I love two toned furniture projects using dark stain and almost any color. I'm going to show you how to update a dresser with a two-toned look. It involves navy and Jacobean stain. This month’s power tool challenge post is all about modify—which is what I normally do to all of my projects. But I took a step back this month and made it a little easier, but I am still including lots of tidbits to help you learn something from this modified dresser.
I picked up this dresser, aka a chest of drawers earlier this summer from my hairdresser. It has definitely seen better days. Because the theme this month is “modify” I decided to update this dresser working on the bottom of this piece. It’s a little “dated”, don’t you think?
So much better, looking a little modern!! Can you believe it's the same piece of furniture?
Not into wood working, looking for an easy dresser makeover with paint?
Let's see how to update a dresser . . .
How to disassemble furniture
I began the modification process by removing the old trim on the front of the dresser. At this point, you must resist the urge to just start prying and hammering the wood trim. You must look for the hidden screws and remove them. After doing so, all the wood trim will be easily removed.
Using a 1x6 in place of the old trim was the plan. I actually wanted to add trim around the front and both sides. However, the width I needed was a full 6” a 1x6 wouldn’t work, so I just decided to add trim inside the front legs.
I keep a small piece of sandpaper near my saw at all times so that as soon as I cut a board, I can knock off the splintering pieces.
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Pocket holes attach new trim pieces
To attach the 1x6, I used my kreg jig to drill pocket holes on each end of the board, as well as a couple on the width of the board.
Here you can see that I used a right angle clamp and some pocket hole screws in order to attach the 1x6 in between the existing legs of the dresser. Notice right by the trigger of the drill the pocket hole along the width of the board for extra strength.
Here is the new 1x6 in place.
More Ways to Update a Dresser
The dresser top was in really bad shape, but I figured it would be better to sand the finish off instead of stripping it.
I buy these sanding discs in 50 count because they are so much cheaper that way. I started with 60 grit, then went to 150, then 200.
Make any necessary repairs
After inspecting all the drawers, there were some repairs to be done. I used Gorilla Wood Glue and bar clamps.
One of the dove tail joints had come loose, more Gorilla Wood Glue and another clamp to take care of it. I use baby wipes in the shop for lots of uses, including wiping up glue.
While the glue was setting up, I removed all of the knobs. Only 2 of the drawers needed repairs.
Refinish drawer fronts
The same technique was used to remove the finish from the drawer fronts. 60, 150, 220. I actually used citristrip for the small middle piece, then sanded it to finish removing the finish.
Stain the top and drawers
Minwax Jacobean stain was used on the top of the dresser and the drawer fronts.
Prepare to paint the updated dresser
I mixed up some diy chalky paint primer using an oops dark blue and plaster of paris. I applied it using a cheap chip brush. Do you know how much I love these brushes? Sure, the first couple of times you use them, they shed horribly, but the more you use them, the better they get!
I painted about 3 light coats over the dresser sides and front.
Things don't always go as planned
This is me anxiously doing a dry run test to see how much I love it. Not so much.
It is so obvious that the new board was added. So I decide to patch it some more. (I used a little sawdust and wood glue to fill that small gap before I painted it)
At the end of day 1, I used a lot of spackling to patch the seam . . . then I came in and looked at the pictures. I really should do that more often, instead of waiting till the end of the day. I could barely sleep that night for thinking about removing this new 1x6 and doing something different.
A much better plan to update a dresser
The very first thing on day 2 I carefully removed all of the screws and pried the newly installed 1x6 away from the front of the dresser. While it was upside down I sanded the plaster and cut four scrap pieces to “beef up” the original sides (legs) To see if it was going to look okay, I clamped the new pieces and set it right side up.
I used Gorilla wood glue and my nail gun to attach the new pieces of wood. I then used my orbital sander to make the new piece blend better with the old piece.
There was a lot of patching, painting, and sanding to do to make the two pieces look like one leg. After this photo I also patched the staple dents.
TIP: use a scrap piece of wood with your sandpaper to get a flatter, smoother finish when sanding.
A vintage dresser is updated into a more modern style
I personally think it is much better, but anything was a huge improvement over the original dresser trim.
Dark wax tones down the color and helps seal
Oops! I know this isn’t a blue dresser, it’s actually a red library table that I got the same day as this dresser. But I forgot to take a picture of the jet black wax I used on the blue dresser to tone down the color a little. It wasn’t as deep as I had wanted it to be. This wax and sponge are fromHeirloom Traditions Paint.
Hardware jig makes installing new knobs easy
How to use the Kreg cabinet hardware jig
Adjust the drill guides and the edge guide for your handles
Clamp the jig in place
Drill through the guides
Sand the rough edges
A video about using a hardware jig
Wait! Don’t think it’s that easy? I made a video . . .
This jig is so much easier than the other jig I’ve had for years. Not only that, it’s small and compact, and it’s not that expensive. It will save you time and trouble, believe me I know. I have installed this kind of hardware before on my Cord Clutter post. One of those pulls still has one screw missing because the handle is crooked when installed.
