On Wednesday, I showed you my latest furniture transformation – thanks so much to all of you that left the nicest comments on that post. I knew you’d all love our new dresser as much as we do, and your sweet comments totally made my day. As I said, the transformation of the Big Beauty, as well as her Little Sister, were done side-by-side months ago, and I’ve been anxiously waiting to show you exactly how I pulled these modern makeovers off! Let’s take a look at how you can modernize dated furniture!

Before and after images of a dresser with text overlay

The alternate title for this post could also be “How to Coordinate Your Mis-Matched Furniture!” These are the two pieces we bought for our bedroom upon moving into our new house. We bought the bigger French Provincial (below right) from a local upscale consignment shop for $300; the ugly little yellow one was $100. I liked that they both had that French provincial design without being too matchy-matchy. Even though both pieces were in good condition and were reasonably priced, they needed a big ol’ overhaul before they would work well in our house!

Two dressers in a master bedroom

It’s been a while since you saw her, so I just wanted to recap. Here’s how the Little Sister dresser turned out: sharp, classy, and perfectly suited as a side table.

A gray dresser used as a night table

A gray dresser used as a night table

Her Big Sister just made her debut here on the blog this week, and she is probably the best furniture transformation I have pulled off to date!

A gray dresser in a master bedroom

A gray dresser in a master bedroom


Supplies Needed

Instead of giving you a basic step-by-step tutorial on how I painted these two, I thought I would instead show you the main five components I changed up to bring these dated and sad pieces into our house’s modern design!

1. Paint It Light & Bright

This one is probably a no brainer, but it’s also the one element that has the single greatest impact: paint. And not just any color paint, but light and bright, cool and crisp grey. I was so tempted to go white on these pieces (because they would forever match everything), but the grey just felt so much more chic and modern to me. The white had the potential of feeling a bit too country.

Here’s my basic process:

  • I didn’t bother sanding these dressers, but I did fill all cracks and dents, as well as all the hardware holes, with wood filler.
  • Both dresser frames, as well as all the drawers, received two coats of oil-based Zinsser primer, rolled on with a 4″ foam roller on the large flat surfaces, and brushed on in the smaller areas. I gave each piece a light sanding after each coat and wiped it clean with a tack cloth.
  • I then mixed equal parts white and grey paint (both leftover from previous projects) and gave all the painted surfaces two clean coats of paint. (Pssst – not pictured, I mixed Floetrol into my paint to eliminate brush strokes).
  • After the dressers were fully dry, I used Clear Soft Wax (with the brush) to apply two light coats on all the dresser surfaces (and buffed in between).
  • After the pieces were moved into the room, I noticed the top surfaces were not as durable as I hoped. So that we could put things down on the dressers without worrying about chipping or scratching, I gave the top surfaces of each piece two light coats of Polyurethane topcoat satin finish using a foam roller.

Although it seemed like a ton of work to do both at the same time, it was completely worth it to prime and paint everything at once, as well as clean brushes and trays, etc all at once!

Dresser drawers

2. Add New Hardware

As I mentioned above, before I set to work on priming and painting the drawers, I removed the hardware and filled every last hole with wood filler and sanded them smooth. I hadn’t yet picked out the new hardware when I started the makeover process, and I didn’t want to restrict my choices based on where my holes were. It was easiest just to fill them, leaving me to choose any hardware I wanted.

Woodfiller fills in holes on a dresser drawer

I didn’t do a ton of hardware research or shopping because I found exactly what I was looking for at Lowes. I selected some smaller handles for the Little Sister because two handles were going on each drawer. Big Beauty got bigger handles for the larger drawers and small square knobs for the smaller middle drawers. I loved that all the hardware coordinated without being the same on every single drawer!

A set of dresser drawers in a master bedroom

While new hardware can be pricey (especially when you need 15 pulls!), next to paint, it makes the most dramatic difference in a country-to-chic makeover. The new hardware totally completed these dressers and were worth every penny!

A dresser styled with modern decor in a master bedroom

3. Mix Up the Mirror

If you’re looking to do a dresser update and aren’t quite ready to do a full-on makeover, try switching out the mirror. Chances are, your dresser came with a matching mirror that attaches to the back. Ours’ was no exception.

A dresser in a master bedroom

The second we bought the dresser, I knew the mirror was coming off (it went to a great new home in a friend’s house!). Although it took a while to find a mirror in the right size with the right amount of glam; once we did, our transformation was complete. Having a different mirror above your dresser gives that “collected over time” and eclectic feel. This mirror was found at HomeGoods for $120.

A dresser styled with modern decor in a master bedroom

4. Styling Can Change Everything

Another way I modernized these pieces was not only what I did TO the surfaces, but what I put ON that surfaces (i.e., accessories). Clean lines, metallic finishes, and no clutter worked wonders in making these pieces feel fresh and hip!

A dresser styled with modern decor in a master bedroom

5. Add Graphic Details

Last but not least, I added some graphic details to really drive home that modern feel. Some grey and white chevron shelf liner gives a nice graphic pop every time we open the drawers.

Grey and white shelf liner

A glass lamp and geometric vases help bring some edge to the classic lines of the French furniture.

A dresser styled with modern decor in a master bedroom

All in all, the transformation of these two dressers from dated and discarded to charming and chic has been one of the most gratifying furniture projects I’ve done yet. They were a big undertaking (I think they took me two weeks to complete) and seemingly took forever to put the finishing touches on (accessories, etc); but I can guarantee they will be in our home for a long time to come!

A dresser styled with modern decor in a master bedroom

A dresser styled with modern decor in a master bedroom

See You Soon!