A few years ago I found a mid century modern dresser set on Facebook marketplace. I purchased two dressers and a two night stands for about $150. My girls love painted white furniture so I sprayed the set with my paint sprayer for their bedroom.
When we moved they didn’t need the dressers anymore. This dresser sat in my garage for almost a year. Last month I decided it would be perfect in my bathroom. I have a ridiculously large bathroom with tons of wasted space, so I decided to paint it.
As you know I LOVE to paint furniture and I typically use chalk paint. Sometimes I want to get a project done and save a little money so I use whatever paint I have in the garage.
Prep for Painting
The dresser had small marks and nicks that needed repaired and I realized that white paint shows every imperfection. White furniture also gets too dirty in my house. I decided on dark blue, which is currently my favorite furniture and wall color.
When painting a piece of furniture I like to start outside and finish painting inside. Since I live in Florida, unless it’s mid February it’s usually too hot and humid for paint to dry quickly here.
For this mid century modern dresser makeover I started by sanding down some of the white paint. I try not to sand my painting projects, because I’m lazy. However, however this dresser needed repairs before I could paint it again.
It also had a clear coat and I wasn’t sure if the new paint would adhere to the shiny surface.
I also needed to repair one of the drawers. The corner of one drawer was chipped and peeling, probably from my recent move. I sanded first with a medium grit sandpaper using my Dewalt sander.
After I sanded down the dresser and drawers I repaired the one damaged drawer. This dresser is pressboard covered in veneer which is a little harder to repair than solid wood in my opinion.
I sanded down the damaged area as much as I could, then used DAP Plastic Wood Filler to fill in the damaged area. They make a smaller container, but I couldn’t find it at my Home Depot.
Once you fill in the damaged area you need to wait for the wood filler to completely dry. Once it’s dry, I sand down the area and repeat until it’s as smooth as I think I can get it. To be clear, I’m not a perfectionist and this piece is in my bathroom so I was more concerned with finishing the project rather than making it look perfect.
Once everything was sanded, I wiped the entire dresser down with a damp rag and moved it inside to paint. I prefer to use my paint sprayer when painting furniture. However it’s too hot right now to paint outside and drag the dresser in and out of my garage.
Painting the Dresser
I applied paint with a roller because it coats evenly and fast. My paint choice was Sherwin Williams Naval because I had an entire gallon leftover from another project in my home. I don’t like buying paint for small furniture projects so I use what I have in the garage.
Because I was using such a dark color it took three or four coats of paint to get the finish I wanted. It always bugs me when you can see light peeking through dark colors on walls or furniture so it’s worth taking the time to paint an extra coat.
Adding Clear Coat
Once the dresser was painted I added a clear coat to protect the exterior of the dresser. I’m not nearly as hard on my furniture as the girls, but I knew having it in the bathroom would mean it would get a lot of items placed on it throughout the week.
I purchased a can of Watco lacquer, but after sharing it on Instagram an artist friend of mine said the spray can version works much better. If you are using this lacquer make sure you are in a well ventilated area as it smells awful.
I moved the dresser up to my bathroom before painting the clear coat and regretted it! The fumes were terrible and my whole bedroom smelled for several days.
After I painted the first coat of lacquer on the dresser I let it dry for a full day. Then I applied a second coat. I should have waited another 12 hours for the next coat of lacquer.
The last step in the project was to add handles. The original mid century modern dresser did not have drawer pulls. I thought it would add a nice touch and make it a bit more modern looking. Looking back on this project I should have added legs as well. The dresser is very short and legs would have brought it up to a standard height.
I’m not a fan of installing hardware on anything. However Amazon is my go-to for hardware these days. They have a huge selection, you can purchase it in bulk and the prices are great.
I inevitably, no matter how many times I measure and mark, install the first pull crooked. It’s so frustrating!
Since the pulls needed two holes to be drilled in the drawers I made a template out of parchment paper. Cardboard is a better option, but I didn’t have any boxes to cut up so I used paper. I traced the outline of the drawer and then measured to the center. Since each pull is three inches I marked 1.5 inches each way from the center point of the drawer.
The problem with paper is that it didn’t lay flat on the drawer when I was attempting to drill. It shifted which is why my first pull is slightly crooked. However creating any template is better than measuring and marking every time.
Don’t forget to also mark from the top and the bottom. I wanted the pulls to be in the center of the drawer. Depending on the style you might want them a little higher than the center line.
Once all the hardware was installed, I vacuumed out the drawers and put the drawers in the dresser. Overall I’m happy with how it turned out and it’s nice to have extra storage in my bathroom.
Painted Mid Century Modern Dresser
I spent $12 on the drawer pulls and another $5 on the roller brushes. The lacquer was $13 and the wood repair was about $5. I can reuse the rollers, lacquer and wood repair on other projects, but the total cost for this makeover was $36. $36 for a new looking dresser is definitely worth it!