before & after: painted dresser

There’s painted furniture, and then there’s painted furniture — pieces covered in handmade patterns that totally transform the original. This Ikat buffet by Kim Frazier is a great example of what handmade designs can add. I love the imperfections and the rich color palette Kim chose. Great job, Kim! — 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.)

Time: 4.5 days

Cost: free (supplies on hand)

Basic Steps: Before I could paint the doors of the cabinet, I needed to chip off all of the old wood veneer. Because in certain places it was glued on fairly well, this was the most labor-intensive part of the project. I chipped off all of the old veneer and sanded the piece down to an even surface. Then I removed all of the brass hinges and hardware for a thorough polishing and filled any nicks or scratches with wood filler. After applying two even coats of primer, I painted the entire piece one solid color— for me this was an inky peacock blue by Martha Stewart called Plumage.

To create the Ikat print, I taped off an even diamond pattern all over the piece and filled in the diamonds with creme paint. Then I peeled off the tape and begin feathering the edges of the diamonds with more creme paint and a dry brush to achieve an Ikat look. Once all of the creme paint was dry, I painted the centers of the diamonds with more blue paint, a bright red and a pale pink for visual interest. Lastly, I sealed with poly sealer and added new vintage brass hardware to add visual interest to the piece.

My advice for people trying to achieve a similar look is to be patient — rushing into a design will often result in further refinishing. With patterns as busy as these, I often let ideas marinate for a few days before I act on anything. Also, trust your instinct. If you can’t get a color combination or pattern out of your head for a few days, even if it makes you nervous, it’s a sign that it just might be the right choice for you and for the particular piece. And don’t be afraid to take risks. I always say, why let your furniture live an ordinary existence if it has the opportunity for greatness? — Kim

  1. I love this look!! SO cool!

    -Chic Done Cheap

  2. Wow, that’s pretty impressive and must have took some patience! I love the imagination that went into doing this…great job!


  3. Karen says:

    That is great, very well done.

  4. Melissa S. says:

    Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous! I love it! Thanks for sharing your painting technique. It looks hard, but it doesn’t really sound like it took anything more difficult than patience.

  5. Wow! What an incredible transformation. I really love the colors she chose to use, especially the blue.

  6. Sexy Period says:

    We have been looking for a dresser just like this! we might just try your technique…but in pink!

    The Girls @ Sexy Period

  7. Elisa says:

    Awesome transformation! Love it when creative people go above and beyond!

  8. Lauren C. says:

    love this!!! definitely a new blog to follow!

  9. Connie says:

    That’s not only disappointing, but a little disturbing. I’m sorry, but I do not agree that the furniture was enhanced with what was done to it.

  10. I’m always impressed by people who see potential in a piece like this that I wouldn’t give a second thought. Nice color combination, too.

  11. That turned out great! Love the colors that you used for the transformation. Great job!

  12. michele says:

    I”m right there with Connie. This piece didn’t need any enhancement…I’m slightly upset that an antique was destroyed this way.

  13. Erin from NC says:

    Unless the before photo is doing the piece TOO MUCH justice, I think the act of painting it took away so much from it on the whole. The depth of finish on it before was gorgeous and now it’s gone.

  14. Cody says:

    This looks fantastic.

  15. Lisa says:

    I really love the blue paint color choice a lot! I am less wild about the painted pattern, though.

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Unfortunately this was better as a before. The piece was just lovely on its own.

  17. a says:

    wow. kind of hate that. solid blue would have been lovely.

  18. I love that! Great pattern.

  19. carol says:

    What a shame to ruin a wonderful piece of furniture. The paint is fine, but couldn’t you have done it on a canvas or something ?

  20. Lisa says:

    Terrific and inspirational! Love the way the piece was artistically painted with a trendy IKAT design.

  21. Jesse says:

    This is beautfiul! The IKAT pattern looks amazing. I’m always happy to see people using a lot of color!

  22. Ainsley says:

    Wow! Totally different and so awesome!

