Today I am going to show you How to Refinish a Mid-Century Dresser
It is over halfway for the One Room Challenge! This week’s project included the refinishing of our mid-century dresser and chest, and it has been so much fun even if it has made our bedroom basically an absolute disaster! I have been putting of the refinishing of these dressers for mainly one reason.
The excuse to hold off on pulling all of our clothing out of the drawers. But, all joking aside, the refinishing part has been a lot of fun, using new techniques, painting with chalk paint again, and seeing a huge transformation in our previously water-stained, drab mid-century dressers.
So a few things went through my mind while trying to figure out what to do with these dressers. First, I knew that I would never be able to convince my husband to haul the dressers downstairs so I could refinish them. And there was no way I was going to be sanding in our bedroom. That was a mess that I didn’t want to deal with.
After checking out Pinterest and looking for refinished mid-century dressers, I came across this blog post that I thought would be absolutely perfect for our room. And so I decided to take the top drawers, and refinish and stain them. While painting the rest of the dresser with DIY Chalk Paint using supplies already on hand.
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Mid-Century Dressers Before Painting
First, a little backstory on our dressers. These pieces were our first furniture purchase as almost newlyweds. And we bought them for $80 for the pair from an elderly lady who said she and her husband had purchased them brand new as newlyweds. The lady was so sweet and nice and loved knowing that she was selling them to us as soon-to-be newlyweds. And after getting them home, I knew at some point I would want to refinish them. Well, fast forward basically ten years – here we are!
Supplies for Refinishing Dressers
- Screwdriver to remove hardware
- Paint Scraper
- Random Orbital Sander
- Sandpaper Grit 80-120-320
- Craftsman Shop Vacuum
- Air Compressor (to clean off the dust)
- Paint Brush
- Craft Paint Brush
- Minwax Stain
- Minwax Polycrylic
- Cloth Rag
- Latex Paint
- Calcium Carbonate
- Hammer to help get the hardware back on the dresser
How to Refinish Veneer Covered Dresser Drawers
After deciding to refinish the top drawers, I brought them outside and started to chip away at the top layer of the veneer on the drawer fronts.
First, this was not an easy task. The bugs were horrendous outside, and it was unbelievably muggy for a Michigan spring day! After I had about 15 bug bites, I decided enough was enough and brought all of my supplies inside and continued where there was a much cooler spot with no bugs. 😂
Each drawer had different degrees of issues while getting the veneer off. One drawer was so easy that I considered doing all the drawers on the entire dresser. Another drawer was so hard that I was wondering if the veneer was going to come off at all!
But between chipping off the veneer and sanding it off with 80 grit sandpaper, slowly it all came off. After the veneer was all off, each drawer front got a good sanding with 80 grit, 120 grit, and finishing sand with 320 grit.
I cleaned the dust off the drawer fronts by blowing air from the air compressor, vacuuming with the Craftsman Shop Vacuum, and a tack cloth. I did not want to use water in any way because I did not want the grain of the wood to come out.
Stain Color: A 1:1 ratio of Minwax Special Walnut + Minwax Weathered Oak. Using a cotton rag, which was actually an old, clean t-shirt, I applied the stain mixture.
After staining all of the dresser drawers, I realized that one of the drawers was not sanded very well, and had a splotchy finish. I allowed the stain to dry for a night, and re-sanded and re-stained the drawer to get a smooth finish. I am very glad I did this because the splotchy drawer front would have bothered me.
After allowing the stain dried, I put a coat of Minwax Polycrylic was put on the drawers fronts and allowed to dry. Using the same hardware (and no changes were made to it) I put it back onto the dresser.
Chalk Painting Mid-Century Dresser
Moving onto painting portion for refinishing mid-century dresser. Choosing a paint color was a bit more difficult than anticipated. Debates between the Clark & Kensington Blossom Silhouette (same color as the feature wall in the Master Bedroom) or the same black as on the nightstands. The green was eventually chosen, but not before it was second-guessed a time or two but am I glad I went with my first instinct!
To prep the rest of the dressers, I removed the hardware, sanded the tops of the dressers to get rid of the water rings, and lightly scuffed the drawer fronts using 120 grit sandpaper. Cleaned the dressers and drawer fronts by vacuuming the dust and wiping off with a tack cloth. In hindsight, I probably should have scrubbed down with Liquid TSP and water (before sanding) but I was anxious to start painting!
Using a homemade Chalk Paint Recipe from The Vintage Porch, but because I did not make an entire quart, I used about 4 Tbsp of Calcium Carbonate, mixed with a little warm water.
It was too runny and adding 2 more Tbsp of Calcium helped firm it up. Poured about 2 cups of latex satin paint (using supplies already on hand) and stirred well. A little tip, keep the paint stirring stick in your paint mixture during your painting project is helpful to keep stirring occasionally.
The dressers and drawers took two coats of paint and one coat of Polycrylic. Except for the dresser tops, which got two coats of Polycrylic.
Allowing enough dry time between each coat of paint and before putting the sealing coat on. There were also about 2-3 days of curing time after the sealant before using the dressers. This is very important to avoid getting any chipping or peeling up of the paint on the top of the dresser.
I replaced all of the hardware using hammers and screwdrivers, and the end result was more than I would have imagined! It was such a transformation and I love how they turned out!