Mid Century Modern Dresser Makeover

by VeryLiv
6 Materials
2 Days

If you’re anything like me, the day you start thinking your furniture might need a makeover is also the day your mind becomes impervious to ANYTHING else. Once I decided to give my vintage dresser a refresh, I could not stop thinking about it, hatching the plan in my head while pretending to look at the TV above said-dresser. I’m sharing how I gave my old Mid Century Modern dresser a makeover so you can spend less time scheming, and more time enjoying the process. Find the detailed step-by-step here!

This is my “Before”. It didn’t look that bad from afar. Good enough in fact that I had it in my living room for a few years before I realized the existing finish was in such a bad condition! The tabletop had become a real eyesore with white water stains and the veneer either cracking or peeling off.

The first step is to sand off the finish. This can be a tad tricky. The aim is to remove the varnish and/ or paint. Most Mid-Century Modern furniture is clad in veneer (a thin layer of beautiful wood applied to the less aesthetic construction wood). So you can’t sand to your heart’s content, or you might go through the veneer!!

A good rule of thumb here is to start with a fine or medium grit sandpaper. Move on to a heavier grit if needed.

Now that you’ve sanded the whole dresser, take a microfiber cloth and dip it into water. Use this cloth to wipe the entire piece. Moistening the wood fibers will make them stand up and this will allow you to sand them down again. The texture of your finished piece of furniture will be so much smoother after doing this!

To fix veneer issues, apply some wood filler over the offending area. Try to slather more wood paste than necessary so that you can sand it down later.

Tip: if you want to paint your dresser, do it before staining the wood that way, if you make a mistake, you can sand it off before staining. I'm very booboo-prone so this trick is a life saver... It takes a lot of pressure off painting and means you can choose to not use masking tape.

To stain the wood, apply the stain by brushing along the wood grain. If you’ve applied too much stain, spread it with your brush or use a cloth to wipe the excess off.

Once the stain has dried, add a finishing coat. I chose a low VOC food-safe satin sheen varnish. Ok, the whole piece doesn’t need to be coated in food-safe varnish but I thought it might be a good idea at least for the tabletop, in case someone puts down a piece of fruit or a cookie on top of it.

No furniture makeover would be complete without a change of hardware! Gold or brass hardware is always a good bet when you’re refinishing a Mid-Century piece.

That’s all! It was a great weekend project. You could finish it in a day if you wanted, I just took it at a leisurely pace because I wanted to enjoy the whole process!

Find me on Pinterest for more DIY and Home Decoration ideas!

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2 of 14 comments
  • Leslie Leslie on Apr 30, 2022

    Beautiful piece and makeover. Thank you for not painting the whole thing. ❤️

  • Aud62616903 Aud62616903 on Apr 27, 2023

    I love the combination of wood stain + paint details - all very refreshing and seemingly not too much hard work.