before & after: shutter wood embellished dresser

Woodworking is possibly my all-time favorite craft, and seeing new inventive techniques and creative re-uses only reinforces my love for the material. Matt has taken a simple, old chest of drawers, some shutters and an old belt and turned them into a really rad piece of furniture. The dark and light woods, leather and crisp white paint work wonderfully together, and the herringbone pattern is just amazing and apparently quite simple to make. Using the shutter slats for the pattern, so that he already had consistently sized pieces, was also totally brilliant — gotta remember that one for the future. Great work, Matt! — 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.)

See more of Matt’s dresser and find out how he made it after the jump!

Time: 22 hours

Cost: $97

Basic Steps: First was sanding the main cabinet with different grades of sand paper to remove varnish and old stain. The final sand paper grit used is a 120, as this gives the paint some texture to stick to. I used a sprayer to prime and paint in a white lacquer. The finish is more of a dull or matte lacquer, which I think makes this work well with the wood texture; it’s not so slick compared to the wood patina.

Next I cut the old shutter slats out by removing the side rails. This gave me pieces that all had the same thickness and width for consistency. I then hand-cut all the slats on a table saw at a 45-degree angle and used wood glue to adhere to the drawer fronts. I thought this herringbone pattern would offset the square geometry of the cabinet and give it some visual excitement. The handles are vintage belts that were cut to size, and after I drilled some holes in the drawers, I used aluminum barrel nuts to secure the handles.

My advice is to check re-use stores for materials with great patinas — you can’t manufacture wood with an aged feel, so go looking for those unique textures that make your piece unique and visually interesting. Also, think about using any materials you find in bold patterns; look at fabrics, floors and artwork for interesting patterns, and replicate these in the materials you find. — Matt

  1. Wow! This might be my favorite before and after ever! The dresser turned out so beautifully, I love the herringbone.

  2. Molly says:

    This is amazing. What a great eye, and such creativity!

  3. Justine says:

    Really unique look- I love the strap handles!

  4. Greta says:

    Amazing transformation!

  5. Juliette says:

    I love the leather handles; they totally make it. Great idea!

  6. i cannot think of a better before + after for you to feature on your birthday, grace. it’s STUNNING! have a happy herringbone birthday!

  7. This is absolutely gorgeous!! Great job, awesome design idea!

  8. Okay, that’s pretty awesome! What a super creative idea – love it! Colour me impressed.


  9. jenni o says:

    I love the fact that I NEVER would have thought of using old shutters in this way, but now that I’ve seen it, I can think of so many possibilities! It’s one of the best before and afters to date!

  10. Nikki Lederer says:

    Absolutely gorgeous. I agree this might be my favorite before and after!

  11. Melissa says:

    Oh wow wow WOW! The leather and the wood and the chevron… Thinking about this dresser takes me to a very happy place:)

  12. GENIUS. Seriously, this is painfully good. I would totally [want and not be able to] buy this if I saw it anywhere. I die.

  13. Rachel says:

    Gorgeous! I love the look of this dresser – so unique. What a genius idea! :)

  14. lauren says:

    if i run out and invest in a saw and get in a terrible accident because i’m horrible with power tools and yet need a similarly gorgeous cabinet in my apartment immediately, i shall point my severed finger at YOU, clever matt.

    hmm, that didn’t sound nearly as creepy in my head.

  15. Kristan says:

    Positively gorgeous!

  16. Wow! Such a great idea. Amazing job!!

  17. Matt says:

    THANK YOU everyone for such nice words about the piece. And a huge thank you to Design*Sponge for featuring it! I have always followed Design*Sponge and never thought one day something I did could be on it – so it’s a great feeling. I’ve spent many years restoring pieces and really not shared any of them until now, so I cannot tell you how big of a smile I have on my face hearing your comments. I am also laughing at a few, you all have a great sense of humor! And please don’t cut any fingers off Lauren!

  18. Victoria says:

    I love the texture, great job!

  19. I want to cut shutters into herringbone patterns but know I won’t have the patience. Love the project & final look. Awesome job.

  20. tba says:

    one of the best pieces of furniture I’ve seen on this site so far!

  21. Shayna says:

    This is beyond cool. I have to try it!

  22. Laura M says:

    this is insanely amazing!

  23. The leather drawer pulls were a nice touch.

  24. J says:

    This is insane.
    I couldn’t love it any more than I do!

  25. rachael says:

    i really love the old belt handles. i have a dresser that is just begging for a makeover and this looks really perfect!

  26. Jenée says:

    This is one of the best DIY transformations I’ve ever seen. This is an elegant piece of furniture at any cost. I have a feeling there will be a lot of copycats and if I can finally get around to purchasing a table saw, I’ll be one of them. Excellent work!

  27. mrs c. says:

    just amazing. so so lovely.

  28. Alison says:

    oh my. i never really comment on before and afters (i’m one of those people who love unpainted wood and keeping the patina of old things). but BOY… this is freaking awesome. i am so impressed!! lovely, lovely job :)

  29. Krys says:

    I have a ton of extra slats from shortening our wood blinds. I’ve just stored them in the attic, hoping to reuse them somehow. This is a really great idea and has inspired me to use them!

  30. Lendy says:

    I love it! Its the perfect combination of masculine & feminine! :) Im showing it off to my husband right now! Hint hint honey!

  31. Deb says:

    Hey Matt, I just have one question. Do you make house calls? This is BANNANASSSSSS!!!!! AMAZINGLY GOOD

  32. Wow!
    Great work!
    We love it!

  33. Very nice, grooving with the chevron vibe, too.

  34. Melissa says:

    Wow. This is one of the coolest, most creative Before and Afters I’ve seen!

  35. Lisa says:

    Yes, with the risk of being repetitive, this might be the best before and after EVER.
    I’m torn between huuge admiration, deep (Oh so very deep) envy, and whiny self reproach- Why can’t I think of things like that? And oh yeah, all this while I’m drooling uncontrollably.
    It is so creative, and so beautiful.

  36. wow, totally amazing and well done!

  37. Wow…this is an AMAZING transformation. I absolutely love it ;)

  38. holy crap – this turned out insane. as in, insanely AWESOME.

  39. lizzie says:

    WOWZA. that is BEAUTIFUL. they did a great job.

  40. Clara says:

    This is so fresh and awesome! What a great idea for the belt drawer pulls.

  41. Morgan says:


  42. Julie says:

    This is my favorite favorite before and after ever. Wow. I am super inspired. Matt, do you want to come play at my house??

  43. Amy says:

    Very cool! The leather is a great touch!

  44. monica says:

    a feast for the eyes, so beautiful!

  45. Andi says:

    This has to be one of the best redos ever! It’s not even really my style and I LOVE it!! Very well done!!

  46. WOW! What a feast for the creative senses! That dress is BEAUTIFUL and so unique! It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind piece. Bravo :)

  47. holy moly!!! this is one of my favorite before and afters EVER!!!

  48. stephanie marshall says:

    genious, say no more, simple is best every time!


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