Home » Painted Furniture » Fearless Furniture Makeover: Big Fat Wood Knobs And White Distressed Paint

Fearless Furniture Makeover: Big Fat Wood Knobs And White Distressed Paint

Sometimes I just have to do the unexpected or the crazy to make a statement. That’s why I replaced the original metal knobs on this vintage dresser/chest with great big wood knobs. I painted the dresser white and accented all the lovely details by distressing the paint. I need your opinion on the wood knobs. I like the big wood knobs but I might be the only one.

furniture makeover with white paint and fat wood knobs

There were so many pretty details on the dresser and they were just begging to be distressed. Don’t you love that bottom board with all the curves?

vintage furniture bought at auction for furniture makeover

I shared this photo in an earlier post. The dresser is one of my auction buys and it’s one I paid a premium to get. I think it was around $70 and my limit is usually $60 for dressers and chests. A plus was having all of the original knobs but then of course I decided to replace them.

mixture of white paint colors

The paint is a mix of paint sheens and various white latex paint colors. I have a lot of small samples of paint or I should say I had a lot of small samples. I combined all of my white paint samples into a bit of left over semi gloss white paint. Most of the samples were from when we painted our two guest bedrooms. I bought a bunch of different white samples trying to decide on the perfect white for the walls and finally settled on Swiss Coffee Behr paint sample.

prepping furniture for painting

The dresser was in great shape and all I really needed to do was clean it up with Simple Green and the shop vac. Next I removed all of the drawer pulls and placed Frogtape over the screw holes on the inside of the drawers to keep paint from leaking inside.

one coat of white paint on furniture

This is how the dresser looked after one coat of paint. I could see the white paint taking on a brownish tinge.

stain bleed through on white furniture

I applied a second light coat of paint and the stain from the original finish was leeching into the white paint. Not good.

Beyond Paint for painting furniture color off-white

To take care of or cover this problem I pulled out my jar of Beyond Paint in off-white hoping it would cover the bleed through or at least blend in with it. The bleed through was definitely noticeable against the white white paint.

painting furniture with Beyond Paint

The photo above sows where I’ve brushed the Beyond Paint on the left side of the drawer. You can see how white the other paint is compared to the off-white Beyond Paint. I brushed on one coat of the Beyond Paint then distressed the paint using a power sander. I have a short video that shows how I used the sander to distress the white drawers below….

How To Distress Painted Furniture

wood knobs from the junk shop


These are the big fat knobs. I bought them at the junk shop. There was a whole bucket full and I only bought 20. Wish I had more. I don’t remember how much I paid for them but not much I’m sure. I get a good price on everything at the junk shop.

how to dry brush wood knobs (2)

I painted the knobs with the Beyond Paint and then dry brushed some dark brown paint on the outer edges and the center dot of the knobs. The reason I dry brushed the knobs instead of distressing them is because they were unfinished wood. When distressed the plain raw wood would show through and not match the dark stain of the dresser where the paint is distressed.



white distressed furniture and painted furniture knobs

You can see the original stained finish in most of the distressed areas in the photo above. In some places the sander went down to raw wood and I used Howard’s wax to darken the wood a bit.

How to use wax on distressed furniture

When I distress paint there is often some variations in color where the paint is not distressed all the way through to the original finish. You will notice in the video that I used a large mouse sander and I ran the sander over the whole surface of the drawer although I did not sand through the paint on most of the drawer surface, just the edges and bits and pieces on the drawer front.

There will be variations in the white paint color where I used the sander. I apply a coat of Howard’s Wax in Neutral (buy here) for 2 reasons. The wax will darken the raw distressed areas of the wood and the wax will make the variations in paint color look purposeful. Now when I saw there are variations in the white paint where it is distressed I’m talking very minor variations.

distressing painted furniture with a power sander

I realized it might be hard for you to visualize what I just explained in not a very good way (probably about as clear as mud) so I did a screen capture from the video. Not a great picture but you can see where the distressed areas on the drawer front have a halo of white around them where I was really pushing with the sander. I have to use the tip or edge of the sander to push into the paint on the flat surface of the drawer in order to sand through the paint to the original finish.

I only did a bit of distressing on the drawer fronts them selves. Most of the distressing is on the edges and corners of the drawers where paint would distress by normal wear.

furniture makeover with distressed white paint and big wood knobs

You notice I distressed those pretty rounded legs too. You can’t mess up when you distress paint so give it a try. The distressed paint should not be perfect and the distressing on one side of the drawer should not equally match the distressed edges on the other side. In fact I make sure that the distressing is different and not matchy matchy. The distressing on the legs or the body of the dresser should not be identical. Perfectly imperfect is what you want.

how to paint vintage furniture and make it look old

I call those pieces drawer  number 2 “teardrops”. Don’t know what the proper name is. They look good distressed too.

Furniture makeover with distressed white paint and big fat knobs
Fearless Furniture Makeover: Big Fat Wood Knobs And White Distressed Paint

Time for you to tell me what you think of the makeover and the drawer pull change from the original metal knobs to the big wood knobs. If you don’t like them that’s okay. Just be nice in your critique please. What about the white distressed paint?

How to paint vintage furniture white and distress the paint

I don’t mind constructive criticism presented in a respectful manner. In fact I welcome ideas and suggestions. I’ve learned a lot from listening to you guys.

That’s it for me. Have a great day, Kathy

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. I like the big knobs, but not on that piece of furniture. My son has a vintage chest of drawers with knobs like that. His piece of furniture is plainer, though, and the knobs suit it. I think the original knobs or something a little more delicate would look better on your piece. The paint job looks great, however.

  2. I clicked on the links in my email and it went to the post. Are you going to the second post I added to the email about the Nashville Flea Market?

  3. Thanks Lizzy. I didn’t know that about the link. I’ll have to check it! I don’t think it’s bleed through just the off-white paint.

  4. I’m always on board for a white-painted makeover, but I think I’m seeing a lot of bleed-through? For dark pieces like this, I always prime with 2 coats of white shellac-based primer first. I learned the hard way.

    I like the new format of your site, but I did have to search for the new post. The email’s link doesn’t automatically take you there like it used to. I thought you should be aware of this because some people may not take the extra time to search.

  5. Love the dresser! I have been looking for something like that for a while – nice piece and great job as usual!

  6. I love it! The dresser is just gorgeous, unique. In my opinion, the old knobs were awful! They remind me of the furniture I had when I was was first married, in the 60s. The new knobs are awesome and the whole character of the piece is changed. The paint job is perfect! One of my all time Kathy favorites!

  7. On my way home from S. C. Had hopes of stopping at your fav junk shop. No luck. It was Sunday and they were closed. I will make the trip another time. Love following your stuff here.

  8. Distressed white is always classic! And you were right about the big wood knobs. They make it!

  9. I love it! Distressed white is my favorite way to refinish a piece! And the knobs?? Absolutely love!! Wish I could find some!!

  10. I wasn’t sure….but I love them!!! I should have known as your vision is impeccable!! ?