a girl who happens to love art, design and coffee
Billie Monster

Before & After: Ugly Dresser 06.23.2010

There is something about finding an ugly, old piece of furniture that nobody wants and watching it become something beautiful with just a little bit of elbow grease. I thought it was about time for me to find my very own 'ugly' dresser to make-over, and decided to look for something with a mid-century modern style. I began making daily visits to Kijiji and Craigslist and eventually after several months, I managed to get my eager hands on what I thought was the perfect ugly dresser. Once I got it home and had a good look at it, I decided it was going to be a piece of cake to refinish. Of course, that was me being naive and forgetting about my lack of experience in this particular area!

The mid-century modern look with the cute little tapered legs at the bottom, plus it's overall shape, seemed to indicate that the dresser was made in the 50s.  A stamp on the inside drawer confirmed it. I already loved it as it was - but I had my heart set on refinishing it. So, I headed over to Rona and picked out the perfect paint color - Expressions Gallery 'Edamame' 13D2-0 - along with everything else I would need, then headed home with a smile on my face. 

First things first, I cleaned out all of the old dust and cobwebs from inside the dresser. I also pounded in any old nails and staples that were jutting out. Then, to make sure anything else in the room didn't get covered in dust, I either covered it or took it out of the room. Next, I put on a dust mask and began sanding. The surface had a kind of veneer top layer that had to be removed; it was some sort of paper-like material with a wood grain pattern. I thought it was strange considering underneath that was real wood. Sanding it away was a pain in the butt; it took incredibly long even with Jeff's help. In hindsight, I should have rented a handheld power sander - grrr (a tip for anyone else attempting this!). Once it was all removed, I gave it a quick wipe with a damp cloth to get rid of any accumulated dust, and did the same thing around the room. You would not want dust settling into your paint as it dries later on.

Now on to the painting, yay!

Materials I used:

  • Kilz Premium Interior/Exterior Water-Base Acrylic Latex Primer (white pigmented)
  • Expressions Gallery Interior Flat Finish 100% Acrylic Latex E-180 tinted to Edamame 13D2-04
  • two polyester/nylon paintbrushes in two different sizes, small roller, sponge brushes (you may not necessarily need all of these to apply the paint - use whichever one suits your project)
  • paint tray
  • Varathane Professional Clear Finish Clear Satin 1100
  • large plastic sheet (to cover your floor)

Painting is apparently pretty straightforward - even if you don't have much experience. After doing a small amount of research online, you will come to the same conclusion. The most common advice is that you should make long, even strokes with the paintbrush for the best results. Another tip you might find is that putting a little paint thinner in your paint will give it a smoother finish. Even though I was trying my best to make the brush strokes smooth and consistent, I was still having issues with strokes appearing in the paint. After trying ordinary paint brushes, I tried a roller, which was slightly better but left a stipple texture that I didn't like. My last option was the cheapest available - those little disposable sponge brushes with the wooden handles. Surprisingly they left the least amount of visible paint strokes as the paint dried, and ended up being the best choice.

I applied two layers of primer before I put on the first coat of green paint. Since I had used a white primer, I ended up putting on at least four coats of the green before I was satisfied with the color saturation. Do not forget to sand lightly between each coat, and wipe off any dust before applying the next. All I had to do now was put on the clear finish. According to Rona expert advice, I applied Varathane for the top coat and let that dry.

Ugly dresser was starting to look pretty attractive. The last choice I had to make was whether or not I wanted to re-use the original hardware, or find something new. I decided to use the ones it had since they were pretty snazzy and also because it would probably be next to impossible to find new hardware that would match the holes that were already there. So all I did was spray paint the existing hardware and the legs white - it took several coats, but worked out well in the end - as you can see in the photos!

I love ugly dresser - even though it's pretty now.

Ugly dresser was featured on: The DIY ShowOff, Better After, Ucreate, Adventures of One Crazy Lady, Madigan Made, also on CraftGawker

Link Party ♥: Miss Mustard Seed, Creative Chic Parade



freelance graphic + website designer
wirework + jewelry artist
art + craft lover

I love to create. This blog is a collection of things.
Things I love. Things I've made. Things that inspire me.

My shops



Flickr project gallery

Oops! I'm sorry, but there was a problem fetching the Flickr photos!


Be Featured

Wanna be featured on Billie Monster? with your project's details. If you've already been featured or just want to show Billie Monster love, grab your button here.

Billie Monster

I was featured on:

The DIY Show Off
The Creative Crate
Better After
Tip Junkie
U Create
So Very Creative