THIS MID-CENTURY DRESSER GETS A GORGEOUS UPDATED LOOK | VIDEO TUTORIAL
Hi, amazing creative friends! Today I’m sharing this gorgeous Painted Mid-Century Dresser Before and After! Mid-Century Modern (MCM) furniture is not what I usually gravitate to. But when I saw this adorable 3 drawer Kaufman dresser in my local Restore I couldn’t resist. Also, I like getting out of my comfort zone to try different things and I’m SO glad I did! I have a step-by-step tutorial including…
- Easy stain matching tips
- A SUPER FAST way to fix small imperfections on an existing stain
- An inexpensive tool to sand rounded corners
- My thoughts on color theory for MCM (I’m no expert so this is just my 2¢)
So let’s get started! I found this 3 drawer mid-century dresser at my local Restore selling for $80. The top and body weren’t in the best condition but the drawers were near perfect. Isn’t she cute?
With a little, TLC here’s her new look! What do you think?
Can you believe these are the original stained drawers? I’ll be sharing what I used to make them look this perfect!
Her bottom skirt has been stain matched to the original stained drawers as well.
THIS POST IS SPONSORED/CONTAINS AFFILIATE LINKS TO PRODUCTS I USE. YOU CAN SEE MY FULL DISCLOSURE HERE.
Mid-Century Modern Dresser – SALVAGED
White Lightning (Cleaner)
Dewalt Orbital Sander
Oscillating Tool (Similar)
Sandpaper | Tack Cloth
B-I-N Shellac Base Primer
Trade Secrets Furniture Repair
GF American Oak Stain
Minwax Chestnut Stain
Serenity Silk Paint
Satin Clear Coat
PAINTED MID-CENTURY DRESSER
Here’s how it all came together…
I cleaned this dresser with this White Lightning. I know I’ve mentioned this before but when cleaning my furniture, I always think – if it’s not clean enough to put my underwear in, it’s not clean enough. When I started selling my furniture, I was so focused on the exterior paint finish that I forgot to clean the bottom of the piece. I remember there were a few times we were loading a piece into the purchaser’s car and I saw cobwebs on the bottom. I have to admit, I was a little embarrassed and felt unprofessional.
PRO TIP – If you’re selling your furniture, clean EVERY nook and cranny on the inside, outside, back, and bottom!… until it’s clean enough to hold your underwear. 😉
Two glides for the drawers were in rough shape so I replaced them with new glides. Well, not really ‘new’. These were glides I’ve repurposed from a few curb-shopped pieces. I had to make a few adjustments with my oscillating tool (which is awesome for sanding, cutting, etc!) for them to fit like the original by cutting a piece from the front and back to fit perfectly and be the right height.
The drawer fronts were in really good shape except for tiny imperfections in the stain. I used this Trade Secret Touch-Up Marker to hide the imperfections and it worked AMAZING! I have a few of these Trade Secret markers in my inventory. They come in different colors (light, medium, dark) to match different wood stains… but it’s been so long since I’ve used them, I forgot how great they work. I wouldn’t suggest this for large imperfections because it might be noticeable but for small imperfections, it’s PERFECT… and SO EASY. I literally colored in the stain imperfections with this marker!
SANDING SKIRT & LEGS
I’ve found a few furniture Youtube channels that I’m addicted to. Made by Raphael and Modern Makeovers. These guys are transforming pieces from top to bottom and it’s SALVAGING at the next level. I want to be just like them… only me…lol. So moving forward I would really like to get more comfortable using my tools, disassembling and reassembling furniture makeovers so that eventually I can mix and match pieces creating an entirely new piece! So — inch by inch I told myself. I’ll start by disassembling pieces so I get a better feel of how they are put together, and eventually, I can start recreating pieces.
That’s a long explanation for why I removed the bottom skirt and legs. I wanted the skirt and legs to match the existing wood on the drawers and thought it would be so much easier if I removed them. I used my trusty Dewalt Sander (here’s a post on how to transform ANY sander into a NO DUST Sander) to remove the existing finish. I started with 80 grit, moved on to 120 grit and finished with 220. I bought this primitive-looking sanding tool at a flea market for $2… and WOW, it’s amazing for sanding rounded edges. I’m SO impressed! It has some give so it sands rounded areas beautifully. I wish I had bought a few of these but it would be pretty easy to make. A wood handle with a strip of sandpaper stapled to it and voila!
Once I had the bottom finish sanded off, I pulled out a few colors of stain to match the bottom skirt and legs to the existing stain on the drawers. I’m not that experienced with matching stains so it’s trial and error for me. Luckily, I have a variety of stains on hand to play with. It would be a lot more frustrating if I had to go buy a few colors from Home Depot not knowing if they would work or not.
