Girl’s Room Dresser Redo

By Kate Riley February 17, 2013

I’m sentimental about an old wood dresser that sits in my younger daughter’s room. I bought it 13 years ago when we first moved to our town (I know because I wrote the date on the back!) and originally painted it for my oldest daughter. When the younger one was born she inherited it and it’s been in her closet for years. I couldn’t bring myself to replace it knowing that both girls have shared it, so I decided to save some money, treasure the sentiment, and instead give it a new look.

We’re doing the gray + white+ lavender thing in my nine year old’s room and even though I was dying to bust out some bright color she’s already got an aqua desk on the other side and lest it get too hodge podge I kept the palette classic with a gray + white medley.

painted white dresser with gray overlays

I found this dresser at one of those inexpensive “everything raw wood” places 13 years ago that’s filled with dining tables, bookcases, shelves, etc. and they’re ready to paint or stain in any color you choose. It was painted white long ago on a cool day in March on the porch of our rental home. I gave it little glass knobs, a mini pink stencil in the corners, and stained bun feet. Witness one of my first furniture makeovers!

You can see I’d already started removing the basic glass knobs when I snapped this picture last week but I’ve gotta give this dresser credit – the paint job has held up for over a decade.

old dresser

For the upgrade, I ordered these ring pulls and some custom Anne decorative overlays to give the dresser a more modern look, but I realized when they arrived I had to move the position of the hardware on the dresser for it to look balanced.

change position of pull


The best product for filling up old holes in furniture before you repaint and add new ones is wood filler but I was out so I turned to an alternative method. A little caulk and lightweight spackling did the trick but beware!  Caulking contracts when it dries, and it’s NOT sandable so if you use it to fill holes like I did then you MUST wipe away any surface residue.

caulk and spackling

Caulking will fill the holes (be sure to wipe away excess with a damp rag) and then one (sometimes two) layers of sandable spackling can be used over the top to fill the old hardware holes in lieu of wood filler. Once dry you can sand it smooth.

caulking and spackling


I used some leftover Chalk Paint to give the dresser a fresh coat of white. No sanding or primer just right over the top of the old latex paint …

old white chalk paint


… followed up by a coat of clear furniture wax – and the best thing to protect white paints instead of a polycrylic which I’ve learned is fine for color or dark paint but not necessarily white paint because polys can amber, even the water based ones.

as clear wax


The decorative overlays got a coat of gray primer and then a coat of Rust-Oleum’s metallic silver spray paint.

primer and paint


The spray paint is also a really close match to Rub N’ Buff in ‘Silver Leaf’.

silver leaf rub n buff


The decorative overlays are applied with Liquid Nails painted onto the back with a small brush – I allowed it to dry for an hour or so.

liquid nails


To center and drill the new holes for the hardware I used a yardstick, a measuring tape, and power screwdriver, although I’ve used painter’s tape too to line up hardware so it’s even on a dresser.

align pulls

drill holes


The old gal now has an updated look that took just a few hours of work over the weekend.

dresser from side

white dresser gray overlays nickel pulls


Down below I’ve added a new accent rug to the room that I bought on sale at Joss & Main but you can also buy it retail in several colors here.

lavender medallion rug


Also I purchased this blossom mirror at PB Kids last year thanks to a gift card and I do declare it’s the perfect accent, no?

pottery barn kids mirror


And that’s the story of how a wood dresser I’m so sentimental about got a brand new look.

painted white dresser with gray overlays


Hopefully it lasts for at least another ten years. :)




  1. Such a timely post. All weekend I’ve been thinking of painting an old pine armoire in my bedroom. I’m just tried of the look and the room needs a pop of color. I’ve been wanting to try chalk paint. You make it looks so easy. So I think I’ll give it a try. Scared though…wish me luck!

  2. Oh so lovely! You’ve inspired me to fix up an old dresser I’ve had since I was a kid.

  3. Wow, what a great makeover! The new circular pulls and the silver, gray overlays add a brilliant modern touch. You make it look so easy. You have great taste and the patience to see projects through! Thanks for posting.

  4. Hi there! I’m so glad I stopped by! That is gorgeous! My 14 year old dd was just talking about re-doing her dresser and night stands last night. Her room is grey, white and a bright blue. The dresser/stands are plain white so the metallic could be an awesome accent. Thank you for the idea! Julia

  5. So pretty and elegant! A dresser can make such a statement if it is used right…. and by that I mean: if it is combined with this really, really, really awesome mirror! =)

  6. Love how you re-due the furniture. I had someone help me re-due a dresser and it looks nothing like the smooth finish. I got the supplies that were suggested and they used their own they primed it and left small bumps of primer all over dresser. When I suggested they sand between coats as the other article says they said no it was too much work. Plus they field holes with wood putty and just painted over them instead of sand them down. There are drips in the paint too. It looks like a hot mess. Well needless to say I think I will need to re-due the dresser.

  7. Beautiful! I was at Home Depot Friday night (yes that is my idea of fun!) I always check out their pulls and I found a new style they carry that is so similar to this! You have convinced me to re-vamp our night stands in the master~ Thanks for the inspiration.

  8. That is so beautiful, I love the pulls you choose for all your makeovers! The dresser ties in perfectly with the room.

  9. I absolutely love how the patterns compliment each other. The patterns with the rug, dresser, and mirror work so well together.

  10. Really pretty makeover, Kate. I love that you were able to breathe new life into something so sentimental. It looks like it was bought especially for her room! And I LOVE that mirror!

