Paint a dresser with Behr latex paint in a beautiful off-white color called Polar Bear and then distress the paint to give the dresser character! This is an old dresser and distressing the paint until it looks gently worn will show the beauty of the piece and honors it’s age.
That’s what I did with this beautiful dresser and I also spray painted the original drawer pulls with a metallic paint color very similar to the original finish.
The paint color for this dresser and mirror is a shade of white I've never used before and I really like it. To me there are not many furniture finishes prettier than distressed white paint. The distressing can be light or heavy. I will love it either way.
I’m sharing all the details of this makeover including what I put in the drawers. Today is Furniture Fixer Upper Tour Day and you know what that means. The links to those posts are down below.
I bought the pretty dresser at an auction for $82 including auction fees. It was manufactured by the Phenix company in Philadelphia. There is no date on the dresser and I couldn’t find a similar piece online. The dresser might qualify as an antique meaning 100 years or older but I’m not sure.
I removed all the drawers and cleaned the dresser with bleach cut with water 50/50. There was white mold or mildew in a few areas.
You can see the mildew/mold in the photo above. It wasn’t all over the dresser but I went over the entire piece with the bleach water mixture.
When a piece is really old the area where the drawer pulls or knobs were attached is usually really gunky as you can see in the photo above. I always clean that area extra well and I also clean the front and backside of the drawer pulls using Simple Green and a toothbrush.
The dresser is solid wood and the drawers are in good shape. I lined them with something cool. Just wait for it.
You guys know that for the most part I work with paint I have on hand instead of spending money to buy more. Well, I’ve about used up all my white and off-white paint so I went to the store and picked out a pretty paint color called Polar Behr and had a quart of it mixed in Behr Scuff Defense flat sheen paint.
I really like this paint. It brushes on so smooth and covers really well. The only thing is if you want to distress the paint it takes a bit of work. I had to pull out my power sander to distress this paint.
This is how the drawer front looked after one coat of the Behr paint. I like the flat finish sheen especially for projects like this one. If I’m going more modern, satin or even semi-gloss sheens are my go-to’s.
Before painting the mirror I cleaned it, front and back, with the bleach water mixture. Painting a mirror like this one with the very detailed wood hanger/stand is difficult to say the least. I always remove the mirror from the dresser body before painting and I start on the backside of the mirror and stand. I know the backside doesn’t get seen but it just feels right to paint the detailed curvy side hangers front and back.
I applied Frogtape painter’s tape around the mirror where it meets the wood frame. Much easier than cleaning paint from the mirror. Tip: always remove painter’s tape right after painting before the paint dries. If not you may pull off part of the paint from the surface you were painting.
After the paint dried I grabbed a piece of sandpaper and started sanding around the edges. That was not working because the paint was very difficult to remove. It would have taken me forever to distress the big dresser and mirror by hand. I pulled out my Ryobi battery powered sander and went to work.
Read my tips and tricks for distressing furniture here... What You Should Know About Distressing Painted Furniture And Home Decor
I use a large paint brush to dust the sanded paint and sawdust particles from the furniture then I wipe it down with a dry rag. I didn’t make a video of the sanding (distressing) process because I have a video from an earlier project showing how I use the sander to distress painted furniture. You can watch it below…
How To Distress Paint With A Sander
It is always great when a beauty like this dresser comes with all of the original drawer pulls intact. The pulls were really dark and I didn’t think I would be able to shine them up so I used Rust-Oleum Metallic Spray Paint, color Antique Brass, to freshen them. The color is similar to the original finish, just a bit lighter.
Next I found a roll of whitish wallpaper with a cool raised design in my stash of stuff. I actually forgot I had the wallpaper until I started thinking about lining the dresser drawers.
When I say line the drawers all I did was cut the wallpaper to fit each drawer and then secured it with double sided tape. Everyone may not like paper lined drawers or the paper I selected and it will be easy to remove.
I was in a tizzy until I could get the pulls back on the drawers and the mirror re-attached. I just wanted to see it all together! It’s pretty fabulous if I do say so myself.
The paint color for the drawer pulls goes well with the original wood finish that shines through in the distressed areas.
It’s always difficult to take a photo of a mirror. You have to fight the glare and what the mirror is mirroring! In this case the Bradford Pear Tree at the end of our workshop was in bloom. I take the photos of my painted pieces with the garage door open and the furniture standing in the door opening. This time the view in the mirror was pretty nice.
The curvy legs and the raised details on the sides look great distressed. The piece was on casters too. Always a plus. Read my tips and tricks for distressing furniture here... What You Should Know About Distressing Painted Furniture And Home Decor
The dresser is larger than life, especially painted white. The dresser itself is 22 inches deep and 48 inches wide. Most dressers are 18 or 19 inches deep.
