How can I give life to this old dresser?


This dresser has been in my family for as long as I can remember. There is nothing special about it and I would say fairly cheaply made. But... it has 'stood the test of time' pretty well.

I need help... general ideas I guess to add some life or interest to it. Nothing over the top. My grandson is only 1yr old but I can see putting it in his Nana's house bedroom when he's older. I DO NOT want a little boy themed dresser, however, as that room is now our guest room.

Any good ideas out ther?

q how can i give life to this old dresser
q how can i give life to this old dresser


q how can i give life to this old dresser

inside drawers

q how can i give life to this old dresser


q how can i give life to this old dresser

on back

  16 answers
  • Robyn Garner Robyn Garner on Dec 29, 2019

    You can easily chalk paint it and add new hardware. Perhaps refresh/restain the top leaving it wood. Paint to match the guest room and finish with a matte poly.

  • Gk Gk on Dec 29, 2019

    You have a beautiful old well made dresser! You could choose to paint it with chalk paint and finish it with a polyacrylic finish rather than a wax finish or you could stain in darker with a gel stain that requires very little prep work. You will have to do several coats of gel stain so it doesn't look streaky. The gel stain is a mixture of stain and poly so once you are done with your coats--you are done!

  • What a classic piece. Great lines, I think that it would look great with a wooden top and painted base. You could use chalk or milk paint (the easiest and doesn't require a lot of prep). You could add a stencil or a decal if you want to dress it up or even wooden appliqués for a touch of drama.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Dec 29, 2019

    Old English scratch cover will give it a new finish without refinishing. It comes in 2 shades. You could replace the drawer pulls also.

  • Tinyshoes Tinyshoes on Dec 29, 2019

    Cindy...I too think it is a beautiful appears to be maple to me! I personally would not do anything other than clean it well. They do have some stencilling that can be used and removed with no damage but I like it as it is! It looks very much like my parents guest room piece which was post WWII!

  • Lifestyles Homes Lifestyles Homes on Dec 29, 2019

    Change the pulls. Make each one different with kid-themed pulls.

    My don’s dresser had a soccer ball, baseball, bat, policeman, whistle, etc- fun pulls.

  • Emily Emily on Dec 29, 2019

    You have a very nice clean well proportioned and roomy dresser. Do not replace the knobs. They are more unusual than usual. You could paint (chalk paint though escapes me, why have a paint finish dull?) or refinish the top and leave as wood. I have four bureaus in my room. Two are painted and decoupaged. Two are plain wood, the larger of which dates from the early '50's. I don't "revere" these old things although if they were antique I would not paint them.

  • Simply paint it and swap the knobs!

  • Cristine Schwartzberg Cristine Schwartzberg on Dec 29, 2019

    It's pretty. Do you need the change? I would pick up a wood soap and give it a good scrub. After a scrub and a rinse, I would rub down with lemon oil. that will refresh and rejuvenate it.

  • William William on Dec 29, 2019

    Paint. A nail or staple to for the back gap and any more. Line the drawers with some contact paper or wallpaper, new drawer pulls.

    Tons of ideas from other Hometalkers. I like painted dressers with wood tops.

  • Sarah Brown Sarah Brown on Dec 29, 2019

    hello, you can use a tack nail to fix that gap. Please use a dresser anchor to secure that piece to the wall, as tall dressers can fall on young children. I think the dresser is very pretty as is. To spruce it up I might only hit it with a rag full of lemon wood oil and perhaps change out the pulls. Please however keep the pulls together somewhere safe in case you or someone else who gets it later decides to restore it. For myself painting very fine wood is a huge faux pas, in fact I don't understand the whole chalk paint/milk paint movement. Paint is meant to cover things that are ugly. Your dresser is very pretty, the stain looks fully intact, any small scratches are easy to remedy and a new layer of furniture wax added to seal it.

  • Flipturn Flipturn on Dec 30, 2019

    Agree with Lifestyle Homes to first change the knobs. It is far easier and faster than painting, and might just give an old dresser the new life it needs.

  • Cindy Rubin Cindy Rubin on Dec 30, 2019

    THANK YOU EVERYONE! Such great ideas!!


  • Amy Dionne Amy Dionne on Dec 30, 2019

    Rather than painting the dresser, perhaps you can paint the walls of the room to enhance the "look". The wood has an orange color to it and can look really nice with the right color wall paint and other accessories ie. curtains, bedding, flooring.

  • Joan Joan on Jan 18, 2020

    Dear friend, as others have told you, you have a beautiful piece of furniture. It is likely to be about 100 years old. It is made of what is called "hard rock maple". You can look this up. It is an unusually tall piece with shallow drawers compared to many I've seen.

    Please consider cleaning and restoring the finish using the Old English polish. It does an amazing job. If you want to brighten it for your grandson, change the knobs to be different colors for each drawer! He will learn his colors and remember where things are quickly. In addition, you could take some "contact" paper and add several "cut outs" from the paper (maybe dinosaurs or simply stripes--use cookie cutters for patterns) to the front of the drawers. This should be relatively easy to remove and change. Goo Gone will remove the adhesive and the finish of your chest will remain intact.

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Sep 10, 2021

    Hi, we transformed a dresser similar to yours using old suitcases. You can find that tutorial here -