I just love these old 1970’s long dressers! They are a great size, have wonder details, and are oh so solid. They are also heavy, dark, and sometimes smell. These are decades old and have been around the block a few times!
When I first saw this beast sitting in a thrift store alongside her sister(a tall armoire), I immediately thought of her sitting in my living room as our new media console. I have wanted to repurpose one of these for myself for a long time and I will have one sitting in my newly painted and semi-updated living room. It has taken me close to a year to pick out my wall colors and decide what I want my overall look to be, but that is for another time. Back to this project! What most people saw: she was big, she was dark brown and dirty, and her drawers didn’t fit properly anymore. What I saw: she was the perfect size for a media center, she would be gorgeous in Vintage Duck Egg and metallic silver, her drawers were in wrong! Oh, and they were on sale for half off!!! I tried not to run up to the cashier to pay for them!!! I walked really fast instead! I bought these at the end of last summer and put them in my garage until it was time to work on them.
I really wanted to wait until Spring to start on this one because she is really big and heavy. I wanted to work on her in my garage, but instead my husband helped me move her into our dining room in between snow showers here in Michigan. This was a pretty easy makeover project as far as repurposing goes, the hardest thing was moving her in from the garage.
First thing I did was take some “Before” pictures of her. She is an odd duck, she looks like she has 12 drawers but she only has 6. That means that in order to open a drawer, you will have to open a door on whichever side the drawer is on. I don’t really like that feature, but I like having the doors on each side.
First thing you must do to any piece of furniture before you paint it is CLEAN it. It doesn’t matter what paint you are going to use, you must prep your furniture. I took out all the drawers, removed the hardware(I put mine in a baggie so I don’t lose any pieces) and vacuumed the inside. I also turned her over on her top so I could clean the underside, no spiders or other creepy crawlies allowed! When I finished and turned her right upside again, I got out my cleaner and scrubbed every inch. I used Dixie Belle Paint Company White Lightning cleaner mixed with water in a spray bottle and a scrub pad. You might have to clean it a couple of times to get all the decades of dirt, oil, and grime off. After it is cleaned, you will want to make sure you rinse it off using a clean rag(s) to remove all the residue from your cleaner.
I took off the drawer runners from the two upper drawers, sawed off the middle support and measured the space for my shelf. I used MDF for my shelf, it’s lighter than wood planks and easier for the width of this dresser. You can get it cut at your local home improvement store for free. I had to notch out a place in the back of the shelf for it to fit properly and lightly sand all the edges before I installed the shelf. I used Liquid Nails to secure the shelf to the frame, very easy. I put some weights on the shelf until it was dry.
Once my shelf was in, I lightly sanded the entire piece with 220 grit sandpaper just to scuff up the finish to allow my paint something to adhere to. Wipe off the dust with a slightly damp cloth or tack cloth. I put 2 coats of Dixie Belle Vintage Duck Egg Chalk Mineral Paint on the body and drawers, I used 330 grit sandpaper in between each coat. Lightly sanding in between coats will give you a buttery soft finish. I used Rust-Oleum Spray Paint in Blossom White to paint the back and sides of the shelf and Dixie Belle Drop Cloth for the shelf. It’s easier and faster to use spray paint for the hard to reach areas.
Next step is cleaning and painting the hardware. These are original to the piece, heavy and gorgeous! I like to keep the originals if I can, it is difficult to find handles that fit and look good on some of these older pieces of furniture. I soaked the handles in a bowl of White Lightning and water for a few minutes(dark brown on the right above) and then just scrubbed them(green on left above) and then sprayed them with Rust-Oleum Metallic Spray Paint in Pure Gold. A couple of coats is all it took. I sealed these with Minwax Clear Aerosol Lacquer.
I wanted to highlight the details on the doors and drawers to really make them pop on the piece. I originally planned on doing this piece with silver instead of the gold, but I thought this piece needed the gold. I dry brushed Dixie Belle Drop Cloth and Miss Lillian’s Metallic Paint in Champagne over all the scroll work on the doors and details on the drawers. I used a very light touch because I just wanted a hint of color here and there. If you put too much color on, you can go back over with your base color. When I was happy with my highlighting, I lightly sanded it with 330 grit sandpaper and wiped the dust off. I sealed the doors with the Minwax Clear Aerosol Lacquer.
To seal the body, I mixed up some General Finishes High Performance Topcoat and Vintage Duck Egg paint. I applied 3 coats of this, sanding lightly in between each coat. I like to mix a little bit of the base color with the topcoat when I’m sealing solid colors, it helps cover any brush strokes you might have. I used the same thing on the shelf, topcoat and Drop Cloth.
I love the way this dresser to media console turned out! I hope you try your DIY skills to a project like this!
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Until next time!