I have an easy chest of drawers makeover to share with you. Or, do you call this a dresser?
This chest of drawers makeover was a fairly easy project, no tools involved!
Antique Chest of Drawers
The chest of drawers is in decent shape, but folks around here aren’t appreciative of it in it’s natural beauty. If you don’t like painted furniture, look away.
Look what I found, the missing hardware. That made me happy. As you can see, the drawers are in really good shape.
This date was stamped on the drawer bottom. Could this dresser really be 99 years old?
Assess Furniture & Make Repairs
What is this piece on the back of the chest of drawers called? I googled and couldn’t find anything. Anyhoo—it was in need of repair. I used Gorilla Wood Glue along with the original nails to reattach it.
Moving Large Furniture Without Help
I needed to move the chest of drawers from the storage garage to my driveway in order to work on it. A regular dolly won’t work because of the tall legs. I found it easiest to remove the drawers (because of the weight) and lay it down on my furniture dolly with the handle. This thing is awesome!
Remove Grime from Chest of Drawers
I removed the hardware from the drawers and got busy prepping the antique chest of drawers.
Generally, I use TSP for cleaning my furniture pieces. But, this TSP Substitute is what I had on hand and it worked really well. The proof is on the rag!
Chest of Drawers Makeover with Milk Paint
Are you surprised to see that I am doing this chest of drawers makeover with a brush and not my favorite Finish Max? As you can see, I didn’t want full coverage on this piece. I wanted some of the original finish to show through. That’s a difficult look to get with a sprayer. This General Finishes Milk Paint went on quickly and easily with the chip brush.
The casters were removed for easier painting. As I painted the legs, I wiped back some of the paint as I applied it.
The top of the antique chest of drawers got the same “light touch” of the paint brush.
This is the front side. This wasn’t really a wash, as I didn’t dilute the paint. I guess it was more of a dry brush technique.
Cleaning Furniture Hardware
I wasn’t sure of what I was going to do with the hardware, but I knew it needed to be cleaned. I chose to spray it down with Krud Kutter.
Using a paint brush to get into the crevices of the hardware seemed to work really well. Take a look at the dirt that was coming off.
Spray Painting Drawer Pulls
Every one of the drawer pulls looked different. The colors were all over the place, so I opted to spray paint them with a hammered finish paint. This paint was so old, and there was only a tiny bit in the can. I can’t believe it worked!
Chest of Drawers Makeover | Waxing
The brown furniture wax I used was also old. I really need to start using this stuff up, so I have a better turnover.
Black Chest of Drawers
After waxing the top and the drawers, I wasn’t completely pleased with the look. I gave another quick coat of the milk paint over the patchy looking wax. What do you think of the golden drawer pulls with the black paint?
In order to move it over to The Sugar Shack, I had to remove all the drawers and put it on the furniture dolly again.
I cleaned the casters with the Krud Kutter. They look so much better! The good news is, this piece can be used with or without the wooden casters.
So, are you mad at me for painting it? My general rule is that I only refinish and restore family pieces. Have you seen Mammaw’s Dresser? That’s one I didn’t paint!
I think it looks so much prettier all dressed in black, don’t you? I hope this easy chest of drawers makeover inspires you to tackled a piece of furniture you’ve been putting off!
related content: Old Dresser Ideas & Makeovers
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!
My family has always called what you have chest a drawers. Dressers were more wide and had a mirror so you could apply your makeup or comb your hair. My mother's first bedroom set she bought in the 1940s (and yes, I still have it, it is solid maple) has a dresser which has a place where you can place a chair and sit down to do your hair and makeup.
I love what you did with this chest. In the late 1890s and early 1900s black was a color used a lot on furniture. The chest looks antique but without that outdated look and would look perfect in anywhere, bedroom, entryway or even in the corner of a living room.
Thank you so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave such a nice comment. That's wonderful that you still have your mother's first bedroom set. I'm very sentimental and I love stories like yours.
This chest of drawers happened to stay in the family, my great niece who is almost 40 fell in love with it!
Gail, again you did a fantastic job in bringing this piece back to life. It is amazing that the hardware looks so vintage.
Thank you so much Bert!!! I love easy makeovers. 🙂
This “Chester Drawers “, as we used to say, looks wonderful. You did a great job on it!
lol Thanks Rosellen for answering the question, and your nice comment.
In answer to your question....a dresser has a mirror...a chest of drawers does not. The taller dressers are call chiffoniers. Nice redo.
I like your explanation, but what if it's long like a dresser, but doesn't have a mirror? 🙂
We've always called the tall ones chest of drawers. But years ago, I noticed on the internet that most people call them ALL dressers.
Thanks for stopping by!!!
Hello Gail! I am completely new at repurposing and refinishing, so in discovery mode. Like all the other people who commented on this project, I absolutely love it! I am a bit confused about how to achieve the look. For instance, the photo where you remove the casters, the furniture looks silver. What happened? Is that a base coat? And in at the end, when you add colour to the waxed piece - did you have to sand? I am surprised the colour did not just bead on top of the wax. I am very inspired by your projects and I hope you are able to explain further. Thank you!
For instance, the photo where you remove the casters, the furniture looks silver. What happened? Is that a base coat?
The furniture looks silver in the picture, but it is definitely black. Just a very light coat of black with the wood tones showing through.
And in at the end, when you add colour to the waxed piece – did you have to sand?
I didn't sand before applying more paint. The wax wasn't working properly and the paint went on well.
I hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions.
It's really beautiful, and the gold hardware is just right. Nice work.
The paint was just what it needed. It took away the old, dowdy look without taking away the character of the piece. The brass hardware looks beautiful against the blackish paint.
Gail, it’s gorgeous. And I like the gold pulls. Before you cleaned them you could hardly tell they were brass. I’ll need to remember to tell my husband about Krud Kutter. He’s a percussionist in a symphony. Sometimes he’ll pick up a used cymbal that has a great tone but in filthy. Believe it or not, ketchup does a pretty good job. But this seemed to work magic.
Thank you Jennie! I just worked on some more OLD hardware yesterday that had been painted. I tried soaking them in soap and hot water, but again, I reached for the Krud Kutter and it really made a difference in the hardware! Stay tuned for that project (if I ever get it done) lol
Take care, stay safe!
This is one of the nicest makeovers for an antique piece of furniture. You didn't destroy this lovely dresser like so many people do with making them another color. Don't get me wrong I love bright beautifully painted furniture. On some piece it does make them classier.
Thank you so much Leona! I truly appreciate your sweet comment.
Gail, I love this chest of drawers. And the hardware looks great. Thank for sharing.
Thank you Lori! I struggle with hardware colors. I'm currently working on an old radio/record cabinet and I can't decide what color to do the hardware....
I appreciate your comment!
At first, I thought "No, don't paint it!" But a closer look at the photos showed that it wasn't an antique. I consider the 20s vintage, but not antique. Your makeover looks great. Subtle and sophisticated. Thank you for not painting it a bright color.
Thank you so much!! I really wanted this to remain classy (and sophisticated) I'm glad you think I pulled that off! The drawers were in such great shape, this was either in storage for a long time or not used very much. 🙂