Stinky Dresser Makeover

Hello beautiful friends! It’s one of my favorite days of the month! Today my Furniture Fixer Upper girls and I are all sharing furniture makeovers! You’ll get one from me and then be sure to scroll all the way down to see what my friends are making over as well!

I’m including a few affiliate links so you can find the products I love.

But first, I want to announce the winner of my Dixie Belle Painting Prize Pack Giveaway!! Congratulations to Elaine from Wisconsin! She has been notified and has responded, excited to collect her loot. Thank you to everyone who entered! I’ll be having another giveaway before the holidays!

Let’s get to today’s makeover! I found this dresser at the thrift store last month for $79:

That’s more than I like to spend, but it’s Drexel and it was in excellent condition. (Find those dolly wheels HERE.)

There was only one teeny tiny problem…it stunk to high heaven! It was mostly cigarette odor mixed with a floral of some sort that was used to perhaps mask the odor? I didn’t really notice it until I was locked inside my car with it in the back! By then, it was too late. I usually pass on anything that has an odor to it.

So the first thing I needed to do was remedy that smell. You would probably never guess what I used!

Vodka! I set out to find the cheapest vodka I could…

Try vodka for removing stinky odors from furniture!

This was only $6.

I read in the comment section of a website several years ago where a commenter recommended vodka for removing odors from furniture. A couple of other commenters agreed that vodka does in fact work. I have always wanted to give it a try so this was the perfect opportunity!

I used one of my Dixie Belle sponges to apply it to all the surfaces that would not be getting painted. That included the entire inside cavity of the dresser and all the drawers, inside and out:

Did it work?

Yes! So actually I did it twice on one of the drawers and there is zero odor left. I gave everything else only one coat and it got rid of 95% of the odor, so I would say if you were willing to give everything two coats of the stuff, it’s a winner! It’s no fun breathing in vodka for an hour though. I should have taken a couple of shots while I was at it.

When I was giving the rest of the dresser a good wipe down with Lysol wipes, a ton of orangish colored gunk came off of the surface. I was leary of that bleeding through so I went ahead and gave the dresser a coat of BOSS in white to prevent any bleedthrough:

BOSS from Dixie Belle is the best defense against bleed through

I left it to dry overnight. You might also notice that I taped off the inside of the dresser with FrogTape all the way around. That’s to create a nice clean paint line so it looks nice when you remove the drawers.

I followed up with three coats of Dixie Belle Cotton for solid coverage. If you find that your paint is going on a bit thick on the second and third coats, keep a cup of water nearby to dip your brush into every once in a while. Your paint will glide on like butter.

When the paint was dry, I sanded all over and distressed the edges using 220 grit sandpaper.  I find it easier to sand by hand if I wrap the sandpaper around an old foam sanding block:

This sandpaper is awesome… it comes in sheets that I cut into four.

I sealed with Dixie Belle’s Clear Coat in Satin using their blue sponge:

Dixie Belle Clear Coat in satin is so easy to apply using their blue sponge applicator.

Okay now…are ya’ll ready for some deja vu??

Stinky dresser makeover

Does this look familiar?

Stinky dresser makeover

If you remember the blue night table I redid from my last haul, it had very similar legs.

I decided that if it was still in my booth when I did this dresser, then I would redo this one to match.

Those drawers with the trim pieces are perfect candidates for a fabric inlay treatment…

How to add fabric to dresser drawers

This fabric started out as curtain panels I picked up at HomeGoods.

I used my rotary cutter and straight edge/mat kit to cut the fabric to fit the fronts of the drawers…

Use a rotary cutter and straight edge to cut fabric in perfectly straight pieces.

Then I used matte Mod Podge as a glue to attach it the front. I just brushed it on with an inexpensive chip brush. You can see a little more detail on how I added the fabric in the night table post HERE. There is no need to add Mod Podge over the top of the fabric.

How to get rid of stinky smells in furniture


How to get rid of odors in furniture.

I used most of the same hardware, except for the two knobs on the top two drawers…I replaced them with these pretty glass ones from Hobby Lobby:

Stinky Dresser Makeover

I always love the bit of sparkle glass knobs give. Hobby Lobby’s hardware is 50% off every other week!

