DIY Dresser Makeover: Detailed Rehab Guide

by Ngozi
1-2 Week
I never thought I would be one to get into furniture restoration but trust me if I can do it, you can too. Grey is such a classic, calming, and neutral color, so I just knew this piece had to be in grey family!
Before purchasing this dresser, I did a lot of research on furniture rejuvenation and makeovers. There are tons of blogs and forums dedicated to such topics. I didn’t find one blog that had everything I needed, but with the hours of research spent, I collectively found out great information to help me complete this project. Luckily for you, I’ll detail the entire process in my blog post!
The process and the steps are very much straightforward. There are just some times that the tedious and time-consuming but trust me the results are well worth it! A detailed “how to guide” and tips and tricks will be posted on my blog here:
I bought this dresser off the Offerup app for $80 when we moved into our new apartment in February. I used a family member’s pickup truck to transport the dresser and its accompanying mirror, which cost me $10 in gas. This project took me about 2 months to complete, simply because I work a lot, 6 days a week to be exact. But ideally, if working on it consecutively, I think one can complete it within a week’s time.

Keep in mind these tips and tricks are how I paint. These are not the only way. There are several correct ways to rehab furniture.

At the bottom of this post your find an entire list of all the tools and products used. Wherever possible, I added direct links to the item as well as the cost at the time this post is published.
A quick note about furniture selection. Obtaining a quality piece of solid wood furniture is key to getting a professional custom look that will last a long time. The furniture should be made of solid wood, dovetail joints, and of course be seemingly sturdy. The condition and finish of the furniture doesn’t matter as much as the fact that it should be quality. The dresser I bought was by Bassett furniture and it was made in the late 1960’s, with only one owner. Here are the steps I took to makeover this dresser!

I removed all hardware using a screwdriver or battery operated drill.

Then I vacuumed and wiped the drawers and dresser out clean.

I used a handheld vacuum. A lightly dampened rag or tack cloth can also work well.

Before starting this project, I needed to pick a paint color. Deciding on a color was tough I tell ya! I knew I wanted grey, but there are so many hues of grey out there! To help me decide, I got $0.99 pint sized samples from Lowe’s for trial. I applied each sample to the top of the dresser and was able to select my coveted grey!

The next step was to prime all the surfaces I planned to paint:

I’m so glad I didn’t skip this step. Priming is great for bonding your paint color to the surface of the wood which will help your paint finish last longer and stand up to more wear. Once your piece has been correctly primed, the paint should have no problem adhering to it.

Finally time to get some satisfaction out of this project! I decided to go with the brand Olympic® One®, an enamel paint available at Lowe’s. BTW, a lot of the products I got from Lowe’s because when I moved into my new apartment I had a 10% off coupon that I got for USPS when you change your address.

I knew I wanted a durable matte finish and opted to seal the dresser with Varathane’s Matte Soft Touch Polyurethane®. There wasn’t too much information about this sealer on the web, and when I asked the sales associates at Home Depot if this will be good on top of a painted furniture piece, I was informed that it was intended for stained and not painted wood.
Adding New Hardware:

Now this part was scary! There was so much that could go wrong with this step and after getting to the beautiful point I was at, I just didn’t want to mess up the dresser! Thankfully everything went relatively smoothly. I really did not have a scientific method for locating where to drill the holes. Let me try and articulate it for you.

For full instructions, please visit my blog
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  3 questions
  • Sarah Thorpe-Johnson Sarah Thorpe-Johnson on Dec 09, 2016
    Did you sand the dresser at all first?

  • Bnb7639682 Bnb7639682 on Dec 16, 2016
    Did I miss a step? Did you remove the trim to paint it white or did you paint it while still on the piece--before or after the gray? I'm afraid the trim would be too delicate to remove and reattach and my hands are not steady enough to paint in place. But it is a beautiful look and I like your color choices.

  • Bernadette Bernadette on Dec 16, 2016
    Since Home Depot advised you that Varanthes Matte Soft Touch Polyurethane, was not for painted furniture, what did you use?

Join the conversation
3 of 53 comments
  • Kristine Kristine on Jan 28, 2017
    I've done a few pieces, and I find asking the people in the paint dept. will be very helpful in finding what type of paint you need.

    • Int2363025 Int2363025 on Jan 29, 2017
      Depends what paint store dept you are referring to.....the box store help are worthless. You need to go to a regular paint store.

  • Brenda strickland Brenda strickland on Mar 19, 2017
    You did a beautiful job, be proud of your work. Fantastic!