Best way to accent decorative wooden drawer pulls on antique dresser?

Patricia P
by Patricia P
Hi, I bought this lovely antique dresser as is from a local thrift store. The horrible color and faux aged finish came with it. I promise you I did NOT do this to this nice piece of furniture. I am thinking repainting with a nice color of chalk paint. Would love suggestions of color. Also, how would you treat the decorative wood pulls? They are not removable. This will go in a very casual living room/reading room in my home. Thanks!
  19 answers
  • Darla Darla on Oct 09, 2015
    I would strip and varnish them if they have nice grain underneath, or use metal leaf and sealer on them. If you don't want metal leaf, you could use metallic paint.
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Oct 09, 2015
    The color of this piece will depend on your color scheme in your room As for the draw pulls honestly either spray them in a metal finish or update with new knobs.
  • PainterNoni PainterNoni on Oct 09, 2015
    Oh, don't replace the knobs! without them, there is no real character. You might try decoupage on the drawer fronts........pick a color from the decoupage design, then paint the top, side, back and drawer pulls that color.
  • Shari Coppinger Shari Coppinger on Oct 09, 2015
    I had one like this, not fun. I ended up using a very little bit of a water base stripper with a stiff toothbrush to tease some of the paint off of the handles so that I could recover some of the details of the carving. Cleaning them up with water after stripping a "little bit" helped me not disturb the painted surface of the drawer face. After letting the pulls dry a couple of days I went back to clean and smooth some of the remains of paint. I then chose a Sea Foam Green base coat to paint the pulls. Then I painted the whole dresser, including the pulls, in a very soft Fawn Brown chalk after prepping the dresser itself of course. After all was dry I lightly buffed the handles with 0000 steel wool to allow the green base coat to show a bit. Then waxed the entire piece. My sister loved it so much she has it now, so sorry, no pics. Best of luck. P.S. Painted the sides of the drawers green also so that when you pull them out you see a little more color.
    • Patricia P Patricia P on Oct 09, 2015
      Thanks! I was thinking along the same lines. Not looking forward to the detail work on the pulls,but I think it's worth it .
  • I would paint it with a complementary chalk paint to the décor of the room it will be in. After the painting is finished and dried, I usually go over it with Polycrilic finish which protects it and adds a slight sheen. With the drawer handles I would paint them in a metallic paint, possibly with an antique look. To make it more modern looking, using a brushed metal look is always a winner.
  • Shari Coppinger Shari Coppinger on Oct 09, 2015
    I did the work on the pulls v e r y slowly! It took me three days before I sucked it up and finished them. It was worth it though as there had been at least 3 coats already on them. With my two coats of paint added I surely would have lost some of the detail. Again, best of luck, would love to see it when you're done.
  • Lynne Lynne on Oct 09, 2015
    i'djust use chalk paint in a white vintage colour, as this goes with all colour schemes. then just put a small amount of gold on handles, and rub all down lightly after varnished with a nail file. give it a nice shabby chic look, with out over doing it. love to see when done hun,looks a lovely piece xx
  • The Redesign Habit The Redesign Habit on Oct 09, 2015
    You might use a little stripper I like Citristrip because it's non-toxic and is pretty thick so it's easier to control where it goes. Use a small-tipped brush and gently remove the paint from the handles and then before you paint on your accent color, place a little Vaseline on some of the detail work. Once you've put your paint on, you can gently wipe of some of the color to give the handles a distressed look. Good luck, please show us the finished product!
  • Retta Robinson Retta Robinson on Oct 09, 2015
    I realize your question is about drawer pulls, but this looks just like a dry sink my mother inherited, probably hand made in the late 1800's. Same drawer pulls. It had super-dark varnish, nicks, scratches, etc. and looked pretty bad. No fancy paints were available in the 1950's, so my dad refinished it. After stripping it he found it was solid walnut. Other furniture of that period was often solid cherry. Before you repaint, consider truly refinishing it. They don't make furniture like this any more and perhaps it deserves more than another coat of paint.
    • 9530106 9530106 on Oct 10, 2015
      @Retta Robinson I agree, it may very likely be walnut, or another beautiful hardwood. The piece deserves to be brought back, and those drawer pulls surely make the piece what it is(or should be)!
  • Z Z on Oct 09, 2015
    After reading your reply to Shari, I thought I'd share another Hometalkers post about using CitraStrip. It would make the job of the pulls much easier. You might even want to do it all once you see how easy it works.
  • Patricia P Patricia P on Oct 09, 2015
    Thanks, Becky
    • Z Z on Oct 09, 2015
      @You're welcome Patricia. Always happy to help a fellow furniture lover. Even possible talk them into restoring rather than repainting. ;^)
  • Patricia P Patricia P on Oct 09, 2015
    Thanks, sue
  • Shari Coppinger Shari Coppinger on Oct 09, 2015
    It took me 3 days to finally suck it up and finish doing the pulls! I was really glad I did it because I found at least 3 maybe 4 layers already on the pulls and did find a few details that had been masked by the old paint. So chin up and share a picture when you're done.
  • Joan Joan on Oct 10, 2015
    I have a piece similar to this. It has been refinished and the beauty of the wood, which I was told is buttermilk wood, makes the piece look elegant with the wood details and shine. Not sure what the wood is in your piece, but it is not often we are able to care for and restore parts of history. I have received so many compliments about the piece being restored, and the beauty of it being resurrected. I have a very old house and often people will suggest what they think might look good. but in restoring anything I always ask myself, "Is this appropriate to the age, and time in history when this piece was made. Sometimes, I even ask the piece, "How do you feel", silly I know but it has saved many valued, beautiful pieces of history succumbing to the paint brush. I usually, if I can't resist the painting bug find pressboard furniture to paint. Good Luck.
    • See 1 previous
    • Jean Thompson Jean Thompson on Oct 10, 2015
      @Joan Never heard of buttermilk wood. Could this be Butternut wood? It has beautiful Grain and coloring... I have a Stool that has butternut legs on it..
  • MaryAnn B MaryAnn B on Oct 10, 2015
    I would be happy just repainting it in a soft neutral and a dark wax. This looks like the old 80's antiquing kits that I used. If the original finish was sanded before painting and then finished with verathaine (sp?) that will take lots of elbow grease and stripper to get into all the nooks and crannies. Trust me I've done it. This is a lovely piece either way.
  • Joan Joan on Oct 11, 2015
    Jean, I meant butternut wood not buttermilk. I am not sure and it is difficulty to tell from the picture. Perhaps a pull taken to a furniture store or lumber yard would solve the mystery.
    • Patricia P Patricia P on Oct 11, 2015
      I don't think I could remove the pulls without damaging the piece, Joan. There are no screws, maybe they are glued on???
  • Liliana Wells Liliana Wells on Oct 11, 2015
    Beautiful piece.
  • Patricia P Patricia P on Oct 15, 2015
    Thanks, Rebecca!