Before & After: An Old Dresser for a New Nursery

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My mother-in-law’s house is filled with memories. It is the home that my husband grew up in and I love discovering bits and pieces of his past throughout the house when we visit. On one particular visit, my mother-in-law pointed out a shabby old dresser in a corner that she said she was going to throw out because she has had it since my husband was a baby. "Oh, no!" I yelped, and then regained my composure. "Do you think…I could have it? For Sloane?" She looked surprised, but I convinced her that I would spruce it up so that it could have a shot at a new life.

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I was smitten with the idea that our daughter would use a dresser that her father used when he was her age. Even though I had never painted a piece of furniture before, the notion of reusing and remembering motivated me to tackle this one. Once I did and realized how easy it was, I developed even more of a roving eyeball for old things that are begging for new life.

For this project, I first wiped down the dresser and each of the drawers with a damp rag, used sandpaper to buff down the surface, and gave that dresser one more wipe down. I then picked up a quart of paint, some brushes, a paint tray, and a cheap plastic tarp from Home Depot and went to work. The color I picked is called Poppy Seed and I used Behr's Premium Plus Interior Flat Paint because it includes a primer in the paint, so the paint was all I needed. A space to put down the tarp and lay down all the pieces of the dresser is important because I ended up applying three coats of paint, which requires drying time in between.

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Here's the thing about painting a piece of furniture - it is a small aspect of your house, it's not as intimidating as painting an entire room or wall, and you can repaint if things go terribly awry, so have fun with it! I've been wanting to experiment with painting an entire wall dark navy or black but haven't pulled it off yet, so being able to try it out on a piece of furniture proved to be well worth it. I love this dark navy color for my daughter's room; it is both moody and neutral and provides a great contrast to the brighter more colorful things in her room.

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And last, but not least - I discovered that updating old dresser knobs is kind of thrilling. There are so many beautiful and affordable knobs out there, and it can do much to add visual impact to the new paint job. I found the ones for this dresser at World Market. Although I had originally gotten all different kinds with the intention of having mismatched knobs, I loved these particular ones enough that I decided this dresser's new made-over life would be best served with several of these brightly accented red knobs. And so far, it has.

(Image credits: Christine Lu)