Styled vintage dresser

making over a vintage dresser

I have been busy all summer with various projects around my home.  Some pretty and some, like touching up the fence stain, that are just necessary when you’re a homeowner.  I spent a good chunk of August making over my bedroom and while it isn’t quite finished, I thought it was time to at least share one new addition.

I really wanted to add a vintage dresser to my room.  Something that wasn’t too precious as I intended to paint it and it couldn’t be too long given the length of the wall it would go against.  I also liked the idea of a low-boy so that I could style the top and hang some artwork above it.  I finally found exactly what I was looking for while visiting an antique show at the ARC at the end of July.

Dresser before

This dresser is from the ’40’s and I bought it from a mother/son pair that were selling their grandparent’s furniture.  It is beautifully made but definitely shows the wear and tear of daily life.  I also loved the shape of the handles and planned to keep them as-is.

Close-up of the drawers

When I took the handles off you could see the original colour and finish of the stain.  This dresser was definitely showing it’s 70+ years.

Annie Sloan Old White

(Image via Interiors to Inspire)

I picked up some Annie Sloan chalk paint from Interiors to Inspire (I had chatted with one of the owners at a Spring home show and liked their little shop).  I decided to go with Old White as I didn’t want it to be too stark or too yellow.  I also knew that there would be a lot of grey and blues in the room so wanted something that would play well with everything else.

There is typically almost no prep required when using chalk paint but certain stains on furniture from the 30’s and 40’s can bleed through.  I did a quick first coat on the drawers and of course, you could see some pinkish spots bubbling up to the surface.  I then headed to the hardware store for some clear shellac and added two coats before continuing to paint.

First coat

I really liked how the first coat was looking and the lighter colour enhanced the details on the dresser.  I used a set of plastic ‘stands’ (picked up at my local Benjamin Moore) and they kept the piece elevated so that I could properly paint the legs.  As you can see, Shoppy supervised my work and spent the entire time either sleeping under the dresser or lounging on my paint towels.


Once I was finished painting both coats, I put the drawers back in to see how it was coming along.  This is when I realized just how deep the drawers sat and there was a line of unpainted wood peeking out.


Here’s a better shot showing what I mean. It was a pretty quick fix to just add some more paint on the inside and then I was ready to  wax.  I also decided to distress the finish a little bit as it was looking ‘too perfect’.

Distressed details

I used a light hand when sanding and focused on the edges.  You can see the sheen the wax has given the dresser.  When I bought the paint and wax, it came with a set of very helpful instructions and if you need more, there are plenty of ‘how-to’s’ all over the internet.

Finished dresser

Once I had the dresser in place, I started to question my colour choice (no matter how long you spend selecting colours, it’s bound to happen at some point during a project).  At the same time as I was working on the dresser, I was also painting and stencilling the room.  The ‘before’ photo includes the original colour of the room and now you can see the addition of Stonington Gray and my otomi stencil in Decorator’s White on the walls.  I really didn’t want to start again but decided to just wait and see how it looked once the bedding, curtains and accessories were added.

Styled dresser

Ok, so once I started pulling the room together, I was really happy with the colour choice (not to say I might change my mind later). The bedding includes various greys and off-whites and the dresser fit in perfectly.  I quickly styled it but am waiting for some art from society6 before I really finish the look.

More photos to come as I continue making over my bedroom but thought I would share at least one of my summer projects.