The rest of the hardware was painted in Cotton. I used a putty knife to knock some paint off here and there to distress them…

I tried to get a photo without all the junk that usually resides on my work table getting into the picture…I am so messy when I’m working!

My house stays neat, but I am terrible about keeping my workspace clean! I just push things over and move onto the next project! Luckily my work table is in the back corner of the garage so it doesn’t look quite as bad from afar!

Or maybe it does lol…anyway that is where I work on most of my projects.

How to distress hardware

You can hardly see the hardware in the photo below:

Stinky Dresser Makeover

This is a really nice quality dresser. It even has a secret compartment…can you see it?

(You can see the nice clean line of paint that the Frogtape helped to create.)

This cool compartment swings out for storing whatever you don’t want found:

Secret compartment in dresser

I didn’t line the drawers in this one. I had planned to use a pretty coordinating striped fabric, but I didn’t have enough for all the drawers, so I still need to do that. I think it adds a nice surprise when you open the drawers.


Dresser Makeover with Dixie Belle

Don’t forget my girls have even more furniture makeover inspiration for you today!


1. The Interior Frugalista

2. Just the Woods

3. Salvaged Inspirations

4. Petticoat JUNKtion

5. Girl in the Garage

I hope you enjoyed this makeover! I really enjoyed knocking out the biggest project in this pile!

If you missed the first two, you can see them here:

Grandma’s Footboard Repurposed

Drawer Front Repurposed

I’ll be back on Tuesday sharing what I did with this drop leaf side table:

UPDATE: Check out the fun new color I used on this table HERE now!

Have an amazing weekend!




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  1. Cecilia from Georgia says

    Good gracious what a lovely transformation!

  2. Sheila DelCharco says

    Your pieces come out so fabulous! Glad to hear the vodka worked!

  3. Vodka for the Win against smell drawers! Who would of thought!! What is so funny about that is that when you drink vodka there is no odor on your breath, or so I have been told as I am not a drinker!! It turned out beautiful just like the table you redid from your last haul!

    • Right?? I’m glad I gave it a try! When we were younger, we would order vodka drinks for that reason lol. Thank you, my sweet friend! Enjoy your weekend! XOXO

  4. Love the shape of that dresser. Nice Job! Fun Fact…did you know that costume departments in the Ballet world use a spray bottle full of vodka on sweaty (stinky) costumes after the show? Yes..delicate tutus to heavy velvets! They buy cases of biggest bottles of the cheapest Vodka they can find.

  5. Robin Stephens says

    Wow…. I **love** that magnificent piece! The secret compartment is soooo charming….but, your makeover…killer! Way to go, as usual. =)

  6. Christina in SW FL says

    Christy, this dresser is beautiful! Love the fabric inlay and it goes so beautifully with the nightstand…. wow! Great to know about Vodka! Love the glass knobs and great tip about HL having hardware on sale every other week!!
    Congratulations to Elaine!! Woo hoo!!
    Here’s to a great rest of the week and weekend!! Happy Autumn!

  7. What a beautiful save! Love the vodka tip and agree on the odor while using it. Whew! 😀

  8. Becky McAllister says

    I bought the same dolly wheels but bought the 4 to a package at Amazon. Better buy I think. 😊
    Vestil LEG-D-4PK Leg Dolly, 200 lb. Capacity, 6-3/4″ x 5-3/4″, Silver (Pack of 4)

  9. sharon austin says

    That dresser is cool with the secret compartment…. I love how it turned out too!

  10. Beautiful! I love the glimpse of your worktable. Makes me not feel as bad about how I work lol, altho I’m still messier than you. If you have time, can you tell me how you got such a great shot in front of the window without the dresser being backlit? Your photos are always perfectly lighted.

    • Thank you, Joni! I am SO messy when I work! I clean it up every couple of weeks and try to be good about putting stuff back between projects, but it ends up a hot mess again ha ha! As for the photos, I think it helps to be at eye level with whatever you are shooting. I have a Canon Rebel T5i and my favorite lens is 50mm, but you have to be able to back up quite a bit to get larger items in the photo with that lens. Then I edit some in Photoshop Elements. XOXO

  11. LOl! My work table gets sooooo bad I can’t find anything! I did a major cleanup and reorganization a couple weeks ago and am trying to “clean up” after each project. Now I just have trouble finding where I put stuff! I had a horrible “bleeder” this week. 1 coat of boss and 2 coats of shellac 🤬. You don’t have trouble with those brush hairs from chip brushes? I hate to use them for that reason. Any hints? Also, do you have any trouble with the fabric fraying when you apply it to the drawer fronts?

