1920's Dresser Rescue

by Melody
6 Hours
I bought this gorgeous 1920's dresser, in need of lots of TLC, from a local Goodwill two years ago. I put off the refinishing because I wasn't sure I could manage to save this beauty, nor did I think I had the time. I finally found the time, and the courage, to attempt the rescue. I'm glad I waited and took my time because now I'm beyond happy with the results.
The veneer was peeling, cracking and literally falling off the front where the two bottom drawers meet. The sides of the dresser had major veneer damage as well, not to mention the top of this piece was gouged, scratched and missing pieces of veneer.
I was able to fix the peeling veneer by using wood glue, painters tape and clamps. Then once I had the veneer lying flat on the wood again, I used a high quality wood filler to fill in all the cracks and spots of missing veneer. I had originally hoped to save the wood and not paint at all, but when I attempted to stain the piece (after sanding) the wood filler would not take the stain as well as I'd hoped. This meant all the filled parts stood out and were a major eye sore.
I decided my best option was to paint what I needed to paint and stain where I could. I saved the most beautiful part of the dresser (the middle section of each drawer) and refinished this area with a coat of dark walnut stain and wax.
The portions of the dresser that I couldn't save from a paint brush, I painted in Chalk Paint™ by Annie Sloan in Old White. After painting, I sealed the whole dresser in Annie Sloan soft clear wax. I lightly distressed the painted areas where I wanted to bring out the details. I also sprayed the original hardware in Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint in order to make them POP off the Old White paint. Once I was finished, it was time to stand back and admire this beauty.
More details are on the blog.
This is the dresser how it looked when I brought it home two years ago from our local Goodwill. If you look where the two bottom drawers meet, the veneer was peeling, warped and cracked on both sides. The top of the dresser also had missing and peeling veneer as well as numerous deep scratches and gouges.
In this shot you can see how much of the veneer I needed to remove from both sides of the dresser. I had thought about removing it all, but the wood underneath wasn't a good quality.
This is how the drawer looked after I fixed the veneer using wood glue, painter's tape and wood clamps. You can see here how there were still numerous cracks and places where the veneer had come off.
Another picture of where I fixed the veneer. I needed to use a lot of high quality wood filler to fill in these spots that were cracked. Unfortunately the stain didn't take the filler as well as the wood, this meant the many places that were filled stood out like a sore thumb.
This is how the dresser looked once it was finished. I'm thrilled with how it turned out.
Where there were details I wanted to bring out, I used 220 grit sandpaper and a light touch to lightly distress these areas. I didn't want the piece to look to rustic or detract from the beauty.
I absolutely love this wood detailing. I'm so happy I was able to save this part from the paint brush!
I love the bun feet, fluting and carving on the bottom of this piece.
I really am happy with how this all turned out. I had hoped I could save the whole piece from paint, but that just wasn't in the cards. Now this piece has a new lease on life. I can't wait to put this one in my new family room!
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • Gmalou Gmalou on Jul 01, 2018

    Am I missing something? How did you paint it, and with what?

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2 of 321 comments
  • Judy vacarra Judy vacarra on Jan 17, 2015
    WOWEEEeeee ZOWEeee, lovit, now i want one , looking right now for the perfect one for my bedroom , thanks for the lesson its gonna work for me .

  • Cynthia Cynthia on Jan 15, 2017
    Beautiful! So glad that you were able to save some of the wood!