

Finished Dresser

I love how this dresser makeover turned out! I finished it off by lining the drawers with some peel and stick wallpaper. I put the original hardware back on, but I think I may pick up some cute gold bars or even some Winnie the Pooh drawer pull to go with the theme of the rest of the room! What do you think?!

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  1. Jan | 5th Sep 22

    This is seriously a beautiful piece!

    • cayles | 5th Sep 22

      Thank you!

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