The Dresser That Almost Wasn’t

I fell in love with this antique dresser when I first saw it. Complete with round mirror and great details, it was a steal at $75. It’s been sitting in a corner of our dining/living room for a long time now just waiting for me to figure out what to do with it. I decided not to keep the mirror with the dresser since it wasn’t original. It’s down at my shop right now and, if no one buys it before I get to it again, I plan on making a neat little entryway mirror/shelf/coat rack out of it.

But right now let’s focus on the dresser. At first I wanted to paint it gray. Then I wanted to paint it my new favorite Krylon spray chalk paint color “Mink”. Then I REALLY wanted to strip it down to the bare wood. After discussing with my experienced wood-working father, we determined that stripping to the bare wood wasn’t going to be feasible due to the construction style of the dresser (it’s a veneer finish, common in many wooden dressers). So I went back to paint.

Before (1)

I tested numerous layering techniques before settling on one that’ll keep the gray tones I use throughout my home while giving a warmer, wood-like undertone. With precise distressing, I’ll even get a weathered look that I love.

Step one: use wood filler to patch the cracks and fill the holes to allow for new hardware (alas one handle was missing so, even though I loved the original brass handles, I bought new). I used a tube of wood filler instead of my usual Durham’s Rock Hard putty just for ease. I didn’t have big areas to patch, so the tube was MUCH easier to work with.


Once the filler was dry and sanded, I got to painting. I started with a layer of Art Minds “Smoked Pearl” chalk paint. While the first layer was still damp, I lightly brushed on a layer of Craft Smart “Silver Gray” chalk paint. This turned out horribly. It looked pink. I was miserably disappointed. (It may look more gray in the picture, but I promise it photographed WAY better than it actually looked).


Fast forward past the crying and desire to just throw away the dresser to mixing a medium gray with some Americana Decor “Relic” and Craft Smart “Silver Gray” and repainting. Better, but still not quite there. It looked too flat and almost blue. I mixed a blend of clear, white, and antique wax to a creamy brown wax wash. Using my wax brush (Americana Decor makes a wax brush, but it’s about $30. You can find an almost identical one at Michael’s for closer to $9) I wiped on a fairly generous layer of wax, working in smaller areas. Immediately I wiped the wax off with an old cotton t-shirt which took some muscle! I wanted a lot of the gray to show through and that required a lot of buffing. My fingers are still a little sore.

Once the entire dresser was waxed, it still wasn’t quite right. It was too brown in some patches. I mixed a bit of “Relic” with water to make a glaze that I very, very lightly brushed over the too-brown areas. With a light touch, I immediately wiped the glaze away, taking some of the excess brown with it. After the dresser dried, the babies had been changed and fed, and we had some rambunctious playtime, I took a sheet of medium grit sandpaper and lightly brushed the details and edges. The twins helped by yelling at the dresser and slapping the drawers.

Now to drill for the new hardware and line the drawers!

There are many ways to line drawers:

  1. Contact paper (self-adhesive, but typically comes in smaller rolls and I find it difficult to work with)
  2. Wrapping paper (takes a little more time to decoupage in place, but is a permanent and smooth solution)
  3. Self-adhesive accent wallpaper (usually self-adhesive, definitely the prettiest selection, but is expensive)
  4. Fabric (more expensive than paper and requires fusible interfacing or spray adhesive for either a temporary or permanent solution)

I decided on the wrapping paper option. While I LOVED the accent wallpaper selections in the home improvement aisle at Target, I couldn’t bring myself to pay $30-40 for a roll. Instead, I chose this beautiful gray floral wrapping paper for about $3 a roll.

I measured twice and cut the paper, leaving a little extra around the edges. I lightly decoupaged the paper in place and carefully used a razor knife to trim the excess. Perfect! No more nasty, stained, smelly drawers.

There you have it; the dresser that almost wasn’t, finally complete. I love the finished product, but it certainly wasn’t an easy process! (Have I mentioned the claw feet on this dresser that I LOVE??)

Sorry for the poor quality picture…it was hard to get a good angle in our small bedroom and I had to block the light by standing in front of the window. I included some of the details below so you can see the gorgeous details



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