Navy Blue and Stained Modified Dresser
I really thought I was going to be able to complete this project in one day. Because of the EXTRA modifications, it took 2 days, but I’m so glad I made the extra effort. You may be wondering about the original KNOB holes. I left them. Because I was able to very strategically place the new pulls, they are not visible.
Old Dresser Updated
Look at those perfectly spaced bin pulls from D. Lawless Hardware. I bought them a couple of years ago, and have just been waiting for the perfect piece to use them. I’m so glad I waited till I got that new Kreg Hardware Jig.
Did you notice the new faux whitewashed floor?
I’m seriously loving how this free dresser turned out with a little modification. I think you will LOVE the other projects from my friends, they are such a talented bunch!
Modified Leaning Ladder Storage By Designed Decor
How To Resize A Wood Picture Frame By Her Tool Belt
Ikea Moppe Hack Apothecary Cabinet by Interior Frugalista
Portable Craft Table By Create and Babble
Grown Up Jewelry Box By Kim Six
Modified Dresser By My Repurposed Life
Bed Spindle Candle Holders By H2OBungalow
Ammunition Crate Table by Virginia Sweet Pea
Ikea Wardrobe Update By Domestically Speaking
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!
love this look! fresh and would compliment alot of design choices!
So happy I kept working on it till it was JUST right!
Loooovvvve this! So gorgeous!
Thank you Elizabeth. It was a chore... but I too, LOVE the updated look!
Do you have a link to the exact blue paint you used?
No, I'm sorry. It was a mis-tint or OOPS paint from The Home Depot. It's really similar to Naval (sherwin williams) or Dark Denim (behr). Did you know that your Home Depot can make other brand's colors? I have used both of those colors on other furniture pieces.
I hope that helps!
This is sooooo beautiful! I absolutely love the color and the pulls. I'm inspired now to find a junky old dresser and give it a makeover.
Thank you for your wonderful blog.
Ohhh Britt, I so appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment about my blog. 🙂 I love mixing paint and stain to do two-toned furniture.
I am about to recreate this makeover, and I can't wait! I got a navy flat paint that I will mix my own chalky paint, but I'm curious if the wax is necessary or just a preference of finish? This piece will go in my sons room and I want to be sure I follow the directions so it looks good and holds up well. Will any wax finish do if the paint color is what I want? My local store only has a neutral wax.
Sealing is a must when you use any type of chalk paint. It's very flat and needs protecting. You can use any wax or poly product. I used the dark wax to tone down the blue. 🙂
I hope this helps, I'm here if you have any other questions.
DeDe Designed Decor
Gail, you know how to give every piece that perfect finish it needs! I love the stain with the paint, this is my favorite way to finish a piece! It looks great!
I love the new look of that dresser! The dark blue and stain are perfect together and I love the new legs, definitely brings the look up to date. Beautiful work.
I was so glad to see this post! I recently bought all new hardware for my kitchen cabinets and have been laying awake night wondering how to put them on straight. After seeing the Kreg cabinet hardware jig in this post I'll be able to sleep knowing there is an easy solution to my dilemma! Thanks for the tutorial!
I'm so happy you saw this tutorial! It really is soooo incredibly easy. Be sure to use a clamp, and you'll have them perfectly done in no time. 🙂
This looks like a completely different piece and it's new look is just wonderful. I love the color combination that you used and how you updated the base of this piece.
Thank you Paula, I wish it had come together without the plan B 🙂
Christy@Confessions of a Serial Do-it-Yourselfer
The modification to the bottom of this piece was perfect. Now it's beautifully updated!
Thanks Christy! If only I had thought of it BEFORE adding the board. 🙂
Maryann @ Domestically Speaking
That blue with that stain is PERFECTION!
Thank you Maryann. I love doing wood tones with painted colors.
this was a fun challenge.
Marie from The Interior Frugalista
Hello is right...Hello, this is a beautiful makeover! Yes, beefing up the legs definitely is much better than the original base and the modified one. Love the stain color and that gorgeous blue paint but the pulls are the icing on the cake! I need me a Kreg hardware jig! Gorgeous makeover Gail! Pinning and sharing 🙂
I never, ever give up Marie... I keep going until I get it
right. 🙂 YES, you do need that Kreg hardware jig. It's soooo easy to use.
thanks for stopping by, pinning and sharing!
Wow it looks stunning! The legs turned out perfect, I would never know that it wasn't one piece of wood! Amazing job Gail!
You're too kind Mindi! If only I hadn't wasted time, effort and more on that first plan. Sometimes I just can't "see" the outcome until it's right in front of my face!
Love what you did to this! I agree the bottom made the dresser look so dated. I like it better without the plinth base too. The airy legs update the whole feel of the piece. I learn something new every time I read one of your articles! Pinned 🙂
Thank you for your sweet comment Wendi. I try to share every small thing I learn that might make it easier for anyone reading my blog. I appreciate you putting this challenge together.
ps thanks for pinning!