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Dresser makeover: Giving an old dresser a modern twist

This week I am bringing to you a dresser makeover that is close to my heart.

I will be working on a dresser for my daughter. She currently has a dresser that has gone through at least four transformations and we probably could have squeezed one more life out of it, but she is getting bigger, her clothes are getting bigger, so she needs a bigger dresser.

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Extreme dresser makeover

I bought a $40 dresser off Facebook marketplace and let my daughter choose the color and style for it, since our styles are definitely not the same. Can you believe she wanted me to paint it white? Whose kid is she?

My first step was to remove the hardware and save it in a small bag. Even when you are planning to replace the hardware, do not dispose of the old ones. They can always be used on different projects.

Repairing dings and scrapes

The dresser came with a corner that was chewed off and had to be repaired. I used a two part wood filler and started by mixing the filler very well in its can and then putting a small amount on a piece of cardboard or wood scrap.

Then add a little bit of the hardener that comes with it. Do not mix a large quantity of the filler because it will start hardening in about 10 minutes and you will not be able to use the rest of the mix later. It is always better to mix twice, than to waste a lot of the product.

Apply the wood filler generously in the dent and use a plastic scraper to shape it. I recommend to always wearing gloves when working with wood fillers because in most cases you will end up using your fingers to mold it into the desired shape or to push it into small crevices and you do not want to end up with all that guck on your hands.

Let it dry for about an hour and then shape it with a sander or sandpaper.

Adding character to the dresser

Once done with the repairs it was time to add some character to this piece. My daughter is into really modern stuff, so I thought about adding dimension and a chevron pattern using balsa wood.

I purchased about 25 pieces of 1 inch balsa wood strips. Balsa wood was the perfect wood for this project because it has very spongy texture which makes it easy to manipulate. Also because it is so light it will not require heavy duty nails to adhere to the dresser

I took two strips of the balsa wood and cut the ends at 45 degree angles to use as my guide pieces.

I line up the end of one of these strips with the top corner of the top drawer on the left side of the dresser (Say that three times fast!) and then I taped it in place.

Using a pencil I marked where the drawers gaps were, so I knew where to make the cuts so the drawers could open.

I made the cuts and adhered the strip to the dresser with ⅝” brad nails and glue, making sure I perfectly aligned the remaining pieces from that first strip.

As I mentioned before, balsa wood is very light so it probably did not need glue and also nails to hold it into place, but since this is a piece that will be used on a daily basis I prefer to give it the extra reinforcement that will assure that it will stay put.

I repeated this process on the right side of the dresser by aligning both top corners together. Adding a strip to the left side and then moving to the right helped me visualize the Chevron pattern I was trying to achieve, giving me a better idea about where I wanted to place the rest of the wood.

To help me space my wood strips evenly, I taped an uncut wood strip next to the one I already had attached to the dresser, and used it as a spacer. Then, I placed one more strip adjacent to my spacer and repeated the mark-cut-glue process before removing my spacer.

I have to confess it was a tedious process, but just look at the end result! I really think it was worth it.

When I was finally done admiring the perfect chevron pattern I got, I opened all of the drawers to see if there were any pieces of wood that extended beyond the edge of the drawer. I found a couple of spots that needed to be smoothed down, but balsa wood is so soft that it sanded pretty easily.

To conceal the nail holes, I used wood filler.

Working on the base

Lately I have been having a lot of fun adding new modern bases to my pieces, but the base in this dresser was in good shape and it already had a modern look. So instead of replacing it, I decided to just expose the wood beneath using a sander. I started with 80 grit and then moved to 120.

If the piece you are working on is in need of a new base, here is a video where I teach how to add one.

Now that I was done with all the sanding it was time to clean the dresser. I always clean my furniture which removes dirt, product residues and any remaining glossing. Never skip this step! Cleaning your piece is very important if you do not want to have issues with adhesion.  

Time to add color!

My daughter decided she wanted blue in an ombre style with the darker color at the bottom.

Because I wanted to keep the base in the wood’s natural color, I taped the legs to protect them from the paint. Let me share with you a small  trick to get crisp lines: after you have placed the tape, seal the edges to avoid bleeding. Believe me, it works every time. 

For the blending I faced a small challenge: because of the accent wood I could only blend moving my brush in diagonal strokes that followed the direction of the wood. But trust me, it was not as hard as you might imagine. Check out the video to learn how I was able to create a flawless ombre blend despite the additional challenge.

It is time to reveal the legs… I told you! A perfect crisp line.

I sealed the entire piece with Easy Peasy Wax. I sprayed the wax and rubbed it in. For an extra layer of protection to the raw wood in the base I added White Wax.

What do you guys think of this dresser makeover? My daughter loved it, and I hope you do to!

See you next time and happy creating!

CrysDawna BellaRenovare Furniture Artist