Home » Painted Furniture » Over-The Top Heavily Distressed White Furniture | Love Or Hate

Over-The Top Heavily Distressed White Furniture | Love Or Hate

I don’t know how some of you are going to feel about today’s makeover. This heavily distressed white furniture piece is a bit over the top. Most of my painted furniture pieces are distressed but not as heavily as this one.

The dresser I have for you today had been painted in the past, at least once. The brown color was definitely drab. The knobs and drawer pulls were not original to the piece either.


I loved all the curves and the door and the legs and everything. The detailed trim between the top drawer and the bottom part of the dresser was the selling point.

I had the paint plan for the dresser, but I wasn’t sure it was the right plan. I start working on a piece and before it’s finished, I’m having second and third thoughts….not sure of the color, not sure of the technique, not sure of the hardware, etc.

And when the piece is finished, it might look ok, or it might look good, or it might look like crap, or it might look great (to me). This is one of the great ones. One never to be forgotten. I really like the paint finish. It seems perfect for this vintage dresser I picked up at the Nashville Flea Market. I love the flea market. It’s my favorite thing to do in Nashville.

I had to fill holes in the drawers. There were four holes in each drawer for pulls! Why in the world? I take it there had been a few hardware changes over the years. Those pulls on the two bottom drawers were not original.

For the paint, I chose a barely off-white paint from my paint stash and brushed on a light coat, not worrying about covering the piece completely. Then I used my power sander to sand off a lot of the paint.

I decided on a single knob for each drawer, and I picked up these colorful knobs at Hobby Lobby. I bought two large turquoise knobs and two smaller turquoise knobs for the top drawer.

shabby chic heavily distressed dresser

I put the knobs on, and the small ones just blended in. I was in a hurry to take photos and get this post out so I made another flying trip to Hobby Lobby (good thing it’s only 10 minutes away) for two more of the large knobs.

heavily distressed shabby chic furniture

I think the two trips were definitely worth it. I asked the JTS what he thought of the knobs, and he said, and I quote, “They make a statement.” He’s learning (insert smiley face)!

how to paint shabby chic furniture

All of the missing veneer and the rough edges made the dresser the perfect candidate for distressing. The painting, drying time, and distressing took all of 3 hours.

So what do you think of the heavily distressed white furniture makeover? Too over-the-top for you? I know this look isn’t for everyone. Be honest in your comments, but be kind. What about those “statement knobs”? If you like mildly distressed furniture and a white antique look that is similar to popular pieces at furniture stores, you will love this dresser/sideboard……

knockoff painted furniture

This is one of my newest and favorite makeovers. Find the tutorial here…..Antiqued Paint Finish Tops Vintage Buffet For The Win

shabby chic white furniture

If you like distressed furniture, you will love this post….. 10 BOLDLY DISTRESSED FURNITURE PROJECTS

Thanks for being here, and have a great day, Kathy

Kathy Owen founder of Petticoat Junktion
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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 love the over the top distressing…I would like to see this with the colors reversed…blue distressed paint on the chest and faceted white glass knobs…I would certainly put this piece in my house. I am going to attempt to whitewash and distress 2 brown dressers…you have given me inspiration.

  2. I like the finish…and the knobs. My eye was drawn to the 2 left drawers. They appear to have had a drop type handle before. The single knob is off center (my OCD kicking in). I would have filled all the holes and put the single knob in the center of the drawers. Otherwise…it’s a fabulous job!

  3. Sorry but not for me . Love distressing when it looks natural and could never leave veneer like that on a piece I’m selling. Also love knobs more original style to the piece.

  4. I call this Uber distressing and it’s my absolute favorite finish of all time! I can’t get enough!

  5. I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! Right up my alley. I’m looking forward to new projects for my own self when I get moved and go to the Nashville flea too! Yay!!!

  6. I think it’s fabulous. After painting an old cabinet with two colors milk paint, then two layers of chalk paint (not liking the look over and over again) I sat staring at it … numb and feeling defeated. The next day I decided to sand the paint off, and start again. After getting down to the first layer and to patches of the bare wood, I stopped… tired. The look at this point is very distressed, kind of a “beachy” one. And now after seeing this fabulous piece of yours, I’m thinking I’ll leave it as is, just adding bold knobs like you! Thanks for the inspiration.

  7. I love the way u distressed the dresser…statement piece…and look at all the space to put stuff in? I am not fond of that blue color ..so the knobs would go if it was mine…but I certainly would put another bright color knobs on. ?

  8. I’m not really a fan of excess distressing, but this is so far gone that it’s good again, haha! I really like it! I love the knobs on it too, they’re just right for the distressing level! Good job!

  9. That’s what I thought, Kim. I hated it! Then I tried to visualize a simpler backdrop and it kind of grew on me. I still don’t care for it, but A. It grabbed my attention, & B. That’s why America is so cool! We’re all different!

  10. I saw this dresser when it first appeared on Pinterest, and all I could say was “WOW!” I loved it then and I love it now—please don`t change a thing about it, Kathy!

  11. I really like it! Maybe the brick wall it is photographed against is throwing some people off. A simple background might change a few minds. I will try a piece like this someday!