  11. Looks great, Kate! I love that you saved it and just did a revamp instead of ditching it. Can’t wait to see photos of every aspect of the room all together. Hope you had a wonderful, and relaxing, weekend! Oh, and dynamite mirror. I squeal with delight whenever I get a PB gift card. :)

  12. Love the new look of this dresser! The colors look amazing, and the overlays and ring pulls updated it so much! Off to check out some overlays for myself… Yay :)

  13. Always an inspiration!

    A question about the silver spray paint, I have recently used the silver

    and the gold paint I find that it rubs off when handled. does this happen

    to you as well? Any suggestions as how to remedy the problem?

    • I haven’t had that experience Libby but it depends on the paint you use and shouldn’t happen if you prime first.

  14. Kate, I adore your style!! It fits my tastes perfectly. What a beautiful transformation on your dresser, it’s perfect. :)

  15. I love the dresser. Did you paint the chair beside the dresser? If so, did you use silver paint and a very small brush or was it with a special pen? I tried using a special pen on a table I have but it didn’t turn out well at all and I had to paint over it.

    • Hi Jessie the chair was painted years ago, first with spray paint and then with silver acrylic paint and a small artist’s brush to add the detail.

  16. Kate, love the dresser! My 7 year old loves purple and gray. Can you share the gray color on the walls?

  17. So very pretty, indeed. Especially I like the instructive details you provide in the transformation. I will refer to them many times and thanks too for naming the products you use. All of this is so helpful and encouraging when one wants to redo a piece. :), :),:)

  18. It was adorable before, but now it is stunning! Thanks for providing the link to the overlays. At first I thought it was paint! And I love how the chair compliments the dresser too. So pretty!

  19. Great makeover. I have been dying to redo my bedroom furniture with chalk paint…mostly, because I like the idea of limitied to zero prep work.

  20. The overlays are a great idea, one I wouldn’t have thought have. You’re a smart cookie and the dresser looks lovely.

  21. Hi Kate! I just convinced my husband to tackle our first furniture makeover on a dresser and vanity I found on Craigslist. I have settled on painting them BM Linen White and possibly staining the top with Minwax (possibly a blend of walnut and espresso). I have bookmarked your painting tutorials and already purchased Minwax Polycrylic to seal the paint. Since I am using a white paint, should I return the Polycrylic and find a wax instead? Is there something you can recommend that I can find at Ace or another hardware store that would work instead of Annie Sloan’s wax? Thanks!

  22. Hi Kate…first time visiting and leaving a comment. This dresser make-over is fabulous. I really like the custom overlays (did not know where you could purchase them on-line, so thanks for the link) and the new pulls look great. It really does update the piece and give it a fresh new look. I’ll definitely be back to read what else you have in store. Cheers, Denise =)

  23. Good work! It wasn’t easy to make a pretty dresser get prettier; at least for me it’s not but you made it look easier. The dresser totally got a whole new different look and I’m sure your daughter loved it more. I never imagined that caulking, chalk paint, spray paint and liquid nails adhesive could do wonders for an old dresser. Good post! It gave me an idea how to fix my old desk and what materials to use. Thank you.

  24. Once again an amazing job. I’ve got some soft pine wood side tables that we used in a bedroom. Since the wood is soft, can I still just use the AS paint without a primer? Thanks.

  25. Hi,

    Thank you for all the ideas. I really love what you do! To be honest I got the link to your website from my husband:-) I was thinking of creating my blog ages ago, but I never been brave enough to do that. But I did that:
    Thanks for the inspiration. I have one for you- If you are planning on painting the rug you can check my blog. It’s easy and you will get really nice rug.


  26. LOVE this project and it’s inspiring me to go at my old dresser again (brace yourself for another round Hubby!)

    One more thing that can help fill holes like that is Durham’s Rock Hard Water Putty – it doesn’t shrink as much as caulk and it’s a little more durable.

    Do you have any advice for how to use a high-gloss paint, and not have it be sticky afterwards? I used a high-gloss paint and even months later it seems that paper and magazines still leave little bits attached when I remove them.

    • Hi Maida, it depends on the brand, I really like to use the Ben Moore Advance in high gloss – I used it on a campaign desk last year – while it took a few weeks to fully cure it is still a beautiful glossy surface and we don’t have those sticking issues.

  27. Oh how I wish I could find a project for overlays. I just think they are amazing. Great job on the dresser, so fresh and classy. And I love the rug. Perfect for a girls room.

  28. Absolutely beautiful – it is so amazing how just a change in hardware and a architectural detail makes.

  29. Hi Kate! You make refinishing furniture look so easy! The dresser is beautiful! I recently spent WAY too much time painting our old PB entertainment center in Ben Moore Advance Simply White. It’s also going to be used to hold the kids’ books and toys – so lots of abuse. Now that I’m ready to give it a protective coat, I’m hesitant to use the Minwax Polycrylic I got b/c I’m afraid of it yellowing even the slightest bit. Will the AS clear wax be enough protection? I don’t plan on touching this monster ever again, if I can help it! What should I use?? Thank you!

  30. That dresser came out beautiful! Do you have to order Anne Sloan paint/ wax online or can they be purchased at Home Depot, or Lowe’s or your local paint store? I’m looking for a used piece of furniture that I can use for storage and to place our 32 in. flat screen tv for our sun room. Salvation Army always has a great selection of nice, used furniture. I’d love to try to paint a small piece before I attempt to tackle a large piece. Your instructions make it sound so simple. Thanks for sharing this with your blogging fans!

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