Vintage Farmhouse Style Dresser

Vintage dresser painted in Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Old White.

I was shopping solo the other day at thrift store when I spotted this dresser literally buried in a pile of other furniture. Since I was on my own I couldn't move the other furniture out of the way to thoroughly inspect it, but from what I could see I knew it could be beautiful. So I made the purchase and waited anxiously for the employees to bring it out and load it into my truck.


Before


Before: Vintage dresser
Before: Vintage dresser
Luckily it was in good structural shape and didn't have any unpleasant odors! It looks good from a distance, but upon further inspection the finish was in poor condition. And it goes without saying that it was filthy and required a few good cleanings to remove all the dirt.

Worn and scratched finish.
Worn and scratched finish.

The dresser was manufactured by Carman Maufacturing Company in Tacoma, Washington. It was made in the early part of the 1900s, and my best guess would be circa 1930s (give or take a decade).

Carman Manufacturing Company, Tacoma, Washington.
Label on back of dresser:
Carman Manufacturing Company, Tacoma, Washington.

At this point I wasn't sure what direction the project would take, but I knew the top needed attention no matter what. I used my orbital sander to smooth out the damaged finish to the top, then I applied a walnut stain and sealed it. After living with it for a day or two I decided to go with an all-over white finish, so staining the top may have been an unnecessary step, but it helps for a consistent look when distressing the paint.

Top of dresser repaired and ready for a final finish.
Top of dresser repaired and ready for a final finish.
These old dressers are famous for bleed through. For those unfamiliar with the term, after applying paint the tannin in the wood seeps or "bleeds" through the paint creating a stained and splotchy finish. And it will continue to bleed through no matter how many coats of paint are applied. Shellac is an easy fix to prevent bleed through. The shellac goes on clear and dries quickly. I applied two coats of shellac just to make sure I didn't miss any spots.

Two coats of shellac applied to prevent bleed through.
Two coats of shellac applied to prevent bleed through.

After

I wanted a soft and elegant look for the dresser, so I choose an all-over color scheme of Old White.

After: Vintage dresser  painted in farmhouse style white.
After: Vintage dresser
painted in farmhouse style white.

I applied light distressing to the edges of the dresser. The drawer pulls were also painted in the same color to keep the design simple. I sealed the paint on the dresser and pulls with soft clear wax.

Light distressing applied to edges.
Light distressing applied to edges.

I think the all-over white is reminiscent of what is now called the farmhouse style. When the finish on furniture was damaged, rather than buying new, the farmer's wife would make-do and paint it.

All-over white creates a subtle yet elegant color scheme.
All-over white creates a subtle yet elegant color scheme.

The front turned legs and scalloped skirt at the bottom gives the dresser an added feminine touch. 

Scalloped skirt and turned legs.
Scalloped skirt and turned legs.

The back apron includes a decorative raised scallop.

Decorative raised scallop.
Decorative raised scallop.

The top is now smooth as butter. The dresser was once neglected and unwanted, but now it's ready for a new home.

Repaired top.
Repaired top.

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Do you have an old piece of furniture that you would like to re-do? I've included a supply list below for your reference if you'd like to create a similar look.

Supply List

Below are the supplies I used for this project. Some links are affiliate links which  means I earn a small commission if you make a purchase. It doesn't cost you extra, but it helps support the time and effort of maintaining the blog. Thank you for your support and understanding!


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