This summer has been busy, busy, busy.

In May, I graduated college with a Bachelor’s in Communication Studies and spent a few days in Las Vegas shortly after. In June, I was in a wedding and turned 22. In July, I began my master’s degree at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. After classes ended early this August, I spent some time relaxing and visiting family until this week when fall semester began.

Throughout these few months, I lived out of a suitcase and drove back and forth between my mom’s, my boyfriend’s, my sister’s, and now my new apartment. Yes, I have moved into my very first real apartment in Syracuse with two friends from undergrad. We’re finally pretty well settled in but while I was unpacking in June, I realized that there was no way all of my clothes would fit into a closet. I needed a dresser of some sort.

After doing some searching, I didn’t find anything cute but durable in my price range because let’s be honest, good furniture is too expensive for my college grad self.  So if this isn’t my first post you’ve read or if you know me well, you know the most obvious alternative was to make a project out of my dilemma!

I didn’t really know what I was doing at first but I’m a firm believer that you can do anything as long as you’ve got confidence or at least Google. Don’t think you’re a good cook? Find a delicious recipe, set your timers, and you’re golden!

I’m blabbing… back to the point! As I love projects, it only makes sense that I am 100% obsessed with Pinterest. Time and time again scrolling through Pinterest, I’d see photos of DIY refurbished dressers. I fell in love with one but there were no directions! I found myself Googling every little step that I wasn’t sure how to complete. So now of course, I’m doing to tell and show you in detail how I made my dresser!





Time spent:

About a week because drying times, but you won’t be spending more than an hour or two at a time.


  • A dresser – I found mine at Salvation Army for $50. A little more than what I wanted to spend but time was pressing and this was the perfect size!
  • Sanding supplies – My dad was a carpenter so he has every tool ever. I used an electric sander with 60-grit and 220-grit paper.
  • Drop cloth or plastic – For obvious reasons.
  • A good cleaner – I used TSP. You will need a bucket and gloves when working with TSP so add that to your supplies list if you choose TSP.
  • A good cloth to clean with – I bought rags from Lowe’s and regretted it because little fibers fell off and were a pain to remove!
  • Tact cloth – And lots of it! I bought a two pack, cut them into halves and eventually quarters but I wish I had more. You use this to clean up the sanding dust.
  • Foam roller kit – I bought the cheapest 4-inch from Lowe’s and it worked like a charm. Get the kit so you have the tray.
  • Staining pads (or brush) – This was my first time staining anything and I liked using the pad but it’s a preference thing. The downside was fibers rubbed off similar to the rag I used to clean. I had to wait until I was fully finished staining and it was dry before I went through with TWEEZERS to remove the fibers. Learn from my mistake please!
  • Synthetic brush – This is to apply a finishing protective coat. I did not get this beforehand because when I first read how to do this, it said a foam roller would be fine but after more reading I decided against it. So I used a synthetic brush I had laying around. These were cheap brushes and they did the trick but from my reading, it was suggested to use a high quality stain brush. Do with that what you will.
  • Stain – I used Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain in the color Jacobean. It is oil-based so it’s smelly. If you’re only staining the top like I did, you could get away with one of those tiny sample cans. I bought a quart and have so much left! Not upset about it though, I LOVE the color.
  • Paint – Interior latex house paint works just fine because you will be covering it. I used Valspar Signature in Swiss Coffee with a satin finish. This paint is great because it has primer in it. A quart works for a mid-size dresser like mine.
  • Painter’s tape – To keep your white paint white around the edges.
  • Clear protective finish – I used Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish in either gloss or satin. I don’t remember for sure which but it’s all a preference thing. Just don’t do matte please. Again, a quart of this stuff will do. This is water-based and is recommended to use on water-based paints or stains which mine were not. I followed what I was reading for this because I don’t know a whole lot about protective finishes and the person I was following did and it’s holding up just fine!
  • Hardware – so drawer knobs, if you want of course!
  • Drill and bits possibly – if you’re adding knobs to a dresser that doesn’t have have the holes.
  • Baskets – if desired. Mine are from HomeGoods.

All-in-all I spent around $150 for everything!


  1. Remove any hardware the dresser may have.
  2. Drill holes if you need to for hardware. My dresser didn’t have hardware but I wanted crystal knobs. You’ll have to measure everything out to make sure its centered how you want it.
  3. Sand off the old stain. You sand with the grain and in straight lines. Don’t do circular motions. Start with the tougher grit paper first and then the lighter grit to make the surface smooth. You’ll have to hand sand any edges or grooves. This is probably going to be the toughest most time consuming step. I did this step outside.
  4. Prepare for painting!
    • I painted in my living room because I didn’t want leaves or bugs falling on to my wet surfaces and it was just too windy. My living room was fine, just make sure you can ventilate if needed.
    • Lay your drop cloth down.
    • Take the drawers out and lay them on their backside.
    • Apply painter’s tape along the top’s edges to avoid getting paint on them.
  5. Clean with your good cleaner (TSP) and cloth. Follow the directions on the bottle about mixing in the appropriate amount of water. Then let it dry, it shouldn’t take long.
  6. Painting time!
    • If you didn’t buy a paint and primer combo, you’ll probably want to prime it first but then again you could probably get away without this because you’re going to put a protective coat on.
    • Otherwise, pour your paint in the tray and begin painting with your roller. Again, don’t make circular motions or anything weird like that.
    • Let it dry overnight because you’ll lightly sand the paint again before your second coat. After you sand, make sure to clean up the dust before your next coat.IMG_2614.JPG
  7. Add a second coat of paint and let it dry again. This is something you could do like after work or before you go to bed because painting shouldn’t take long.
  8. By the third day, you’re ready for staining!
    • Place painter’s tape on the dry paint along the edges of the dresser’s top, especially if you have a light color like white.
    • Get your brush or sponge and apply as directed similar to painting.
    • Don’t soak the wood with the stain and remove the excess. Less is more!
    • Wait a couple hours in between coats. Two or three coats should be fine.
    • DON’T sand in between coats for stain.
    • For best results, let it dry over night after all coats are completed.IMG_2629.JPG
  9. While you’re waiting for the stain to dry, you can distress the painted portions of the dresser by sanding with fine grit paper. This can actually be time consuming because it takes a lot of little distressed marks for something to look antique-y. I wish I would have done more but I’m too impatient. I was beyond ready to use my dresser at this point.IMG_2648.JPG
  10. Add a protective coat. As mentioned in the supply list, I used Minwax Polycrylic. It’s recommended to do 3 coats. I only did 2 because yanno, I was impatient but it looks just fine. Let it dry for at least 2 hours in between coats with very light sanding before each coat. Make sure you clean up the dust before adding your protective layer! Let it dry overnight again before handling.
  11. Now you can add your hardware! You can use the dresser after the overnight dry but I would still be careful for a week or so.


Here’s my final piece in my room now!

***I removed the first drawer on my dresser. If you want to do that, follow all the normal steps of sanding and painting and buy some baskets. Make sure you measure first so you know what sizes to get! On a side note, for my dresser specifically, I had to buy two pieces of thin plywood to fill in some gaps of floor of the drawer space. The picture below shows this better than I can explain.***IMG_2627.JPG

So there ya have it! Feel free to ask any questions in the comments!

I must say thank you to my boyfriend for helping me with some of the work and my roommates for dealing with me taking over the living room for a week. <3