Chest of Drawers Makeover and Tutorial | i should be mopping the floor
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Chest of Drawers Makeover and Tutorial

This Chest of Drawers Makeover and Tutorial contains affiliate links. I make a small portion when these links are used, at no additional cost to you.

This piece belonged to my maternal great grandmother.
If you follow this blog regularly, you've probably come to the conclusion that she had an extensive amount of wooden furniture...a woman after my own heart! See how I made over this Chest of Drawers below.

So, this fun piece showed up at my house via one of my brothers about a year and a half ago. My house is where many family furniture pieces come to their final resting place...and then I do my best to resurrect them. And then keep them for myself...forever (twirls fictitious evil mustache).

Chest of Drawers Makeover and Tutorial

My oldest brother, whom we call Bud (a childhood nickname that stuck), is the keeper of family history. He knows all the things. I tend to be the inheritor of family furniture. I paint all the things.

A few weeks ago, Bud called and said he was downsizing a bit and wanted to know if I wanted our great-grandparents' chest of drawers to redo. 


So, he made a road trip my way and now I'm the owner of this beauty I shared below.

Tallboy Makeover

She looked like the above left when she arrived here. She sat in my garage for a long time until the Great Garage Clean-Out of spring 2014, at which point, the husband announced, "nothing sits on the floor of the garage anymore". Gasp! I should probably point out that our garage had become that garage. The one where I'd open the door, drive in super fast and then shut the door even faster for fear of someone seeing the insanity that had become our attached "storage locker". It was getting to where my car just barely fit, people. 

So when I realized I would have to find new spots for a lot of furniture from out there, I went on a redo frenzy so I could actually bring them inside as functional pieces. What a concept, huh? Functional furniture...why, I never! 
I knew this would be the perfect piece to use some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint on. The fronts of the drawers were veneer and using chalk paint meant I could avoid repairing all of the chips and dings. My town is actually an hour away from the nearest ASCP retailer, so when my friend & I found some in Round Top, TX on a junkin' spree (more on that soon), we literally had to hit up the ATM since we had blown through all of our cash already (sometimes junkin' is spendy, no?). We couldn't leave without an ASCP fix. I grabbed this can of Country Grey you see above, along with some other goodies that will be appearing on the blog soon (wink).

The Process

From the get go, this piece proved *slightly* aggravating. I did my usual number on the top with a stripping spray. 

And it went over about as well as an elephant pole-vaulting. Ick. 

So I pulled out the palm sander, threw in some ear buds, and spent half a day sanding off many (many) layers of old paint and stain from the top. 
  • I started with 100 grit paper and worked my way all the way down to 400. Smoooooth.

  • I had to use the Dremel to get into the tight spots and sand the old colors out of them. 
  • After I finished all of the sanding, I used tack cloth to clean off all of the saw dust. 
  • You can see above that I also sanded just a bit on the top few inches of the body of the dresser. I did this to rough it up since a bit of overspray from my stripping product had gotten onto the piece. I wanted to make sure it wouldn't repel paint since it was a paint removing product. 

I didn't actually condition this wood before staining it. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't...I kind of let the wood speak to me. We have a language. I listen carefully. It speaks. 

I also stepped out of my comfort zone to try a new color of stain... 
...only to find out it was the exact same friggin' color as the junk I spent half a day sanding off. I was so irritated, y'all. My friend and neighbor, Krista, from Block.Paper.Scissors, suggested adding a second stain color to the top of it (she's a staining whiz woman). Worked like a charm (you can see how it looks in the finished piece at the bottom).

For reference, the first two coats of stain are Minwax's English Chestnut, the last top stain is Dark personal fave.
  • After the top dried, I started with the chalk paint on the body of it. The ASCP is so nice to work with...minimal prep and it covers great. 
  • I did two coats on the body and drawers. 

I had to use a tiny artist's brush to work around the metal accents that wouldn't budge. So, I went around them carefully and then brushed out the rest of the drawer fronts.  

  • After the paint dried, I used the palm sander to rough it up. I did this on the body of the piece, as well. 
  • I didn't do anything else to age this piece like I normally would. I loved how the previous darker color showed through really nicely on the sanded parts.

  • I then applied clear wax to the entire piece, including the stained top. You can see the difference on the above two photos of how the wax deepens the paint and brings the colors to life. Loving the Country Grey (which, to me is a lot more ivory than grey).  

I also cleaned up the original hardware with some Brass-O and a long soak in watered down cleanser. These pieces are over 100 years old...I was thrilled to get to reuse them!

I'm really happy with how this piece turned out. 

It looks great in our bedroom, too. I'm beginning the long process of a redo in there. This is the first of many pieces that are getting a makeover from that space.

  • I really love all of the fun details and neat stuff on this piece. 
  • No two drawers are the same...they are all unique! 
  • And who doesn't love a chest of drawers with old, squeaky wooden wheels? 
  • Character is just bursting out of this thing.

The above is one of my favorite pieces from my great grandmother that I've also redone. It was pretty damaged when we got it, but you can see how we fixed it and redid it in this tutorial here. 


  1. So the wood "speaks to you", huh? Well whatever she said the piece looks fabulous now! ;)

    Great job with the tutorial!
    ~ Ashley

  2. Glad to be of service ;-) Looks wonderful!

  3. you are very clever! I am a new follower to your blog as I have the bug for up cycling furniture.

  4. Oh my goodness it's just GORGEOUS Kristi! You are so talented!! Pinned!

  5. You are so great at refinishing furniture. I just did my first peace with ASCP and it went OK, I think I put on too much wax! Thanks for supporting us and sharing at Cook it! Craft it! Share it! I hope to see you back this week!

  6. So sorry for your loss. This is such a beautiful tribute to your brother.

  7. I am so sorry about your brother Kristi. When I saw the first pic of the chest of drawers, I immediately thought it was the 'before' and thought "Oh, I love it the way it is" So obviously I love what you have done with it!

  8. I’m so sorry to hear about the passing of your brother and I want you to know that all your clever and creative ideas have been cherished by me throughout the years.. Thank you for all the beautiful and wonderful projects.. I especially love the dresser drawer. You revived it and it will have so many more amazing years to come♥️

  9. What a beautiful job you did on the chest of drawers ! That is such a special piece to you, now more than ever. My deepest sympathy for this immense loss. May you and your family be comforted by God's blessed assurance that your brother is in His loving arms... for all eternity.