before & after: drawer credenza + dresser makeover

Design blogger Sarah Baltare blew me away me with her awesome painted rug from last week, and she’s back again without skipping a beat. This credenza creation is an entirely different yet equally successful and inventive up-cycle. Her decision to leave the handles is unexpected but brilliant, and I hope this ingenuity keeps on coming. You can see more details on this credenza project here. Thank you so much for sharing again, Sarah! — 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.)

We’ve posted some controversial wood refinishing projects before, and I know that this dresser makeover from floral designer Jennie might upset the purists in the group. You may remember Jennie from the lovely floral centerpiece she created for us this past Thanksgiving. The love and care that Jennie puts into her flowers is echoed in her furniture retouching. With help from one of Barb’s Before & After Basics tutorials on waxing, Jennie was able to take this dresser from ordinary to truly exceptional.

The mahogany looks deep and rich, and it provides the perfect background for the brass hardware to really shine. Under the subdued gray finish is a lovely reddish underpainted layer; you can just barely see it through some of the sanded portions, but the overall effect is amazing. No matter what your personal take on painting, I think we can all agree that this was a job well done, with great attention to detail and excellent craftsmanship. Wonderful job, Jennie!

  1. Julie says:

    That dresser is especially incredible–I love the before and afters that you all do here, but this has to be one of my favorites. I never would have guessed that dresser could look so lovely: the before shot reminds me of a hideous dresser I had in my childhood bedroom, but she’s turned it into a work of art. Brava, truly.

  2. yvonne says:

    The drawer idea is very clever… I like functional repurposing ideas.

  3. Steph says:

    FINALLY! I have a DIY idea for the ugliest dresser of all time I’m in posession of. Dresser drawers turned cradenza, here I come!

  4. Carrie says:

    I love this! I moved away from upcycling and this makes me want to jump back in!

  5. WOW . . . some folks really think outside the box. I love what those random drawers became!

  6. lifeafterninetofive says:

    I think the finish is lovely!

  7. Zero34 says:

    REALLY like the first “After” pic, the two credenza/dresser units are ROCKING! love the ikea legs on them.

    GREAT before/afters!
    this just makes me wanna go browse the antique shops, too bad Vegas has so few and they tend to be crummy!

  8. Ester Jean says:

    I hardly ever comment, although I visit D*S like, 12 times a day :) I really love the look of both after(s). I understand people who get in a tizzy about painting gorgeous wood because my dad was a carpenter and I know how much real love and time he put into each of the pieces he built, but ultimately, it’s kinda nobody else’s business. I stinking love the blue/gray used in both of these pieces! Rad!

  9. kiki says:

    wow!! i’m floored! this chick has vision…and talent…and i’m jealous :) So, so beautiful!!

  10. Elena says:


    Right, so, is it possible to find out where the boots are from (pictured in the “after” photo)?

  11. Josie says:

    I just don’t understand the negative comments from people who don’t like painted wood. You should have and love what you want in your own home. Why do people feel compelled to impose their taste on everybody?

  12. arroyo says:

    Wow, that dresser is amazing. Clearly jennie has extraordinary vision! Who would have dreamed that this slightly schlocky ‘early american’ piece could look so japanesque? Bravo for jennie!

  13. random Cindy says:

    I’m one of those people who usually cringe at the idea of painting good quality wood but that is one hideous dresser. The thoughtful paint job makes it almost likeable. Bravo!

  14. Jennie says:

    Hey guys – Jennie of the dresser make-over here. :-) So glad everyone likes it! It was a freebie I found on the curb and, frankly, hated it. But I really needed a dresser and so thought I’d take it and see what I could do with it. I really wish the subtle red streaks under the gray showed up better in the photo because it really bridges the mahogony of the drawers with slate gray.

    Anyway, what I really came on to comment about was to answer Elena’s question about the boots. They’re from REI, Keen brand (called something like Burn Baby Burn). I can’t tell you how much I love these boots! They are so comfy, warm, and handle the sloppy snow we’ve been having like a charm. They let me finally wear dresses in the witner!

  15. Jeanne says:

    I think I need to find some dresserless drawers.

  16. eva says:

    wow! i like the new look of that dresser… so elegant.. love it.

  17. Darlene says:

    Really pretty.

  18. Rachel says:

    Boots are Baby Bern. I have a pair too and love them. Love the dresser too…saw it and said – hey, my boots! :)

  19. Bonnie! says:

    That dresser was hideous before, but now it looks much more interesting, almost Asian! A fascinating makeover!

  20. Elena says:

    Thanks for letting me know Jennie! I’m in love with that style boot right now but am trying to justify using them in my South Texas hometown, ah well :)

  21. Michelle says:

    What a great transformation…it just goes to show that with a little creativity and vision someones trash is DEFINITELY someone else’s treasure!!

    And, I must say, the styling in all of the photos are great!!

  22. Rachel says:

    A.) Those are some seriously deep drawers and an awesome makeover! For the price of just some IKEA furniture legs, too.
    B.) Any wood purist that would consider keeping that dresser as-is is crazy. Jennie, you did an amazing job! The teeny little knobs are so perfect. Thanks for info on the boots, too… I have some Keen snow boots that I love, but I need some regular boots too and those are just what I’ve been looking for!

  23. This is truly beautiful. Whilst I can understand some people’s discomfort at painting over beautiful wood, people’s tastes change and no one wants brown furniture anymore. I think that Jennie’s done an amazing job here at showing off the beauty of the wood whilst updating it to suit our contemporary tastes. x

  24. Alexandra says:

    I like the Keen boots!

  25. What a wonderful transformation on the last piece of furniture (chest of drawers) Amazing what a little paint and looks like a darker stain can do to a piece.


  26. Lorie says:

    The boots ARE fantastic!!! Since I have “inside” knowledge… I’ll just confirm that they are the Burn Baby Burn boot from KEEN. They are super comfy.
    Love the dresser re-do!!!!!!

  27. Kelly says:

    The Boots are Fantastic. I own a couple of pairs. :-) I love the Oak colorway.

  28. sarah says:

    SUCH a handsome dresser! Fantastic use of wax- really love that piece!

  29. cheryl says:

    the dresser is stunning, beautiful job, love the grey paint and the mahogany stain together

  30. Suzanne says:

    I love the use of faux leather on the couch for EASY clean up. I am totally going to copy that!

  31. Lesli says:

    jeanie, i would love to know what steps you took in painting the dresser ie: stripping, the red streaks etc. I absolutely love this i have a dresser like this an armoire and a headboard/footboard set, that i cant stand and want to refinish, have any ideas on doing the headboard set or the armoir to match?

  32. Jo Kin says:

    Very cool results!

  33. Ashley says:

    What color is the grey paint, it is beautiful!! What an inspiration!


Design*Sponge reserves the right to restrict comments that do not contribute constructively to the conversation at hand, contain profanity, personal attacks, hate speech or seek to promote a personal or unrelated business. Our goal is to create a safe space where everyone (commenters, subjects of posts and moderators) feels comfortable to speak. Please treat others the way you would like to be treated and be willing to take responsibility for the impact your words may have on others. Disagreement, differences of opinion and heated discussion are welcome, but comments that do not seek to have a mature and constructive dialogue will not be published. We moderate all comments with great care and do not delete any lightly. Please note that our team (writers, moderators and guests) deserve the same right to speak and respond as you do, and your comments may be responded to or disagreed with. These guidelines help us maintain a safe space and work toward our goal of connecting with and learning from each other.