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waterfall dresser (chest of drawers)

I must warn you that if you don’t like painted waterfall dresser furniture, maybe you should click my side bar image titled 250+ Repurposed Projects and skip this post.

waterfall-chest-of-drawersThis waterfall dresser (chest of drawers)  was headed to the dumpster when I saved it.  Not only headed FOR the dumpster, but the owner was about to beat it up and break it apart so it would take up less room in said dumpster.


waterfall-furniture-bad-veneerYou can see that it was really in rough shape.  It had been stored in a damp shed building for years.

removing-bad-veneerThe first layer of veneer came right off very easily.  The second later needed a little more elbow grease.


waterfall-chest-of-drawers-veneer-removedAfter removing the layers of veneer, I could see the damage done from years of storage.


patched-up-ches-of-drawersI patched the cracked wood with spackling.


waterfall-chest-rough-shapeI didn’t even attempt to patch this missing piece at the bottom?


repair-drawers-airstrike-staplerMost of the drawers were rickety and not sturdy.  I used my new Ryobi Airstrike Stapler to secure the sides of the drawers.


finish-max-pro-paint-sprayerAfter a good cleaning, the chest of drawers heads to the paint booth for the HomeRight Max Pro Sprayer treatment. I used a light coat of flat white paint as a primer all over the piece, with the drawers in place.

primer-waterfall-chestAfter the light coat of primer I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint all over.


mixing-paint-colorsThen I got busy mixing some paint to change the color.  The gallon can of blue is Tiffany Blue, and the White is the Behr that I used for a basecoat.   I mixed the paint in one of my Homeright paint cups so I could shake it and store it.



I knew the drawers would be quick and easy to paint so I used a brush on them.  This is after one coat.  I decided that the color was too light, so I added more tiffany blue for the second coat.


blue-white-two-toned-waterfall-chest-of-drawersThis picture shows a better real life color than the pictures below.


wire-brush-hardwareWhile the chest of drawers was drying, I got busy on the hardware.  Some of the hardware was very rusty.  I used a wire brush to remove some of the rust.


wash-hardwareThen I washed them off with the hose.


krylon-rust-protector-spray-paint-hardwareI reached for my Krylon Rust Protector Spray Paint.  Love that it dries so quickly, and it has the EZ Touch 360° dial spray tip.


drying-spray-painted-hardwareI was a little impatient, and did a lot of coats—the hardware was a little tacky to the touch, so I laid it on a piece of scrap wood so it could dry better.

waterfall-chest-of-drawers-makeover 2Then I reinstalled the pretty white hardware!

waterfall-dresser-makeover 2This vintage waterfall chest of drawers is far from perfect.  It’s been through a lot in it’s lifetime. Some may think I should have restored it.  I wish I could have, but I just didn’t have it in me to take on such a project.  At least it can still live a nice long purposeful life, instead of being chopped up and thrown into a dumpster.



MyRepurposedLife-vintage-waterfall-chest-makeover 2

Should I call it done?  Or would you do a stencil or some distressing on it?


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A teacher at heart, Gail relishes the chance not to show off her projects, but to help others find their inner handywoman, step-by-step. Her blog, MyRepurposedLife.com, chronicles her scrap-saving adventures and has been featured on countless DIY magazines and websites, including Women’s Day, Design*Sponge and Apartment Therapy. She is a longtime influencer for both Krylon spray paint and Gorrilla Glue. With a tribe of more than 400,000 followers, Gail is inspiring a new generation of DIYers to pick up some tools and get to work.
About gail@myrepurposedlife.com


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Shawna Punzalan says:

    It looks great! I need to find a couple dressers for girls to do this with! Their dressers are falling apart. (Ikea press board specials)

  2. Love it just the way it is!! You did a great job!! It has great clean lines. I would leave it just like it is!!

  3. Sue Young says:

    I would find an Art Nouveau Stencil to put on the second drawer down. Beautiful.

  4. Fabulous job, it looks beautiful, perfect the way it is!

  5. I think I would have liked the handles to be sprayed antique gold in keeping with the original. But, the white stands out and I wonder if they would look more harmonious with the rest of the chest if painted the same color as the body of the chest. I love painted rescued waterfall pieces. I did a waterfall vanity too far gone to refinish in coral and it is beautiful.

