Antique Dresser Makeover- Mirror and Wood Finishes

17 Materials
5 Days

If I said waterfall, images of water pouring over a rock cliff comes to your mind, right? Well this isn't that but there is a similar feature in this style of furniture, the wood veneer flows over a rounded edge at the top.

Before I begin I want to clarify...this is a DIY project and I am not an expert at furniture restoration. Here is the set that I wanted to refinish in my color choice yet keep the trademark of its style true.

Waterfall Dresser Set- Original

It was in great shape however it had been given a coat of varnish or two over the years which left some runs behind, it was well used but well kept. The handles were original but one had the bakelite piece missing, tall dresser on the bottom left side. I set out to make it all pretty again by taking it down to the bare bones.

I apologize in advance but I sanded everything because I don't know much about the different brands of stripper nor have access to many here where I live.

Handles Removed-Sanding Started

Sanding was done in 3 stages using first a low grit sanding pad working towards a high grit last. I did this over the course of a couple of nice days outside, patiently working my way past the varnish and stain until I got to just the bare veneer.

Sanding Process

I chose a peacock shade of chalk paint, I applied the first layer with my chalk paint brushes that I got through Amazon. I left to dry and afterwards buffed with a 300 grit sanding block before adding another top layer with a cotton roller brush.

Chalk Paint

Once that was dry I gave it 2 coats of satin finish polyurethane to seal the chalk paint. Next was the staining portion of the makeover, I had to tape off my finished, painted sides from the top of the frame to isolate it from the stain. l used Minwax in Dark Walnut in addition with Red Mahogany in places because there were color variations ocurring in the stain outcome.

I applied the stain with a lint free rag and waited about 5 minutes to give it a light buffing with another dry, lint free cloth. I realize now I should have used wood conditioner before applying the stain to prevent the stain from being absorbed unevenly.

Stain Preparation

Here's how they turned out, I'm impressed even if no one else is! The dark stain really enhanced the wood grains.

I have to show you the mirror update too, I couldn't leave it untouched! I decided to etch a pattern along the top edge to give it some flare and charm.

Preparing to Etch

I pulled out my stencils and chose one that would compliment this dresser style. They were just purchased from the Dollarstore but they were going to work by cutting up and combining two different ones. I cleaned the mirror with rubbing alcohol, sprayed adhesive to the back of the stencils and set them firmly in place. Followed the packaging instructions and rinsed off the cream, removed the stencil and it was done!

Stencils and Stencil Placement

Here is the finished look of the mirror, it's quick and easy to etch glass and it's permanent! I love the way it transforms something bland to something grand!

Etching Completed

Once more here is the final look of my dresser set, aren't they just wonderful? In case you're wondering how I transformed the original handles, well that's a whole other story. Tune in to my next post here<p>I& target="_blank"> no expert in restoration but where there's a will there's a way and I found a way to duplicate the missing bakelite on one of the handles!

Final Full Reveal

*Lower cost is based on the fact I had a lot of these products leftover from previous projects.

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Heje
    on Nov 6, 2019

    Did you do anything to the pulls color wise as they were pink looking in the photos? The restoration looks amazing.

    • Sea Trace Creations
      on Nov 6, 2019

      Yes they were totally transformed as well, follow the link at the end of my post here to take you to the hardware restoration. Thanks so much.

  • Deb
    on Nov 17, 2019

    Gorgous. Love the beautiful grain

  • William
    on Feb 4, 2020

    I have a 100 year old tiger wood dresser converted to a bathroom vanity. I want to clean and protect the finish from water staining. What product should I use?

    • Sea Trace Creations
      on Feb 4, 2020

      Sorry but to be honest I don't feel qualified to answer this William, this was my first furniture restore. What I will suggest is that you post your question here on Hometalk as a whole because there are so many knowledgeable people that would be eager to help you. Thanks for that great question.

Join the conversation

4 of 21 comments
  • Jerri
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Very pretty pieces and great color choices.

  • Molly
    on Nov 7, 2019

    Oh you really, really brought out the beauty of the wood in those wonderful old pieces- they are just gorgeous!

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