  12. I love the distressing! The more distressed, the better:) I would love it with crystal knobs on it instead of the colorful ones. Girl, I know you love color?

  13. It’s too over the top for me. I prefer when pieces are distressed just in the places it would happen naturally.

  14. Love the dresser and the distressing but don’t like the turquoise knobs, they don’t do it for me.

  15. LOVE the distressing…the more the better! I would chose different knobs–I really like turquoise–just not so much on this piece. THANK YOU for sharing another cool project.

  16. I LOVE it! It wouldn’t work in my home but it sure would for anyone with farmhouse, rustic, or shabby chic decor. I think the pretty turquoise knobs are perfection! Pinned

  17. Hi Kathy,
    I am a huge fan of yours! I do like the piece very much and would have purchased it myself. I may have chosen the distressed look on the bottom and a contrasting simpler top. Or the opposite. Like a solid white or even a refinished solid wood top. I think I would have chosen different knobs. the beauty of it is, it can be changed. Its all a learning process and a matter of taste. Best of luck and keep up the work you do. You inspire so many of us an I thank you.

  18. I love it ! The knobs are the perfect color for it.As always great job and stay safe

  19. Ugh! It’s too much for my taste.
    Wouldn’t it be a boring world if everyone loved only mint chocolate chip ice cream?

  20. Hi! I love the knobs and if this piece could be saved, you did it! I have a crackled old chest on my carport under ac unit( that’s taken a beating from weather and water spills), this might just be the answer !

  21. I have to agree with Robin that painted a solid with distressing on corners and high spots (or bad spots) would show off the gorgeous turquoise knobs much better. I’m not a big fan of too much distress (in furniture or in life LOL). Your projects are usually wonderful and I really enjoy seeing them. This one just didn’t hit as a winner to me. I do love the knobs!!!!

  22. I do like it. I love the knobs!. If it were mine, I would do the same thing, but then I would probably paint the top a brown and a turquoise and then do a lighter distress on the top. But you know how it is opinions are a dime a dozen. (very cheap and everyone has one) I think everyone should paint (or not) to their own personal liking. It’s your piece, its your voice & inspiration. Create to feed the fire in your soul.
    Have a happy, creative, blessed day,

  23. I am planning to do something quite similar to this. I was thinking I would use white. However, I noticed you used an off-white. It looked white. Do you remember the name? I do not want a color that is too creamy or yellow or too grey. You know? But the more I think about it I’m afraid a straight white may be too stark.
    I love this piece by the way. The piece I am going to do is a dresser I’ve had for almost thirty years, and I got it at an antique mall when I was 16. I think it’s a great way to keep a piece I love and have a connection with that no longer fits into my style. It has been in the guest room, but I want it in my room now. We are downsizing, and I can’t imagine getting rid of it.

  24. What I love so much about this piece is that it reminds me to let go of my inhibitions and create from the soul. That is hard for me to do, at times, because I am too controlled by “What would other people think?”. But you nailed it! And it doesn’t really matter if it appeals to me-though it does. Thanks for reminding me to create more freely.

  25. Love this little piece of furniture. Great job and its never enough distressing. The knobs are lovely. Hobby Lobby is the go to place for us distressed lovers.

  26. I like this, especially the turquoise knobs. I would be scared to distress that much, especially on my first time. I came to this sight because I am looking for ideas to refinish an odd chest to use as a coffee table. It already has similar knobs and we were looking for a way to incorporate our blue accents into the refinish. This may be what we do!

  27. I love your work. This one, well too much distressing for me. This is a great find. The knobs are great they do make a statement. Thank you for sharing.

  28. I love the piece as well but the distressing is too much for me also. I paint and do magic to furniture and just anything I think needs to be updated. I love to make a piece have a new look and give it life. You are one of my favorite blogs to get that inspiration from. Thanks Anne

  29. Beautiful!! You did a great job on the dresser. Thanks for sharing at Throwback Thursday.


  30. I am absolutely in love with all of your furniture! I started a small business of my own redoing furniture as well. Still learning and wanting to learn more. You have given me soooo many more ideas on what I want to do with all the furniture I have. That milk paint sounds AMAZING!I can’t wait to give it a try!
    Keep up the awesome work! You are so talented! :]

  31. I love the distressing, Im working on a white night stand at this very moment, and thinking of distressing the same way. Look amazing, thank you for the inspiration.

  32. I absolutely love it….I’m doing a mantel and I think after seeing this I’m going to heavily distress it as well.it is just awesome.

  33. Connie, glad to know I’m not the only one that gets crazy before a project is finished.

  34. Gorgeous, as always.

    And this piece (and those knobs) make a statement – the good kind!

  35. I literally laughed outloud Kathy when I read the beginning of your post:

    “I’ll start working on a piece and before it’s finished I’m having second and third thoughts…not sure of the color, not sure of the technique, not sure of the hardware, etc. And when the piece is finished it might look ok, or it might look good, or it might look like crap, or it might look great (to me).”

    That is so ME! I go thru that on every project I do –granted I don’t do all that many but it helps to know that one that does do a lot feels those feelings too.

