Vintage Dresser Makeover

Thank you to my friends at KILZ for sponsoring today’s post!

Vintage Dresser Farmhouse Makeover

Few things in this world make me happier than a good old fashioned furniture makeover. Call me crazy, but the process of bringing an old, beat up piece of furniture back to life with a little paint and TLC is one of my absolute favorite things to do. I’ve been doing it for years now and it still feels like Christmas morning every time I finish a project. If you’re here reading my blog, I’d bet that a good furniture flip also makes you a bit giddy. Well today I have a real doozy for you guys because I’m sharing how I did a complete makeover on a vintage tallboy dresser I found at Salvation Army. This is easily my favorite furniture flip everrrrrr. I can’t believe I’m even saying that, because I’d done a lot of them throughout the years, but dang. This one is just gorgeous. Let me show you what I started with for this project.

Vintage Dresser Makeover

Here she is, in all her glory. When I spotted this beauty I just about fell over. I mean, how does something like this end up getting donated? I can’t wrap my mind around such nonsense. Sure, it had lots of scratches and kind of a weird smell, but I knew I could turn it into something amazing.

Vintage Dresser Makeover

So the first step in the makeover process was primer. Considering all of the scratches and that strange smell issue I mentioned, I knew this project needed to be done with primer. So I grabbed my go-to primer, which is the KILZ 2 Latex Primer and got to work. This stuff is exactly what you want to use if you’re working with a piece that has damage, stains, or any other cosmetic issues. Plus the dresser had a really glossy finish, so I knew I’d need primer in order for the paint to adhere properly. I just sanded down the surface of the dresser before applying the primer.

Vintage Dresser Makeover

I knew I wanted the top of the dresser to be stained dark, so I taped that area off and primed around it.

Vintage Dresser Makeover

The KILZ primer went on really quickly and was easy to apply. I only needed one coat and I was all ready for paint. This stuff is so versatile, I use it all the time. I also used this primer on my fireplace place makeover project which you can find here.

Vintage Dresser Makeover

For the paint color I went with Behr Candlewick. I am obsessed. It’s the perfect creamy color with yellow hues. Looooove it. I did two coats of paint and I felt like that worked really well.

Vintage Dresser Makeover Vintage Dresser Makeover

Ta-da! Can you believe this is the same piece of furniture? Like I said earlier, this is definitely my favorite flip ever. The KILZ primer really did a great job at covering up all the scratches and damage–even the funky smell is gone. Happy dance!

Vintage Dresser Makeover

I used a dark stain for the top of the dresser. I love the combination of the dark top and the cream color.

Vintage Dresser Makeover Vintage Dresser Makeover

Love, love, love the details on this dresser.

Vintage Dresser Makeover

Projects like this just make me happy. When I work on an old piece like this one, I always find myself wondering where it was before, who it belonged to, and its history. The process of giving new life to something that was old and forgotten is always so rewarding for me. Anyway, I’d love to hear what you think of this makeover and definitely let me know if you have any questions!

Here’s a few other post you might like:

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint vs Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint

Honest Review of My Chalk Painted Bathroom Vanities

Chalk Paint Dining Table Makeover

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Sarah here! Nice to meet you. I’m a mama to three, wife to my high school sweetheart and accidental blogger. We recently moved to our little homestead on ten acres and we're loving the small town life in Colorado. I hope this space can inspire you to create a home you love and enjoy the simple moments the most.


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  1. 10.13.16
    Chrissy said:

    Gorgeous! I just bought spray chalk paint for a side table I was going to do for my family room! Is it going to chip?

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Thanks Chrissy! I haven’t noticed the chalky spray paint chipping yet. My issue has been with my bathroom dressers/vanities, which I used regular chalk paint on. They get a ton of daily use, so I know that’s probably the issue, but I hoped they’d hold up better. I really wish I had gone with primer and regular paint for those. But I do think the chalky spray paint on my little side table is holding up well so far!

    • 11.10.16
      Misty said:

      How did you get the dark stained top parts to look so shiny?

      • 11.10.16
        Sarah said:

        Hi Misty! I actually didn’t do anything different–the stain I used left that shiny look. I used 2 coats!

  2. 10.13.16
    Kimberly said:

    This is really beautiful and makes me want to start a dresser and nightstand that belonged to my grandparents that I’ve been hanging onto for something just…like…this! :0)

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Yay! I’m glad this inspired you Kimberly. Definitely send me photos of your dresser and nightstand if you go ahead and paint them, I’d love to see it!

