DIY : dingy dresser turned statement piece

With some guidance from family members (and Home Depot), three semi-crafty girls willing to get their hands dirty turned this roughed up dresser into something special. Like many who take their first steps into the world of DIY, this project involved a lot of trial and error before we were able to land on something we were proud of.

Getting started: From the moment we opened OfferUp and searched for dressers in the area, we knew we’d found the perfect project piece: a $10, real wood dresser located in OfferUp’s backyard of Seattle. The seller, a UK native, brought the piece with him when he moved to Seattle 12 years ago, and we were thrilled with the idea of giving this well-loved dresser the ultimate transformation.

Original dresser

Phase 1: We loved the craftsmanship and wanted to expose the original wood of the piece, so we opted to sand down the entire piece rather than paint, knowing that this was going to be a labor of love. We started out pretty overzealous and were determined to sand it entirely by hand, but quickly realized we needed to bring in the big guns, an electric sander, to save our aching arms.

Mid-Sanding: Starting to expose the natural wood

After exposing the raw wood, our next step was to use sealant so we could protect and preserve the wood from stains. Unfortunately, the sealant we used brought out red tones we didn’t know were there. While red tones look awesome on some projects, it wasn’t what we had in mind, so we had to figure out a way to fix it.

Dresser after one coat of sealant

Phase 2: When it comes to the design portion of the DIY, take some advice from the kitchen and don’t have too many cooks! One of us loved a mid-century modern, red wood look. The other two were on the fence and, more than anything, wanted to line the dresser with a stylish wallpaper. Ultimately, we decided to go in the direction that would appeal to a wide variety of potential buyers: a nice paint job.

If you’re looking for big impact at a lower price point, paint is the way to go. After two coats of white paint, the red tones that were added due to the sealant were gone, and the dresser looked brand new.

Dresser after first coat of paint

There’s no such thing as a quick project. DIY takes time, especially when done well. The waiting game was especially hard for the three of us — we were eagerly checking every 30 minutes, waiting for the paint to dry so we could add our finishing touches. That’s right…we were literally watching paint dry.

Final Phase: While an all-white dresser can be a classic, we wanted to give it a unique twist. So we added a geometric navy blue wallpaper to the sides and metallic gold knobs to give it an inexpensive upgrade. It was the cherry on top to the perfect finish.

Don’t be intimidated by the added factor of wallpaper. It can be tough and requires precision to get a wrinkle-free finish, but it’s totally worth it. We went with peel-and-stick wallpaper so that we could try it out a few times before applying. All it took was measuring tape, a hard, flat surface (in this case, the dresser), and a steady hand.

Through this process, we got to turn a forgotten-about dresser into a statement piece. Like we said before, DIY takes time but we all agree it’s extremely rewarding. We can’t wait for this piece to find its new home!


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