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dresser revive 1

I owe you guys a long and wordy post about what’s happening in the boys’ room. The gist of story is that they need more closed storage for their clothing and the wall color makes the room feel depressing. I’ve gone mad trying to pick a new color which is evidenced by the random paint swatches on the wall. I’ll post all the details next Monday but today’s post is about reviving a vintage dresser I scored on ebay this past winter. It was $150 and included a large matching mirror with a wood frame that I’ll be hanging elsewhere. (Hint: it’s going in the hallway.) Fortunately, the seller was in Ohio so we were able to pick it up ourselves and skip shipping costs.

dresser revive 2

The dresser was in great condition. Fully functional with a few scratches and water marks from normal wear and tear. The thing is HEAVY. It’s solid walnut and features all the signs of great craftsmanship which are so hard to find in today’s furniture without spending an arm and a leg. Since it’s going in the boy’s room, it didn’t need to be perfect but I was hoping to improve the finish.

revive dresser 4

I had heard and read so many wonderful testimonials about Restor-A-Finish that I had to try it myself. (Orlando’s testimonial was especially convincing.) The application is a one-step process and it requires no sanding. It sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t it? I chose the walnut tone and set to work reviving the new old dresser.

revive dresser 5

Application was super easy. I poured a little Restor-A-Finish onto a soft cloth and rubbed it into the wood. A little goes a long way. The stuff is a bit stinky so I opened the windows during application. (This is the main reason it’s taken me so long to get around to reviving the dresser. Too cold to open the windows!) Immediately, I could tell it was working. It’s subtle but noticeable. I liken it to a good pregnancy glow or a natural sun kissed glow. It blended the imperfections and restored the wood’s luster. But it didn’t leave a shiny finish. It was more of a healthy sheen.

dresser revive 3

If you compare this image to the second one at the top of this post, you can see the difference. It’s pretty miraculous!

revive dresser 6

I couldn’t believe how much richer the wood looked. It really did have a glow to it minus the gloss.

revive dresser 8

Following the directions on the back of Restor-A-Finish, I decided to protect the I-can’t-put-my-finger-on-it-but-there’s-something-different-about-you finish with Howard’s Feed-N-Wax. I waited 30 minutes after refinishing the dresser to apply the wax. I applied the wax with a soft cloth and was a little more generous with this application than the oil. Then I set a timer for 20 minutes. When time was up I buffed out the dresser with a clean soft cloth. Again, super easy.

revive dresser 7

After restoring the finish and applying the protective wax topcoat, the dresser almost looked brand new!

revive dresser 9

The results were enough to motivate me to restore the dresser in my bedroom using the same technique.

But back to the boys’ dresser…

dresser hardware

I didn’t particularly care for the dresser’s original hardware. The knobs are brass with laminate stickers glued to the centers. One knob was missing its laminate center so I tried everything in order to remove the laminate from the other knobs to no avail. I also didn’t like that each drawer had a knob. It was too knobby for my taste. I thought I’d try switching out the middle knobs for horizontal pulls and see what happened. You know, to break things up a little.

dresser hardware 1

I found these streamline pulls at Anthropologie and ordered four. (Btw, it was my very first Anthro purchase. I’m no longer an Anthro virgin.) I love them! They’re so dainty, so midcentury modern. Best of all, they make the dresser feel less knobby. Knobby…it’s a technical term.

Here’s a little before-and-after action for your viewing pleasure…

subtle dresser before and after

I know, it’s not a WOW! makeover. But that wasn’t my goal here. Restoring the finish and changing up some of the hardware gave this dresser a much needed facelift but it still looks like a classic midcentury piece. (Notice how the finish looks less orange-y, too. I like that.) It’s not trying to be something it’s not. I guess it’s more like Cindy Crawford on Botox versus Joan Rivers on plastic surgery. Sometimes subtle changes are the best.

Have you ever used Restor-A-Finish? It has me wanting to buy more vintage pieces just to love ’em up with a little oil.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

47 Comments

17.April.2014

Love it! How do you score so many amazing things on ebay?!

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replied on April 17th, 2014

Many, many hours of “research” went into finding that dresser. It took me months to find one that had good lines, good price and good location. It doesn’t help that our area (southwestern Ohio) kinda knows what’s up when it comes to midcentury design. It’s sought after here. So that bumps up the price and shrinks the inventory locally. I’ve never been the lucky one to come across exactly what I’m looking for right when I want / need it. It takes me a while.

