Recycled Old Dresser Makeover

vintage recycled dresser

“One man’s trash is another man’s treasure” is exactly the phrase I attach to this fun piece of furniture. I found this pretty wood dresser in my neighbor’s trash. No joke. I wish I had a picture of the sign because it said “take me home” and that is just what I did.

old dresser before

old dresser project

This is a real wood piece. I loved the shape and size immediately, but it needed some loving. The bottom two drawers were broken. I stared it for several weeks trying to decided what I wanted to do with it. I debated colors and if I wanted to fix the drawers or just turn those slots into shelves. I liked the idea of the piece have space to hide a little bit of stuff, so I left one drawer. I kept picturing the other slots holding pretty craft supplies and baskets, so I am glad I took a chance and turned them into shelves. I love what I came up with! I am going to show you exactly what I did step by step, in case you have an old piece that needs some tender loving care as well.

The first thing to do is to give your piece a good sanding and brush off all the saw dust.

sanding a dresserNext, paint the dresser. It was really hard for me to leave the top wood. I knew if I could fight the urge to paint it, I would love the result. And I do. I love the contrast of the dark stain with the teal paint. As for my paint, I didn’t worry about priming or using a paint and primer in one paint. I knew I was going to re-sand the piece, so my paint job didn’t have to be thick or perfect.

painting a dresser

If you are a messy crafter like me, there might be sections of paint on part of the piece where you didn’t want paint.  Simply sand that area again.

touch up sand job

Staining is the next step. You see the piece really come together and the dramatic change. I stained my whole piece. I did the top, all the teal paint, and even the inside of where my shelves would be.

staining woodThere were areas I went back and did a second coat of stain, but the stain color you use will determine a lot of how your piece looks. The stain I used here is called Early American and its a nice deep brown. It’s not too dark nor does it have any shades of red.

Here is where I recruited my awesome husband. Saws scare me. I will use them, but I love it when I don’t have to. Matt cut some 1/8″ panel boards and attached them with wood glue for me. Isn’t he amazing!?!

making a dresser shelf

After the wood glue dried, I stained those boards as well. Note: Be careful with the wood glue! If you get it on your board, it wont stain over that area as well, as you can see below in my picture.

staining dresser shelves

Once the stain is dry, your piece is almost done! I switched out my knobs for some vintage, deep yellow wood ones from Hobby Lobby. I bought them months ago because I loved them, and I have been saving them for a project like this one. It was a perfect match! I love how my piece turned out.

old dresser after

I don’t know where it will end up in our new house, but I am excited about it. Isn’t it funny that you can pick an item out and not know where it will go, but if you love it…you will always find a use or way to incorporate it into your home? That is this piece to me. I hope the teal works somewhere :). It could go in our craft room, the dinning room,  in our foster kids’ room, or maybe even behind a couch? I’m not sure yet, but I will keep you posted on what we do with it.

before and after of old dresserCan you believe this piece that is full of life and fun used to be that old brown dresser? It is crazy what a little paint and time can do. Now I will leave you with some eye candy. Since I can’t stage my shelves for me yet, I staged them up for you to get an idea of how a piece like this can be used. I hope you are inspired!

vintage dresser

recycled dresser

vintage dresser makeover

vintage furniture

Thank you so much for checking in today on one of my favorite furniture makeovers I have ever done! It is Friday, and I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!



    • ericadeuel says

      Yes Taryn! Do it!! I think you would never regret creating a fun piece like this. One thing I love about it…is that I did it. Crazy how a sense of pride can come from something as simple as a paint job…but its fun to make something pretty from something ugly! I hope you find a dresser this weekend!

  1. Carla says

    I love this piece and wish I could be so creative to see the potential in old furniture. Looks great!

    (Also, I love Matt’s shirt in the photos. Nananananana!)

    • ericadeuel says

      Hahaha Thanks Carla! Matt’s shirt is one of the few pieces I have bought him and he has not returned :) but he is wearing it to work in here…so I don’t know what that means! If you ever have a question about an old piece of furniture…email me a pic…I’d love to brainstorm with you what you could do with it!

