Heirloom Dresser Update

A few weeks ago my brother called and ask me to come over and help with “a few projects”…. Which turned out to be redoing an end table, two dressers, a mirror, and a bookshelf hack.image

The dresser this post is about is that big orangey piece one in from the left. As you can see from the writing on the back, it was purchased in November 1943 (by my great grandmother- that’s her writing!). It originally belonged to my grandfather, then lived in my room at his and my Nonna’s house while I was growing up. Now it’s passed on to my brother to use as a buffet in his dining room.orange stained chest of drawers before

The yellow orange stain was really dating it, but I just can’t bear to paint a vintage piece like this so we decided to strip it down and re-stain it instead.

It had this sweet applique on the center drawer that I remember staring at all the time when I was growing up- is it a doe? a reindeer? the green fairy?? Who knows. It broke my heart to sand it off but at least now it’s captured in a photograph.

wood applique- close up

My brother sanded the whole thing down with the lowest grit sandpaper we could find, then I wiped it all with a damp cloth and applied two coats of Minwax charcoal stain and three coats of wax. I would recommend sanding it with 100 or 150 grit before staining but it was 90* out and we had been sanding forever so we opted to skip that step. It left a few spots with the old stain still in tact, which ended up looking pretty cool.

To apply the stain:

  • brush it on, let it sit for a few seconds, then wipe off the excess with a rag.
  • repeat 2-3 times until you reach your desired tone and coverage

…that’s it! Don’t let staining intimidate you, just apply a little at a time very slowly so you have lots of control over how it turns out.

gray stained antique bureau- close up

We also switched out the (old, round, wood) knobs for some nice metal ones my brother picked out. They read as gold in the pictures, but look more antiqued and silver in real life.

stained vintage dresser- close up

The dresser is gorgeous, and looks so good in its’ new spot. I can hardly tell it’s the same piece!! I really like the spots where we didn’t get the old stain and poly off and the original color shows through- it gives it an awesome weathered/rustic look that I totally dig and pays homage to it’s original form.

bureau turned dining room buffet - after

Once it was dry I rubbed on three coats of wax, which are glaring horribly in that picture above but really don’t show up that harshly in real life. This piece isn’t going to get heavy use, so just a few coats of cured wax should protect it plenty over the next few years of little ones with sticky fingers. 😉

I’m so glad this piece is staying in the family and can live on in a new way, the stain really updated it without being to bold or overbearing, and it looks great in its’ new spot.

DIY Vintage Dresser


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