Bringing a Beautiful Antique Back to Life

TwoToneDresserCollageA family friend recently brought me a dresser, and as soon as I laid eyes on it, I knew it was something special.

It had beautiful wood veneer top and drawer fronts, the original brass hardware,


gorgeous turned legs in front, and just a very special sense about it.  But.  It was TIRED.   The veneer on the drawers was chipped in places.  The legs were scratched and scuffed all over.

The top was exhausted.


Believe it or not, I really feel like the furniture I work on tells me what should be done. No, I’m not hearing voices, and yes, sometimes in the process I have to go back and readjust or redo some parts because either I or the client wants something a bit different.Ginger'sDresserVeneerBefore

But most of the time, each piece, with its own edges and angles, corners and carvings, details and designs, sort of begs for a color, a stain, sanding, distressing, and whatever other treatments or effects will bring out the kind of beauty that will most resonate with its owner.

I felt the body of this dresser would look great in black, to show off those legs, and contrast against the wood grain which we would revive on the top and drawer fronts.  My go-to paint, when someone wants black, is Plaster Paint Company’s Black Tie.  I wrote to them quite a while ago, interested in the paint.  They sent me a can.  I used it on a couple projects and liked it enough to go buy another.  gingerdresserplasterpaint

Now, I keep it in my stash.  It is very opaque, and has always worked for me. It does have a very plaster-y, dry, chalk-y finish to it so you have to put a topcoat/sealer on, and I’ve used both Minwax Polycrylic as well as various waxes to seal it. If you’re looking for a great black, I’d suggest giving it a try.  I even had a question about waxing it the first time, and decided to email the Plaster Paint Co. and ask for advice.  She got right back to me and I was able to finish the piece. :-)

Now, back to the dresser.

gingerdressercornercat I took my Ryobi Corner Cat to the veneer top, and carefully sanded it down to bare wood.


I chose a Minwax stain (Early American) for the top to match the lighter wood of the drawer detail.



Here’s a great pic to show you – the top of the dresser is the only part that I re-stained.  The drawers are several different tones of veneer and all blend gorgeously together.  Far too pretty to paint over, which is why we chose to do the body of the dresser in black and show off all this beautiful wood grain. (the furniture told me to do that. :-)gingerdresserwoodI used a Minwax stain stick to fill in chipped areas of the darker veneer on the drawers.gingerveneerrepair

Then I cleaned the drawer fronts up well, and gave the entire thing a couple coats of semi-gloss Minwax Polycrylic.



I used Brasso to clean up the pulls, which in all honesty took a long time just because of the nooks and crannies on these.  I used cotton swabs and toothpicks to clean them up.  Painstaking but SO worth it.

That bright, ornate pop of brass is just stunning!

There is also a mirror, which we did in black, and which the owner may or may not use with this piece.

I was grateful for the chance to work on such a piece of craftsmanship as this.  gingertopviewfinished

As you can see, it took very little actual “updating” to get this lovely antique into great shape, and ready for its next several decades.gingerdresserlegsfinished

You might also be able to see, I wasn’t able to rid this piece of every single one of its “flaws.”  And that’s OK.  It has a story to tell.  It’s not new.  And it doesn’t need to be perfect to be beautiful.  gingerdresserfinal
Its owner will give this piece a home in a place where they are working to get a fresh start in life. I think this piece is the perfect symbol of how, even though things are not how you want them to be, there is beauty to be found, with some effort and a little faith.
I hope this thing of beauty brings them a little happiness every time they see it.

I know it did for me.


12 Comments, RSS

  1. Marie June 19, 2014 @ 7:25 pm

    Good job! This turned out fantastic!

  2. Lynn @ Sweet Peas Charm June 25, 2014 @ 4:49 pm

    It’s beautiful…lovely…fantastic! I am a retailer for Plaster Paint and, although I may be biased, there isn’t a product out there that even compares! :-)

    • June 26, 2014 @ 3:20 am

      Thanks, Lynn!! I kept having clients ask for things to be done in black, so I sought it out. So glad I did! Thank you for stopping by!

  3. Susan June 27, 2014 @ 11:29 am

    It’s so beautiful! I love the fact that you left the gorgeous wood shine and those knobs are awesome! FYI my furniture “talks” to me too, just wanted to let you know you’re not the only one 😉

    • June 29, 2014 @ 2:22 pm

      I’m very glad to hear that Susan. Perhaps we can form a support group now. 😉
      Thanks for stopping by!!

  4. Heather June 27, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

    That is stunningly beautiful. Glad you chose to refurbish it. You did it justice!

    • June 29, 2014 @ 2:21 pm

      Thank you so much Heather!! I am so happy you like it :-)

  5. Lynda July 13, 2014 @ 3:59 pm

    Absolutely LOVE this piece!!!!! You did an amazing job!

    • August 24, 2014 @ 11:29 am

      Thank you so much – I really appreciate that!!

  6. Linda July 16, 2014 @ 12:58 am

    Beautiful finished product! This post is so helpful. Thank you for the product list and step by step. I have several pieces I haven’t wanted to paint but wasn’t exactly sure how to tackle them.

    • July 16, 2014 @ 12:17 pm

      No problem, Linda! There are a million ways to skin that cat (of painting a piece of furniture) and sometimes you just have to find out by trial and error what works for you. I will say, although I didn’t use it on this project, oil-based primer Zinsser Cover Stain has NEVER failed me. It works every single time. It’s one of my can’t-live-without products. So nice to meet you at Haven!

  7. Linda July 16, 2014 @ 12:59 am

    Guess it’s too late. Typed my email name incorrectly.

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