Who would pass up a FREE antique chest of drawers? Certainly not me! I said yes to it sight unseen. Because this gal has some age on her, I decided to take the easy route and just give her a quick coat of fresh paint. I can truly appreciate her beauty even with her flaws. If you don’t like painted wood, just walk away, okay?
Antique Chest of Drawers
Speaking of FREE antique furniture. I got this China Cabinet from my Cousin Terry. Refinishing would have been so difficult, so of course I painted it. See the China Cabinet Makeover.
I love the style of this chest of drawers. But look at those darkened drawers. What’s going on with that? I didn’t notice how bad they looked until after I saw the photos.
Inspect, Clean, Repair Antique Furniture
Upon closer inspection, you can see that this furniture has some issues. Here’s what I did:
Remove Dust & Debris
After a good inspection, you should give your furniture a good cleaning. I always start with my leaf blower to remove dust. Then I work with a broom to remove all the rest of the debris, inside and out.
Clean with TSP
Cleaning with TSP does several things. It will remove leftover dust, grime and some mold. In addition, it will give a better surface allowing the paint to “stick” to the wood. I prefer to use the concentrate diluted in a bucket, applied with a rag and latex gloves.
Sand the Top with 3 Grades of Sandpaper
Next, I wanted to get a good look at the top of the antique chest of drawers. Using my orbital sander, I started with 60 grit, then 150 grit and finally 220. Can you see how the top improved a little after each step?
One of the drawer bottoms had been replaced and it was in sad shape. The joints also needed a little work. After prying off the old wood, I used my handy painter’s tool to remove the small nails.
A piece of scrap plywood was ripped on the table saw. My nail gun made quick work of securing the bottom. The joints were coaxed back in place with a hammer.
Prime the Antique Chest of Drawers
Now it’s ready to paint wit a few quick coats of my favorite diy chalky paint primer. The color I chose was Flannel Gray, it’s left over from when I painted my living room. How do you choose paint colors? I gather a few shades I like, but then I let the name make the final choice. Silly? It works for me!
As always I mix the plaster of paris and water first, then I pour the paint into that mixture. Finally, I pour it through a mesh paint strainer to insure there are not lumps or flakes in the paint.
But, before I painted on a crisp January afternoon, I allowed my Super Finish Max Extra to warm up in the sunshine. The paint had been stored in the house, so it was okay. I also allowed the antique chest of drawers to warm up in the sunshine.
Small furniture dollies are very helpful when moving large pieces of furniture alone. These dollies have plywood attached to give them more surface to hold furniture. It’s not a good idea to drag these antique furniture pieces on the driveway in order to get them from point a to b.
Note: Can you see where I sanded a little on one drawer, and on both of the front (sides)? There was slight damage and a few nicks here and there.
Antique Chest of Drawers After Primer
This is after two light coats of chalky paint primer.
Being on the small dollies, I was easily able to move the antique chest of drawers into the sun to speed up the drying process. Why did I choose to paint the antique chest of drawers with the drawers in place? These drawers fit very tight, if I added paint to them, they wouldn’t want to close properly.
If you want to remove the drawers for painting follow this great tutorial for painting drawers without taping.
Sand Furniture Before Topcoat
I was losing daylight and decided to wait till the next day to apply the topcoat. Before doing that, I used a fine sanding sponge to do a light sanding on the top, sides and the drawer fronts. This took all of about 2 minutes. It’s just an important step to get the best (smooth) surface when using the homemade chalk paint primer. Don’t forget to dust off the furniture before you begin painting again.
Spray Antique Chest of Drawers with Topcoat of Paint
Don’t be too confused by the term “topcoat”. All that means is that I use the paint right out of the can without the addition of the plaster of paris. I prefer to do this topcoat, you may want to poly or wax for added protection. I like to take the easy road.
Speaking of easy—did you notice I didn’t remove the knobs? Seeing how this was a free chest of drawers and it has a few flaws, I know it’s not going to bring a high price. Surely I’m not the only one that will see her for her true beauty, right? Therefore, I didn’t want to spend a lot of extra time. In fact, someone may take it home to give it their own spin, and that’s okay. If you don’t want to change knobs, but want a different look, you can decoupage them like I did on this Antique Dresser Makeover.
If the small crack in the side bothers you, you can easily add a thin piece of plywood over it. If you choose to do that, I would definitely do both sides, using Gorilla Wood Glue and clamps. A few brad nails would be helpful as well.
