Cheap Dresser Rehab – DIY

I am always on the hunt for a good project. I found this one in a flea market on a recent trip with my mom. It was covered in trinkets and sat in the back corner so I am surprised I noticed it. I checked the tag and lo and behold, it was only $40!

My mom and I marveled at it for a moment. At second glance, you could tell it needed a little work. I loved the color, but I think it was a little too banged up to try to save the finish. Perhaps a little more sanding could have rescued the wood, but then I wouldn’t have the chance to do something super fun… chalk paint, of course!

When I got the dresser home and took it apart, I saw that this unit might be best as a buffet or sideboard. I think that if it wasn’t the original purpose, why can’t it be now?

It was pretty marred. Many a wet glass had been rested on top. It was dented and scraped all over. I decided to go with a less polished finish and leave perfection for another day. This one might lose character without her beauty marks anyway!


Stripped down and ready for a good scrubbing!



There were some pretty deep grooves in the top of the dresser. It also took a lot of elbow grease to get the real grease off the finish.

I used a little Murphy’s Oil Soap in water to scrub the top. Layer after layer of finish and grease came from the surface. As I scrubbed though, it became more smooth and I could begin to see the life return.

I rinsed the soapy residue from the wood and let it air dry in the heat. A ninety degree day will make me wish it was winter but will dry damp wood in no time!



I love a cabinet with character! I couldn’t pass on the sun shape and the checkers. I even loved the hardware, which doesn’t usually happen!

I grabbed a hammer and a few finish nails to repair a few places where the drawers were coming apart. I could see that someone had even already done this in a few places. This old girl had obviously been through her days!

After the pieces were completely dry, I grabbed a medium grit sandpaper and buffed the surface of the wood. There were a few places where the grooves were pretty deep and since I wasn’t going for perfect, I just lightly sanded them and skipped filling the grooves.

Since I used the afore-mentioned chalk paint, I didn’t prime prior to painting. I used a 2.5″ brush and took my time to get it into the cracks and crevices. There is one more thing that might not be advisable by chalk painting experts, but I find it a good way to add effect…

I painted in the heat so that the chalk paint would crack. Since the wood was in such rough shape, I thought that it might be better to leave the cabinet looking a little worn with the time it had so obviously seen.

By painting in the heat, there are places where the paint split in hairline fractures because it dried so quickly. I used only one coat of paint and touched it up with a second coat where it seemed necessary. The only exception to that was the top. I used a full second coat on the top because of how worn it looked.


I had to hammer a few of the dovetailed drawers back together. I also took a few finish nails to the drawer edges where they were coming apart.

After the paint was fully dry, I broke out the clear wax. I brushed it into the painted finish and it deepened the color only slightly. I love the smell of this wax! It smells like a finished project to me! I advise waxing outdoors though, it smells strong enough to make you have a headache without proper ventilation.

The last step of the project was to add the hardware. I placed the original hardware and added my own special touch. Although I loved the patina of the old hardware, I wanted to see a little sparkle.

I sprayed a tiny bit of Rustoleum copper spray paint into a shallow dish and lightly wiped it onto the hardware. I didn’t want it to be entirely sprayed and I find this technique to give me just the touch I desire.

After the hardware was on, I took a quick break! I love these projects, especially when they turn out as I planned!

I can’t decide whether I will keep this lady or gift her on to someone else. I don’t really have room for her, but I am glad I found her!

I guess I will hang on to her and see if something comes to me. Until then, I will just enjoy looking at her!


I wish she could sit outside between two comfortable chairs! I might have to build a covered porch so she can!


The dried lines in the chalk paint are visible here.


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