Welcome, amazing friends!! I am so excited about today’s makeover! I’m going to use this antique serpentine dresser to show how to chalk paint furntiure AND how to tackle all the problems that come with older pieces of furniture.
We’ll tackle how to remove veneer, how to get rid of musty odors, and more!
Okay, let’s get to it!
This dresser was part of my Mother’s Day Haul gifted to me by a lovely reader, Mary:
Isn’t she a beauty?
She was in need of a LOT of love. I worked hard on this one, y’all!
To start this project, I removed the drawers and gave it a good cleaning all over. I’ve included a few affiliate links so you can find the products I love.
How to get rid of the musty smell
It was very musty on the inside, so to combat that, I brushed on one coat of BOSS in clear on the entire inside cavity of the dresser:
It works amazingly well to seal in those musty odors!
How to Remove Veneer
Next, I tackled the veneer on the top.
Here is what I was working with:
Unfortunately, the veneer on this one was too far gone along the front and in some areas on top to salvage, so I decided to remove the veneer on this one. I learned the best way to do that from my friend, Larissa of Prodigal Pieces.
Lay soaking wet towels on the surface and leave them overnight. The water softens the glue.
The next morning, I was able to scrape the veneer off in strips with a large putty knife:
You can soak the towels and take them to your project, or you can lay the towels out (I used two here), and pour water on them from a pitcher, which is what I did.
I didn’t expect the top to be in pieces after removing the veneer:
This would have been an awesome top had this been more of a farmhouse style dresser, and I may have even stained the top instead, but that was not the look I was going for.
How to Fill in Missing pieces of legs, drawers, etc.
The next challenge I had was filling in the missing corner on this drawer:
Part of it was completely missing. I turned to a tutorial by my fellow fixer upper friend, Denise from Salvaged Inspirations because I have seen her fill in some crazy missing parts using a product called Bondo. You can read all about it on her blog HERE. Let me tell you when I say this is the stinkiest product I ever have used in my life!
But dang, it sure does the job!
I did as her tutorial suggested and splinted the area to be filled, and after mixing the two products included, I slapped it over the area with a putty knife:
This stuff sets up in about two minutes, so use it quickly!
I was done with the stink, so I filled the rest of the imperfections in with Dixie Belle’s Mud in brown:
I sanded those smooth also once they were dry.
I ended up hand sanding across all the drawer fronts just to smooth them out a bit.
How to chalk paint furniture
My best tip is to choose a quality brush! My favorite is this Dixie Belle Brush.
I chose Caviar for this project and gave the dresser two coats, applying in long sweeping strokes being sure to paint in nice straight lines.
I did remove the drawers to paint them, but slid them in while they dried.
Fore a more detailed tutorial on how to chalk paint furniture, including a video, visit this post: How to Chalk Paint Furniture: a Step by Step Guide.
How to Apply a Transfer
Now for the fun part, the embellishment! I chose to add a transfer to the drawers. I’ve been hanging onto this one since last fall and this it the perfect piece for it. Applying transfers is as easy as peeling off the backing, laying the top piece on your surface, and burnishing the transfer onto your surface using the included tool:
This one is called Somewhere in France. You can find it several places on Etsy if you do a search. I cut this one up and used it in pieces. I only used the top two sheets for this entire dresser!
Once the image is transferred, peel the top layer off slowly. If any of the transfer remains on the top, lay it back down and burnish some more. You do have to be careful where you place it, because once it touches down, it is pretty much stuck!
Of course, deciding where you want to put the pieces is the hard part!
Fixing the Mirror
This dresser also came with an amazing mirror!
It was coming apart in three of the joints though, so I removed the mirror and took it apart. Then I used Titebond wood glue to put the pieces back together:
It and the harp that holds it also got two coats of Caviar:
Then I sanded everything lightly with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around an old foam sanding block. I even sanded over the drawers with the transfers. I vacuumed up all the sanding dust with my shop vac.
Here’s a tip for applying this sealer over darker colors like Caviar:
Add just a few drops of paint to your sealer and give it a good stir. Also, apply it from edge to edge without stopping, and don’t overwork it!
Ready to see the result of five days of hard work??
Ooh la la. Am I right?
She’s a sexy little number now!
You can see now why a rustic top just wouldn’t work with the beautiful details in this dresser. It needed to be sleek, and I am so pleased with how the top turned out!
Can you see those gorgeous details on the bottom?
Did you notice that some of them are missing?
Yep, but I don’t think it even matters. It is part of the story of this piece.
And the mirror with that harp…
It’s hard to see the details up close, but they are exquisite…
The original dresser did not have one salvageable knob unfortunately, but these glass ones from Hobby Lobby did the job…
That photo also shows how well that Bondo worked on the upper right corner of that drawer on the left!
Now, let’s talk about those drawers. The top three worked really well, but I had the hardest time getting the bottom drawer out. When I finally did, I realized the bottom of the drawer was coming apart in layers. I had to disassemble the drawer to get the bottom out, cut a new bottom with my jig saw, and then reassemble the drawer.
I cleaned them really well and then I applied Big Mama’s Butta to the sides and back.
It hydrates and protects the wood and comes in three scents: Orange Grove, Suzanne’s Garden, and unscented. I tried out Suzanne’s Garden this time and it smells so beautiful! It smells like roses, which I normally am not too fond of, but this is lovely!
Then for the bottoms of the insides of the drawers, which I always save for last, I had purchased a fabric with some french wording on it, but I was not looking forward to cutting it to fit all those curves. I was Face-Timing with my sister (The one whose kitchen I helped make over HERE.), and I was showing her how the dresser was coming along, and I mentioned that I was getting ready to add the fabric. Then she suggested a black and white striped fabric would look great. I agreed, and knew right away that I didn’t need fabric to get that look!
I taped off the perimeter of the drawer bottom with FrogTape and then painted the bottoms of the two top drawers in one coat of BOSS in white, followed by one coat of Fluff. Then I added FrogTape to create my stripes! (See how I do that HERE!)
I removed the tape as soon as I applied the second coat of Caviar to paint in the stripes. I used Clear Coat in Satin to seal, but this time, I used a brush specially designed for polyurethanes by Wooster. The sponge is a game changer for applying the sealer to the outside, but it can be tricky to use a sponge on those inside corners.
I love how they turned out!
For the middle drawer, I painted the bottom black instead and used another part of the transfer!
I repeated the stripes on the bottom drawer:
Honestly, I think the drawers might be my favorite! No extra money spent!!
Whew! Wasn’t that a lot of work?
So worth it to see this pretty lady come back to life though!
Three of my friends have even more furniture makeovers to visit!
Thanks again to Mary for blessing me with the opportunity to bring these pieces back to life!!
Visit the others I’ve already completed at the links below:
I need a few small easy projects to work on now, so I’ll be back with a round of smalls on Tuesday:
Have a fantastic weekend, and be safe out there!
UPDATE: See how these smalls turned out HERE now! 🙂
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