Vintage 1920s Dresser

Before 1920s dresser with chipping paint
I found this 1920's dresser at a thrift store. It's one of my favorite styles and has three large drawers as well as two small drawers. The knobs were not original and there was a lot of surface damage, which is probably why someone painted it years ago.



Peeling and chipping paint must be removed
Peeling and chipping paint must be removed

During

Normally you don't need to remove paint prior to applying chalk paint. However, the black paint was chipping and flaking in many areas, and I wanted a good foundation to apply my paint to, so I decided to strip the dresser first. I avoid chemical strippers whenever possible because I don't like the gooey wet mess. I used an orbital sander and a mouse sander to remove the paint. Although the sanding dust is messy, it was easily cleaned up afterwards with a broom. Plus the sanders make a quick job of it. Be sure to use a sanding mask and protective eye glasses.

Remove paint quickly with an orbital sander. I used a mouse sander on the smaller areas.
Remove paint quickly with an orbital sander.
I used a mouse sander on the smaller areas.
Once the paint was stripped away I applied two coats of shellac to prevent the tannin from the bare wood from bleeding through the paint.

Apply shellac to prevent the tannin in bare wood from bleeding through.
Apply shellac to prevent the tannin in bare wood from bleeding through.

After applying the paint and distressing the finish with sandpaper, I sealed the finish with soft clear wax. A little wax goes a long way! Simply dab a small amount on a wax brush and brush it on then spread it evenly over the painted surface. Wipe away excess wax with a lint free cloth.

Seal chalk paint with clear wax. A little goes a long way!
Seal chalk paint with clear wax. A little goes a long way!

The interior of the drawers were in fairly good shape considering its age. However, the wood was dry and scratched. I used Restore-A-Finish to recondition the drawers and then applied beeswax conditioner. 
Recondition dry interior drawers.
Recondition dry interior drawers.

After

I wanted to give the dresser a bright and cheerful finish, so I painted the base of the dresser in Provence blue.

1920s dresser painted in Provence blue and Old White.
1920s dresser painted in Provence blue and Old White.

The dresser top and the knobs are painted in Old White. I sanded the paint back to allow the wood underneath to peek through which gives it an old farmhouse style.

Sand back the paint to almost a bare finish for a worn farmhouse look.
Sand back the paint to almost a bare finish for a worn farmhouse look.

I made some repairs to the veneer, but left other areas chipped and worked that into my design.

Incorporate damaged veneer into your design.
Damaged areas can be incorporated into the design.

Sometimes the damage looks out of place, but other times it gives a little history and charm to the piece.

The wear and tear through the years can be charming.
The wear and tear through the years can be charming.

The dresser sits on the original wood wheels.
The dresser sits on the original wood wheels.

The dresser sits on its original wood wheels.

Vintage wood wheel
Vintage wood wheel
 And finally, here are a couple of shots of the "before and after" for comparison.

Before and after. Damage on dresser repaired.

Vintage 1920s dresser before and after

Thanks so much for stopping by today! I wish you all a very happy, safe, and prosperous New Year.

Supply List (some links are affiliates)

  • Orbital sander and variety pack of sand paper (60, 80, 100, 150, 200-grit). The paint on this project was tough to remove, so I switched to 40-grit sandpaper and then worked progressively up to 220-grit for a smooth finish. Alternatively you could use CitriStrip to remove the finish.
  • Mouse sander used to reach the spots too tight or small for the orbital sander. 
  • Wood filler for repairing broken veneer
  • Shellac and disposable foam brushes brushes
  • Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan: Provence blue, Old White, and soft clear wax.
  • Small wax brush I have both a small and large wax brush, but if I had to choose only one I would go with the small brush. If you do a lot of projects then it's worth the investment to have both sizes.
  • Restore-A-Finish and Feed & Wax (for drawer interiors)

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