December 12, 2014

Repairing a Dresser

After a bit of apprehension, I finally pulled this dresser out of our garage this past week. I found this dresser awhile ago on Craigslist and have been hesitant to do anything with it for several reasons. First, as you can see, it was in pretty rough shape. I knew this was not going to be a "slap a couple coats of paint on it and call it a day" kind of project. I wanted to make sure I had mustered up enough patience before taking on this task. Another reason I delayed was I really didn't know what I wanted to do with this piece. And as you'll learn soon enough, I kept changing my mind throughout the process as well...go figure!

This is the best Before picture I have. I have this habit of jumping into a new project before remembering to snap a photo of the original piece. So let's talk about some of the issues with this dresser...and this dresser has some issues!

First, due to the old age of the dresser, the drawers were a tight fit. I sanded them down a bit so they can slide open and close with a bit more ease. Ok, easy fix.

The dresser drawers have a veneer layer on the front. Veneer is a thin layer of hardwood that is bonded to the wood surface below. It is used to give a high quality wood appearance without the cost of creating the entire piece with an expensive wood. All great, until the veneer starts chipping and peeling. Depending on the severity of the chipping, there are different ways to repair the veneer. For the areas where the veneer was completely off, I filled in the space with wood filler then sanded it down. 


There were also areas where the veneer layer was coming loose from the main piece of wood. For these sections I used wood glue and clamped the two pieces together to ensure a tight bond while drying.

Finally, the prep work was done! Let the painting begin! I painted a pair of side tables a couple weeks ago in a 50/50 mix of Annie Sloan Aubusson Blue and Graphite. You can read about them here. I really liked the way they turned out and wanted to experiment with that color some more. This time, I finished the piece with both clear wax and dark wax to give more or an antique look. If you compare this dresser with those tables, you can see what a dramatic effect the dark wax creates. 

I loved the original hardware on this piece, however it was pretty dingy. I polished up the hardware with some brass cleaner. I didn't want them to look brand new, as it would detract from the overall feel of the piece. I just wanted them shiny enough to create a contrast against the blue paint and to create a pop of color. 

Putting on the  hardware is usually the last step, and in my opinion brings the piece together. So, when I put on the hardware and then looked at the piece and thought, "ho hum...another painted piece of furniture", I knew my work was not done.

So what next? The only logical thing there is to do...log onto Pinterest and find some inspiration! And what do you know, inspiration was staring me in the face and it was called a stained top! It sure would have been nice if I would have thought about this BEFORE I painted the entire piece. But that would just be too easy, huh?! I picked up some paint stripper from Home Depot and prepared myself to get my hands dirty. It took several rounds of stripping, and then some sanding around the edges, but I finally got the top back to the original wood.

So let's try this again. For the stain, I chose Minwax Jacobean. I applied two coats of stain and then finished it off with a light coat of polyurethane. 

I love the contrast of the blue paint and brown stain. It looks so rich and warm.

The dark wax and the distressing really help to bring out the intricate details of the piece.

The hardware really helps to break up the color and create contrast.

It was a lot of work, but I'm really excited with the way this dresser turned out. All of the repairs I made helped to give this piece a new life and can now be enjoyed for many years to come. 

It's so rewarding to sit back and see the progression of a piece and appreciate all the work that went into it. Now where is that glass of wine I promised myself for finishing this project?! :)