Two Tone Dresser

Friends, here she is! I want to keep her. Who am I kidding? I want to keep all of the pieces I create. I found this one at goodwill and she was so sad. There was a nasty, very 70s, vinyl contact paper on top and the drawers were orange with missing pulls. The mahogany veneer was chipping off all over. I should have snagged a picture when I first brought her home, but I was too excited to get to work on her.

Lilly with the new dresser

I started by using a razor blade to peel off the vinyl. Well actually my husband, BJ, started and then I finished. Thanks hun. It of course only wanted to come off in tiny individual pieces which took a lot longer than I wanted but we eventually got it all off.  After removing the vinyl I noticed lots of the veneer missing from the top (probably why it was covered in contact paper). I was thinking of replacing the veneer, staining the top and then painting the rest of the piece a solid color. However, BJ adored the curly maple drawer fronts. No I am not a wood aficionado, I had to research tiger striped looking wood and finally figured out what it was. Probably would have been faster if I looked at the back of the dresser where it is stamped MHG + CM (mahogany and curly maple). Anyway, sometimes my husband has a great eye for style. Most of the time he doesn’t, like the time he wore athletic shorts and a sweatshirt to Christmas Eve New England, but I digress. I decided to follow his lead and leave the drawers unpainted but I hated how orangey they looked. Before I worked the drawers I filled in the chipped/missing veneer with wood filler. Let it cure then sanded it down for a smooth finish.

One coat of chalk paint and top wood filled and sanded

My next step was fixing that orange hue. I didn’t want to sand and ruin the gorgeous detail on the top two drawers so I decided to attempt a stripper (no not that kind, the kind that removes a finish from wood). With two kids and two dogs running around and my inherent clumsiness I really didn’t want to use anything with harsh chemicals. I did some research and found Citristrip. This stuff was awesome! It’s low odor and low VOCs so I was able to use it down in the basement. Just make sure to wear gloves! I gooped it on with an old paintbrush then let it sit for about 30 mins. I used a putty knife to scrape all the gunk off but you can use any flat edged object. You might also want to use a drop cloth because lots of nasty stuff comes sloughing off. After I removed it all, the drawers still looked pretty orange. I did another coat and let it sit for about an hour. That second round seemed to help. Afterwards I wiped it down with low odor mineral spirits, also safe for indoor use, and then brought back up into the garage to dry. Once the drawers were completely dry I lightly sanded them. Then I stained with one coat dark walnut and coated with a finishing wax. I love the new color, nice and warm and rustic against the light colored dresser. I found the pulls at Hobby Lobby, 50% off sale, score!

Finished drawer fronts with ceramic knobs

After my drawers were finished I needed to complete the paint job. I noticed a bit of bleed through from the original stain on the dresser. I’ve read you can use a coat of shellac, then paint your second coat over that and it should fix the bleeding. But me being me, did not have shellac and I didn’t want to wait to go back to the store to get some. So I thought if I did a second coat it would be just fine. Well, after the third coat of white paint I still had bleed through. I know, It would have been faster to go to my local hardware store and get a can of shellac, but I guess I’m stubborn. I was going to make the bleed through work for my project! The bleeding actually made it look a bit rustic so I figured I’d go with it. I hand distressed the edges with sandpaper. Then I grabbed my old jar of antique glaze and glazed her up. This helped to blend the bleed through sections. Finally topped her off with a coat of finishing wax. The finished look is so rustic but a bit beachy, not what I had imagined but I love it!


Thanks for reading!




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