Recycled Painting Project: Repainting and Stenciling an Old Dresser

Every now and then, I like to give my creative muscle a little extra workout in designing or refinishing furniture, testing out new techniques or trying out different tools/products.  (Check out my new dining room chair covers here.)  Recently, we’ve landed upon some of our relatives’ old furniture and I’ve been dying to try something new with them.  (I’ve also been finding a lot of great furniture pieces at local Chicago Goodwill stores and other thrift shops that I can’t wait to get a little creative with!)  With the help of a few coats of paint and a few interesting techniques, I’ve really enjoyed turning these used pieces into custom designed furniture and am even more excited to start sharing them with you!

This dresser was one my MIL had no more use for, so I brought it home to try my hand at repainting and stenciling the front drawers.

Before I began actually painting, I mixed dry putty with water until it was a pudding-like consistency.  Trusted putty knife in hand, I filled all of the holes, nooks and crannies that are oh-so-common in used, thrifted furniture.  Be sure to use the putty as sparingly as possible!  Just keep in mind that once it hardens, you will have to manually sand off any extra to make the surface smooth once again.

Once you have sanded the puttied areas, the rest of the dresser needs to also be sanded.  If the surface is still smooth and shiny from the original stain/paint, the new coat of paint will not have anything to adhere to.  It’s grueling work, but an important step.

Wipe down the dresser to get rid of the dust, remove all hardware and you’re finally ready to start painting … or at least priming!  I have found it’s almost always a good idea to begin with a coat of primer.  It’s cheaper and saves you on coats of paint in the end.  I use a sponging sleeve (part of the roller) to apply primer, always with long strokes in straight lines, up and down for a nice, smooth finish.

(notice the straight lines)

Once the primer has dried, use the roller to apply one coat of paint at a time, making sure to let each coat dry fully before applying the next.  I use the same method for paint as with the primer, using long, straight, up and down strokes, rather than the criss-crossed pattern used for walls.

(and how the lines disappear nicely after the second coat)

Waiting for paint to dry is the perfect time to work on the hardware.  This dresser had brass hardware, which can be cleaned with a mixture of 1/2 C white vinegar and 1 tsp salt.  I used steel wool to scrub the mixture over each piece, rinsed them with water and buffed each one with a soft cloth.  If your hardware is made of a different material, cleaning directions can usually be found online with a simple search by material type (what I did).  Sorry I don’t have a picture!  I got so wrapped up in the process, it slipped my mind!

For this dresser, I wanted to put the stencil on the front face of the drawers.  To do this, reinstall the hardware and tape it off before stenciling so that you can get the exact aesthetic and positioning for your stencil that you want.  (If the hardware is on a part of the dresser that is not being stenciled, this step may not be necessary.)

I bought these stencils online at Cutting Edge Stencils, which I highly recommend.  They’re made of a hard, sturdy plastic, which is perfect for this type of work.  Measuring between the handles to find the middle of the dresser, I taped the stencil to the front of the drawers using blue painters tape on all four corners.  Using a stiff, circular brush, I dabbed the different areas of the stencil with the color I desired – stems green, poppies white.  In this case, only one coat was necessary, but you may need more.  Just make sure you get your paint as dark as you want it BEFORE you remove the stencil because it will be nearly impossible to get the stencil back in the same exact spot as before.

Finally, take off the painters tape and carefully peel back the stencil … Ta-da!  A custom-made piece of furniture designed by you!

4 Seasons Painting & Landscaping not only offers these custom services for your furniture, but can also use them to add a little flair to the walls of your home.  Contact Pam at 773-517-1198 for more information or to schedule a free estimate.