THIS LARGE EMPIRE DRESSER GETS A PAINT MAKEOVER WITH FRENCH LINEN AND GRAVEL ROAD
Hi creative friends, I’m so excited about today’s makeover! This beast of an Empire Dresser was a TON of work but I’m thrilled with the outcome.
Also, it’s Furniture Fixer Upper day! If you’re new to the #siblog, the fourth Thursday of every month we join my super talented blogger friends to share our before and after furniture makeovers. I’ll link to their furniture restyles below.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re shopping in a large store… the ReStore in my case. You see a piece of furniture and it looks small — or at least a ‘normal’ size. Then you bring it home and realize oh*my*gosh… it’s a beast! I was shocked by how big this piece really is!
Here’s the before. A really old and gorgeous well-built piece that just needed a little fixer-upper-TLC.
I went back and forth on whether to paint or stain but opted for a more modern finish.
What do you think? I’m loving the gray wash with the contrast light knobs!
This wash looks very textured (I have close-ups later in the post) but it’s super smooth to the touch!
THIS POST IS SPONSORED/CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS TO PRODUCTS I USE. YOU CAN SEE MY FULL DISCLOSURE HERE.
- Empire Dresser – SALVAGED
- Paint Brushes
- Sandpaper | Shop Towels
- White Lightning Cleaner
- Water Misting Spray Bottle
- BIN Shellac Primer
- French Linen Chalk Mineral Paint
- Gravel Road Chalk Mineral Paint
- Sawmill Gravy (for knobs)
- Black Wax (for shading)
- Chip Brush (for shading with wax)
- Satin Clear Coat
PAINTED EMPIRE DRESSER
This dresser was a backbreaker. It kept falling off my wheels while transporting it for sanding and painting. Even the drawers weigh a ton. But that said… WOW! It’s a privilege to work on such an old well-built beauty. They really don’t make them like this anymore! And check out these old notes I found in the top drawer.
Here’s the step-by-step to get this look.
STEP #1:: Clean and Sand
I started by giving this piece a super good cleaning with this White Lightning Cleaner. Then I sanded all the interior drawers and scuff sanded the entire outside of this piece.
STEP #2:: Primer
I used BIN Shellac Primer to stop the bleed-through on this piece. If you missed my video on how to use this full-proof-primer you can check it out here.
STEP #3:: Paint Base Coat
For the base coat, I painted two coats of this gorgeous French Linen.
STEP #4:: Gray Wash
I gray washed the entire dresser. I mixed 80% Gravel Road with 20% water. I brushed on the wash and then wiped it off with these shop towels. This paint wash technique is so easy to do and makes a HUGE difference. Below you can see the parts of this dresser that were gray washed compared to the base coat of French Linen. I also have a paint wash video tutorial for you here.
STEP #5:: Paint Wood Knobs
These knobs are BOLTED on! I’ve never seen this before so there was no way I could take them off. I painted them in this Sawmill Gravy to add contrast.
Also, check out the textured-looking finish. It almost looks like stone but it’s actually really smooth.
STEP #6:: Shading w Black Wax
For the final step, I did a little shading with black wax. TIP ~ A fancy wax brush is NOT needed to get beautiful shading. When I first started painting I couldn’t afford wax brushes and used old t-shirts, paper towels and chip brushes. These work really well! Just be sure to keep the metal/ferrule away from your fresh paint finish so it doesn’t get scratched.
I have no idea how my sister and I carried this upstairs to stage it but we DID… and here it is!
And now for some FURNITURE FIXER UPPER FUN!
I know you’re going to LOVE what my creative team of Furniture Fixer Upper girls do! Below are their BEFORE photos – visit the links underneath to see the amazing AFTERS and to learn how they did it! I’m heading over to take a peek as well! x
1. Salvaged Inspirations (happy you’re here!)
2. Petticoat JUNKtion
3. Girl In The Garage
4. Confessions Of A Serial DIYer
I’ll be back next week with a Quick Tip Tuesday Roundup jam-packed with painting tips and time-saving ideas for your furniture makeovers. See you then!
