In the Spring of 2010 my cousin’s wife Marybeth visited me from Michigan. We worked for a couple of days making a headboard bench for her. Marybeth hand delivered this dresser to me that had belonged to my mom. I didn’t know what I was going to do with it, but I figured it should definitely stay in the family. I decided to paint it. However jamie asked me not to. What’s a mom to do with this dresser makeover?
It was definitely in need of some TLC.
Someone had mistreated this little lady. I’m not naming names, but I think he’s been known to impersonate Santa on occasion.
LOVE the legs!
I also love the smaller details,
even the hardware!
Her legs were a little wobbly.
There was some separation going on.
This little lady needs some glue and clamping.
Because the dresser is a good size, I had to be creative with the clamps.
I used some scrap shutter slats to protect the little lady from getting any more dings or dents.
I felt it was best to glue and clamp all of the loose joints at one time.
Then time got away from me. Summer 2010 came and it was too hot to work on this dresser, then winter set in and it was too cold. Spring came and went AGAIN, and then another summer. Enough is enough! Jamie convinced me that mammaw’s dresser needed to be refinished, not painted.
So, that is when I decided this: if it's a family piece, treat it with respect and let it live it's life in the full beauty it deserves. If it's a curb find, all bets are off, and I will generally take the easy road with paint.
I am not a huge fan of stripping furniture. It’s a LOT of work. I generally do 1 project a year. I broke that rule because I did my tickled pink kitchen table and this dresser.
I used this Zip Strip Paint And Finish Remover . It worked really well. IF you use this type of stuff, use caution! I wore gloves and safety goggles at all times.
There was some broken trim. I tried to replace it, but I couldn’t find anything that worked.
I very carefully removed it. There was a little glue involved, but mostly it was held in place by small tack nails.
I sanded the finish off of the small drawer fronts so that I could remove the line that was left by the trim.
I used the Zip Strip on this drawer instead of sanding it.
I think that aforementioned Santa liked to paint model cars ??? I tried to sand the paint out of the bottom of the drawer, but that didn’t work. I ended up using the Zip Strip.
Here’s the little lady all stripped down to her birthday suit.
She’s ready for her new outfit.
The dark stain I’ve used in recent years has been Dark Walnut. I started to use it again, but it has just a hint of red. I really wanted to return this little lady to her original state which was a very dark brown, nearly light black.
This post has been long enough. I haven’t actually taken any “after” photos. I want jamie to see it in real life before she sees it on the ole blog. She will be visiting this weekend, and will get to see her mammaw’s dresser all gussied up. However, the little lady is still in storage. I plan to put it in jamie’s old room, which will now be the guest room. Hopefully I’ll be able to share some more pictures next week.
updated to add:
See Mammaw's Dresser in my new Guest Room.
I felt like I couldn’t have a blog post about mammaw’s dresser without a picture of my mom.
While we’re at it, let’s have one with mammaw and jamie (Christmas 1984)
Have you refinished anything lately? Do you find refinishing furniture to be enjoyable?
see more refinished furniture projects here
It's beautiful with the fresh dark stain! Old furniture is even better when it has a story. Hope that b&w photo is proudly displayed on top of the dresser!
great pic of your Mom (& Jamie)! really love how this dresser makeover turned out. just beautiful!
No, you don't paint everything and this redo is a perfect example of why!
I agree. I have sold antiques for years and the painting furniture craze has come around several times. I use a product for wood that should be in every home. It's called The Victorian House Finish Rejuvenator and I would never be without a bottle or two. It was invented for antiques but it's used in the kitchen for removing grease buildup too. Tale a look at their website sometime.
I love this old dresser and the pictures ! I have been painting my bedroom furniture with Annie Sloan paint which is very fast but I also really appreciate the refinishing on antique family pieces especially!
Love it! I have pretty much only stripped and stained furniture mostly because I need a paint sprayer to get a better looking finish than my awful brush stokes when I paint..I have seen someone mention a product added to paint to eliminate brush marks - what is it if you have tried it, please?
Nice save Gail... with all the painted furniture going on these days, it is nice to see that you brought it back to it's original condition! Mammaw would be proud!
Gail, I love to re-finish furniture and I usually find them on craigslist. Friends have given me pieces in hopes that I will make them beautiful and I thoroughly enjoy doing this. I'm in the process of stripping 4 or 5 layers of paint off of a very old table and yes, it is tedious, but the end result will be beautiful. You do the same thing I do; you refer to your pieces in the feminine. I like to give them new "clothes" (paint), sparkle up their bling (hardware) and make them beautiful. I always post the finished product on FB and say, "Isn't she lovely?"
