SMELLY OLD DRAWERS? NO PROBLEM. HERE’S HOW TO DEODORIZE WOOD AND MAKE YOUR DRAWERS SMELL FRESH AND LOOK NEW.
Hi SI family! I’m so happy you joined me today because I have an easy fix for old smelly wood drawers.
But first, a little bit on this antique dresser I picked up off FB Market Place. I’m learning that dating furniture is a special talent I don’t have. Without Google, I couldn’t tell what year a certain type of furniture was made.
What I do know is the hardware, finish, locks, types of wood used, wear and tear and the smell are all telltale signs when dealing with antiques.
The very first thing I do is open the drawers, stick my face in and take a whiff.
Then I look at the drawer construction and joinery. Check out these pin-and-scallop joints. They’re just as impressive as dovetails, don’t you think!? If any of you would like to take a guess at when this pin-and-scallop method was used on old furniture, I’d love for you to share in the comments. It looks a little too perfect to be done by hand so I’m guessing early 1900’s ??? After 1895 they came out with machines to do dovetailing so I’d guess it’s around the same time. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Okay, so the last few weeks have been all about pretty florals. It’s time to switch it up a bit. I have to keep you guys guessing, right?! 🙂 I listened to all your suggestions on Facebook – THANK YOU – and came up with something I’ve never tried before (thanks Kellee!) using yellow, blue, red and a TON of texture. I thought it was fitting to keep this old girl looking old.
Here’s the before. This antique dresser had been refinished numerous times. There was old white dripping paint and it also had several colors of stain. I love that this piece has been kicking around for years. Its been reimagined several times over.
For the paint finish, I created lots of texture and OLD rustic charm. What do you think?
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HOW TO DEODORIZE WOOD::
These drawers had an old wood smell but nothing moldy or drastic. If you have a REAL STUBBORN odor problem, I wrote an entire post on How to Remove Musty-Moldy-Mothy Smells HERE. This article has been pinned over 17K times and has over 100 odor removing techniques and testimonials in the comments. Definitely worth the read if you have a piece of real stinky furniture!
If you’re looking to recondition old wood and make it smell fresh again, this couldn’t be easier. Dixie Belle sent me some of their Big Mama’s Butta. They offer two scented and one unscented.
It’s the easiest product to use and the Orange Grove and Suzanne’s Garden smell gorgeous. I’m pretty sensitive when it comes to smells, but I didn’t find this overpowering at all.
I used a shop towel (but any soft lint-free towel or rag will work) and I dipped it into the Butta and then rubbed it onto the old wood. It reconditioned it beautifully and no more old smell. Now that it’s been rubbed into the wood, I can’t say that I smell Suzanne’s Garden, but it definitely took away/sealed the old wood smell!
Update** You know when you’re working with a specific scent and you can’t really smell it anymore? That’s exactly what happened with these drawers. I’ve checked on them the last week and the DO have a lovely floral smell! They drawers smell gorgeous! I’m not sure how long it will last for but I’ll keep you updated. 🙂
Check out how amazing it looks now!
Clean smelling (and looking) drawers are a HUGE selling feature so I’ll be using Big Mama’s Butta on many of makeovers!
For the 411 on this dresser, I used a textured paint technique layering Rebel Yellow, Rusty Nail, and Antebellum Blue.
The paint was applied unevenly with the intent of creating brush marks and nooks and valleys. Then sanded smooth.
To get all the texture to show, this Glaze was applied over top the paint and then a few areas were darkened with black wax. After the glaze and wax were on, another sanding to bring out all this gorgeous texture!
For the finishing touch, a little of this Gold Gilding Wax was used to highlight parts of the hardware.
So this old girl has been reimagined once again… and restyled to rustic perfection!
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS ANTIQUE DRESSER MAKEOVER… OR WHAT YOU USE TO FRESHEN UP OLD DRAWERS. I ALWAYS LOVE HEARING FROM YOU!
Thanks for reading. 🙂
Wishing you a beautiful day filled with inspiration and Happy Painting friends!
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Though it looks old but is still beautiful, i like the handles.
Paula Shepherd says
I would especially love to see a video on this technique. I can’t comprehend how you got this look especially if you covered with rebel yellow. Please do a video. I have 3 oak pieces that would look fab with this finish. I am loving it. So different.
Natalie Dayton says
I love what you did with this dresser Denise! The rustic yellow finish is perfect with the different colors poking through.
Thanks so much, Natalie! Love seeing you here so thanks for dropping in! XO
So beautiful!! You need to do a video on this technique 🙌🏻🙌🏻😍
Thanks, Evangeline! Are you interested in a video on Mama’s Butta or the painting technique? Love new video ideas and sometimes the requests are the ‘little nudge’ I need to make one, so thanks! 🙂
Dang, I was just at my DB retailer (almost an hour away) last week and saw the Big Mama’s Butta but was in such a hurry that Ii didn’t read the jar to see what it was. Definitely, need to try this stuff. I’m very intrigued by this layered technique and definitely want to try that too. The antique dresser is gorgeous! Pinned 🙂
I’m going to try the Orange scented one next and I’ll let you know which I prefer. I’m really impressed at how well it freshened up this old wood. Thanks for the PIN!!! 🙂
Great and tasteful as always
Thanks so much! 🙂
Hi, does the Big Mama’s Butta take away cigarette smoke that is in drawers?
Hi Julie! The scented ones (because it does come in unscented) does neutralize odors.
Denise, this is beautifully done piece of furniture!! The only place I’ve seen a similar finish was in cottages in England. They had furniture that had been lovingly passed down through generations. Thanks for the info. about removing odor from old furniture. One piece I worked on had a moldy odor that even sanding wouldn’t remove. I had tried everything! It was an old chest. Finally, I solved the problem by removing all the drawers, taking everything outside and sealing every surface of wood, both inside and outside, upside down the chest and drawers with an oil based varnish. I let it stay outside until dry. That varnish sealed in all remaining odor.