  6. Knuckles McGhee says:

    I don’t think you should apologize for finishing it the way you did.
    Paint>sledge hammer. That being said, it does seem somewhat unfinished. I look forward to seeing it with a little more vavavoom.

  7. Love it! i would distress it a little though

  8. I adore it! Gail, your hard work saved this dresser from doom. Someone will be very lucky to have it.

  9. What do think if you highlighted the groves in white?

  10. I love it!! I would add some white to the engraving on the drawer faces if anything, but its fabulous as is, too.
    I love all your project. I get so many fabulous ideas from you. Thanks so much!

  11. You did a great job! However, I’m just not feeling it. I think it needs some dimension and depth to the paint color. But that is just me. Also I am not a fan of the white handles. I think some distressing to the handles would be interesting.

  12. Karen Akers Wilds says:

    I love it! I think you did a wonderful job! If you wanted to add something, you could do a white “Lacey” pattern, maybe using doilies as your stencil . Maybe a subtle one that doesn’t take over the piece. But I think it’s great just the way it is!

  13. Liz schwerdtfeger says:

    I agree with Shirley but I would accent those inset lines with your white paint.
    Beautiful save!

  14. I almost skipped this due to the warning. I dislike when people see a few scuff marks and decide to paint something that could be gorgeous with a little effort. This would NOT have taken a little effort. You made a good choice and I think it looks good but a cute stencil may be cute as well.

  15. Bill M. says:

    Excellent job on the waterfall dresser. My wife found one nearly identical to it today in a thrift shop. One of the handles is missing and I was wondering if you have any idea what the brand is or where I might locate one. I have your site bookmarked and we will continue to enjoy viewing your projects.

  16. This is just beautiful! The only thing I would do to this, if you haven’t done something already, is bring out the existing cut lines that are already on the chest with just a little bit darker paint in the same color.

  17. Priscilla Taylor says:

    I love the chest of drawers that you did. I am getting ready to start a chest of drawers myself. Could sure use some help with the painting. Also, going to paint my storm doors this spring. Beautiful work that you’ve done.

  18. After cleaning out my husbands grandparents house, the one thing I requested was their waterfall bedroom set,only if no one else wanted it~~ Well, we are now the proud owners and I love it. My Mother had one when she married my dad and I just loved it!!
    This one is in wonderrul condition. It is now in our guest room!!! how fun!!!

  19. I am new to the blogging, but found your page while on a google search for turning an old dresser into a tv stand. Love your projects, this one is really great! I love old furniture and I can see why some people would not have wanted this painted, but with the damage that was already done to it I think this is the best alternative. How cute would that be in a baby’s or little girls room? If you did that I think a vinyl decal of a name or a monogram on one of the drawers would be sweet.
    Hope – http://sittingonmydockofthebay.blogspot.com

  20. I’m so glad to see this. I have a bedroom set that I love but cannot restore. Now I have an idea of how good it will look ‘fixed’ and repainted. Can’t wait to get started.

  21. Hi there.. I had an all in one waterfall amoire with drawers a secretary and closet that the veneering was rotted, splitting, falling off and just plain terrible. I spend days working on removing the horrible veneer. My father called in the middle of my challenge and I told him what I was doing. He said dont touch it I will be right over. He came over and said to boil water in my tea kettle.. LOL when the kettle whistled he took the hot water and start pouring it over the the veneer in an area wear it was splitting and falling apart .. with in minutes he took a putty knife and the veneer lifted off like butter!!! He said that is because originally the glue used is called hide glue and that is how you remove it. If I would have known this from the beginning I would not have had those nasty gouges to fill in. anyhow I finished stripping the veneer off in a couple more hours with his technique then waited several days for the would to be totally dried prepared stained and gold gilded the piece of furniture .. It looked beautiful!!! I since gave it away.

  22. Hi Gail
    You should not feel that you have to apologise for what you do. You saved something that was destined for the dumpster & did a fabulous job repurposing it again & most importantly, it looks lovely & has a new lease of life. Well done on a great effort & for sharing it with us ….

  23. PS – I wouldn’t even think of “distressing” this piece. It looks great just the way it is!

  24. I would be one of the first to scream, DO NOT PAINT IT for most wood projects. This time, I can wholeheartedly say, I LIKE IT!!!! Don’t do anything else with it, it looks WONDERFUL!!! Thank you for taking the time to save this piece!

