Sometimes I hear the Goodwill store calling to me…come see my hidden treasures and make them like new. LOL! Okay, maybe it isn’t that dramatic. But, it happens and it’s completely out of my control. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. And that’s what happened on the day I found this baby; I walked in – not really looking for anything in particular – and there it was, a mess of orangy varnish, scratches, and missing hardware. I knew I had to have it.
I have to stop at this point to reassure my husband that this is truly how it happens. I’m generally a very in-control kind of person. But, when faced with a piece of furniture that clearly needs loving and whose potential I can literally see in my mind, I lose all control over what comes next.
Anyway, I bought the old, beat-up, heavy as all get out dresser, and managed to get it home. Here are a couple of pictures of what it looked like.
It was immediately clear that I would have to replace the drawer pulls; some were broken, some were missing, and all were hideous. I wanted something special that would accent the beautiful serpentine lines of the piece and really make it a show-stopper. I found exactly what I was looking for at an Etsy shop called Violetteslippers. She has an amazing assortment of vintage hardware and more.
Once I’d ordered my hardware, I got busy on the dresser. All of the drawers worked well, and nothing was damaged or broken…always a good start. But, the top was in very rough condition with several deep gashes and a large area that looked like a wet glass had been left there for years (see above). After a good bit of sanding, it became obvious that the top was not going to be suitable for stain. Since from the moment I saw this dresser, I envisioned it retrofit as a bathroom vanity with two vessel sinks, I didn’t mind too much that it wouldn’t be stained.
Because this piece had a crazy amount of varnish on it, I decided to give the whole thing one coat of Zinsser Bullseye Clear Shelac to seal all of the varnish as a precaution. Sometimes the varnish on these old pieces has been coated in decades of furniture polish which can leave enough grease to interfere with the paint. I figured the extra 40 minutes to coat it and let it dry was well worth my time. As a side note, whether you choose to Shelac or not, it is always a good idea to wash the whole piece with a scrub pad and some warm water mixed with TSP just to remove all of the old dirt and gunk that may have accumulated.
I painted the entire dresser with two coats of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White, with a light 600 grit sanding in between to get the softest finish. After both coats of paint were dry, I applied a coat of Annie Sloan Clear Wax, followed the next day by a coat of dark wax to give the piece the aging and depth it deserved. I finished it with a final coat of clear wax which not only protects the paint, but also gives it an amazingly strong, shiny finish. Unfortunately, at this point, my drawer pulls had not yet arrived so I was in a holding pattern. But, with the arrival of the mail lady that afternoon, I was able to give the dresser the bling it needed to make it a knockout. I know I’ve said this before (and, I suspect I will often feel this way) but I love this result!
Tips & Tricks Learned:
- The entire look of a piece can be transformed with beautiful hardware. Take the time to either repair and refinish original hardware, or purchase hardware that will enhance the look you’re going for.
- Sometimes, no matter how much love you give to a piece, it may be beyond stain. I don’t think the sanding, filling, buffing, or repairing is ever in vain. But, be flexible enough to know when paint is your best option.
- All those years my mother spent teaching me that Pledge™ was furniture’s best friend: WRONG!! Refinishing old furniture has taught me the reality of the greasy buildup Pledge™ and products like it leave on furniture. Good old fashioned furniture wax is the best thing for wood. It keeps it hydrated and protected, and it is easy to work with.
Thanks for Reading!