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17.April.2014

What a gorgeous dresser! I love the new knobs. I also wanted to thank you for the Nickel Creek recommendation – how had I never heard of them before?! I’m obsessed with the album, especially Destination and Hayloft. They are a talented group of musicians!

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replied on April 17th, 2014

So glad you like them!

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What a great find! Those Anthro knobs look great. We don’t have an Anthropologie near us and the shipping kills me. I vote for free shipping (not just over $150).

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17.April.2014

I’m pretty sure that was the dresser I grew up with. I think I want it back. :)

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17.April.2014

Love it – the handles change it completely.

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17.April.2014

Best $150 find ever. EVER! And I’m so glad you referenced Orlando and his beautiful work. What a doll he is!

I need to do this on our dining room table, which I hate and which looks awful. If I do, I’ll let you know how it goes.

jbhat

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17.April.2014

Your dresser game is A+

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17.April.2014

I can’t tell you how jealous I am of you for finding such an amazing piece for such a great price! The area I live in is NOT conducive to finding hidden gems like this. I’m glad you just spruced it up, too, rather than giving it a dramatic makeover. A piece like this deserves respect.

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17.April.2014

Hi Dana. I have a couple questions for you! How is your design class going (Shefields I think you mentioned) any feedback would be appreciated. Also how about your design services you advertised a while ago– how is that coming along?

wishing you the best.

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17.April.2014

I’m going to have to try and track that stuff down. I have a dresser that could definitely use it! I also love how you switched out the middle knobs for the horizontal pulls!

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replied on April 18th, 2014

I linked to Amazon but you can find the Howard products in nearly any home improvement store right next to the stains.

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replied on April 18th, 2014

Thank you! Looks like I have a project lined up for my days off:)

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I love Anthro for house things. This rehab turned out get.

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17.April.2014

Thank you, thank you, thank you! I have a nearly-identical dresser in my son’s bedroom. It’s a Drexel Declaration piece, and it’s been in my husband’s family for 4 generations. (It was the first piece of furniture his grandparents purchased as newlyweds in 1963!) It’s got great lines and is incredibly solid, but it’s certainly taken a beating over the last 50+ years, and the finish looks awful. We’ve debated painting it, but we’d hate to do anything to detract from its value – we’ve seen identical pieces go for over $1,000 on eBay! This tutorial is exactly what I needed. I’ll be trying your method this week! (Great job on yours, by the way! Looks awesome!)

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17.April.2014

Restore-A-Finish is the greatest! I love how it worked on your beautiful dresser. I used this stuff on some bathroom cabinets in a house we were about to sell. They weren’t in terrible shape, just kinda dinged up here and there. It took me less than an hour, and the difference was truly amazing. All the scuffs and dings were gone!

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I’ve heard of that product and now I’ll be snagging some myself. I have my dads real wooden dresser that I grew up with in my house. It’s kind of like a rental piece of furniture and although I take care of it, it’s really shown its age lately. I think this will be the perfect thing to spruce it up since my dad its extremely OCD and wouldnt appreciate how it looks these days.

Love that dresser and those knobs are the perfect thing to switch it up. I can’t believe that price!

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17.April.2014

I used both those products and love them. I love the scent of the wax especially. Great job. So glad you didn’t paint as so many are these days. Those pulls are perfect.

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replied on April 18th, 2014

I joke to Steve that I must be getting old. I prefer wood tones over white paint and I love brass…lots of brass. Ha!

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17.April.2014

I think it’s perfect! Do you ever check out the “Everything But The House” online auctions which are mostly local to Cincinnati? They seem to get a ton of midcentury furniture. On a completely different subject, what was the name of the organic landscaping company you found in the Cincinnati area last year? I am SO thrilled to finally feel like the warmer weather is here to stay, but now I have to start thinking about dealing with my lawn again!

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17.April.2014

Gorgeous! Are there any identifying decals, stickers or markings on the dresser? I NEED IT! It looks fabulous with what you have done with it!

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replied on April 18th, 2014

It’s a vintage Drexel. Not very rare but well-built and beautiful!

