How To Turn An Old Dresser Into A Kitchen Island/Storage Piece

15 Materials
2 Days

We had this old 1870's (+/- 10 yrs) Eastlake style dresser for quite some time now. I never had a vision for it. Everytime I tried to picture it refinished, I came up blank. So, I was going to sell it as is. As I was creating the listing, it came to me! This piece would make a perfect kitchen island!! This how I did it...

This is the before photo. Such a beautiful piece!

First things first

First thing we had to do after taking out the 2 bottom drawers was clean the piece, and then address the dry wood and the wobbly frame. Since this dresser had previously been sanded down and left to rot, it was super dry. It would soak up the paint like nobody's business, so we had to seal it before doing anything else. I used Frenchic's Finishing coat, which is a waterbased polycrylic, and applied 2 coats to the entire piece, including inside the drawers, and allowing to dry in between coats. Then we had to remove the top that was warped and unusable, and fix the frame by gluing together joints and added some nails here and there. After all that was done, it was time to get painting!

Seal the wood

I applied 2 coats of Frenchic's Moody Blue first allowing to dry for 2 hours in between coats

Apply first color of paint

Then I applied one coat of Frenchic's City Slicker, a light grey from their Al Fresco range, the most durable paint I've ever come across. Once that dried for 2 hours, using my sander, I sanded down areas so that the Moody Blue color and natural wood would peek through. This was random, but really focusing on edges, corners, any areas that would naturally distress.

Apply second color and distress

I then sealed the entire piece with Frenchic's clear wax. This step is important because I then applied Frenchic's Browning wax. Without the clear wax first, the paint would soak up the browning wax and make it very difficult to blend. With the brown wax, I really focused on the corners, edges, creases and details. Wipe away any excess wax with a paper towel. Once dry, you can add another layer of brown wax to deepen the color. And if you ever add too much and want to remove it, you can do so with some clear wax.

Seal and add definition and dimension

We headed to Lowe's and got 3 pieces of stain grade pine that we had them cut to size for us. The shelves also needed to be cut length wise down the middle for 2 smaller pieces so that we could wiggle them into place. Typically, you would remove the back of the piece to get tight fitting shelves in, but we had already put the piece back together so that wasn't an option. Once home, I did a quick sand over the wood using 150 grit sandpaper, then moved to 220 grit to smooth it out. I then applied minwax prestain, allowed it to soak in for 10 minutes and wiped away any excess. After 35 minutes, the wood was dry and ready for stain. I stained all 3 pieces using minwax cherry stain, then applied browning wax over that to deepen the color and also seal the wood.

Stain the wood and seal

After allowing the wood to dry overnight, we we're ready to screw the top into place. With the drawers removed, we were able to screw the frame to the underside of the top.

I wasn't worried about screwing in the shelves since they were such a tight fit.

Screw on the top

Color the towel bar

We dabbed Redesign with Prima's decor wax in Eternal onto the papertowel bar to make it match the casters. It was originally a bronze color. Then screwed the towel bar onto the side

Add the finishing touches and wa-lah!

We then added some finishing touches new pulls, locking casters, drawer liners and a pop of color on the drawer sides using Redesign with Prima's brand new Decoupage Tissue Paper. This stuff is amazing! It's almost like a cloth, but easy to work with!

This piece was made so well and is solid wood! Even the back was made with tongue and groove wood!

This lovely piece and so many others and the products used to create them are available in my Etsy shop. And we do ship nationwide! Etsy shop is linked below

Thanks for looking! And as always, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out or ask below 😉

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Stacey Ann Sik
    on Mar 16, 2020

    How would I go about getting the top off of this dresser? It's been in my family for at least 60 years. I don't think I can save it by fixing it

    • Mcgypsy9
      on Apr 5, 2020

      Stacey a few more pictures of the whole cabinet might help determine what exactly this piece is. From what I can determine it looks as if this has veneer on the top. If you are looking to remove that only then you need a heat gun and a wide putty knife to loosen the veneer without damaging the rest of the top. If you’d like you can send pics directly to my email @

  • Carolyn from NH
    on Mar 17, 2020

    Beautiful piece, nicely done. But one question how do you get that stain on your hands?

    • Deer Run Revamps
      on Mar 18, 2020

      I'm terrible with wearing gloves as in I rarely do. To get oil based stain off, I use vegetable oil and soap

  • Deanna Watkins Merritt
    on Apr 5, 2020

    What size casters did you use?

Join the conversation

3 of 34 comments
  • Pamela
    on Apr 10, 2020

    My husband has totally remodeled! our outdated kitchen and it is fabulous but we need an island. Have been shopping but what I like costs way too much. Your project has given me courage to look at doing something similar. THANKS.

    • Deer Run Revamps
      on Apr 24, 2020

      It's a great way to save money! This piece originally cost us $1, then the wood cost another $50. That is wayyy cheaper than what you find on the market today! Good luck if you decide to create one! It's so much fun!

  • Cherie
    on Apr 18, 2020

    As I scrolled down the piece just kept getting better and better and then the photo with the sides of drawers painted with whimsical designs appeared and my heart whooped, FANTASTIC!

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