But I will say for the $10 for a small can, even if you bought 3 for $30 for a PERFECT match it’s still well worth it and still way less expensive than investing in a new quality piece of furniture. I ended up using this American Oak by General Finishes and Minwax Chestnut for a perfect match. It’s pretty darn close don’t you think? To match the stain, I like to look at the prominent base color, which in this case was a reddish base, and then take it from there. I work on the BACK of the leg (inconspicuous area) to do my test matching. If I botch it up, it’s easy to sand down the leg and give it another try. I also waited until the stain was perfectly dry before putting it up to the drawers I was matching it to so I’d get the “true” color.
PRIMING AND PAINTING
I primed this piece with two coats of BIN Shellac Based Primer by rolling it on with a foam roller to ensure NO bleed-through would show through the paint finish. Then I spray two coats of this Serenity Silk Paint which is a subtle and relaxing blue-green.
Then I spray two coats of this Serenity Silk Paint which is a subtle and calming blue-green. My color theory on Mid-Century-Modern furniture is to keep it simple or as close to the time period 1945-65ish as possible. Highly pigmented saturated colors go really nicely when painting MCM furniture. Terracotta oranges, mustard yellows, avocado greens, blues, and browns… think 70’s! If you’re pairing it with some of the original wood, anything goes imo. There are plenty of Mid-Century-Modern color Pallets on Pinterest you can check out for inspo.
I really like the cooler contrast against the warm stain on the drawers.
As the finishing touch, I lined the drawers with a heavy-duty vinyl I had on hand. I picked the more subtle design on the right to tie in perfectly with the Serenity Silk Paint.
I measured the inside of each drawer and then using a straight-edge ruler and rotary cutter, I cut the vinyl to size. I don’t like adhering drawer liners to my pieces just in case whoever buys them doesn’t like the design. I’d prefer to cut them exactly so they lay perfectly in the drawers and can easily be removed to clean etc.
It complements the piece beautifully!
Here’s the step-by-step on Youtube. If you have any problems viewing below, feel free to watch it on my Youtube Channel here… and don’t forget to subscribe! 🙂
I love the way it all came together. I think this painted MCM dresser would be adorable in a modern nursery!
And the peek-a-boo Serenity through those wood drawers… LOVE IT!
Here’s another look at the before and after. I hope it’s inspired you and given you some new ideas for your upcoming projects.
LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF THIS MID-CENTURY MODERN FURNITURE MAKEOVER. FEEL FREE TO ASK ANY QUESTIONS YOU MAY HAVE… I ALWAYS LOVE HEARING FROM YOU. IT MAKES MY DAY! 🙂
Happy furniture painting friends!
MID-CENTURY MODERN BUFFET
RESTORE ENTRY HALL TABLE
TO PAINT OR NOT TO PAINT?
DIY APOTHECARY CABINET
PAINTED KITCHEN TABLE DIY
PIN AND SHARE!
Oh Denise we are like peas in a pod. I’m not a huge MCM gal. I’m all about the pretty, details and carvings….A French girl at heart. I always know I can come here SIB for my inspo, product info and of cause you! Thank You for being in my world.
So I to was searching IG for MCM color/finishes so excited to have SI pop on my screen. I will go check the video but, why the two different stains? Is the MW for drawers and GF for base/stand? Thanks much my friend.
We ARE like 2 peas in a pod 😉 although I have to admit, I’ve seen some GORGEOUS MCM’s on IG and Pinterest lately and it’s kind of changing my mind! As for the stains, I had sanded the bottom to bare wood and then had to match it to the drawers. I tried a combination of stains to get a perfect match and the Minwax and General Finishes worked like a charm! Thanks for all your kind words Roseann… I so appreciate it! XOXO
Hi I am late to the party. I was going through your instagram, and was pulled in by this one as well as the PINK baby.
I love every part of the make over. Thanks for sharing all the little things that make it easier for us.
So glad you like it Julie and thanks for taking the trek over from IG!🤗 Have a super day. XOXO
Cheryl Atkinson says
Denise, this is amazing!! You did just a great job. I can’t wait to see you start tearing pieces apart and creating something fabulous. I have never in my life seen a contraption like that sanding object. That was pretty cool. You go sister!!!
And it was ONLY $2!!! I really wish I had bought a few more. I found it at New Again Construction Essentials in Beamsville. I’ll have to make another trip out there soon. 🙂
REALLY NICE JOB! AND A LUCKY FIND! THANKS FOR ALL THE TIPS!
Aw, thanks so much Kimmy…much appreciated! 🙂
Do Dodson says
Another beautiful makeover, Denise. The wood and paint color is perfection in my opinion. You’re always inspiring and I look forward to seeing all your creations. xo, 🙂
A big hug to you my friend… I feel exactly the same way about YOUR creations! XOXO
Like you, I thoroughly clean every piece that I renew for resale. I want to know a piece inside and out. Sometimes you make amazing discoveries. Your choice of color for the dresser has inspired me to try this on the next MCM piece that I redo. Thanks for the tips.
