Today I’m sharing how I gave a vintage dresser a modern makeover by stripping it and using a combination of stains and new hardware to achieve a light oak finish.
It’s been over a month since my last post but January hit hard ya’ll. I’m notoriously unmotivated in January but usually find ways (through blog commitments) to keep myself going. This year I’ve been working on some projects for an upcoming photoshoot with BHG Flea Market Style happing in a couple weeks, which means I can’t share any of that on my blog. Additionally, we had lots of family come in town for a special religious event that my oldest son had, and some of them stayed a little longer which was so much fun! It was a couple weeks were my family took priority over everything else and I chose to be present and push work to the side. I think it was a much needed respite because I’ve been quite productive this past weekend, ticking several things off my to-do list.
One of those things was this vintage dresser belonging to a friend of mine. It had been tucked away in my garage for months and months, awaiting me to finish her and return her home. I had done most of this dresser rehab last March before I went to Brazil but somehow got the stain wrong on the bottom drawer and by the time I was ready to tackle it again I had forgotten the stain combo! Well, my friend recently got a job in Barcelona, Spain and is moving this week, so I had to get my butt in gear so she could take the dresser with her!
Here is what the dresser looked like before I started the modern makeover:
And here is what she looks like now:
I had already started sanding the top when I remembered I should take a before pic, but you get the idea of how orange the old finish had turned over the years.
My friend wanted a lighter, modern stain, and since the drawers weren’t gliding easily and she plans on using this a lot, she wanted metal ball-bearing drawer slides put in.
I absolutely LOVE this finish and how different this dresser looks now!
So this is the run-down of what I used to achieve this stain:
Strip using a stripper (I use Citrustrip) and thoroughly clean the stripper off using mineral spirits. Let dry completely and sand with 120 grit, then 220 grit sandpaper to remove anything remaining. Wood should be much lighter colored with the darker part of the grain striations still visible.
Below, the left is sanded with darker grain visible. The right side drawer is just cleaned with mineral spirits and not sanded yet.
If you have sanded to the point you cannot see a the visibly much darker part of the wood grain (like what I did to the top of the dresser), then do the following: Wipe Minwax Dark Walnut stain over the surface, and immediately following, apply Minwax wood conditioner. Rub out as much of the Dark Walnut stain as possible. What will happen is the darker striations will pick up the dark walnut stain and the lighter parts of the wood will come ‘cleaner’ the more you scrub with the wood conditioner. Let it dry completely for several hours.
Below is what it looks like when you sand to the point that the dark grain striations are not as visible and will therefore need to be darkened as described above. P.S. There were significant scratches and gauges in the wood so that is why I sanded the top so much… it was intentional. : )
1- Wipe on a small amount of Verathane’s Sunbleached and immediately wipe off as much as possible.
This stain is very opaque and dries fast so you can always use a little wood conditioner to wipe off areas you think have too much. You want to lighten the finish and add a little gray into the grain.
2- Wipe on Minwax Picked Oak, let sit for a minute and gently wipe off excess.
Let the stain dry completely (24 hours).
3- Apply 2 light coats of Minwax Polycrylic water-based top coat.
The reason I used a water-based top coat is because it yellows less than oil-based top coats and I wanted to minimize the yellow-tone in the wood. The good thing about it though, is it adds a warmth to the wood that something like clear furniture wax (as a top coat) wouldn’t be able to achieve. And trust me, don’t worry about the top coat adhering properly. If you have wiped off excess and let it absorb into the wood completely and it’s 100% dry, the water-based top coat will have no problem adhering properly to the wood. I’ve done this on several pieces of my furniture and never had any issues.
For the pulls, my friend picked them out and they couldn’t be better in my opinion. They are from TARGET of all places!
If you happen to have an old dresser with drawer that stick, then maybe you are interest in installing metal drawer slides!
I was able to retrofit ball-bearing drawer slides into this vintage dresser that originally had wood drawer slides, and the tutorial is found HERE.
What do you think? Do you like this modern makeover of a vintage classic dresser?
SOURCES & PRODUCTS USED (affiliate links used):