  2. says

    Nicely done! I was going to give away my old dresser, but now I’ll have to look at it again with an eye to what you’ve done here. Found your blog through SITS. Have a great week!

    • ericadeuel says

      Thank you Lydia! I am so glad I could inspire you and thank you so much for telling me you found me through SITS. I would love to see your piece if you get it done!

  3. says

    I have a dresser just like this that I found for $4.99 a couple weeks ago! I’d already planned to make 2 of the drawers shelves – but I was thinking I’d leave the bottom drawer in, now you’re making me reconsider!!! Is wood glue sturdy enough to hold up the shelves once you put stuff on them? I’d planned to put in supports and rest the shelves on those, but the glue might be easier.

    This is super cute!!! I’m gonna be painting mine a bright blue and I’ll use it as a TV stand for my living room.

    • ericadeuel says

      Kala, Your piece sounds amazing! I want to see a pic of it when you are done! I love the idea for a tv stand. I think wood glue is strong enough although the thing boards might not be. What I like about your idea though is you don’t have to worry about the amount of weight on your shelves. We def considered doing support beams, but since my piece is mostly decorative…heavy weight should not be an issue. Your piece sounds like it could be holding a dvd player or something heavier, so I think supports are a good option. Best of luck with it! I know it will be beautiful!

    • ericadeuel says

      Hahaha Thanks Amanda! You could totally do it! If you ever have a piece you are trying to decide what to do with-email me a pic or something and I will help you brainstorm what you could do with it. I’m sure once you are done with school…you will have more time to do projects like this!

  4. says

    Love this!! Ah, if only I could be so crafty. My hubby and I recently moved into a new place and we’re totally pulling the, “We have no idea where this is going to go, but we LOVE this piece, so let’s get it and figure it out later.” Hehe. So far, it’s been working out really well. Now if we could just find the pieces of furniture we are actually looking for! We’ve been looking for a bedroom set for months now and just can’t find “the one”. 😉

    • ericadeuel says

      Ali! I literally laughed out loud reading your comment. Thank you! I’m so glad I am not the only one that buys something as big as furniture and have no idea where it will go! We need to find furniture like bunk beds…and don’t you know I am not looking for it :). You’re awesome! I checked out your blog and I will be back again. I miss running and maybe following your healthy ways will kick my butt back into gear. Hope the unpacking is going good!

  5. says

    You did a great job! This is gorgeous! I am always amazed by people who do things like this. I know it makes your home absolutely lovely. Very personal and special. That color is fabulous!

  6. says

    I saw this on Instagram. You did a great job and I love your husband’s shirt! We are huge Batman fans in this house. Thank you for dropping by my blog. It was so wonderful meeting you! My badge swap promo code is FREEbie if you are interested. :)

    • ericadeuel says

      Thank you so much Diana for visiting my blog and the sweet comments! I would love to swap buttons with you! I will email you!

  7. says

    Beautiful!!! I love the colors! I have an awesome DIY hubby but I’m a boring old CPA who is not that crafty! And I noticed you’re in Roswell, GA, like me! How fun! New email subscriber :)

    • ericadeuel says

      I’m so sorry I don’t know :/ I tried to figure it out (I used the rest of a can that belonged to my brother), but I’m just guessing at what it could be looking at samples. I’m so sorry I am not more helpful here. I know whatever color you pick would look stunning! The basic technique would look great in so many shades! XO, Erica

      • Shannon Dunaway says

        Do you put stain directly over the teal paint color? I;m sorry I’m slow! Is that what gives it the distressed look?

        • ericadeuel says

          Its ok Shannon! I sanded the teal a little before staining. That allowed the paint to break up and stain to get in the grooves better. I hope that helps!! XOXo

    • ericadeuel says

      Thank you Jessica! Slightly sand the blue, so the stain will stick. Just paint the stain on with a sponge brush and then wipe it off with an old t-shirt. You can do it!