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS PAINTED EMPIRE DRESSER OR FEEL FREE TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE… I ALWAYS LOVE HEARING FROM YOU. IT MAKES MY DAY! 🙂
Happy furniture painting my friends!
Layering Chalk Paint | Empire Dresser
Spanish Moss Dresser Makeover
Pottery Barn Knock-Off Buffet Makeover
Stop Bleed Through When Painting
Entry Hall Table Before and After
PIN AND SHARE!
Beautiful work!! I am not crafty at all but I want to give this a try. I have an old laminate children’s dresser that I would like to revamp. Can this be done to laminate furniture. It is in great condition. Thank you! Gina
Hi Gina! It sure can but you need to prep laminate furniture before painting.
Mayra mones says
Hi my name is Maura Mones. I have a dinning room at with a buffet that I will like to repaint but I doubt I’ll do a good job. Do you know where I can have it repainted and how much?
Hi Mayra! Can I ask where you’re located?
Cathy W says
The empire dresser is so elegant!!! I can see it sitting in the finest of homes. To say you do beautiful work is an understatement. I don’t have the vocabulary to express how I enjoy every piece that you do. Thanks for sharing what you do and how to do it with the web world. One question, I have an old sideboard that sat in a barn and became home to unwanted critters, how do I clean it and get any smells out? Thank you
You’re super sweet Cathy…thank you! And as for critters and barn smells, I have the perfect post on How To Get Rid Of Furniture Smells here. Be sure to check out the comment section as well. Readers have added AMAZING tips and home remedies to in addition to the original post! Hope this helps.
So pretty! I’m usually a white/gray/blue girl, but I really love this. Great work!
Thanks so much, Lizzy! 🙂
Such a beautiful dresser, love the colours you chose.
Thank you Sami!!!
Thank you for continually inspiring me and for creating such detailed teaching material! So many times I’ve gone to your site and found just what I needed to try something on a project I had on hand. Uncanny~
I am curious if you did anything to the inside of the drawers beyond sanding them?
Thank YOU, Kim! I’m so happy you’re finding these tutorials helpful. And no, the drawers have just been sanded clean. 🙂
Sooo good!! I’ve been looking for an Empire dresser for myself for years but never seem to find one at a good price that’s in good shape..
Thanks, Annie!! 🙂 And I don’t come across very many Empire dressers either… in good or bad shape. 😐
Kathy W F says
Hi Denise, TI’ve been catching up and this is beautiful. Love the technique and the notes; how sweet. You should save those notes and use the with another pice somehow. Looking forward to seeing what you’re up to this spring. It’s just around the corner and y’all so deserve it.
Hi Kathy!! I’ve kept the notes but I’m not sure what to do with them. And I hope you’re right about Spring being around the corner, it will be nice to go for long walks and work in the garden.
Jen @ Girl in the Garage says
This is such a gorgeous piece, Denise! Bravo! XO
Thank you Jen! XOXO
Do Dodson says
I can never get enough gray-painted furniture makeovers, and the empire dressers are some of my favorites. This is beautiful! xo 🙂
Thanks so much, Do! XOXO
That piece is so beautiful Denise!
Thanks, my friend! XOXO
Maryann Atlas says
Another beautiful job!
Thanks Maryann! 🙂
You are so creative … everything you transform becomes so pretty.
You have an eye for purchasing the right piece to transform into a chef d’oeuvre !!
What a fanctastic job you do all the time !
I would love to do something with my bedroom set and wish you where close by.
I’d love to have your suggestion. I’m sure I’d love your ideas.
Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas and they are so well explained that I would try to follow your steps.
Thanks, Elaine! I’m so glad you’re finding the tutorials helpful! 🙂
Outstanding empire makeover and I love the grey wash and blending. Thank you for the chip brush tip! Very helpful! ~ Nicki
Thanks so much Nicki! 🙂
Jai Van Natta says
HI Denise! I love how beautiful this dresser turned out. I really enjoy watching all these different painting techniques. As a newbie furniture painter I really need these tutorials. I’m going to try this on a dresser I have. I bought a bunch of cabinets from Facebook Market when I was first starting out a year ago, but now I feel most of them will not sell because they aren’t what people are looking for. I’m not sure if I should spend the time painting them in the hopes I can turn them from junk to gem and someone will want it. Anyway, thank you for your painting videos. They are so helpful xxox
Hi Jai and WELCOME! I’m so glad you like the empire dresser and the tutorials! In my experience, sometimes working on dated/ugly/old pieces is where I can set my inhibitions aside (unlike working on someone’s grandma’s heirloom buffet…lol) and get creative. They are great to practice new techniques on! Have fun and thanks for stopping by. 🙂
This is absolutely gorgeous. Thanks for sharing. You inspire me!