If you liked this makeover you will love the sideboard I whitewashed....
Find the sideboard makeover here....White Washed Painted Furniture Makeover
What do you think of the paint color and the level of distressing? Leave a note about the makeover if you have a few extra minutes. It’s time to see what my talented tour partners have for us today. Just click the text links below the “before” makeover photo collage…….
Furniture Fixer Upper Tour:
White Painted Hutch With Beadboard - Confessions of a Serial DIY'er
Black and White Floral Dresser - Salvaged Inspirations
Rustoleum Chalked Paint Cabinet- Girl In The Garage
Pa int an Old Dresser - Petticoat Junktion (you are here)
As always, thanks for being here, Kathy
Author: Kathy Owen (Petticoat Junktion)
Kathy is the founder of PetticoatJunktion.com, a home décor blog focused on repurposing and upcycling furniture, old hardware, rusty stuff, and thrifty finds into unique home décor. Kathy’s projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Read more about Kathy here.
Just wondering if you only sanded it to distress it or did you add some glaze n the grooves? It looks more black than the original brown. I love it1
I just distressed it! And thank you!
Cecilia from Georgia
I love everything you did to this dresser and mirror! Lovely. How did you manage to not have bleed-through? I always have some on older pieces and so I prime everything. The Behr Scuff Defense paint must be the ticket!
I sometimes have bleed thru but not on this piece!
Your pear tree was perfect for that picture. Nice to see someone using latex paint too. Thanks for the tips. So much nic old furniture out there. You made that dresser beautiful.
I have the exact same dresser, which I have used as my dresser in our master bedroom for the past 35 years. It was my grandmother's. When she became elderly, she moved in with my parents and she brought the dresser with her. I have kept the original finish, but I do like how you refinished it.
I love having it and am grateful that my sister didn't like or appreciate "old" furniture.
Cecilia from Georgia
What a great job! Were you not concerned about bleed-through? Or, does the Behr paint block that? Good idea about not lining drawers permanently.
I love refurbishing old pieces!! Yours is beautiful!! Great job!
Hi Kathy! It looks amazing. Do you put any kind of sealer on it? I havent used laytex on furniture before. I'm sure if ih pai Ted alot of pieces I would go that route. Great makeover.
I only seal things like dining tables that will get a lot of wear on the top. But you can always use a sealer. I like Varathane.
Jen @ Girl in the Garage
What a gorgeous piece, Kathy! I love your choices and how fabulous that the handles were all in tact! xo
Love it! The style, the color, and the distressing! Doesn't look like the same dresser, it's such a gorgeous transformation. It's very cool that you chose Behr in Polar Bear as that's the color I've chosen to paint the outside trim on my house 🙂 Nice to see the color in action!
It's a really pretty color and not too white. When I held up a white piece of paper to the dresser the paint is definitely an off-white but you don't know that until you compare it.
It turned out so pretty! Something about a white distressed dresser…
Did you have any trouble with bleed through? .
No bleed through
I absolutely love it. I always love what you do. You have a talent that I’m so happy you share.
You know I love me a distressed white finish too, and it suits this gorgeous piece perfectly!! Love it!! XOXO
I just love it!
This is just my style. I love it.
You did such a beautiful job. This piece is absolutely stunning! And the reflection of the pear tree blossoms is the icing on the cake! Thanks for sharing. 🙂
Denise - Salvaged Inspirations
This makeover is FABULOUS... great save Kathy! And I find taking 'mirror pics' challenging as well. This couldn't have been more perfect with that gorgeous blooming pear tree! XOXO
Love it! I am going to use a power sander on my next distress paint project. Doing it the old fashion hand sanding hurts too much now that I am older 🙂
I really love this dresser! It totally shines with the distressing!
You really worked your magic on this lovely dresser, Kathy! Gorgeous and I love the the just-right-amount distressing.
I love it, so beautiful! I always use Dixie Belle or General Finishes and with pieces like this I have to prime for bleed through. With this paint do you find that to be a problem? It doesn’t require and sealant? I usually don’t distress, how would it hold up with heavy use.
Thanks so much
No bleed through with this piece but I have had that problem before. I didn't seal it. I only seal dining tables usually.
I really like how your finished piece is reflecting the flowering tree in the photos. Nice job!
It's a big beautiful piece. I prefer a non distressed or lightly distressed look. The heavy distressing on this piece actually takes away from the lovely delicate details. It's still a beautiful piece of furniture for some lucky person!
Wow!! Simply stunning!
Looks lovely ❤ Distressed or not.. beautiful either way!!