  8. says

    I found your dresser on Hometalk and came to your blog as a result. What an interesting transformation. Using stain right over paint to “age” a piece is a new technique for me (I’m use to using wax) and I’m a long-time painter! Thanks for that idea! I didn’t see in the blog post that you finished your paint in anything; wax, poly…or did I simply miss that stage? This is a BEAUTIFUL and functional piece the mark of a great make-over. I’ll be watching your work in the future, thanks. IF you like the mix of painted and stained furniture you might like my work too and it can be seen at:
    Small House / Big Sky Donna / White Oak Studio Designs / SW Michigan
    Hand-Painted Vintage Furniture Transformations
    Facebook: (for portfolio of chalk painted work)

    • ericadeuel says

      Donna! You are so so sweet! Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for all your sweet words! I’m going to email you right now! XO, Erica

    • ericadeuel says

      Thank you so much Maria for coming over and reading it! I am so glad I could help! Best of luck with your project! XO, Erica

  9. says

    LOVE THIS! Thanks so much for linking up with OPC and Unskinny Boppy to support Habitat4Humanity. Sharing on FB and featuring you tomorrow on the blog. :)

  10. Baylee Mauro says

    I’m refinishing a dresser, and I thought I remembered you had a post about how to do this finish! Glad I found it – this is super helpful!

    • ericadeuel says

      Sarah, Yes I did! I sanded the paint a little so the stain would sink in more, but then just stained! I hope that helps! XO, Erica

  11. LindsayKnipfer says

    Hi – what is the name/brand of the teal color you used? I just purchased an old dresser just like this one from craigslist and can’t wait to try to remake what you did! Also, how did you get the stain to show through the teal paint? Thank you!! I appreciate it :)

    • mattdeuel says

      Awesome! I would say that until you feel comfortable with staining, just take a slow and steady approach. Pick a small area to try. Apply the stain with the direction of the wood grain. Let it sit for 5-8 min and wipe off the excess with a rag. Let it dry for 5 more min and wipe it dry again. If you want darker apply another coat and repeat this process until you’ve achieved the look you want. For a nice finished looked pick up some Wood Wax and after the stain has dried for 24+hrs you can apply a coat of the wax and buff it out.

  12. Rochelle Prescott says

    Hi there. I LOVE this piece! I started on mine this weekend. Would you mind sharing the color with me? Mine I tried to match is too blue. You are crazy talented!!

    • ericadeuel says

      Ohhhhh Thank you Rochelle! I wish I knew it :/. I got this can of paint from someone who only needed half and had leftover. The top was painted all over, so it was unreadable. I am so sorry I can’t help you more! I hope you found a color you love! I’m sure it will be beautiful!! XOXO

  13. says

    What a beautiful piece! You have inspired me to start my recent “road-side rescue”- a chifferobe dresser that needs a lot of TLC. I love how you kept the wood on the top of your dresser. I think I’m going to steal your idea :)

    • ericadeuel says

      Kelly!!! GOOOOOD!!!! That’s why I did this post :) to inspire you, show you what you can do, and I love that you liked the way I created mine. Have fun with yours!!! I know it will be beautiful!!! XOXOX

  14. says

    Love your dresser. Question, some pictures show the paint darker then other this because of the stain? Did the stain darken up the teal? Or just the photos? I love it either way, just wondering as I am going to also try staining after painting…I came over from Hometalk but now I am subscribing!! :o) yay me for finding your blog.

    • ericadeuel says

      Oh thank you Laurie!!! Thanks so much for telling me how you found me too :) The stain DEF helped darken up the teal. Good eyes for catching the change of color! I also think the color might be a little off based on the fact that I worked on this piece in my carport and then took pictures in sunlight. I love the stain look after paint. It keeps a rich color, but tones it down just a little so it looks more rustic and natural. Good luck with your piece! XOXO


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