Wow! This family heirloom was in rough shape! Jamie will always be so touched by the love you put into it. Great family photos!
OMG! That is just beautiful!
Thank you Ida! 🙂
it was a lot of work, but worth it all in the end.
Yup, hate the stripping/sanding, BUT I'm just about done with my grandmother's chest and nightstand redo. These were 1950 pieces with the 'orangy' finish and lacquer on them. We are downsizing and I wanted my son to have this bedroom suite now. Of course, he didn't like the finish...so after much thought (and knowing she was a very practical woman), I stripped it down and stained it a dark color. Kona. She's not standing up yet as I have poly to apply today, but so far, she's a beauty! Your piece turned out gorgeous and I LOVE the photos of your Mom! I'm going to keep your stripper product name in mind!
Thank you Camille! I'm happy to know that you are almost finished with your grandmother's pieces! 🙂 It's tough work, but well worth it on family pieces. Would I bother on a thrift or curb find? probably not! 🙂
What a great piece.
You Mom was so pretty.
I think I remembered when you were given this dresser because I haev one just like it! We have an entire matching bedroom set that was left in our attic when we bought the house from previous family members and this dresser was one of the pieces.
I cant wait to see it in the dark stain. Ive only ever used dark walnut but you're right about the red. Cant wait to see the dark!
What an absolutely gorgeous dresser!!!
I have never stripped a piece of furniture (other than the bed sheets - but that doesn't really count). I am SO GLAD you decided to put that extra work into this dresser especially since you plan on keeping it in the family.
I wait anxiously for the finished photos...
Umm, No. I don't love refinishing furniture. I HATE it! But that is a gorgeous dresser and I have to say I think Jamie is right. I can't wait to see it finished! I'm sure it's absolutely beautiful.
Your mom was a hottie!
Wow, what a gorgeous piece. It looks as though you had to practically rebuild it...great job! Can't wait to see the finished look!
Love the pics...especially the "pin up" pose of your mom...how fun!
Marla and Steve @ Always Nesting
Can't wait to see the end result! Beautiful detail. Great glamour girl shot of your and she's certainly gorgeous.
Gail, I love the photos of your mom. Did I see a family resemblance?
The dresser is beautiful. Can't wait to see the finished product.
I think I have a source for the wood trim that was missing if you need it in the future.
I can't wait to see it! My preference is to refinish wood pieces if they are family pieces or are in good enough shape/pretty enough. But, I enjoy stripping furniture 🙂 It's so rewarding in the end to see the gorgeousness that is uncovered. Painting just covers that all up. But, it is a pain! Painting is so much easier and gets such a different result. I do like the durability of stain and poly though. Painted things seem to get banged up around here.
Sandi @ The Primitive Skate
Oh, I was getting so excited to see it all finished while reading your post. Darn! I can't wait to see it when your done with it. What a beautiful dresser.
I can't wait to see the finished dresser! I do find refinishing something to be very satisfying, but detail work is a bugger! This week I refinished some detailed moldings on a piece, and the sanding almost killed me 😉 I like to stick to nice flat table tops whenever possible!
oh, you're tricky!!!! 🙂 i was eagerly scrolling through, ready to see the final reveal!!! haha! can't wait to see it tomorrow!
Midwest Cottage and Finds!
cannot wait to see it..i know it will be a beauty..you make me want to refinish something..it is a BEAUTIFUL dresser--the appraiser is working on my buffet/sideboard and sent me a request for more pictures this morning and aked--WHY would you be planning on painting this piece of furniture?? I replied I LOVE white vintage look furniture--will let you know when i find out more!! CANT wait to see your finished pictures of the dresser-and snap one of jamie's face when she first sees it please...chris
Dana @ Cooking At Cafe D
That's a lovely dresser. Looking forward to the After photos.
My Mom has a similar photo of yours - the one on the car. Made me smile.
All the best,
Dana @ CafeD
Cassie @ Primitive & Proper
i am looking forward to seeing it completed! jacobean is my favorite stain to use on wood!
Do not like to strip...
This is a beautiful piece and I can understand why you want to restore it.
Wow, What a awesome piece of furniture. I know what you mean about stripping furniture. Its a ton of work. I have done it a few times because I love the real wood look. But Im loving the painted stuff now. LOL. I cant wait to see the this beauty finished.
Oh my goodness, as I was streaming through my joybox (inbox) this morning, I noticed this post and just had to drop you a line and say that I just found this exact dresser at our local Goodwill last month, except with an off white patina. I will have to email you a photo of the little sweetie. I haven't had an opportunity to do anything to it, but I must say I really like it as it is. For $5.95, I couldn't pass it up. However, I'm a sentimental sap, so I would most definitely prefer an inherited family piece.