    This ‘over the top distressed finish’ grew on me as I kept reading and looking at the photos. I really like it AND the turquoise knobs. I this Awesome is a good description. :*)

  36. I love the distressing and great color for the knobs, well done. Following you on Pinterest. Hope to see you visit

  37. oh! thanks Donna. I love when you feature one of my projects. The photography comment I’m going to print and frame. Coming from you that’s high praise 🙂

  38. Oh Kathy… this is truly to DIE for! I’m so in love with everything about this! Spectacular photography too! This will be featured on I Love That Junk this Tuesday. 🙂

  39. I love this look. I think I will try this same look on a similar bureau I picked up at a church rummage sale!

  40. woow… that´s a great job 🙂 really nice….
    and do not miss…


    it is FUN 🙂
    Håkan ( The Roseman)

  41. Love it! It is over the top distressed, but I think that (and of course the knobs!!) are what make it so totally unique and awesome! I love that you do so many different techniques! The best part about paint is, if its not what you wanted, you can fix it! This is perfect though!

  42. Love it! Why? Because it’s unique. I’ll be honest, I am tiring of seeing the same paint techniques on furniture lately. My home is small, so when I choose a piece, I want it to be special. Thank you for inspiring me!

  43. Very nice! It is very heavily distressed, but I like it, and the knobs I love the turquoise. Beautifully done!

  44. I love this dresser!!
    Yes, the knobs make a statement,what a great color.
    I love the way you heavily distressed it as well.
    Beautiful job 🙂

  45. I love love love this dresser! The turquoise knobs really add and extra dimension. Looking at the thumbnail on MMS it looked like it had more layers of paint (and would have taken more time) just thanks to the colored knobs. I am definitely going to try something like this soon!

  46. Never too much distressing for me and the turquoise knobs really set it off. Great job
    Ramshackle Romance

  47. I love the dresser but the knobs are the show stealer! What a great color for them 🙂

  48. I love the distressing on this piece!! Very cool effect. And the turqouise knobs are great!

  49. I absolutely LOVE it-yes it makes a statement and that is one of it many great features! I would love this gorgeous piece in my home!
    Happy Hugs,

  50. P.S. I have an old beat-up dry sink that needs help. I think I’ll try this white paint/excessive distressing on it–when I get around to it–LOL. In the meantime, I’m going to print this and put it in the top drawer.

  51. I like the excessive distressing on this one and appears to be a good size for such a treatment. The distressing makes the damaged wood on the top drawer hardly noticeable. However, I would have left the top unpainted and would have centered the knobs on the two small drawers. Good job overall, though.

  52. Thanks for the comment Andrea and I appreciate your opinion. It is over-the-top distressed!

  53. Thanks Robin and I do agree about the knobs. They show up better in person than in the photos. It’s ok if it’s not to your liking. That’s why I asked for comments. I knew some would like or love it and some would not like it or hate it!! I encourage everyone’s input as long as it’s tactful 😉

  54. Thanks for the comment Betty. I know the distressing is over the top and too much for some people, and that’s ok! I’m glad you like my red and yellow cabinets. 🙂

  55. I LOVE your dresser. I think it almost looks white-washed. This piece is one of my fav’s!!!

  56. Normally that much distressing would have me in distress! Here though I have to say I like it. Maybe it’s because you added a fun bright colour for the knobs! Keep the projects coming!

  57. I also love this piece, but the heavy sanding kinda’ leaves the marks…and the beautiful knobs get lost. Just my thoughts…however I have truly loved all the pieces you have done, but a couple I am in love with – the red cabinet and yellow piece with the funky hardware. Keep on going – wish I was that fast, takes me hours to get one thing done!

  58. I love that this piece was rescued! I know it was in bad shape but I agree, the distressing is a little over the top. I think maybe painted solid and just the edges/high spots distressed would serve better. It wouldn’t look so busy. I kind of lose the knobs in all of that and they deserve to be seen 🙂
    I enjoy your blog, keep up the good work!

  59. Kathy, I just love nearly all your work, but the distressing on this piece just doesn’t do it for me. You’ve done some really awesome makeovers, and I follow everything you do since I found you! However, I like what you started doing, the white and the turquoise knobs. Just a little too much sanding, though…
    Please keep up the good work, I am learning too and you’re a great teacher!

  60. I too love it. The distressing is awesome and just what it needed as you can see the veneer was not in perfect condition. But i can see how for some it’s too much. The pop of color, just right.

    I’m glad you mentioned the process of emotion because I too go through that Oh no I don’t know if its right, do I like it, is this a mistake.

    Great job. Keep them coming.

  61. I would not have thought about filling in holes to be able to use different knobs ~ I’m learning! I can’t believe all of the work only took 3 hours ~ I think I’d be working on it for days LOL ~ Judi

  62. I love this little dresser too!!! It has such a personality, don’t ya think. The knobs are fabulous. good choice. The distressing is a bit too heavy for me. Just a little too rustic for my taste. And about filling holes, I am working on my bedroom set and having the darndest time finding hardware. 4in center hole pulls are not easy to find!!!! Guess I will have to fill the the many, many holes! Thanks for your inspiration Kathy!