Bringing New Life to Old Dressers

I mentioned in my last post that I'm currently redoing two dressers for a friend, and though they are not 100% done, I thought it'd be fun to share progress photos here and a description of my process. My friend has two very fun, colorful rooms for her daughters but their hand-me-down dressers had seen better days. She had mentioned wanting to redo them before daughter #2 is born (next month!) so a few months ago, I offered to repaint them for her. When Keith and I first picked them up, this is what they looked like:

Clearly on the taller one above, I got a little ahead of myself and started stripping the paint off the top and then remembered to take a "before" picture. She knew she wanted them repainted in a way that worked well with each girls room, but didn't have a set design in mind. So while she and I discussed color schemes and design possibilities, I used CitriStrip Stripping Gel to remove the paint on the tops and sides of each dresser. It took several days (and a few headaches) to strip them, but by the time I was done, she and I had agreed on a design inspired by the following pieces:

Dresser from Polyvore

Dresser from Polyvore

Dresser from Apartment Therapy

Dresser from Apartment Therapy

I love Zinsser Cover Stain Primer. I have used it as the base to so many projects and it's fabulous and helps you have to use a lot less paint. After finishing stripping and lightly sanding the dressers, I primed the sides of the dressers, drawer fronts and drawer sides (so I could add a fun pop of color like the Apartment Therapy dresser). Primer is awesome but man that stuff kills your brain cells. I highly recommend painting with the garage door open and taking lots of breaks.  Here is what our garage looked like for a few days, and here is how the dressers were starting to look after two coats of primer.

I left the tops unpainted because once they were stripped and lightly sanded, they actually looked pretty good. So I ran the idea of a three-tone look by my friend (stained top, white sides and gray drawer fronts) and she loved it! My favorite stain brand is Minwax and I thought the Dark Walnut would work well with the design. Here is a top-and-bottom photo to show how the longer dresser looked at the beginning and then after stripping, sanding, priming, painting and staining.

The difference is pretty crazy. With my friend's due date quickly approaching, I've been spending every evening this week in the garage finishing up this project. So Sunday and Monday night were spent painting the fronts of the dresser drawers. First I painted them Behr's Dolphin Fin that I had used on some of my own furniture, but it came out way too light. On Monday, I went back to Home Depot and got the next darker gray, Granite Boulder, and repainted the fronts that evening. For the fun pop of color on the inside side (that's confusing) of each drawer, my friend brought me the paint leftover from what they used on the nursery walls, Valspar Paint + Primer, and last night I finished painting each drawer and sealing the dresser tops with clear semi-gloss polyurethane. As of this morning, this is how each dresser is looking:

Please ignore the paint can feet. 

Please ignore the paint can feet. 

Keith is going to add accent trim to the sides of each dresser this week (to help hide some imperfections and add more visual interest) and my friend is still deciding on the new drawer hardware. We both thought a pop of color on the drawer fronts too could be fun, like this:

Drawer Pull Project from Poppytalk

Drawer Pull Project from Poppytalk

Instead of using rope or string, I'm planning to spray paint some inexpensive metal hardware. I just have to find the best style that works with the design and also fits the current hole widths as I'd prefer not to redrill and putty holes. I'll be heading back to Home Depot this week for the trim pieces and to check out more drawer hardware options, and then my friend is going to check out spray paint colors this week as well. I can't wait to share the final finished dressers in the girls' rooms!

*Update as of April 2014*

Here is a before & after image (in our garage) of the finished shot for the wider of the two dressers. I'm hoping to share images of both dressers in the girls' rooms in the future.