I’ve found some pretty funky things inside my pieces…lol… and some very sentimental ones as well! Thanks so much Jeri and have fun trying out this color! 🙂
Patricia Smith says
Love this one too! Where can you buy vinyl like you have in rolls?
Thanks, Patricia! 🙂 I picked up remanent rolls (about 7 different designs) of this vinyl from a Restore. I believe it’s used for upholstery…like restaurant seating etc. Very wipeable and heavy-duty. I’m not sure where you could buy them new though. ??
Do my eyes deceive me, or is the top Formica? I probably would have passed it up if that’s the case. How will the paint stand up to wear (if it is Formica)?
The finished piece is lovely!
I can see exactly why you think it’s Formica… because it looks like Formica! But no its not. I’ve worked on a few of these Mid Century pieces that have tops like this. Superslick and shiny but it’s wood underneath this finish. I have no idea what they used as a topcoat to get it like this but it’s pretty heavy duty. 🙂
Hi Denise. I agree with Jane’s comment. This is much better than new. Wow. I love the soft green/blue paired with the stained wood. You definitely have an eye for color. Those drawer liners are the icing on the cake. Beautiful.
Thanks so much Monique! XOXO
I do like the paint color with the wood tone. I’m not mainly a lover of mcm, but their simplicity does make them attractive – and fit nicely with so many other styles.
Love the peek a boo color !! I am a bit color phobic with my own selections, but sooo happy to see options !!
I also would love to get a bit more proficient with wood tools and techniques 🙂 I can’t wit to see your tutorials !!
Thanks for sharing.
Thanks my friend! I would love to get better with my tools as well! My upcoming video is showing me with the oscillating tool burning through the wood…lol… I guess I used the wrong blade for the type of wood but hey, hands-on learning is the fastest way to learn, right?! 😉
Mary Jo says
Just beautiful! I love the color with that particular wood finish. I agree, this would be darling in a nursery. Always enjoy your projects and the way you explain all of the steps and the products you use. Keep making a smile!
So glad you like it Mary Jo… and right?!… I think it would be drop-dead gorgeous in a nursery as well! An upscale designer nursery! 😉
What a great post. Super informative and the result is stunning, as usual. Love it!
Aw, thanks Marcia… much appreciated! XOXO
This is beautiful! Great job!
Thanks so much! x
I LOVE this!! I’ve been waiting for you to do a mid-century piece since that is what i’m into right now. Did you put anything on the drawers or the base after you stained it? to protect??
Ahhhh, I think I forgot to mention so thanks for asking! The drawers were touched up with the Trade Secret Markers and nothing else. They are all original including the original topcoat. They were just cleaned, touched up with the marker, and buffed. The body and skirt and legs were sprayed with 2 coats of Satin Clear Coat. 🙂
Wow, not a fan of MCM but you could convert me! Love the “clean enough to hold your underwear” good advice to follow.
I used to have mixed feelings about MCM furniture myself. I think it’s really growing on me though! Thanks Laura! 🙂
Michele M. says
That’s AWESOME! I love all your choices on this piece. Well done!!!!
Aw, thank you Michele! 🙂
You have a great eye for color. I wouldn’t have given that blue a second look with the wood tones but it looks amazing. Thanks for sharing! ~ Nicki
Aw, thanks Nicki! Much appreciated my friend! XOXO
Yay!! Another non-white piece! LOL Anyway, I just love the pop of blue showing through the handles and the cute liner material!!
Thanks Beckie!!!… and ya, isn’t the peek-a-boo-blue adorable! 😉
You have such a good eye when you’re choosing a piece to restore. This makeover is great! I especially like the blue peeking thru. Nice job 😎
Thanks Desire! I’m not usually one to scope out Mid Century pieces but for whatever reason, this one called my name. 🙂
Very groovy!!! As others have said, it looks brand new.. I think it would be a stand out piece in any showroom. Great job Denise!
Yes, groooovy…love it! Thanks Niki! 🙂
Christy James says
This piece looks amazing, Denise!! Love the Serenity peeking through the drawers. And ha ha…great tip…clean it until it is clean enough to hold your underwear lol! Have a fantastic day, my friend! XOXO
I like the little peek-a-boo tooooooo! Thanks my friend and you have a fantastic day as well! XOXO
Dana Manning says
I love the color choice! It is beautiful for this style and design. Thanks for sharing all of your tips.
Thanks so much Dana! x
This is better than new! I love your attention to detail. Thanks for sharing your project and all of the steps.
My pleasure and thanks so much Jane! XO