    • I do the same thing…I clean up my space and then try to be good about putting things back where they belong in between projects, but then I start slacking on clean-up again! It’s messy being creative. 🙂 I’m so sorry you had to experience a bleeder…that stinks!! With the BOSS, I’ve learned that you need to give it time to fully dry…24 hours is optimal. You may still need one more coat if you’re still getting bleed-through. Allow it to thoroughly dry again and you should be good. The shellac says you can paint after one hour, but that does better as well if you give it more time, especially if you are working in humid and even really cold conditions where it takes longer to dry. Glad you finally got it under control! Give the bristles on your chip brush a good tug to remove any loose hairs first. And as for the fabric on drawer fronts, using a rotary cutter really helps and then try not to handle it too much. If you get a thread, don’t pull it…just snip it where it is hanging off. Hope this helps! XOXO

  12. Marcie Lovett says

    Eeewww, stinky furniture is the worst! I hadn’t heard the vodka trick, and I’m going to try it on old been-in-the-basement smell. My parents had a similar dresser, late 1950s, and I’d never guess it could look so good. That secret compartment is too much! I hope someone buys both pieces because they look fabulous, Christy.

    • Yes, stinky furniture really is the worst! I usually pass on those pieces! Give the vodka a try…two coats. Thanks, Marcie!! I hope someone buys them both too!! XOXO

  13. Thanks for the vodka information! What a surprise!
    I love the paint job, and the color. However…. (and I hate to be critical, but)….
    To be honest, it “bothers” me that you adhered the fabric in such a random manner, especially since the dresser has very classic lines. One piece is even upside down. Maybe next time you use a print, you might want to try centering the same motif on each drawer? Yes, it will use more fabric, but the effect will be more…. um… harmonious.

    • Funny the things that bother some people that others would never notice. Aren’t we funny creatures that way? I did that with the night table, centering the pattern and stacking the pieces so they would all match up and you couldn’t really even tell that they all matched up. I purposely did these more random. 🙂


  15. Such a pretty transformation!! Vodka…does it work on a moth ball scent?

  16. Kathleen Hilla says

    I have this same dresser! My parents bought the bedroom set (in Michigan, 1959) which also included a king-size headboard and an armoire that my father used. The armoire has 3 large drawers on the bottom and top has 3 cubby holes and 2 small drawers. It opens with 2 sliding doors that resemble a roll top desk..that open vertically. My mother’s is just like your dresser and has a tall, mirror in the center back that is removable. Did you find the ‘secret drawer’ in the center back between the 2 top drawers? Mom used it to hide her jewelry! I love the way you painted the dresser…it’s lovely. I am using the set in our cottage guest room.

    • Oh that is too funny! It really is a very nice quality piece…your parents had nice taste! I did find the secret compartment…that is awesome! Thank you, Kathleen! XOXO

  17. Well now, Vodka huh! A little for the dresser a little for the painter and we have ourselves a happy makeover. LOL Gosh, I love that fabric! Such a pretty makeover, Christy and the white and glass hardware are the jewelry.

    • Thanks, Marie!! Ha ha…I don’t know how well my dresser would have turned out had I started drinking the vodka! Maybe I should give it a go on my next piece? Maybe I’ll be amazingly creative when I’m three sheets to the wind lol! XOXO

  18. Debbie in TX says

    This dresser turned out so nicely. The fabric drawer fronts add an elegant touch. Really love the secret compartment — so useful, right? Personally I wouldn’t even mind the insides of the drawers just left plain, with all of the beautiful finishes on the outside. Your work space is great, and I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who uses every inch of vertical storage space in the garage : )

    • Thank you, Debbie! That secret compartment was such a fun surprise. I may just end up leaving the drawers since I didn’t do the ones on the night table either. And yes, I will stack things as high as I can ha ha! XOXO

  19. Wow wow wow. LOVE this! Good to know about the vodka! I thought BOSS was also for odors?

    • Thank you, Jackie!! Yes, BOSS is the bomb for odors, but it would have been a ton of work “painting” the entire inside cavity of the dresser since there was wood in between each layer of drawers as well. Wiping down with the vodka seemed like an easier option. Plus I only had BOSS in white and that would have looked ugly. 🙂

  20. I Love this one, too! I am always impressed with the creative changes you make to pieces! Keep sharing!

  21. Dennie Garwitz says

    Thanks for sharing the odor remover tip. I have passed up things because they smell too. Going to try this next time I find something smelly. Will let you know if it works for me too.
    The stinky dresser is beautiful.

