Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tall Antique Dresser

Typically when I share my projects, I like to wait until I have a fabulous finished piece for the dramatic before and after shot. I decided to go a different route this time. I'm going to show you the steps I have taken (so far) on this incredible antique dresser I bought off of KSL a few weekends ago.  As soon as I saw it online, I knew it was worth the hour long drive to pick her up.  The seller had two dressers and I really had a hard time leaving with just one, but I was disciplined and stuck to my budget I had set aside for that day.

Since I'm still waiting for the pictures stored to my laptop to be recovered, here are the best "before"s I've got that were taken with my phone, after the drawers had been removed.  Hopefully you get the idea.

I love the character that it has with the top section set in just a bit from the base.  It has two darling little drawers that I imagine a teeny tiny little lady stored her knickers in (since that's about all there is room for)  :)

These legs are seeeeeeexy.  There is also a fabulous little hand carved detail in the center of this bottom section. 

I am in love with the hardware on this piece.  I seriously would have paid the $65 that I spent on the whole dresser for just the hardware.  Don't tell the seller that...

They are the daintiest little antique silver pulls, and the two top drawers (not shown, but super small) have these darling oval little knobs.  They will go back on exactly as is when the dresser is finished, aside from a quick cleaning to de-germify :)

I love the hand carved detail on this bottom drawer.

It didn't take long for me to get to work on this beauty.  Because she is so old, there are a few repairs that we have to do.  I say "we" because I volunteer my sweets' services for the tasks that I don't enjoy doing, and he is so much better at figuring out how to fix things.  Good thing he's an engineer.

Working around the issues that we need to repair, I got to work sanding the top slab of wood with my electric sander.

I used a coarse sand paper (80 grit) for the first round, to get all of the stain and varnish off.  This can be very time consuming, and requires some effort (even with an electric sander).  Plan on skipping your arm routine at the gym that day- this will tone your arms right up.  When sanding wood, follow the grain of the wood and work in small sections at a time.

Once I finished sanding the top, I moved on to the edges.  With rounded edges, you have to take extra caution to follow the curve (by rotating the sander as you work) to avoid flattening the edges.  This takes some practice but once you get the hang of it, it's easy peasy.

After the whole top had been sanded with the coarse sand paper to remove all of the "shtuff", I swapped out the paper for a very fine sandpaper (240 grit) to really smooth everything out.  If you end with the coarse paper, your finish will be rough and rigid.  This extra step is so worth the end result.

It took me about an hour and a half to completely sand down the top of this small-ish dresser top, including my second round with the fine sandpaper and an ever so small Diet Coke and Chocolate-covered-pomegranet-balls break.

Hey, I burned a lot of calories sanding.  Give me a break.  BTW if you haven't tried these little balls of heaven, head immediately to your nearest Costco and pick yourself up a bag.  You can thank me later.

Once I had uncovered this gorgeous wood grain, I applied my favorite stain, Minwax Wood Finish in the color Jacobean.

It is the darkest you can go before ebony, which looks almost black.  This is the same finish I used for the Thomasville dresser.  This small 8 oz. container is only about half way empty and I used several coats on both projects.  Unless you refinish a lot of furniture, I would recommend purchasing the small size.  This cost me about $5 from Home Depot. 

I applied this finish with a leftover scrap of drop cloth fabric from my chair and was sure to wear gloves.  I have done this before without gloves and had even scarier hands than I already do all weekend.  Wear the gloves, folks.   I dab some stain onto a very clean piece of fabric, and then wipe the glaze onto the wood in long straight lines going with the grain of the wood.

Once I have covered the whole surface, I go back and "buff" the stain into the wood really well with a quick circular motion.  After allowing the stain to dry and darken for approx 10 minutes, I repeat this process until I reach the desired color.  For this dresser, I applied about 6 coats.  The end color is such a rich color that still highlights the gorgeous natural wood grain.  I love  it.  I have a feeling you will be seeing many more projects in this same finish from Penny Wenny.

The next day, I painted.

I wanted a really pale blue/gray color so I went to my lab and mixed together some colors I already had until I created the perfect blend.  Because the paints I used were paint and primer in one, I skipped the step that I would normally take of spraying or rolling with Kilz original primer.

I applied 2 coats of paint with my 2 1/2 " Behr paint brush that I got on sale for 75% off from a few weeks ago.  I'm a Purdy gal, so I was skeptical but so far I am pleased.  I'm willing to try anything for 75% off.

The lighting in this picture is horrible but it is truest to the actual color of the paint
I love the contrast between this dark rich top and the soft creamy gray blue base.  Gorgeous...

The drawers were painted the same way, and lined up to dry.

I almost finished the makeover tonight, but am going to keep you on the edge of your seats for just a bit longer to see everything else that I did.  I'm sure you are all biting your nails in anticipation. Hang in there, and come back soon to see this beauty transformed.

Thanks so much for stopping by!


I'm linking up to:


  1. oh my gosh. that looks gorgeous! You're so good at what you do!

  2. Definitely can't wait to see the finished project! Looking terrific so far.

  3. I can't wait to see the finished product!!!
    My daughter has a similar dresser in her room that belonged to my great grandma. I love the tiny top drawers...perfect for her little socks and undies.

  4. I saw those two beauties on the classifieds! I wanted them but they weren't a match. I'm impressed you were able to stay in budget and just get the one.

    I can't wait to see the final product!

  5. I can't wait to see it finished! I also have a hard time leaving furniture behind.

  6. I just found your blog through Jen's. I like this project! Thanks for the tip about sanding. I just got an electric drill with sanding attachment for Christmas and don't know how to properly use it, really. I can use all the electric sanding tips I can find!

    And you are right, the contrast is lovely. :)

  7. I stopped by your blog because it has a great name. Your blog is really lovely and you've posted a great project. I'm looking forward to following you and seeing what's next. Stop by Brambly and give it a peek. Have a great day!


  8. That dresser is gorgeous, it has great bones. Love the dark stain and paint combo.

  9. Coming over from Primitive and Proper to check out your dresser, I'm in lurve...=) Now I'm a follower!! Hope you do the same! Can't wait to snoop around your blog!

  10. Looks really good so far, looking forward to seeing it finished!

    I've come over from P&P

  11. OK, that's just mean! The anticipation might kill me! Can't wait to see the finished product! What a find!

  12. What I really love about the dresser is the front design it has. Most dressers at best have a nice knob or color. This one is unique as it has it's own design at the front that goes across each draw.

    -Zane of ontario honey


I can't wait to hear from you! If you have any detailed questions, please feel free to email me- Thanks!