Petite French Provincial Dresser Salvage

I found this dresser at a steal of a price on OfferUp…and the seller was willing to deliver. SOLD. Once we got the petite dresser upstairs I started to have doubts. The pictures didn’t do an accurate job showing the damages. I knew there was a drawer missing and I knew some of the handles had been replaced, but I didn’t realize this wasn’t a solid wood piece or that the new handles were poorly installed and didn’t even remotely match the French style. Then there was the stench. Clearly this belonged to a smoker at one point and smoke stays with a piece FOREVER.

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Some quick decisions were made. I pulled out all the drawers with non-original handles and pitched them. Most were beyond repair. Don’t need ’em. I scrubbed what remained with orange-scented wood cleaner which helped but only for a short time. I removed the drawer tracks from the top two rows and patched the many chips and holes with wood filler. The bottom left corner had been chewed up by a dog and took a lot of sculpting to make it smooth again. Once that dried and was sanded, I gave the whole dresser a coat of shellac.

A note about shellac: Shellac is a sealant that comes in liquid or aerosol form that I’ve used before to seal chipping paint on old doors and hide odors in old furniture. It’s a great protective coating to use under paint. When painting laminated furniture it’s a good idea to give it a coat of shellac to provide a foundation for the paint.

Whew. No more stench. Finally ready to make this mess cute again! I tried a new color, ArtMinds “Sea Glass”. It’s bright, it’s fun, it’s perfect for this petite dresser. Much better! Add some chalkboard crates I found to replace those hopeless old drawers and you’ve got yourself a great dresser, changing table, entertainment center, hallway table…

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I was able to reconnect with an old friend and know it’ll have a good home so that made this an even more rewarding project!

While this turned out cute I would strongly advise against buying this kind of project. If a piece smells run away as fast as you can and don’t look back. It’s not worth having that stench linger in your home even though it can be solved with cleaning and shellac. If it’s not solid wood and it’s showing signs of water damage you most likely won’t be able to salvage it. While I have fixed up laminated pieces and pieces made from pressed wood, they’re not going to last like solid wood furniture and damages aren’t easy to deal with. Just don’t bother. There are better finds out there! Unless you’re brave or a little mad, like me 😉


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