before + after: two-tone dresser

15th June 2012

So right before the hubs and I moved to London (England) for a year, we bought a $40 dresser off friends of ours who were also moving. I loved the scale, oodles of storage, details on the drawers, and of course the turquoise paint. Unfortunately after two years of sitting in our garage, the piece looked a little worse for wear.

Case in point:

Since we now have the perfect spot for this bad boy in our pad, it was time to roll up my sleeves and fix ‘er up. As much as I loved the turquoise, since we have plans for this piece in our already-blue dining room, more turquoise was going to be a bit overkill (even for me!).

First step was to patch all of the holes and dents with some wood filler. You apply the filler with a spatula-type tool and let it dry (as in the photo below). Then take some light sand paper to it and smooth it out.

I also removed all the hardware. Even though I planned on using it as-is (I like the patina of the old bronze), I wanted to take it all off so that the painting was as easy as possible. Painting around fiddly hardware ain’t my cuppa tea.

I pulled out all the drawers and made sure everything was given a light sand so that the paint would take well.

Then came the fun part. Well, fun if you’re into painting furniture like I am, anyway! I have been wanting to try some of the Martha Stewart paint colours, so I went with her driftwood grey (in high gloss for durability). A soft, warm grey that would tie in well with the grey/seaglass blue/green palette of our pad.

Once I had given the whole piece two coats, I put some of the drawers back in to see how the whole thing was looking. I loved the colour, but felt that the piece looked a little one-dimensional. So, I decided to paint some of the drawer detailing in white (like we did on my friend’s buffet in his condo redesign).

With a steady hand and my best Purdy paintbrush (you want something with good angled bristles), the drawers got their white borders.

And here is the after. So much more dimension and character with the two-tone colours, right? And I love the pop of dark hardware.

The styling isn’t perfect yet, but I’m still playing around with this whole section of the dining room. I’ll be back with more progress next week. You know me – always tweaking!

So there you have it. An easy paint project that you could do on just about any wood dresser. We’ll be using ours as a buffet, but you could do this same idea for bedroom dressers, nightstands, cabinets, whatever! And ours is really neutral, but doing bright colours would be amazing too. Some kelly green and white, or aqua and yellow. The possibilities are endless!

What about you folks? Done over any furniture lately? Ever painted anything in two-tone? Got any big weekend DIY plans up your sleeve?  Do tell!

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  • http://thisdustyhouse.com Jeanette @ This Dusty House

    I love how this turned out! I’m leaning more and more toward something two-toned for a dresser I picked up from the thrift store a couple weeks ago. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Alana

    Love!!!! I would like one please :)

    • gemma

      Sure! Move to Ottawa and I’ll do one for you stat. :)

      xo,
      gemma

  • Christy

    Love the two-tone! You nailed it right on the head when you said “character”… I’ll have to try something like that with an old dresser. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • http://www.stardust-decorstyle.blogspot.com Olga@StardustDecorStyle

    Gorgeous Gemma! Your idea to paint the details white was genious!

  • http://gratedexpectations.com Katrina

    upgrade!!! as usual, that turned out fantastic!

  • Miche Pouliot

    That was mine for a while. I got it at a yard sale. It was shiny black. I used it for 10 years, then gave it to my daughter. She painted it turquoise. Then, apparently she sold it to you. It looks great, well done.

    • gemma

      Ha ha – funny, Miche! It’s a good story in recycling and re-finishing!

      xo,
      gemma

  • http://www.thecircleofit.com thecircleofit

    wow now that is what you call a before and after!

  • http://handmadebyjt.blogspot.com Jenny from My Handmade Home

    I love this!!! Usually bloggers are always spray painting furniture and I can’t afford to buy a paint gun for 1 job alone. You did such a nice job with the paintbrush!

    • gemma

      Thanks Jenny! Like you, no spray-gun here!! I like to use the small rollers for any large, flat surfaces (like the top of the dresser) so that you don’t see the paintbrush strokes.

      xo,
      gemma

  • how2home

    Gemma! This dresser looks amazing! Paint has to be DIY-er’s bestfriend. Fresh coat of paint can bring anything back to life! Love the fact you used 2 tone colors for the dresser. The original hardware looks really awesome against the new paint. Great post!

    • gemma

      Thanks!! Yeah, I’m really happy with how the hardware looks against the new paint. Definitely didn’t need to spray it or get anything new – I like the old patina.

      xo,
      gemma

  • how2home

    how long did your whole project take you?

    • gemma

      I had to let the coats dry overnight, but maybe 4 hours of actual painting/project time?

      xo,
      gemma

      • how2home

        Before choosing the grey, did you consider using chalk paint to paint the dresser? I am a little hesitant to try to use chalk paint for furniture but i’ve seen so many bloggers using this method and it turns out great. Do they come in other colors besides black and white? Have you worked with this product before? Any pointers?

        • gemma

          I didn’t actually consider chalk paint for this project, but I’ve heard great things about it (this Annie Sloan stuff – http://www.anniesloan.com/acatalog/United_Kingdom.html). It’s different from chalkboard paint – it goes on matte and is well suited to furniture, whereas chalkboard paint creates a chalkboard surface to write on. Either one sounds like a fun project! Chalkboard paint now comes in a bunch of colours (not just black and green) – just check out your local Home Depot or other big hardware store.

          Hope that helps!

          xo,
          gemma

          • how2home

            Ya, I’ve heard of Annie Sloan’s paint before and their selection of paint colors is to die for! Especially the color “florence” (http://www.anniesloan.com/acatalog/Persian_Green_profile.html). Im going to check out if there are other colors of chalk paint and keep you posted! Thanks for the pointers :)

          • gemma

            Nice! Good luck!!

            xo,
            gemma

  • Jenn

    Wow! So gorgeous! I love the two-tone color. :)

    • gemma

      Thanks!

      xo,
      gemma

  • http://www.davidsalisbury.com/ Paul Orange

    It looks amazing – you have definitely given me inspiration to get down to my local car boot and see what furniture I can transform! I love the added touch of the two tone colour around the border of the drawers, gives the whole piece a lot more depth.

    • gemma

      Exactly!

      xo,
      gemma

  • http://jaxdoesdesign.blogspot.ca Kelly @ JAX does design

    Love it! Outlining the drawers in white was a great idea, they really stand out now and it gives the dresser lots of character. Love the accessories on top too :-)

    I just picked two dressers out of somebody’s trash last week. First time I ever did something like that, but I had to because they match an old dresser that I bought a couple of months ago :-) They’re pretty banged up, so I’ll need to do some repairs before I paint them. I think I might go with an ombre look.

  • Daniella

    Hi!

    I love the dresser! Great job! What sort of paint did you use? I’m asking because I saw you posted the picture of the test sample and wondered if you could use that to paint furniture with if it wasn’t a big piece. Thanks!

    • gemma

      I used the Martha Stewart paint in a semi-gloss, from the Home Depot. All I needed was a quart, and there is still lots left over!

      xo,
      gemma

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  • https://facebook.com/profile.php?id=1357606684 Luisa Fernandez

    I am totally inspired by your dresser! Although I will say that I’m interested in how it would have looked had you framed the outer borders of the drawers faces a different color.

    • gemma

      Thanks Luisa! It could have looked good in a variety of colours I thinK! I’m just smitten with the pink + gold combo :)

      xo,
      gem