Dresser Makeover DIY

Let's go on a journey and take a dated, not too pretty dresser and create something amazing.  This dresser makeover DIY is quick, inexpensive and easy.

Deciding What You Want

I have been focusing on a guest / sons room that was in need of some updating.  Part of the process was taking a previously painted and waxed dresser that wasn't going to work with the new design and do a dresser makeover DIY.

Furniture updating is really fun and fairly inexpensive.  I'm not talking about the antique pieces that you're trying to bring back to their glory.  I'm talking about the pieces that will not be damaged by paint, stain, wax or sanding.  A facelift to a piece that is sturdy but needs a little updating.

Dresser Makeover DIY

I wanted to change the look of the dresser.  It served it's purpose but I was really ready for a change.  My sons room was rustic, so for awhile I liked the look of the dresser.  But now is the time to make it more elegant so it fit the feel of the updated room.

dresser makeover

Supplies Needed to Update a Dresser

Step One: Removing the Dark Wax and Paint

It's time to get the old Annie Sloan Dark Wax and paint off the dresser.  I didn't want to paint over the wax because I wasn't sure how it would hold up.  After doing some research I discover that using Mineral Spirits and blue shop towels it would come off pretty easy.

Mineral Spirits

It didn't take much effort to get the top layer of wax off, which is what I was after.  If you're repaint you don't need to remove it 100%.  Because I was staining the top of the dresser I worked a little harder to get it off the top.  

After the wax was mostly off I got busy sanding.  I wanted to get to the raw wood on the top but the rest of the dresser just needed roughed up so the new paint would adhere properly.

Sanding a dresser

Sanding a Dresser

Step Two Refinishing the Top

There is a three step process that I am loving for the wood in my home. I have changed up a lot of pieces in my home.  You can check out my updated entryway table Here.  Three steps may seem like a lot of work but it's not hard.  It does take a little more time but not terribly time consuming.


I begin by applying the Varathane pre-stain with a foam paint brush.  Using a foam paint brush makes it super easy.  You just throw it away when you are done.  I always read the instructions on the can.  Apply, wipe off after a couple minutes and let it dry before applying the next layer.  Because I'm doing a small surface it was okay to apply it to the whole surface.  If you're working on a bigger project you will need to work in areas.


A KEY step to create a beautiful product is lightly sanding between the stain and paint layers.  


Now comes the Varathane White Wash.  The white wash helps mute the stain color but leaves a beautiful finish.  Again read the instructions.  The white wash goes on really easily and isn't hard to work with.  Using a foam brush and blue shop towels to wipe off the excess.

After the white wash is dry, give the wood another quick sanding and apply the final stain.  I like to use Special Walnut.  It's a color that works for me.  Don't be afraid to buy some samples and test out the options until you find the look you love.


stain a dresser

Use a new foam brush and apply it all over the top then wipe it off with the blue shop towels.

Step 3: A fresh Coat of Paint

After the top was dry it's time to paint the beautiful dresser.  I really love painting furniture.  It is a quick and easy project.  I remove all the drawers for easier painting.

I use a paint brush and get all the edges and corners.  

Paint a DresserAfter I get all the edges painted it's time to get rolling.  The small foam rollers are the best for these smaller projects.  I also use a paper plate that I pour the paint onto so I can and get it on my roller.  

paint a dresserThe foam roller is a great tool because it can be tossed in the trash when I'm done.  

After I get it all painted I let it dry.  They the KEY to getting a beautiful finish is a light sanding between paint coats.  After you paint or stain a piece of wood it raises the fibers in the wood making it a little rough.  When you lightly sand those raised fibers off it leaves a smooth piece of wood.  

This project took three coats of paint.  The second coat of paint goes on faster and easier then the first coat.  The third coat of paint is even easier and faster then the second.

Let it Dry

I like to let the dresser dry for more then 24 hours before I put it all back together.  You can also put it back in place before you add the drawers.  It is sometimes easier to carry with the drawers out.  You have a somewhere to hang onto and it is a bit lighter making it easier to handle.   

Make it Pretty with Hardware

The final step which is also the easiest and quickest is adding new pretty hardware.  Hardware is such a great way to change out a piece of furniture.  Be sure to measure the hole distance so you know what you need to purchase.  The handles will have the distance center to center listed so you know if they will fit or not.  It is so much easier then filling holes and trying to drill new ones.

Dresser Makeover DIY

Dresser Makeover DIY

If this seems like a lot of steps trust me it comes together quicker then you think.  I can get a lot done on while I'm waiting for paint or stain to dry.  

If you are like me you will find these types of projects to be so rewarding.  It feels so good to step back and see what you have created.

Dresser Makeover DIY

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