  3. 10.13.16
    Cecelia said:

    Hi Sarah,
    Your remake of the old vintage dresser was absolutely beautiful! Thanks for all your tips-especially those related to chalk paint. I have found a few pieces I have done have chipped as well. I thought I was doing something wrong, i.e., not waxing correctly! Nice to know regular paint also works. I have never considered that. Loved you introducing me to spray chalk paint. I recently tried it on an old wooden chair, and I found it much simpler than painting with a brush for sure! And, it came out very nicely. Again, thank you for your decorating tips, and your ability to “simplify” the process.

    Loyal follower.. Cecelia

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Hi Cecelia! Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging comment, I’m so happy to have you here! And I’m so glad to hear you tried the chalky spray paint and it worked well for you. I’ve really been liking that lately too. It’s just so quick! Thanks again for all your support!

  4. 10.13.16
    Lezlie said:

    Your dresser is absolutely beautiful! I’ve got a couple of pieces of old furniture in the barn that need a good make over. This has definitely inspired me to tackle those projects.

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Thank you so much Leslie! I’m so glad this inspired you to take a few furniture makeovers yourself. Send me pics when you’re done! 🙂

  5. 10.13.16
    Lindsey said:

    I can’t believe that’s the same dresser! Great work!

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Right?! I’m always amazed at what a little paint and TLC can do. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. 10.13.16
    Mary said:

    Looks beautiful! Kilz is a great product.

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Thanks Mary! I agree–I love that KILZ primer, I use it for so many different projects.

  7. 10.13.16
    Helen said:

    Wow Sarah this looks fab! I love that dark stain too, really sets the piece off x

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Thank you so much Helen! 🙂

  8. 10.13.16
    Sarah said:

    It is beautiful!!! I love the sign above it too! Where did you get that?

  9. 10.13.16
    Jennie said:

    Gorgeous finishes!! Do you brush/roll on the paint or do you spray?

  10. 10.13.16
    Monica said:

    Hi Sarah. This post was very timely since I’m working on a table right now. I would love your advice. I carefully sanded and primed the table with Kilz Latex 2 as you did and there is a spot on this old table that seems to be bleeding through this primer. Any suggestions? I’m planning on painting it a very pale grey or possibly even cream and am worried about the stain showing through. Should I use the oil based primer on the top which is where this is happening? Thanks and I love your IG feed and blog.

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Hi Monica! Hmmm…sounds like a tricky problem. I have a few ideas–you could sand it down again and re-do that area on top with the KILZ oil based primer, maybe that will adhere better. Or you could do a trick I’ve done when a similar problem happened to me while using chalk paint. Get the shellac finishing spray and use it in just that spot that is bleeding through. Then try to go over it again with the primer and see if it adheres better. Hopefully that will work! Let me know what you do and good luck!

  11. 10.13.16
    Pam said:

    This is beautiful and I want to try this paint. Love the color and the dark top! Dreamy!

    • 10.13.16
      Sarah said:

      Thank you, I love it too!! 🙂

  12. 10.13.16
    Cindy said:

    I love it Sarah!! Of course, everything you post,inspires me to do more!
    Can I please ask where you got the sign above the dresser? It’s a beautiful saying!! ????
    Thank you!!

  13. 10.14.16
    Lorraine Dorsey said:

    Love the vintage dresser makeover. I have recently purchased a large buffet, farm table and chairs at a good will. It is very dark and would like to lighten it up. I thought I would do the chalk paint route but I’m not really into the chippy look. I love this alternative of using regular paint. Is the paint specially for furniture or just regular interior latex paint. One other question. How much sanding is needed? I don’t need to be stripping all the old gunk off? Loving your posts. So helpful.

  14. 10.14.16
    Jana said:

    Absolutely gorgeous! Talk about a before and after! I have a tall dresser my in-laws gave me that they purchased to re-do. Years ago I painted it all white but it’s been moved several time and needs some TLC. I was thinking of staining the top and then re-painting the dresser. After seeing this piece you did, my mind is made up! Thank you and I think it looks beautiful in your dining room!

  15. 10.14.16

    Wow! I can’t believe the difference. I love the color and the darker top.

    • 10.14.16
      Sarah said:

      Thanks so much Sandy, I can’t believe it’s the same dresser!

  16. 10.14.16
    Jane said:

    I love it! I have a round oak able in my family room, the top is that glossy laminate and I wasn’t sure how to go about that at all. Also, I love the dark stain you used on the top of the dresser. Can you tell me the name and brand of the stain? And finally, what sort of finish did you use for the Behr paint…eggshell, flat…? Did you wax it afterward? Gorgeous!