  25. For everything (turn, turn,turn) there is a season (turn,turn, turn)…. a time to paint and a time to refinish. This was a time to paint. Great job.

  26. Dawn Stagg says:

    Love the color combo. I had a similar dresser a few years ago with the veneer issues. I did take off the top veneer. But I noticed the second drwer down has a bit of veneer bubble. How did you get it to lay back down? I tried to glue mine, but unfortunately it just make it bubble more. Also I would dry brush your handles with a bit of the blue so you can see the design on the handles. No stencil needed.

  27. Shirley says:

    This is beautiful just the way it is!

  28. Done!

  29. It couldn’t look any more perfect. I think stenciling would ruin its simplistic look. Also love the handles white, not black or gold. So glad you saved this beautiful piece of furniture from being kindling.

  30. girlfromwva says:

    Just beautiful! so glad you saved it from the dumpster and gave it a new life!

  31. I am not a painted wood fan – except when restoring is way more work than it’s worth or the original wood is not great quality. The veneer would have been a pain to redo and while waterfall dressers are attractive, they’re not antique-antique (if you know what I mean). I think you did a great job! The only thing I might do is add some glazing to bring out the carved details on the top drawers and maybe something to bring out the details on the pulls.

  32. I’ll be very honest – unless it’s something that is beyond restoring (ie: bad wood, irreplaceable trim pieces gone..etc..) I am against painting wood furniture. Just am. Have always had a love affair with the rich tones of natural woods.
    But Gail, you really did an excellent job on this piece and I’m loving it!
    The colors are perfect..nothing loud or far out there. It’s a peaceful combo that fits with the architectural vibe.
    Don’t change any of the colors, not even the hardware! I think black would just throw off that whole aged, resftful feel.
    Now you yourself mentioned that it’s far from perfect..still has its flaws and such from storage..use…time..etc.
    Maybe distress it a little? Sand a few “worn” spots?
    Then the piece of trim that’s missing and the small veneer “bubbles” on the drawer – all those character flaws
    that remained after painting would tie right in, and it would just look aged.
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s a gorgeous piece right now as it is!
    But it’s a piece that has character flaws and an almost pristine paint job.
    (says the woman who dislikes painted wood!)
    Just a thought Gail, nothing more.
    Besides, you’re the one with that great blog and tons of followers – not me!
    Just go with your instincts on this one!

  33. Absolutely stunning! What a great tutorial.

  34. barb macaskill says:

    I might use a paint pen and go over the décor grooves on the front using the same white as the pulls! I think that would really make it pop! Interested to see what, if anything you decide to do!

  35. You know what gets my grundies in a bunch? It’s not painting furniture, but the fact that the haters come out when bloggers do paint furniture. So much so that we always have to apologize! We need a blog button for the paint haters that says “That’s what paint stripper was made for”.

  36. It looks lovely, Gail!!

  37. susan harnisch says:

    Do a little stenciling and it’s done! Beautiful.

  38. Leann Doyle says:

    Love it!!!

  39. Nope, love it just the way it is!

  40. IT’S BEAUTIFUL!!!; however, it seems a bit plain on front. I WOULD NOT DISTRESS IT. White stenciling maybe? On the other hand, you could always ask the person who buys it from you if they would like a little something else. 😉 Just sayin’

  41. I’d call it DONE. NICELY DONE!

  42. Kyrie Kenney says:

    I would paint the engraved designs in silver to make it pop

  43. I love it. The only thing I would do is go over the carved parts with white paint to highlight them even more. Great job!

  44. I love it! Don’t change anything about it! Great job.

  45. It looks great! I’m not sure I would have had the fortitude to redo it but now it can have a new life and a new look and one less thing in the landfill! That’s okey dokey in my book. (I do like painted furniture :-) )

  46. Oh Gail….once again you impress me! First, I have a hard time with painting on antiques. However I will do if that is the only love that will save them. You did just that, you saved this piece and gave it a new life. The color is amazing on there. I love it.

  47. I would do a lace/spray paint treatment over the drawers to tie in the white. Whatever you choose to do, I’m happy you saved this piece from a terrible fate!

