Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Grandpa's Dresser Makeover

This lovely five drawer dresser was recently given to me by my mother.  It was left in my grandparent's house, which they now own.  I was super excited to get it because I currently have two little boys sharing a dresser and we have baby number 3 on the way.  There certainly is not enough room to put a third child's clothes in there too!  Now the question is, who gets the new dresser?  I'm thinking the baby does!

I couldn't help but think this dresser could use a little make over, besides, all of the other furniture in the bedroom is black.  My first notion was to head on over to and check out what other crafty people have done with old dressers to make them awesome.  And I found some really great ideas.  I really wanted to paint the dresser a bright color and finish it with Minwax Black Finishing Wax.  The only problem is, we don't know the gender of our baby and baby will be sharing the room with an older brother.  It's hard to decorate a room when you don't know if it will be for two boys or for a boy and girl (for a while).  Ultimately I decided on a solid black dresser with a little extra color inside the drawers; I think you'll like it!

The Paint

I read a few blog posts on how to prime the dresser and most of them suggested using Zinsser Primer because there is literally no preparation; just paint and go.  My better judgement decided to take a trip down to the local Repcolite Paint store and see what they had to say.  (I didn't want to go through all of the work of painting this dresser only to have it chip and peel.)  I told them what I was painting and they suggested X-I-M Primer for my surface.  The primer was white but they were able to tint it to a medium gray color for me because my top coat would be black.  The X-I-M primer was right around $20 a quart, which I thought was quite a bit, so I held off on buying my top coat.

After I painted the primer on the dresser (it only took one coat) I headed to good 'ole Wal-Mart to pick up a few more painting supplies.  They had the Zinsser Primer on the shelf for around $10 per quart.  Next time I think I'll give it a try.

I found a quart of Black Krylon ColorMaster Enamel on the shelf at Wal-Mart for around $10.  I thought the word 'enamel' sounded exactly like what I was looking for, and the best part is that it washes up with soap and water.

Of course I was at a third store when I picked out the color for the inside of the drawers.  At Lowe's I picked out the Valspar color "Rapids" #5004-10A and had it mixed in a quart of Olympic interior satin paint, because that was one of the cheapest brands available.

Here are a few of my dresser makeover painting tips:

1.) Sand it First - even if the primer says you don't need to sand it, for best results you really should.  I used a 220-Grit Fine Sandpaper and sanded it by hand.  The 220 is just enough to give the primer something to stick to without damaging the surface of your furniture.

2.) Use Tack Cloth - a cheap piece of Tack Cloth will lift off any dust left by the sand paper and prepare your project for primer.

3.) Use a Primer - primer is what helps your paint stick to the surface of the furniture and helps keep it from peeling and chipping later.  Next time I'm going to try Zinsser.  Usually one coat is all it takes.

4.) Go Disposable - I chose to use inexpensive and disposable products for this project in particular because I was painting black.  It just seemed like it could be a huge mess trying to wash all of that up in my kitchen sink.  I wore disposable gloves, and used inexpensive paint tray liners, foam brushes and disposable rollers.  And I hate to say it but I threw it all away after each coat of paint.

5.) Use a Roller - Make life easy and get a great finish by using a paint roller.

6.) Cut Rollers in Half - I used a roller with a 1/4" nap for this project to achieve a smooth finish.  I like to buy the regular sized ones and cut them in half with a serrated knife to make them fit my 'mini' roller.  Just make sure you wipe off any of the 'fuzz' before painting.

7.) Thin Coats - Save yourself a lot of headache and get a great finish by painting thin coats of paint and allowing each coat to thoroughly dry in between.  You'll also avoid those pesky paint runs if you go easy on the paint.  This project only took two coats of black paint.

8.) Plastic Bags - I hate washing out my paint brushes because they never seem to dry in time to use them again, making my paint watery.  Also, its so hard to get all of the paint out and if you don't you end up with little rubber paint crumbs in your next paint project.  My solution is to use a plastic bag.  If I'm using a paint brush I just slide it down into a zipper bag, mush the paint around a little bit to cover it all and then zip it shut.  If I'm using a roller, I grab an old plastic grocery bag, put it in all of the way and roll the bag around the roller.  No washing, and you can reuse your same brush or roller the next day.  The paint seems to stay usable for up to a week or so.

The Knobs

I had originally decided to pitch the 1970's drawer pulls that were on the dresser and go for something brighter and more modern.  I was thinking a brushed nickel cup drawer pull like THIS, until I got to shopping around.  The drawer pulls on my dresser were 4 1/4" on center; did you know they make virtually no furniture hardware in that size today?  Good Grief!  So onto plan B; spray paint.

They actually painted up really nice!  I even had a can of $.99 glossy black spray paint on hand.  The glossy drawer pulls are a nice, but subtle contrast to the satin paint on the dresser.  I would have loved to paint these knobs hot pink or teal blue but, again not knowing baby's gender, it's kind of hard to do.  I guess I can always take them off and paint them again later! ;)

The Drawers

And now onto my favorite part of the project!  A surprise splash of color on my seemingly all black dresser.  I decided to paint the inside of the drawers a beautiful seafoam/teal/aqua color (I never know how to describe it) called "Rapids".  I figure the color is pretty gender neutral and it's one of my favorites.  The best part of the drawers is, I found this awesome Gray Chevron Self Adhesive Shelf Liner to line the drawers with!  The best price I could find on this stuff was on for $11.99 and since I currently have a free trial of Prime I got it shipped for free :D

I painted the inside of the drawer fronts black and the sides teal.  I was careful to cut the paint in and not paint on the drawer bottoms.  Later I found out that I should have done a little over painting because it's super hard to make the contact paper go all of the way to the edges on every side.  Lesson learned.

The Finished Product
Here it is!  I'm totally thrilled with how this dresser makeover turned out and can't wait to start using it!  I guess I better get to washing baby clothes; only 5 more weeks!


  1. LOVE this Dana! Well done :-) I will definitely be using your tips soon, as I plan to refinish a few of our bathroom cabinets. It's scary, but you've paved the road nicely! Thanks. ~ Angela Bennett

  2. Bake your spray painted hardware at lowest temp your oven will go for a few hours--- prevents chipping.

  3. Did you use something else for a final coat after the Krylon black paint?

  4. I didn't put anything over the black Krylon on this dresser, but the next piece I re-do I will for sure put on a clear coat to add to the durability.