In the Navy! Transforming Big's New (to him) Dresser & Desk

Big has outgrown his dresser.  We bought it at a few years ago, and it was part of a child-sized set of furniture (headboard, nightstand and dresser with mirror).  As he has gotten bigger (sniffle), so have his clothes.  So the hunt was on for new furniture for him.  A few months ago, I happened upon a desk and dresser on Craigslist that I could not resist: beautiful, solid wood furniture for a song. The seller had a huge 7 drawer dresser and a desk for sale and was willing to part with both for $65 (total - not each!).  I high-tailed it over there, picked them up and brought them home.  The bones of these pieces were absolutely terrific: solid wood construction, dove-tail joinery on the drawers, great lines and tons of space.  But the aesthetics, well ... take a look at this:

I could see past the flaws in the finish and knew that with a few coats of primer and navy blue paint, new hardware and a lot of hard work and time, they would go from drab to fab and my little boy would adore them.  I was totally inspired by the seriously swoon-worthy furniture revamps that one of my favorite blogger-buddies, Erin from her fab blog Richmond Thrifter, does all the time (Erin did a guest blog for us back in our Mid-Summer Swoon week!)  

First, I took out the drawers and took off all of the hardware.  Here is a close up of the dresser's hardware.  Kind of odd, no?

I noticed the desk had little panels on the fronts of the dressers, which screamed 1970s to me.  I took my crowbar and gently pried them off so the drawers would be nice and flat.

Once the panels on the desk drawers were gone, I filled all the holes where the old hardware was with wood putty, because I wasn't sure if the holes would work with the new stuff.  Then I had a little construction to do.  The desk was missing a support piece between the legs.  I happened to have a 2x2 on hand from my failed door-desk project, so I just used my saw to cut the 2x2 down to size, sanded it nice and smooth and then screwed it onto the legs.  You can see it here: it's much lighter than the rest of the desk:

Next, I sanded the pieces.  I cleaned them up and used a coat of oil based primer - my favorite brand: Zinsser Cover Stain Primer (it's the best. Really).

Next up: paint!  I chose Naval by Sherwin Williams matched to Valspar's paint.  I love Sherwin Williams. I do.  But we live less than 5 minutes from Lowe's and I've had great luck with Valspar paints.  Three coats later and the pieces were looking good!  I will warn you: if you ever have a paint color matched be sure to hand over the paint number too.  I told the guy at Lowe's "Naval" and he typed in "Navel" - like the orange.  He handed me a gallon of neon orange paint.  Thank goodness for the Oops shelf.  Hopefully someone will need a gallon of bright orange paint in semi-gloss.  [note: I'm not sure what possessed me to get a full gallon of paint.  I barely put a dent in it ... double oops].  Here are the pieces before I put them back together. 

Finally, hardware.  I needed a lot of it, with 7 drawers on the dresser and 4 drawers on the desk.  I found some great satin nickel pulls at Lowe's.  I found 10 for $20 (in a contractor pack - 3-inch pulls).   I went with a simple satin nickel oblong knob from Lowe's on the small desk drawer to break things up (at $3). Unfortunately, the old hardware holes on the large drawers did not work with the 3-inch pulls - so rather than drive myself crazy, I went back to Lowe's and picked up four 4-inch pulls for an additional $12.  Ta da!   They totally transform the dresser, don't you think?

And finally, here is the furniture in place in Big's room!  So nice right?  I still have a lot to do in here, like add artwork and a mirror, but that will happen soon!

I need a desk chair for him and he's getting a full sized bed and headboard soon enough.  His room is really coming together.  And now this means I can paint over his old dresser and put it in the guest room!  All told, I spent about $130 on these two pieces ($65 for the furniture, $35 for the hardware and $30 for the paint: and of that, I still have some hardware left and, um, 3/4 gallon of the navy blue paint) - not bad!  Here's one last before and after so you can compare:

Desk - Before

Desk - After

Dresser - Before

Dresser - After

Do you love to paint furniture like I do?  Isn't it so gratifying to take something sad and shabby and breathe new life into it?  Let's swap stories!

See you swoon,


  1. What an awesome transformation! It doesn't even look like the same furniture. I love your ability to see beyond old tired furniture and turn it into something great! :)

  2. Wow!! Both pieces look awesome! Well done, my friend!

  3. These look amazing! The color is perfect and I love the new handles. What a steal!

  4. Wow Shanna, they both look awesome!! You are a painting goddess :) Love how they tie together with O's room!

  5. Wow that is looking great. What a change you must be so happy.

  6. Thanks for all the props, guys! I am so happy with the end result.