  22. Hi Christy, gorgeous as always! Great tip on the vodka. That orange stuff you wiped off the dresser was likely nicotine residue. A girlfriend of mine bought a trailer that smelled to high heaven of cigarette smoke. We scrubbed the walls that we thought were an awful beige colour only to discover they were actually white. We could have used a lot of vodka that weekend and not only the cheap stuff …if you know what I mean. 😉 All the best …/leslie

    • Thank you, Leslie! I bet you’re right…gross! You are a good friend to help your friend clean her trailer…hopefully that means you get to enjoy it too! And ha ha…yes, the good stuff may have made that experience a lot more fun! XOXO

  23. The picture of you with the bottle looks like you had a few sips!!! Never heard of using vodka but have used charcoal briquettes, painting with varnish and storing with baking soda and newspaper. I have a dresser in the garage with Chantilly perfume smell!!! YUCK!!! BARF!!!
    It makes me gag!!! LOVE that secret drawer! on this one!!! Love the after…good save!!! They should of given you a better price for the smell!!!
    Have a good weekend!!!!

    • Ha ha maybe I did have a few sips…I’ll never tell! I’ve heard of using charcoal in newspaper too…need to try that one next! Good luck getting rid of that perfume! Thanks, Addie!! Have a great weekend too! XOXO

  24. What a beauty, Christy! And how cool is that secret drawer?! White vinegar usually works for me, haven’t tried vodka before (good thing you bought a cheap one 😉 ).

  25. Great vodka tip and I love your beautiful dresser Christy! XO

  26. That turned out so pretty, Christy!!! How fun is that secret compartment. And oh how I’d love a big, bright, open workspace like that!! I miss when I had a big, bright garage like that. Sometimes I want to move for that reason alone! (Not kidding!) Lol xoxo

    • Thanks, Nancy! That little compartment was a cool find! It is nice having a larger garage for sure, but I still find myself crammed in a corner ha ha! XOXO

  27. Vanessa Thomson says

    Love it! I’m a newbie to your blog but find your posts so inspiring! I’d lost my passion for making over furniture until I discovered you & now I can’t wait to get stuck into transforming a piece. I just wish you didn’t have a life & posted your creations every day :). Have a great weekend.

    • Thank you, Vanessa! I’m so glad you found me and your lost passion for creating! Ha ha…I wish I could create and share every day too! XOXO

  28. Hi Christy! The dresser is beautiful. I appreciate the vodka information. What a great tip! I have a question about the fabric inserts: I know you said there’s no need to mod podge the tops of them, but did you go over them with your top coat? I’m curious to know if they protection from stains, etc. Thanks so much!

    • Thank you, Robin! I did not seal the fabric with anything. I suppose you could scotch guard it before applying it to the drawer front, but I figured in a bedroom where this would likely end up that it would stay pretty clean. XOXO

  29. Vodka!! Who knew! thats awesome and your makeover is beautiful.. as always!!

  30. I’m not generally a fan of white furniture but this is really lovely. You do beautiful work!

  31. Hi Chris! I really enjoy your blog! I always pick up several good nuggets of info in each post. The vodka info was a great. A friend tried it on a piece and it really worked. I find a lot of nice silk flower arrangements that have a “old” or mildewed smell but the flowers are still in good shape. Have you ever tried using vodka on silk flowers? Also, I have two rose chairs like yours that need updating so I’m really looking forward to what you do with them. Thanks for all your posts. They are so informative!

    • Thank you so much, Ava! Glad the vodka worked for your friend! I’ve never tried it on silk flowers before, but I don’t think it would hurt them to give it a try. XOXO


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