Gray Antique Chest of Drawers
Do you love the color? I think it suits her perfectly. Due to her age, it’s like she’s letting her gray hair show through.
Gray Flannel Antique Chest of Drawers
Now, she’s waiting for a new home – someone who will love and appreciate here even with her flaws. I’m using an outbuilding to hold and sell my furniture flips, you can see more by checking out The Sugar Shack.
Hi, there! I’m Gail, the author and mastermind behind My Repurposed Life. I’m obsessed with finding potential in unexpected places and believe that with a little hard work and imagination, any old thing can be made useful again—myself included! I hope you’ll enjoy the journey and pick up a few tools along the way… literally!
I love this so much, you did a great job xx
Thank you so much. I'm still very fond of how this chest of drawers turned out. I'm ready to get to work on more furniture projects as soon as the weather warms.
Mine is very old as well but it has rollers and lots of old paint
Very nice. It's great to see love and attention given to an old piece. Please explain something: I don't understand how chalk paint is noticeably different from a flat latex that has been given a light sanding, especially if it has a white undercoat. I did this on a chair and am very happy with the dull, worn look that resulted. It's good you can make your own. Chalk paint kits and the special brushes are really expensive.
I feel the difference between a flat latex and my homemade chalky paint primer is this. Very little prep is needed to the furniture piece with the addition of the plaster of paris.
If it's a kitchen chair or something that has grease, oil or wax on it--that always has to be dealt with before painting. In real chalk paint, it is not latex base, so it is a beast of it's own. I guess that's why it's more expensive. Although with so many brands out now, the price has dropped a lot.
I prefer adding the plaster of paris to any latex paint, then using the paint out of the can for a protective top coat. I generally do that with satin or semi-gloss paint. If I'm painting RED, I don't have to buy a high quality primer to get a good coverage in 2 coats. One coat with POP, one coat without Plaster of Paris.
I hope this helps explain why this is my favorite way of painting all my furniture flips. 🙂
It's really pretty. Love the gray. I must learn how to use power tools! I have a question about your topcoat. If it's regular paint from the can, aren't you covering up the chalky finish?
Yes, but by covering up the chalky finish, I'm giving it a protective top coat without WAX! I do not like applying and buffing wax. I have a bad shoulder and it hurts to much. Now, IF I could do that with my Super Finish Max, I'd be thrilled! When I started this venture, I knew very little about power tools, 10 years later (and MUCH older) I'm comfortable and I love the way they make my job easier. 🙂
Using all sheens of paint allow me to have more control over the final look. Satin & semi-gloss paint are totally different in the final coat (out of the can)
I'm here if you ever have any questions!
I like the color and I'm glad you didn't distress her. No one needs to be gray AND distressed.
hahah you are so right Kate! Gray and distressed is TOO much! 🙂
thanks for making me smile today!
Shared a picture on your facebook post. Definitely agree stained furniture doesn't sell like it use to. Luckily I'm keeping this one for me!🙂
I love the lines and the key holes this dresser has. I loved the gray hair analogy. Living in the desert homes are painted a shade of beige or dirt. When we downsized I fell in love with the house before ever going inside. The exterior is painted gray, and has a red door.
Gray with a red door sounds awesome Jennie! Happy you love this dresser. Even with her flaws. 🙂
I love it! I picked up the exact same dresser over the summer but I sanded her all down and tried different stain colors on her. Great to see that she will be beautiful if I get tired of the stain and decide to paint next.
Awesome Kim! Did you get it free? I have another totally different dresser in my stash, but she's in really good shape. I don't think I want to paint it, but stained furniture doesn't seem to sell these days. 🙂
What color did you go with this one? do you remember?
This is beautiful! I love the color you chose. I have a really bad chest in my garage and you have given me hope that it can be saved. I love it.
Yay! I'm so happy to have inspired you Lori! Paint is so amazing! Especially when it's flat. It doesn't show ALL the flaws. 🙂
love the color! i love the lines & curves of this piece.
The color is from my living room. I painted it last year and I love, love, love it on the walls. So I figured I would like it on the furniture as well.
take care friend!
I think this 'old girl' looks beautiful, what a great do over and I love the colour.
Thank you so much! I really appreciate your comment. Priced right, I think someone will scoop her up really quickly. 🙂
You have an eye for taking something old and adding a new life to it.Great job as always Gail👍✌️
Thanks neighbor! She does look pretty. Thanks for dragging her home for me.