    • 10.15.16
      Sarah said:

      Hi Jane! You can sand down the top of the table to roughen it up a bit and remove the glossy finish. Then go on with the KILZ primer. My dresser had a glossy finish as well and that’s what I did. The primer went on perfectly. The stain I used was Dark Walnut by Minwax. And I believe the Behr paint is a satin finish. Good luck with your projects!

  17. 10.18.16
    Doreen Sulfaro said:

    Hi Sarah: this dresser is so beautiful. I have a roll top old fashioned desk from when I was a child. It is 45 years old and has its scars on it from use. 🙂 I have been tossing around what to do with it as I can’t part with it and this is a perfect idea. Thank you for the post as this has helped me make a decision. Will send you a pic when the job is done. Look forward to your daily blog so much. Love it!!!!

    • 10.20.16
      Sarah said:

      You made my day Doreen, thank you so much for all your support and encouragement! Good luck with your old desk, send me pics when you’re done!

  18. 10.26.16

    Oh my goodness, what an amazing transformation!! I love it and I’m sure you’re appreciating all that extra storage 🙂

    • 10.27.16
      Sarah said:

      The extra storage is SO nice! All the things go in there 🙂 Thanks for all your support Chelsea!

  19. 1.18.17
    Ronnie said:

    Hi Sarah,
    Was just going through some of your older blogs and had a question on this dresser you painted. I love that you used regular paint, its gorgeous! Did you use a brush and roller? Or did you spray it on? I seem to have a hard time eliminating brush marks and getting a smooth surface, even with a very expensive brush when I use regular paint.

    • 1.18.17
      Sarah said:

      Hi Ronnie! I actually just used a good paint brush on this dresser, I didn’t roll it on. I think the key to minimizing brush strokes for this project was the KILZ primer I used first. I noticed it make a big difference when I applied the yellow paint, everything went on nice and smooth. Also make sure to paint in small sections and don’t go over the paint again until it’s completely dried. I have a hard time doing this because I’ll paint the same area with several different strokes of the paint brush before moving on to a new area, which can definitely make the brush strokes more obvious. Hope that helps!

  20. 1.20.17
    Michelle McVay said:

    Love this dresser!!! What stain did you use for the tops of the dresser?

  21. 2.28.17
    Lynn said:

    Love this piece, really nice job. As far as “old furniture smell” goes, how do you get rid of it if you are not painting the inside?

    • 2.28.17
      Sarah said:

      Ha! That’s a great question. I’ve never figured out how to get rid of the “old smell” actually. I just clean it out, generally using Clorox wipes and that’s about it. I’d love to find a better way though.

  22. 5.1.17
    Lorie said:

    Hi. You had two different people ask about the stain on the dresser top and you gave two different answers. Just to be clear, was it the Java stain gel or the dark walnut minwax? Dresser turned out gorgeous!

    • 5.1.17
      Sarah said:

      Oh dang, I didn’t realize I gave two different answers Lori. I did use the java gel stain on this dresser. Thanks for asking!

  23. 6.3.17
    Adriana Lilley said:

    Did you use a sealer over the gel stain? I’ve been trying to find a good tutorial on how to apply gel stain, but most use a satin sealer. I would prefer the type you used because I like the glossy finish. Do you have a tutorial for applying gel stain? Thanks for any info! 🙂
    P.S. the sealer i have is Clear Satin Water-Based Indoor Polyurethane

    • 6.3.17
      Sarah said:

      Nope, I didn’t use any sealer over the gel stain. And unfortunately I don’t have a post about applying gel stain, but I should. That’s a good idea!

  24. 1.10.18
    Margaret Dixon said:

    I have never painted a piece of furniture but I ruined the top of my 50 year old Ethan Allen double dresser when perfume spilled on it. I am not good with colors and I was wondering if you think it would look alright if I painted, with regular paint, the top black and left the rest in the original maple finish or would it be better to use Java Gel stain like you used on the dresser makeover you did. Would you let me know what color stain that was. The finish is fine on the rest but I probably should change the handles. If I do the big dresser do you think I should do the side tables and the other dresser on the tops as well.
    Thanks for any information you can give me.

  25. 1.18.18
    Crystal said:

    Did you sand or just stain the other parts of the wood directly.
    I was wondering if stain would go on without sanding in some way.