Thrift Store Dresser Makeover


I finally finished my dresser project, which means we are no longer pilfering through cardboard boxes to find things to wear. 

I picked up this solid oak 1980s American Drew dresser about three weeks ago at the Salvation Army for $100 with plans to give it a facelift. While painting a dresser isn’t a huge undertaking, it took me a long time to complete because it was a “naptime project,” which means I’d sneak in 20 minutes of sanding here and there when I could. The dresser came in a set of two. The second piece is in our garage… I’ll get to it someday.


I wish I had a better “before” picture, with the drawers in, but I’m horrible at remembering to take “before” pictures. 

Sand paper (coarse, fine and extra fine)
Primer (one quart is more than you need)
Paint (one quart will leave you with plenty for touchups down the road) – anything but flat will do. 
A quality 2″ or 2.5″ paintbrush
Polyurethane protector

1. Remove drawers and drawer hardware. Sand the dresser with coarse paper. 

It does NOT need to be sanded down to bare wood. I thought at first that it did, but my dad (who is a contractor) saw what I was doing and said I was overworking myself. Basically it just needs to be sanded so the very glossy surface is a little rougher, so that the primer has something to “stick” to. I used a $45 electric sander, but if you have a little upper arm strength, it could be done by hand. Side note: Isn’t my love handle cute?

When finished sanding, give dresser a good dry wipe down with a clean towel. 

2. Prime it

unnamed_3A quart of primer is more than enough for one dresser. In fact, if you can find it by the pint I’d do that, unless you plan to use primer for future projects. When you’re brushing on the primer, focus on just getting the product on. Your brush strokes don’t have to be pretty. You just want the wood to absorb the primer so your paint job will look good and last longer. 

3. Sand again
When primer is dry, sand with fine sand paper and wipe down again. Sanding between coats will give your finished product a smoother, more professional look. Don’t skip this step!

4. First coat

unnamed_2Start with the top of the piece and work down, that way you can clean up any drips as you go. Get your brush wet with paint and see how much surface area you can cover. Keep your brush wet, and finish one section before you move on to the other. If a you leave part of a section to dry and try to paint around it later, it will look patchy. 

5. GENTLY sand with VERY fine paper when first coat is dry. 

6. Second/Top coat
The second coat really makes a difference so don’t skip it. Try to make the second coat as smooth and even as you can. 


7.  When completely dry, screw back in the hardware.
I had planned on painting the brassy handles heirloom white, but once the dresser was painted, I thought the antiqued brass looked kind of cool next to the sage green color I used. 


8. Protect it with polyurethane 
OK, so I haven’t done this step yet, but I will. I was just too excited to get it in the house and to stop living out of boxes. At this point you can also “antique” the paint job by sanding the edges just a tad to your liking. I haven’t decided if I want to do that yet. 

Here’s the mostly finished project:



What do you think? Should I antique it?

In the comments, link photos of any projects you’d like to share too.  




  1. soulysatisfied on November 26, 2013 at 6:03 pm

    Yes, antique it! It looks great! Cannot wait to see it in person. Great job! You are in inspiration to me.

  2. Julia Anderson on November 27, 2013 at 10:29 am

    LOVE the color choice! This is beautiful; you did a great job. Makes me want to refurbish from furniture!

    • creatingmom on December 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      Thanks, Julia! I know, I love all things green.

  3. Chastity @ My Rays of Sunshine on December 3, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    I LOVE this! I really want to makeover a piece of furniture but I’m scared to death I will make a piece of trashy looking furniture just look like a bigger piece of crap.

    Your comment about your love handle totally cracked me up! I didn’t notice it until you mentioned it. I’d like to thank motherhood for mine that won’t disappear!

    I picked your Thrift Store Dresser Makeover as a feature this week at Wine’d Down Wednesday! Check it out and grab your “I’ve been featured button”!

    Thank you for linking up.


    • creatingmom on December 3, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      Oh wow, awesome! I’ll be sure to grab the button. Thank you!

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