Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Antique Red Dresser

So this is a piece I finished and sold last month before I started this blog, but I'm gonna write about it anyway. I have gotten SO MUCH feedback about this dresser, and it was definitely well "hit" in my Etsy shop. I really wish I could find another piece just like it!!

I found this on craigslist back in October of last year for a ridiculously cheap price from a lady who lived in the mountains. When I arrived at her farm, the dresser was sitting on her dirt driveway, and there were chickens and goats roaming around it, and about 6 dogs barking at me from inside her small house. The owner told me she had just received running water on her property after living without it for 5 weeks upon moving in. It was quite the primitive property!

The dresser stood there, dirty, in all it's old glory, and I couldn't help but hug it! It was a one-of-a-kind-find and I was obsessed!!

Now, there are a few reasons why I started this piece in October and didn't finish it for 4 months. The main reason is because it was missing a knob! See it in the photo above? Yeah, the dresser definitely came with all the original hardware, but somehow from moving it out of my car and into the garage, we LOST A KNOB!! I looked evvvvverywhere for that thing, and it didn't turn up. I was devastated, and was obviously not in any hurry to finish the dresser since I couldn't sell it without all the hardware. And there was no way I was going to replace the hardware, especially since I knew knew knew that knob had to be somewhere in my garage (I tried to find a matching knob to replace it, but had no luck finding one of the correct size for the design). And that, my friends, was the motivation behind finally cleaning and organizing our filthy garage!!

I so wish I had a photo to show you of our garage before and after I cleaned it. But sadly, there aren't any. When the time finally permitted me to clean it (after the hype of the holidays), I was so eager to start and finish it that I have nothing to visually document my progress. But just imagine furniture piled on furniture, layers of sawdust everywhere, nothing hung on the walls or stacked on shelves, and piles of paint cans and tools and more tools and buckets of drywall mud. Nothing had a home-- it was so disfunctional! But the good news is: after cleaning and painting and organizing the whole thing, I FOUND THE KNOB!

Once I finally had the missing knob back, I was much more inclined to put the other work into the dresser that it needed. The top drawers were crooked when they were fully pushed in, so I fixed those so they would land straight. And the back of the dresser had a lot of what I'm guessing is water damage, and it needed replaced.

I don't have a picture of the new back I put on it (blogging fail, I know), but I basically just removed the old one (it came off by removing 4 screws, then gently prying it off with a hammer and a small crowbar) and used our nail gun to attach a new custom-cut piece of MDF board. I thought it was gonna be much harder than it really was, but it was definitely super easy, especially with the nail gun!

The top of the piece got sanded, then restained with 2 coats of Minwax Ebony, and sealed with 3 coats Minwax Polycrylic protective finish.

I've had good luck with the Minwax stains, but I'm not gonna lie: I did not care for the Polycrylic Finish. It turned out streaky and had a plastic feel to it, which I've read is a common problem with this product. Next time, I will use the oil-based gel topcoat by General Finishes. I'm always curious in trying new products, but I've had GREAT success with the General Finishes gel topcoat and will continue using it in the future! I simply use a sock on my hand to apply it and rub it on, and it leaves a flawless, durable, satin finish! Someday I will write about the projects I finished with this product :)

I really loved how the wood grain showed through the stain! It was unique and not uniform, which I thought added character to the piece. 

The body of the dresser is painted with 2 coats of Annie Sloan's Emperor Silk Chalk Paint. I distressed the edges and then sealed it all with Annie Sloan's dark wax for an aged look. Plus, the Emperor Silk is REALLY bright, so it needed the dark wax to tone down the color (yeah, you think it's bright in that photo? imagine it without dark wax!)  It is truly a radiant color!

Ahhh, what beautiful knobs :). I didn't even clean these knobs, I liked the dirt they came with, and they still really pop from the red!

Here is the final Before/After shot:

This dresser was sold to a local buyer within about a week of posting it for sale. The owner told me she wanted to display it in her living room because she loved it so much, and was likely going to use it as a media console. Perfect! That made me happy!

What do you think? Should I try to find a similar dresser to paint a different color?


  1. I am working on mine this weekend! I saw a similar design on another blog and also intend to use it in our living room as a media console. The piece we have we found in our house after purchasing it! So we are excited about that, to say the least. Free is fantastic!

    Do you have any recommendations for finding vintage hardware? I know for a fact that my piece has some missing knobs so I'd like to find matching ones that have that old style to them.

    Great work, Rachel!!

  2. Hey Sam! That's very exciting about your console piece-- I'm quite jealous you found it in your house for FREE! That really is the best!

    I've had good luck finding vintage-looking hardware on two specific websites (for reasonable prices too!):

    I have not looked for actual vintage hardware, but if you're looking for something that is actually older and doesn't just "look" vintage, I would try ebay, estate sales, and the Habitat ReStore!

    Good luck with your project! I'd love to see photos when you're finished!

  3. Thanks for the recommendations. Will definitely check them out. Now on to the search for the chalk paint... :-)

  4. Hey, so I also found a lot of knobs and pulls at :-)

    1. That's great! Thanks for the tip!! I have heard they have awesome knobs, but I haven't actually checked out their inventory yet! I'll have to do that soon! :)

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