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Dumpster Dresser Makeover

Ready to hear a Cinderella story? Only–spoiler–this one’s about a dresser makeover.

Once Upon a Time, I was flying down the road in my apartment complex with my mother clinging to the passenger side after a three-margarita lunch when we both spotted a little dresser next to a dumpster. I hit the brakes. “Did you see that dresser?” Mom says oh yeah. I back up. Look over the forlorn and discarded body, the drawers scattered around. Yep. I’m feeling good about the Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo potential of a dresser makeover.

We both get out of the car and somehow Tetris all the pieces into the trunk/backseat of my mid-size sedan. In seconds. That, friends, is the magic of tequila. You don’t even have a chance to consider the improbability. Tequila makes you ACT.
(Queue the montage of all your own tequila-fueled moments.)

The water-damaged backing came off, ugly hardware gone. A light sanding and I stained her a mid-range gray. I was really heavy-handed and clueless so this came out looking more like paint! Spray-painted the drawer interiors silver to cover the marker and whatever other stains. Good enough! The Dumpster Dresser makeover piece served me well as a nightstand for. . .oh. . .maybe 4 years.
Then I picked out some seriously classy marble drawer handles (similar here) and moved my Dumpster Dresser into my office. Tucked into a corner, it was the perfect homey touch. After all, everyone knows that an Executive Assistant also doubles as the office therapist. I had a nice wingback chair and an electric fireplace too. So another 4 years went by. When my company had to downsize during the Pandemic, the Dumpster Dresser (and the fireplace!) moved back home with me. And then. . .I had a commission for a student apartment!

I just knew this was going to be the next edition of the Dumpster Dresser makeover.

Dumpster Dresser Makeover: The Final Chapter after about 10 years of loving this piece.
A final dresser makeover gives this Cinderella story a happy ending!

If you’ve read my post on 2023 Design Trends, you will already know that Dark Academia is making its way into the mainstream. I am for sure leaning into that Dark Academia vibe with this bedroom “set” created for a med-school bound college graduate!

This dresser makeover would be right at home in a Dark Academia setting
This dresser makeover would be right at home in a Dark Academia setting.

This dresser makeover also has major Mid Century Modern vibes with those handles and two-tone look. Which is a good thing because this young man’s apartment building was built in the 1960s and he is very much into that Mad Men look.

I had this cherrywood dresser tucked away in my studio (ok, it’s just the attic but my GOAL is for it to become a studio space!) and I felt like it would be the perfect companion piece to my Dumpster Dresser for this commission. A little paint on both, a little stain on Dumpster Dresser. . .right?

Let’s talk about this two-tone dresser makeover “set”!

This is Annie Sloan Chalk paint in her super versatile Graphite Gray. I also like Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint® Lacquer.  For both of my dresser pieces I went with Gloss for that nice high-shine sleek Mad Men vibe.
From the first picture, you can see I used Minwax Polyshades in Bombay Mahogany.

But wait? Haven’t I been calling it CHERRY wood?

Yes. Because that’s what it says on tag on the back of that tall dresser. However. . .the “cherrywood” stain didn’t quite match up like this “Bombay Mahogany” did.

I like Old English scratch cover and have it in a few shades. That plus Howard’s MAGICAL “Feed-N-Wax” make the wood on the tall dresser look brand new! I had a hard time finding drawer handles that fit the existing holes. Luckily my persistent searching yielded these ADJUSTABLE (!!) bar pulls! The champagne bronze color plays nicely with the brass on the Dumpster Dresser pulls AND they are great quality at a super affordable price.

I just love it when everything falls into place!

Dumpster Dresser Makeover: Final Looks! Staged before it and the tall dresser leave me for their new forever home.
Dumpster Dresser Makeover: Final Looks

This was a fairly quick and easy project for me!

I feel like I’ve gained some confidence with Annie Sloan paint and top coat. Using a little craft foam brush for that wood stain (and the Minwax Polyshades stain itself!) was great. I will absolutely be using this combo of products on, oh, ANY and ALL the future wood staining projects.

What about you? Does this sound like something you could do–or have done? I’d love to know if you’ve got follow-up how to questions–or if you’ve got some other pro-level improvement suggestions! I’m always into learning an easier, faster. . .basically lazier but successful way to execute a project!


  1. Amber
    September 27, 2023 / 9:37 am

    I just love how you’re able to bring old pieces to life. Your gift for making old things look new is AMAZING. Keep up the good work! Samson is pretty amazing as well.

    • Veronica
      September 28, 2023 / 10:29 am

      Amber, you just made my day!
      Let me know when you’re ready to surrender your dinning room table for a makeover 😉

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