  23. melissa says:

    i strongly disagree with some of the negative commentary. the “before” piece was something that would be easily missed. what she’s done has taken the desk to a totally new playing field where it will be the center of attention. it shows an enormous amount of talent and an eye for detail. i love it!

  24. Andrea says:

    Does anyone else see vaginas?

  25. Janne says:

    I like it too. But just have to say, maybe it’s just my f*****up mind…but doesn’t the pattern look a bit like our female parts? Hahahaha!

  26. deb says:

    Connie, Erin from NC, Elizabeth, Michele and Carol have my vote also, some pieces just should not be touched. If you may be inclined to try something always try on a scrap piece of board first.

  27. Bethany says:

    I’d have to agree with Connie. I’ve redone many old pieces of furniture with paint and other delights but only when the piece of furniture was so old and tired that only major reconstructive surgery or a transplant would have helped them. This antique that was destroyed was beautiful as is and never should have been touched.

  28. sarah says:

    shame. the before peice was beautiful and timeless. As much as I like the transformation, it will be dated after a few years.

  29. Connie says:

    Andrea and Bethany, you are hilarious! :)

  30. Stephanie says:

    love the idea, but I see female genitalia…

  31. jade says:

    realy nice,i have a few i did my self. :-) old pieces of furniture is the best to work with (well i prefer)

  32. Thank you so much for all of your glowing support and equally important constructive criticism!

    I feel like I should say a few things here: This piece is actually not an antique- many people use this term loosely, but it most certainly was merely vintage, and unfortunately not in fabulous condition. The “before” pic does not do enough injustice- the incredibly tacky faux wood veneer on the doors was peeling off, and the piece was covered with deep nicks and scratches. It was certainly not a family heirloom- I found it for a few dollars on Craigslist, and it was screaming for some attention!

    Sure, I could have stripped and sanded the whole piece down, and stained it to reflect an age-appropriate finish, however, that’s just not me, that is not what I’m all about.

    To me, furniture is art. The furniture is my canvas, and I wanted to give it a new life, completely unlike any that it would have lived previously. Yes, most definitely one day I, or one of my clients who purchase the piece will tire of the ikat print. At that time, I’ll simply repaint and reincarnate it again- that is the beauty and the challenge of impermanence, you know. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion- I appreciate every person who has shared their own, this is humbly mine.

    And the female genitalia comments are fantastic- Georgia O’Keefe did make an illustrious career for herself out of painting “vagina-like” flowers- to each their own!

    1. Grace Bonney says:


      that was probably one of the best responses to a before & after critique i’ve ever read. thanks for your honest, being open-minded about people’s feedback, and giving me another example of why it’s always great to respond with class.

      “Sure, I could have stripped and sanded the whole piece down, and stained it to reflect an age-appropriate finish, however, that’s just not me, that is not what I’m all about.”

      that line above really made me smile.

      grace :)

  33. Nicole C says:

    Even to those who do not care for the design (which I happen to love – kim, you rock!), the piece has not been “ruined” or “destroyed”. The beauty of furniture is being able to transform it to fit into our living spaces – it is there to be useful or just make you happy! If the owner of this piece walks into their home, sees it, and smiles, then it was a success!

  34. Love love love this. I’m trying to think of how to make over a wooden chair for my living room, and I may do something like this.

  35. jessica says:

    I think is beautiful, always nice to see someone else who sees furniture for what it could be rather than what it is. And as far as the hate comments go, its funny to see them take the time out of their day to comment on something they dislike, so add this comment to the positive ones. beautiful work

  36. Elizabeth Murphy says:

    Couldn’t you even use scrapbook paper in a design you like and modge podge it to the front panels? I know there are some really great scrapbook patterns and the added perfection of laser printed designs would give it an expensive look. Love the idea of transforming furniture, I believe that is one of the reasons good furniture is made to last so long, so that each owner can enjoy them the way they like :)

  37. Johanna says:

    Point of order: it’s not a dresser: it’s a chiffonier (UK), sideboard (UK) or buffet (US). A dressing-table has a cut-out centre panel like as desk, as the lady using it would be seated.


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