14 Inspiring Dresser Redo Ideas That Go Beyond Just Paint

published Mar 13, 2020
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Before: Wood-tone six-drawer dresser

Second to your bed, your dresser will be the biggest furniture piece in your bedroom. And for obvious reasons: It needs to be functional enough to give you sufficient bedroom storage, holding the bulk of your folded clothing, accessories, and more. But that doesn’t mean that it’s destined for a boring life that prioritizes functionality over design.

There are plenty of ways to redo a plain dresser to give it fresh style while maintaining its practicality—and they go beyond just painting furniture! From stain to stenciling to decals and more, the options abound. The best part? These ideas work for dressers you already own, or on dressers you snag at garage sales, thrift shops, or even curbside. (And if you’re looking for tips on how to get free furniture, we can help you with that). The moral of the story: Nearly every piece of furniture, no matter how scratched or dinged-up, has potential.

Below, find 14 of our favorite ideas for giving a plain dresser some character, or bringing an old, damaged dresser back to life. The ideas range in difficulty, but with the right tools and a little patience, you’ll be able to tackle them all. (Psst: There are even some IKEA hacks below, if you’re looking for ideas to give your piece a fresh spin.) Read on to get inspired.

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1. Taper the legs and add white paint for a mid-century look

This West Elm-inspired IKEA hack by Kristina Lynne makes the TARVA staple completely unrecognizable. The key lies in all the clever detail work—from reshaping the legs, to swapping the knobs, to the mid-century-style walnut stain on the legs. It creates the same mid-century modern look at a fraction of the cost.

2. Highlight unique shapes with two different stains

You’ll always find unique shapes and lines in thrifted finds that are just begging to be highlighted. Crystal of The Driftwood Home leveraged a tonal, gray-brown stain to call attention to the dresser’s curvy outline. It creates the perfect amount of contrast between the dresser’s frame and its drawers.

3. Leverage “faults” (and add a bright color)

This little dresser was missing a door before Lindsay, of My Creative Days, refreshed it. With just a fresh coat of pretty blue paint and new hardware, the open space seems more intentional and provides the perfect amount of storage for stacked blankets. The light blue Lindsay used is a versatile pick—just take a look at all the colors that match with blue.

4. Do a “make-under” by removing shiny varnish and re-staining natural wood grain

Susan of Saw Nail and Paint took on this restoration project knowing that the bones were worth saving. Just look at the beautiful grain and brass keyholes that were hiding under all that cherry varnish! After staining the drawer fronts and painting the sides, all the original details get a second life with a more classic color palette.

5. Combine a bold color with natural wood

Love big colors but also love the look of natural wood? You can have both! Choose a punchy color for the main body and leave the top natural for another great take on the paint and wood grain combo. This transformation comes from Fusion Mineral Paint.

6. Keep the color classic, and update the hardware

You don’t always have to make a drastic change. For this peeling piece, Susan of Saw Nail and Paint sanded away the rough parts and repainted it to give it a smooth white finish. This dresser shows how far a simple clean coat of paint and new hardware can go, even when the color stays the same.

7. Remove shiny varnish and expose the bare wood underneath

Fallon of Market House Restorations shows the power in not putting anything on a dresser. Instead, she removed the dark, shiny cherry varnish and left the wood underneath bare. Shiny wood dressers like this one are easy to find at thrift stores; the make-under is a seriously stylish upgrade. You might not even have to visit a thrift store—there are plenty of places to find used furniture online.

8. Give an IKEA dresser a darker color and modern pulls

Bring the drama with a deep charcoal and modern finishes. Angela Rose took her perfectly usable, though basic, IKEA HEMNES dresser and added new pulls, a richer color, and built open “frame legs” around the existing base.

9. Hack an IKEA dresser with textured overlays and mid-century-style legs

Paint a dresser a medium gray, like Erin Spain did with her IKEA TARVA dresser, and then add dimension with contrasting drawer overlays. Erin chose a playful pattern that fits perfectly in her children’s room. Mid-century modern legs add a sophisticated touch. Looking for the perfect gray for your dresser? Here are 15 of our favorite gray paint colors.

10. Make the base of the dresser the focal point with new legs

When this thrifted find was missing its original legs, Sarah Dorsey of Dorsey Designs saw that as an opportunity to make her own. She and her husband carved a new set out of wood, but you can get a similar look with pre-fab legs. Remove the old ones and replace with a stylish new set, keeping the rest of the look minimalist. The new legs will help bring your dresser up a level.

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11. Add an artistic touch with oversized furniture stickers

A transformative makeover is as easy as applying a sticker to the drawer fronts. These adjustable dresser decals, from Stickers Coloray, are a cinch to apply and come in multiple styles.

12. Use a drill to create a perforated pattern on the drawer fronts

Kristine of The Painted Hive raised the overlay bar by DIYing her own custom fronts with just a drill and plywood. That entire pattern is a perforation technique that you can do for any design.

13. Hand-paint a unique pattern

Marian of Miss Mustard Seed took inspiration from a book of classic motifs and hand-painted her drawer fronts for a truly one-of-a-kind dresser. The new colors and patterns make the original curves feel intentionally whimsical.

14. Paint the bottom, but give the top a stenciled faux bone-inlay design

We’re big stencil fans over here, and love when someone uses a kit in a new way. Jen of Girl in the Garage stained the top of her dresser, using a stencil to get the look of bone inlay on the top. Painting the bottom in the same color helps coordinate the faux bone inlay. This would look great in a bedroom, and could also make for a stylish living room upgrade.