A colleague of a good friend contacted me and asked if I could refinish her Grandmother’s antique chest. She wanted to pass it along to her daughter and hoped to give it to her as a Christmas gift.
I asked her to bring it over so I could have a look. It was covered in a thick, almost opaque, cherry stain and varnish that was in rough shape. It was also quite literally in pieces. The drawers had fallen apart and the brace between the second and third drawer was off. The second drawer was also missing a support. The knobs and pulls were not original and had been replaced with French Provincial style pulls (not pictured). All of the original brass keyhole covers were in place, but had been stained and varnished over. The mirror frame was badly broken, and beyond what I felt I could repair to look good and safely hold a heavy mirror. The rest of the dresser I felt I could restore. I love this particular style of dresser and I was excited to have the opportunity to bring it back to life.
Here’s how it came to me.
And the side.
I started by making the repairs to the drawers and replacing the brace between the second and third drawers. I also added a new support along the side to hold the second drawer. I removed the top and then stripped the heavy varnish and stain off the entire piece. I was amazed at the beautiful wood that I found hidden underneath. Here are the drawers after stripping.
The wood on the drawers was in great shape. After stripping, I sanded them with my sanding block using 220 grit sandpaper. The drawers only needed a light sanding and I wanted to be careful with the veneer. I sanded the heck out of the top with my orbital sander. There were some deep gouges and burn marks. I then stained the top and the drawers with one coat of (affiliate link) General Finishes Java Gel Stain. I let it dry for a couple of days and then sealed with (affiliate link) General Finishes High Performance Topcoat in satin.
Here it is all finished.
Here’s how the top looks now. Quite a difference.
I painted the body of the dresser with 2 coats of (affiliate link) General Finishes Milk Paint Coastal Blue and then sealed it with 2 coats of (affiliate link) General Finishes High Performance Top Coat Flat Finish.
Even though the mirror frame was beyond my ability to repair, the harp was still salvageable. I did have to fill and sand a few areas. I painted it with the coastal blue paint and then sealed it as well. I also added a cross piece so that it would resemble a vintage washstand. If my client decides to have the mirror frame replaced, she can always remove the cross piece and the harp will again function as a holder for the mirror.
The hardware is so pretty and looks like what might have been on this piece originally.
I absolutely love how this piece turned out. I hope that my client is able to enjoy this piece for many years to come.
Thanks for stopping by.