Making a Bookshelf from a Vintage Dresser

When I first saw this beauty on OfferUp I didn’t skip a beat to make an offer. After waiting for another offer to fall through I finally got my hands on this fun project. The surviving drawer and handle are a testament to how beautiful this piece once was. It’s sad when such craftsmanship doesn’t survive; if you own a vintage piece of solid wood furniture with unique details PLEASE take proper care of your treasure! Saving pieces that haven’t been properly cared for is what I do and I was bent on making this survivor a well-loved beauty once again.

I really need to invest in a better method of taking pictures


With the drawers missing it was easy to decide to turn this dresser into a bookshelf. Simply cut wood to fit, support with L-brackets, and stain or paint. If you’re like me and you don’t have space for a good saw, Home Depot and Lowe’s will actually cut pieces of wood for you.

Chalk paint often advertises as being the “no prep” paint but that isn’t quite true. While chalk paint doesn’t require the sanding or primer layer that most other paints do to adhere to a surface, it is important to have a smooth canvas to work with. There’s really no such thing as “no prep painting”. The top of this dresser was pretty nasty and there were a few areas that needed some patching with wood filler. I sanded the top with my orbital sander and smoothed out some other rough areas by hand. When old finishes are exposed to heat they’ll often bubble and chip; be sure to always sand these areas before painting to prevent bleed through or more chipping.

With a clean, smooth surface I got to work. The inside I painted with General Finishes “Linen” Milk Paint. I received this color as a free sample and I’ve used it a few times now on small projects. It’s velvety smooth and so easy to paint with. The color is a little more beige than white for my taste, but it was a great warm neutral for the interior of my bookshelf. It’ll stand apart from the stained shelves and the painted exterior. I decided to go with a classic black distressed finish for this piece (often known as the Pottery Barn look) using ArtMinds “Onyx” chalk paint. The wood was so dry from years of neglect it soaked up the paint quickly.

After adding my Minwax Jacobean stained shelves and a coat of clear wax I distressed lightly with sandpaper. As I mentioned before, I really need to invest in a better lens so I can take higher quality pictures. These simply don’t do this beauty justice.





I LOVE the feet on this



One thought on “Making a Bookshelf from a Vintage Dresser

  1. This is a lovely finish! I like your choices of stain and paint, and also the items you place as props to show off the pieces you have completed.

    Sent from my iPad



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