How To…. Transform a nasty dresser into a nice dresser

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You may have heard me going on about the dresser we’ve been transforming for our kitchen, and I’m so pleased with the results that I thought I’d share how we did it here.

We bought a very orangey-varnished dresser for the kitchen from a local-pick-up Ebay seller last year, and although it’s a nice shape and size, it looked very dated in its finish. So, we decided we’d give it a make over, to make it brighter and fresher, and here’s how…..

What you will need:

  • Your dresser or other piece of furniture
  • Fine grade sand paper (an orbital or palm sander makes it easier if you can get one!)
  • Lots of scrap paper or newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Wide and narrow brushes
  • White (or any colour for that matter) DURABLE kitchen-friendly paint (we used Wilkinsons Durable emulsion)
  • Tester pots in contrasting shades for handles (we used Wilkinsons emulsion tester pots in pastel shades)
  • Satin finish durable varnish
  • A piece of dowel for stirring the paint and varnish
  • Sugar soap
  • Rubber gloves
  • Protective goggles and mask (wear these all the time you’re sanding and preferably when you’re painting too!)
  • A clean cleaning cloth

How to do it:

  1. Prepare the area you’re going to work in by ensuring you have good ventilation, your piece of furniture is free from any obstacles, and any other furniture or belongings are covered in newspaper to protect them from saw dust and paint. Also remove any handles etc. and take off the doors and drawers to make them easier to paint separately.
  2. Decide which areas of the furniture you want to paint and which you want to leave as exposed wood, and put on your goggles and mask.
  3. Sand the entire piece, just roughly all over, so that the first layer of old varnish or paint is roughened. This level of sanding will suffice for all the areas you want to paint.
  4. For the bits you want to leave as exposed wood, continue sanding until all the old varnish or paint has gone, and you are left with a nice smooth surface and a more natural colour.
  5. Now mask off these areas you want to keep un-painted with newspaper, sticking this down carefully to the edges with masking tape so that none of the not-to-be-painted surface is exposed, but all of the areas to be painted are exposed.
  6. Wearing your rubber gloves, pour a little sugar soap onto the cloth and clean away the dust from the sanding, so that your to-be-painted surfaces are nice and clean. You’ll need to wipe over a few times with water too, in order to get rid of the soapiness.
  7. Now you can finally start to paint! Don’t forget to stir the paint pot well before starting!
  8. It’s better to paint three or four very thin coats as opposed to one or two thicker ones, as you’ll get a better finish and the paint job will be less prone to chipping. Use a narrower brush to get into all the nooks and crannies and corners, then a bigger brush to fill the larger areas.
  9. Let the paint dry THOROUGHLY in between each coat….it’s hard to be patient but the finish will be much better if you are!
  10. Keep painting thin coats all over the piece until you have a good coverage, then leave it to VERY THOROUGHLY dry before carefully removing the masking tape and newspaper.
  11. Now you can clean the un-painted surfaces with the sugar soap, and get on with the little details.
  12. Lightly sand the handles and clean them with sugar soap.
  13. Then paint each one in your chosen colour, again in several thin coats, waiting for each coat to dry in between.
  14. Once those are dry, stir your pot of varnish well, then take a small brush and thinly coat each handle with the varnish. Again, you’re likely to need around three thin coats.
  15. Once the varnish is dry, replace the handles and doors and drawers, then fill up your dresser with pretties, sit back and admire your hand work!

All in, our dresser cost less than £100, including the piece itself and all the painting things. A bit of a bargain I think and well worth the effort! So much so in fact, that we’ve already done our kitchen table to match (with exposed wood top and white legs) and we’re planning on painting the chairs in the pretty pastel shades of the dresser handles!

Hope this is useful and you enjoy your project!

Ems x

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