    By the way, here’s a link to the blog post about our wedding, featuring the chalkboard we bought from you last fall in Berry Hill! http://surlalunephotography.com/2014/07/24/handmade-personal-rock-and-roll-wedding-at-the-red-house-lina-and-ken-tied-the-knot/

  48. Michele Maddix says:

    Oops…and no distressing. What’s the point if making something look new just to make it look old and worn again?

  49. Michele Maddix says:

    I’m not a big fan of waterfall style furniture so I think you did it a huge favor painting it. Looks better than if you restored it to original I think. Maybe a white stencil on top and sides but not on the drawer fronts. I think stencils on the fronts would detract from the pretty handles.

  50. Donetta Wolfe says:

    I love it. How pretty. I am a “it could always use more person” but on this it is perfect. It looks very classic. The only thing I would do maybe is accentuate the line detail. I love graphics, and some of my furniture even have them but they are so over-done these days. Keep it classic

  51. Love it just as it is !

  52. What a save. I just love that this dresser now lives on to brighten up and add charm to a room. Imagine if this dresser could talk, the story it might tell. I love it and would leave it just the way it is!

  53. Margaret says:

    This is so pretty! Great job on this piece!

  54. You lose the mitered details with a single color and think those are the coolest part. I would take the darkest shade of your tiffany blue and with a small brush highlight all those miter lines. Otherwise it’s beautiful.

  55. Kelly Roark says:

    I love it. I would call it done, anymore might be too much.
    Perfect for a nursery.

  56. Way to save a beautiful dresser! I thought you were going to do ombre on the drawers when I saw the picture of the paint, that would be cool, but I thinks someone would love it just the way it is too! I like the white and blue, maybe some wax on the handles to bring out the detail…just throwing out suggestions since you asked, otherwise I love it!

  57. Awesome job!!!!

  58. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. says:

    What a great save Gail! I’d call it done!

  59. Karen Jerread says:

    Love it just the way it is, simply elegant.

  60. No stencil, I think maybe jut some nice white wax to bring out the groove detail.
    Nicely done.

  61. Malinda Clay says:

    I think you did a great job!

  62. It’s beautiful. You saved it which is a good thing. I’m not sure what it needs. It’s a little stark. Maybe something from the Graphic Fairy? Once again, it’s beautiful. Great job.

  63. DONE!! It’s beautiful as is!

  64. Lori Faas says:


  65. Cindy Shupe says:

    Sometimes all you can do is paint. Because rolled veneer is difficult to replace. Looks very nice.

  66. Christine Fuller says:

    Agreed, ombré drawers would be lovely. Thanks for saving this from the dumpster!

  67. I love it! The contrasting white trim is perfect with the white handles.

  68. faith bernards says:

    It’s beautiful! I think a stencil would show up really nice on it.

  69. Valerie says:

    I would say its been distressed enough. You rescued it so let it live out its days in this new refreshed condition.

  70. It came out great! I’ve re-done several pieces that were less than perfect. The AFTER is far better than the trash so why not… a little elbow grease and you have an imperfect, perfect dresser now. :) Great job Gail!

  71. Shelley says:

    It’s beautiful, I love it just the way it is!

  72. I LOVE painted furniture, so of course I really like what you did. I think that I would call it done.

  73. Susie Lavender says:

    I’m not a painted wood fan but this is beautiful. You maintained the architecture and gave it life again. Good job! Don’t do anything else to it except use it and love it.

  74. You did a fantastic job! I am so impressed with your workmanship. I think maybe a bit of distressing would make it look like it wasn’t quite so newly painted.

  75. What a makeover ,beautiful piece ,love the colour.

  76. It’s beautiful, call it done. Less is more.

  77. TERRI GRUBB says:

    I love it… I have a piece my mom done before she passed and this would look so good with my piece… dont do anything else to it….

  78. I think it looks great! The only thing I would change is the hardware. I think black would really make it stand out more.

  79. Melanie says:

    I like it as is but think a bit of stenciling can never hurt.

  80. Its beautiful!! Its done! I love all the details already, it doesnt need more!

  81. abby onder says:

    Looks like the perfect dresser to do ombre drawers with. I just a dresser white with orange ombre and got so many compliments, I love it. I definitely feel like it something is missing. I loved the hardware details and I can’t make them outin the stark white. To each is own!

  82. It’s beautiful, call it done!

  83. It is beautiful…I would call it done!

Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me! I read and appreciate every word!