before & after: mackenzie + joanne’s dressers

I hope the powers-that-be won’t exile me for saying this, but the American flag just doesn’t measure up to the visual prowess of the British flag. Plus, the British flag has a better nickname. Maybe we should put this to a vote — who would you rather hang out with, Union Jack or Old Glory? Actually, given the image I’m picturing, it’s kind of a toss-up. When Mackenzie and her anglophile boyfriend returned from abroad to set up a home together in the States, she wanted to create something for her significant other that had a masculine, effortless style to it. Painting the Union Jack design does not look easy, and apparently it wasn’t. But her precision really paid off; this piece is totally cool in a casual rock ‘n roll kind of way, and it looks great with their surrounding decor. Great job, Mackenzie! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (low res, under 500k per image, please)

Joanne’s upcycled furniture projects already made a splash on Design Milk last week, but this particular transformation of an old beat-up dresser is too amazing to resist posting. Joanne and her business partner Anthony run Think Contemporary, an interior design firm in Dublin. They’ve started to refurbish old furniture pieces using paint and vinyl. Vinyl decals have been increasingly popular the past few seasons, but most of the designs revolve around silhouettes and solid monochromatic shapes. I think Joanne’s use of vinyl to create a multicolor landscape over the front of these drawers gives the medium new energy, and if I lived in Dublin I would be all over this piece. I would literally grab it and hold it close, I like it so much. You can contact them about their furniture and see more work here. Thanks for sharing, Joanne!

KeLLy Ann

WoW! both of them of wonderful,
but my heart is partial to the British Flag piece….brings me back to high school.


I love the print on the black dresser. I am a huge fan on Dan McCarthy’s work.


I saw both those befores and thought “oh no, don’t paint perfectly good wood” but they are both amazing!

Fantastic job on both!


ooh we have almost that exact dresser (union jack) and I was contemplated throwing it out of the 4th floor window, but it just got a new lease on life.


lol. throwing it out the window? that would be one (albeit cruel) way to deal with those crazy wild boars in your yard ;)



Am with you on the Union Jack affinity. Utterly gorgeous finished projects, both. The paint/vinyl piece is beyond-my-imagination beautiful.


I usually like to see wood left alone but these actually look just as good painted.


Where can I get a vinyl decal like that? I’m ready to do that to a dresser this weekend!!! Gorgeous.


I love both of these! The UJ dresser looks like a ton of work, but it came out great. The black on the other dresser really works with the print.

Jennae @ Green Your Decor

I am so in love with both of these that I can barely express my admiration in words! They are absolutely gorgeous custom pieces that took vision and foresight. Awesome job on both their parts!


Am I the only one who thinks they ruined that first campaign piece? I realize the picture is fuzzy but it looks like some gorgeous wood that just needed to be refinished!


My husband will actually notice the flowers if I got one of those vases in the second picture (the white handguns)! Can the artist tell me where she got it and if it is still available?

And I love the dresser, too!


The before and after posts were truly top notch today. Good job Design Sponge!


WOW! I love that they re-used the hardware on both pieces with completely different effect. Gorgeous, amazing, brave, beautiful!


Both pieces are such great updates for worn furniture! Will keep this trick in my pocket. How long did they take??

Katie (australia)

Isn’t it ironic that the Union Jack, a patriotic symbol for the PM and the Queen can look so Rock’n’Roll? Those drawers are an amazing piece of work.


This is wonderful! And the chest with a British flag, was like a trunk. I like it!


I *love* the Union Jack – Katie is right, it looks so rock ‘n’ roll, and I’ve seen *so many* wonderful decorating ideas using it’s awesome graphic-ness. I’ve seen the American flag used to great effect as well, but the Australian flag? Nada. All we get is car flags and bikinis; which is really odd considering we basically inherited the Union Jack and then stuck a few stars on it. How about a challenge, Grace; a before and after using something Australian, that doesn’t look like something you’d find at a CWA stall? :)


You should try painting the Australian or New Zealand flags – they have the Union Flag, only in the top left corner…


nice! i saw the first dresser “before” and thought “oy- that hardware is terrible…” then i saw the “after” and thought “oh! that hardware is perfect!”

nice work. :)


Love both of these transformations. Just shows what you can do with a little paint (and maybe a decal or two) and some imagination. Great work guys!

hena tayeb

now that is a bold WOW after.. it just proves what a huge difference a little paint and a whole lotta creativity can make.

Joanne Kelly

Hi Jessie.

The dresser had to be stripped back first, then undercoated and finally painted so it did take a couple of days including drying time.

Thanks a million everyone for all the fantastic comments. Really glad you like it.



OMG! These are so gorgeous! I absolutely LOVE that Union Jack piece! I wonder if I can convince my fiance that we need a Francophile room with a Tricolore dresser…


Why would you ruin a campaign dresser like that? Even if you don’t like the wood, a solid color, black or cream, and a lacquer finish can make the brass hardware (the real charm of a campaign piece) stand out. With this paint it gets totally lost.


painting laminate…fine, i like the end result. On the other hand the smaller cabinet had real, beautiful veneer and now covered in vinyl (PVC mind you) and paint. the graphic is interesting, but the lovely wood veneer dresser was much more charming and timeless.


The wood on that second piece!!! Gorgeous grain. The end result is also gorgeous, but the wood is lost forever! Poor, poor wood… (still, great job)… sniff… (no, really I do like it)… sob…

laura w.

Mackenzie! Wow! My jaw dropped when I scrolled down. Stunning, and so impactful!

Kate R.

The second dresser looks cool but that picture on the wall is really creeping me out…

Casey Bevington

The art on the second piece is a total rip off of Evan Hecox… It’s tragic that he is willing to blantanly rip off an artist like this


The dresser painted with the Union Jack is a very impressive project and quite artfully done. However, our U.S. flag does not have to “measure up to the visual prowess of the Union Jack”. Our Flag represents and stands for so much that we always need to honor it. And with that honoring, there are very specific rules and regulations as to what is appropriate and what is inappropriate. I don’t know what the British flag rules are, but one would never paint Old Glory on a piece of furniture! Check out Flag etiquette here.



People paint American flags on just about everything. I would hate to think that flag etiquette (or anyone) would look down from someone expressing patriotism or their love for any country by painting a flag on something.



Does anyone know what colours were used in this piece? I am impressed with the blue, it really pops out. Any clue as to the shade ?