Hi Bev! 🙂 I can so see this piece in an English cottage. You have me daydreaming and I wish I was there right now..lol. And thanks for the oil-based varnish tip! I know sometimes those furniture smells are so overwhelming and can take some elbow grease and time to get rid of.
Denise Hardy says
Beautiful work and love those joints. If you have an antique piece of furniture that features drawers with a curious-looking half-circle joint, you can be almost certain that it was made in a North American factory between 1871 and 1900. While it came to be known as the Knapp Joint, the joint is also variously described by its appearance: the pin and cove, scallop and dowel, scallop and peg, pin and scallop, and half-moon.
Great info… thank you, Denise. I wouldn’t have thought this piece was that old! Just goes to show these old pieces can be restyled numerous times and still stand the test of time.
Hi again Denise. Just wanted to say “THANK YOU” to your SI readers for the information on Knapp joints. This dresser must be over a hundred years old! Wow. Makes me extra happy to know that it has a new life now that it’s been upcycled. Amazing work:)
I didn’t think it was that old because it’s in great shape… so this makes me super happy too! Have a super day my friend. XO
Denise tank’s for dharing..I’m happy for receiving your post..Love your wonderful work.
Thank you, Rachel! Nice having you here. 🙂
This is a beautiful rustic update and I love those handles..The inside of the drawers look nice and reconditioned so thanks for the tip on the Mamas Butta! ~ Nicki
Hi Nicki! Thanks so much. I’m really pleased with the reconditioned wood as well. 🙂
Thank you, this is a nice style too. . Very nice!
Thanks Deedee! 🙂
Catherine Corbett-finch says
Those joints are called Knapp joints they were designed in the 1860’s because hand done dovetails were so difficult. They were the rave until the machine age when dovetails were made with machinery. Irhe only one I’ve ever seen was a year ago on an old dresser I did for a customer. It was a fun piece yo rescue
How interesting Catherine, thanks for this! I’ve only seen a few pieces with this type of joinery myself. Pretty impressive imo. 🙂
Cecilia from Georgia says
The dresser turned out so lovely! I am glad I didn’t read this until tonight or I might have missed all the information about the Knapp joints. I don’t think I have ever seen any like this dresser and will have to look closer and see if I can find a pioece with theese style of joints. It’s always fun to read the comments and learn something new!
Isn’t it! I learn so much from you guys! 🙂
1871-1900 and we have Mr. Charles B. Knapp of Waterloo, Wis., to thank! Great read. Thank you!!!
Wow, I love the finished dresser!! How soft the colours look yet old.🙂 Tfs. No idea about the age of this…
Thanks so much, Louise! My guess would be the early 1900’s but I’d love to find out more too! 🙂
With this particular paint technique work on a newer piece that’ doesn’t have all the little dents and nicks? I love the look
It sure would. You can create the “texture” with the paint. 🙂
Mary Loveland says
Wonderful work! That hardware is amazing, wish they sold something like that now! Having another option to freshen up the inside of the drawers is always good, can’t forget a name like “big Mama’s Butta”! I have never seen drawers with that assembly detail; I’d like to see a joint in two pieces to see how it really works, very attractive and it must be sturdy to have lasted this long??? Thanks for the posting.
Hi Mary! The hardware is not original. It’s Hobby Lobby so they do sell it now. I just took a little creative license and added some gold gilding to make the knob and screw part ‘pop’. 🙂 I’d be interested in the construction of these drawers taken all apart too because they are solid. Even though the wood is very old, no repairs needed. And ya…lol..can’t forget Big Mama’s Butta 😉
Love the drawer insides, Denise. Thanks for the tip about the butta.
But the outside almost paint job is way out of my taste range. The handles are not right style, IMO, and an outside fresh finish more suited to the age and shape of the piece would suit me better. Primitive rustic ffinishes just don’t go with my carpets, and classic styling. I hope you let us know how long it takes to sell this one.
Hi MJ! Yes, that Butta is the bomb and really makes an impressive difference in the smell and the fresh look, doesn’t it!?
Rita Gallagher says
I loved the “new”look on the dresser and the highlights on the drawer pulls! Soooo charming!
Thanks Rita! 🙂
Kellee Kroll says
Oh yes! I love the rustic feel you got with the three colors. Thanks for taking g my suggestion and doing something brand new (not that you don’t anyway!). I knew it would be awesome! I live those kind of points, too, but am perplexed on how they connect all four corners. ❓
Kellee Kroll says
How bad is my typing this morning? 😝
Everything looks good to me! 🙂 😉
I’m perplexed how they did any of it…lol. With all our gadgets these days it wouldn’t be hard, but how did they do it with those primitive tools they had back then?? Anyway, thanks for the great suggestion Kellee. It was a fun project and made me come up with something creatively rustic and unique. XO
Hi Denise. What a beautiful transformation. I’m loving how you kept this dresser feeling vintage with the layered painting and textures, yet updated it at the same time. I’ve never seen the kind of pin and scallop joints that this piece has and can’t wait to read the comments and find out if one of the SI readers knows what year this was made. Again, GORGEOUS AND BEAUTIFUL. I LOVE ALL YOUR WORK.
Hi Monique! I’m curious if anyone knows more about the joinery method too. Very interesting because I haven’t seen many of these!
Feriba Grimes says
I love the look ! Did you paint all over the piece or just here and there ?
Hi Feriba, and thanks! 🙂 I painted here and there with the blue and red and then all over with the Rebel Yellow.
Elizabeth Kraemer says
I love everything about this piece. Thank you
Aw, thanks Elizabeth! XO