A mid century dresser makeover ‘tutorial’ sharing the 5 basic steps on how to refinish and upcycle vintage furniture. In support of the Emmaus UK charity for National Recycling week.
You know the english saying, ‘the blind leading the blind’?
That would be this tutorial.
Although, it pains me to admit it. Of course it does.
I’m meant to be the girl who knows all there is to know about DIY (laugh), the girl with the creative ideas and blog… surely for the most part, if I’m writing a tutorial I should know what I’m talking about …. Right?
Right. That wasn’t a trick question by the way.
Well not this time. This time I had no clue.
What I know about refinishing furniture? Not much, as it happens.
I still gave it a try though… for a good cause..
Que the Emmaus UK Upcycle Challenge!
About a mouth ago I was contacted by Emmaus UK (a charity that supports homeless people) asking if I wanted to take part in an upcycling challenge they were hosting? It would be a way to highlight the importance of recycling and upcycling during National Recycling week.
Is it disgusting to say that I had never heard of National Recycle Week up until that point..?
Yes, ok it’s disgusting (being an upcycler and all). But never mind that, I jumped at what sounded like such a fun idea. YES!, I replied, I’m in!
The challenge: make something bespoke out of an item chosen from an Emmaus charity shop. You can read the full press release and see what all the other bloggers did here
WHY A MID CENTURY DRESSER MAKEOVER?
Following the email, I made my way over to my local Emmaus charity store fairly quickly. When its comes to shopping in the name of upcycling, I dont procrastinae!
On arriving at the shop, I was amazed by all the stunning pieces of furniture that greeted me (oh the staff were lovely too haha)! I was in upcycle heaven! it was all I could do to try and keep my head from spinning (all exorcist like) and choose just one thing!
In the end though it was this mid-century dresser, stacked high with used toys that stole my heart.
Oh I fell …. hard!
I took the dresser home and dreamt up all these fabulous ways I would paint and make it look even better.
Until I realised slapping a whole load of paint over it really wouldn’t made it better at all (Ok a little white lie there, I had a little help with this epiphany from my readers) .
This old thing needed a makeover not a cover up.
So back to the blind leading the blind statement above…
I totally winged this mid century dresser makeover… I also didn’t take many progress pictures (sorry bad blogger moment) because it was my first time doing something like this and I’d imagined it would be a total disaster.
Disasters aren’t usually too fun to read about.
Well thats what I told myself, yet here I am now..
About to talk you though steps on how to refinish a mid-century dresser…
Oh what a funny world we live in.
This tutorial contains affiliate links for your convenience – please see full disclosure here
After the initial inspection I concluded the dresser was in generally good shape. No damaged or missing veneer to be seen. FYI: if there had been areas that had needed repairing, here is an easy tutorial from one of my painting guru contributors on how to fix this.
I cleaned the dresser with window cleaner to remove any dirt or grease.
I removed the hardware from the drawers and sanded the whole unit down with my palm sander. The veneer on this dressers wasn’t too thick, so I was able to use medium grit sand paper on my sanding machine.
I sanded the legs separately with paper alone to ensure I got in all the nooks and crannies. Finally, I removed all the dust with a wet paper towel and cleaned again.
Initially I had just planned to stencil the bottom drawer with some Scandi half circle shapes and seal everything with clear poly. .
It didn’t turn out at all like I envisioned. . Maybe if it were going in a child’s nursery perhaps, I might have liked it better?
I was forced to create a plan B.
But first I had to sand all the paint off again [insert eye roll]
When it comes to adding colour to wooden pieces, I’m usually all for dark stains . One of my favourites I like to use is Dark Oak varnish by Ronseal. However, on this occasion I found myself opening a can of dark wax from my supply cupboard. The brand I used was Rustoleum but if you’re in the US, this will do!
Using a wax brush, I brushed on the dark wax to small sections of the dresser, and then quickly removed the excess with a rag . Here is another tutorial that really helped with this step as this was my first time using dark wax.
I really liked how it looked so I kept going! Once finished, I left the wax to cure overnight.
Be warned – this stuff stinks bad! Make sure when applying wax you are doing so in a well ventilated area!
I used a dry brush technique to do this. Dry brushing is when you lightly brush over the piece with very little paint on your brush. You dip your brush then vigorously brush off most of the paint on a piece of scrap paper or tissue.
Rather than dab, I applied the paint in quick upward motions across the bottom of the dresser to give this ombre effect.
You could probably add in a few more colours if you wanted for a more authentic look, but like I said, I’m no professional.
So I kept it simple.
Here is the dresser in my bedroom as a bed side table (I placed the previous IKEA stool table on the other side of the bed)
My husband actually wasn’t a huge fan of this mid century dresser makeover initially, but it seems to be growing on him now! Thankfully it was well received on instagram!
Now that wasn’t such a bad tutorial was it?
I mean you can always tweak a few things if you like, and of course if you have any questions about anything you can leave me a comment below!
I’ve really enjoyed this upcycle challenge with Emmaus UK. I urge you to visit your local Emmaus or any charity store for that matter (if you dont already) when looking to upcycle furniture. It’s a great way to recycle AND give back to the community.
You can read more about Emmaus UK here and all the amazing work they do! You can also check out some of my other bedroom makeover projects here:
Here are some gorgeous dresser makeovers from our painting guru Contributor Patricia from The Wood Spa!