Thanks so much Lori! XOXO
Hi Denise!! I really love this look. I will have to go back to see how you wipe your wash off without leaving steaks/stripes. Love french linen and Sawmill Gravy. I would have never thought to use a gray wash. Brilliant! It is gorgeous.
Thanks, Cheryl! This piece does have some streaking. I like that the streaks and variances add to the character. But when I’m going for a more streak-free wash technique, I like to use a large auto sponge that I buy at the dollar store. I wrap a piece of shop towel around the sponge and wipe off the wash. It works great. 🙂
In your list of materials used you listed Clear Satin Topcoat.. Did you topcoat over the wax?
Hi Louann! I was so exhausted when I wrote this post at 2am I forgot to add that in so thank you. I will be top coating over the wax. I’m going to wait for the wax to dry and then I’ll be giving this piece 2-3 spray coats of DB Clear Satin. 🙂
Chris T says
I think it’s important to add here that Dixie Belle’s waxes are water-based so it is possible to topcoat over them. This is unique to DB. Most all other waxes are oil-based so it’s not possible to add a poly topcoat after waxing; hence the old phrase, “Wax is always last.” Thank you, DB for making this possible!
Jackie C says
Great tip for using a chip brush to apply wax. I often wonder who can afford to buy all this stuff if you’re not someone who does furniture rehab often. Influencers receive their products free and the idea is to sell products, what I buy is used once or twice, then sits in the garage until it dries up. Any tip to help save a little is much appreciated.
Hi Jackie… and so true! I had to watch my pennies when I first started painting. I found ALL my furniture curbside (which are great pieces to practice on!), made my own DIY Chalk Paints (that works amazing) and used dollar store brushes. Nothing fancy. I love the saying – “it’s the violinist that makes beautiful music – not the violin.”
Nicely done. Beautiful color combo. ~~ Susie from Chelsea Project
Thanks my friend! Hugs 🙂
Looks beautiful! I’m always amazed how much a wash can change a look.
Me too!… and thanks, Julie! 🙂
Cate Cooper says
Just simply gorgeous!! Question–how did you repair the funky leg?
Thanks, Cate! It wasn’t me who repaired the leg so I’m not sure. All it needed was sanding and painting tho.
Cecilia from Georgia says
A very timeless piece! You are such an artist; I love how you blend washes and waxes for special effects. When I use dark wax (always over clear), it just looks dirty to me, so I end up removing it. I am interested in trying the graywash after seeing you and Jen using it. Have a nice weekend!
Thanks, Cecilia! So funny that Jen, Kathy, and I all did a wash this month! Wishing you a great weekend as well!
Hi Denise. I’m absolutely IN LOVE with this makeover. Your empire dresser is a show stopper. The white painted knobs against the grey body give the piece an updated look. Exquisite:)
Awww, thanks, my friend! I debated on painting them gold or bronze but I’m really liking the lighter knobs as well! So happy you like the piece. XOXO
This is gorgeous, Denise! I love how your pieces always have so much dimension! And yes, these empire pieces are beasts ha ha! Love the notes you found too! XOXO
Thanks, my friend! It seriously must weigh more than 200lbs!! This one gave me a real workout. I’m exhausted today. lol
Sharon H says
Oh, my goodness! That is too gorgeous for words. I’m afraid I would have to learn how to live with that color in my house because I’m not sure I could part with it!
Thanks so much, Sharon! I’m going to learn to live with it for a while cuz I don’t have the energy or strength to move it out of my dining room aka the photoshoot room. lol 😉
Maryellen Webber says
This dresser is so beautiful, I love the color you chose! You did a fantastic job transforming this piece!
Thank you, Maryellen! XOXO