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17.April.2014

Love this! I scored two Paul McCobb bedside tables at Habitat for $15 and they are in sad shape. I cannot wait to try this out and see if it helps. I’ve been researching how to refinish them and haven’t been able to find much. There are a few deep scratches that I think I’m just going to have to live with…which honestly doesn’t bother me too much.

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What a great piece, I love finding a bargain like that. I am currently living in Germany and they have mid century pieces everywhere for amazing prices. I have been stocking up, and loving it!

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Smart girl, those handles (instead of knobs) on the center section make all the difference!

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18.April.2014

I really love this dresser. I love that you did not paint it. The center pulls are perfect! Just perfect.

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18.April.2014

I’m with Michele. So glad you didn’t paint it! I was so afraid that was what was coming when I saw the first picture. The handles in the center are wonderful – just what it needed.

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18.April.2014

Love this easy make-over, and the Anthro pulls on the center drawers really makes a huge difference. Can’t wait to see what you do with the rest of the boys room!

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18.April.2014

This actually is a WOW makeover to me! I love seeing pieces restored and loved where appropriate rather than painted into oblivion. And the knob change really makes the piece! Love!

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18.April.2014

I LOVE love LOVE this dresser! Mid Century is my fav design style and I am oh so jealous that this piece rests in your home! Looking fab!

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18.April.2014

I need to try this out on my old (was my Mom’s when she was 10) bed! Maybe if the bed looks better we won’t notice the old (have had it since I was 10) mattress!!

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18.April.2014

I love this stuff. I’m currently working on restoring an antique murphy bed using the dark walnut finish. It is amazing the difference. My mom turned me on to the product a couple of years ago. We’ve used it on countless finds from thrift stores and estate sales.

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18.April.2014

Wow! What a steal! And now it looks brand new!

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19.April.2014

Dana, this looks amazing! I like the Cindy Crawford vs. Joan Rivers analogy :) I love what just a little oil and wax can do to classic pieces. I think replacing all the knobby-ness with some pulls was a great choice, too!

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20.April.2014

I love it!! Changing out the hardware was genius and really makes the piece more interesting.

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21.April.2014

That looks really nice. Thank you so much for posting a photo of those pulls in use. I’ve been contemplating them for a dresser I’m building but was unsure of the size. You’ve helped make my choice much easier. I’m definately going with the larger pull.

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21.April.2014

The dresser looks great! – I have used restore-a-finish on a few things and I love how it works – I having a few more pieces to do and complete – great stuff!! Oh and I love the idea of the pulls on the middle drawers – looks really great!

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The dresser looks like a dream! One day I’m hoping I can score one of my own; you did a fantastic job!

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26.April.2014

Not sure if you are aware of this, but those two products work great BUT the great results don’t last a long time. The RAF has a solvent in it that helps dissolve the finish on the piece to blend in the scratches, so you are in essence dissolving the existing finish, so unless you add a finish to the piece (wax is doesnt last) you will see those scratches again. You can try spraying a lacquer or acrylic finish to it to keep it looking great. I’ve Deft Interior Water-Based Clear Wood Finish (at HD and Amazon) on a few mid-century pieces (sanding lightly between coats per the instructions) and they turned out amazing and have held up great.

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07.May.2014

[…] I found the vintage ottoman on ebay for $30. It’s vinyl but is a good leather lookalike. It should stand up well to boy feet. The legs are dreamy – wood with brass tips. I haven’t had a chance to clean them up yet but I’m going to give ‘em a little rub down with some Restor-A-Finish. […]

[…] eraser and some elbow grease. Thankfully that did the trick! Then at the suggestion of one of my favorite bloggers, I used Restor-A-Finish in Walnut color. I think it was around $8 at our local Menards. I applied […]

[…] eraser and some elbow grease. Thankfully that did the trick! Then at the suggestion of one of my favorite bloggers, I used Restor-A-Finish in Walnut color. I think it was around $8 at our local Menards. I applied […]

[…] doors are not in pristine condition, but in no way need replacing.  Over on House Tweaking, I read about her success using Howard’s Restor-A-Finish on some vintage furniture pieces. […]

[…] Dresser:  Craigslist.  Revamped using product from this blog post […]

23.December.2014

[…] *http://www.housetweaking.com/2014/04/17/midcentury-dresser-revival/ […]

[…] solution While real vintage furniture or antiques are often expensive, see how a vintage dresser scored on ebay restored. They don’t always have to look aged or distressed. You don’t need faux rustic […]




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