before & after: vintage dresser revamp

I’m a big fan of white-and-wood combinations on furniture, especially when they strike just the right balance of warm, rich wood and crisp, clean white accents. What I love most about this simple dresser revamp from Amy is that the dresser retains its vintage charm but seems so much more sophisticated and luxurious with its new white shell. Amy snagged this dresser for dirt-cheap because the frame was banged up, but by adding the white, she’s cleverly disguised the damage and given this dresser a sharp and stylish new look. Great job, Amy! — 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.)

Read more about Amy’s vintage dresser re-vamp after the jump!

Time: 8 hours

Cost: $15 for dresser, materials on hand

Basic Steps: This project is so easy to do — perfect for beginner DIYers. Simply remove all drawers from dresser. Wipe down the dresser’s frame with a damp cloth to remove any dust and dirt. Once the frame is dry (about 10 minutes), apply a thin coat of primer (you should still see some of the wood showing through). Leave primer to dry (about 30 minutes). Then, apply two to three even coats of white paint (leaving time for the dresser to dry between each coat).

My advice is to select a semi-gloss or high-gloss paint finish for this project! The sheen hides a multitude of sins, and it enhances the contrast of the rich wood and bright white-painted finishes. — Amy

Tyrene Hickman

I love this new version of the dresser! It looks like it could go in any setting now, from modern to traditional. I was wondering what color of white paint was used? There’s so many choices to choose, if you could help narrow it down a little for me. :) Awesome job Amy!


I really love this! Love how the varm wood looks agains the white frame. Very cool!


The after is amazing!

What are those 2 white pedestal things in the room?


i actually love the subtle change. looks like something new but inspired by something retro.

Stephanie M.

I love this!!! I am also a huge fan of white on wood. Great way to cover up damage and freshen up a beautiful piece of furniture. Great job, Amy!

amy walters, aDESIGNdock

Thank you everyone for your sweet comments! Kate, I’m tickled pink by this post. Thank you so much for sharing my lil’ dresser project on your fabulous site :)
Tyrene, the paint colour is Vanilla White from The Debbie Travis Paint Collection!
Christine, those little white stool tables were snagged on clearance from HomeSense! I adore them.
xoxo amy


What is “primer”? It mentions that product for the first coat and I dont know what that is…Anyone helping me, please? Thanks!

angie grover

so funny that is the exact dream dresser i’ve been looking for to put the tv on! beautiful job! love the plant! great minds think alike! ;) enjoy! s/p.

Tania @mauishopgirl

Laura, you can buy primer in the paint section of the hardware store. It is a prep coat before paint, helps your paint adhere better.

Love…one of my favorite combinations is glossy white contrast with a walnut or dark wood.

I was gonna ask about the stool/tables too! They would be perfect in my place, the shape is more unique than what I’ve seen in similar pieces.


I have that same dresser! For those worried about “ruining” a vintage piece: it’s not as great as it appears in pictures. The drawer bodies are pretty flimsy (at least on mine). My dresser has lots of water stains and marks and dings on it – I may try this idea on it! Or maybe a bright yellow or turquoise or another color.
Nice post!


I actually first thought could this piece of furniture get any better, but well yes! It did! Very beautiful.


wow ..this is stunning…I have a client who is looking @ a piece like this I have and this will seal the deal….absolutely wonderful!…Thank you for sharing!

Lone Barslund

The original was prettier. You shouldn´t always change things just becaurse you can!


“Cost: $15 for dresser, materials on hand” Does that mean it cost $15 for the dresser, because if so, I am extremely jealous.

amy walters, aDESIGNdock

Hey Marc, sorry to rub it in, but yes, I actually snagged this dresser (and coordinating mirror!) for only fifteen dollars! It pays to grow up in a small town ;)


*sob* totally came back to GW to buy it and it was snagged

well done though, looks great

– Coulda Woulda Shoulda

amy walters, aDESIGNdock

Linda, the wallpaper is Darcy in White and Silver by Graham & Brown. Up here in Canada, the distributor is Crown Wallpaper + Fabrics. I’m so in love with this paper. It has a subtle shimmer to it that’s glamourous, without being too gaudy!


when seeing the before picture I hesitated to scroll down but the result is really great!


Like this… re the comment from Susan who doesn’t like it… well sometimes these old pieces have just too many nicks and scratches and not necessarily the kind that build character… so covering it up is a great option. I have a similar piece at home.. in fact many pieces that are all just SO BROWN. Really brightens up the piece and makes the features stand out


I really like the face lift…I think it brightened up the dresser and modernized it ….well done.


Why oh why do people do this to lovely looking furniture, it looks ok, but was much nicer before in my opinion. Do love the wallpaper, but seriously, ditch that ugly, oversized plant! Would look much nicer without it!

amy walters, aDESIGNdock

Thank you Emily for your sweet comment – I am so glad you like it :)
Kim, I really appreciate your feedback. I can appreciate people’s concern over painting wood. In my case, I adored the dresser for it’s vintage appeal and loved the wood finish, but it was looking much more worse for ware than the pictures suggest. I left the drawers in their natural state as a way of celebrating the wood that had retained it’s natural beauty and painted the frame to hide the wood that was in rough shape. Cheers!

Jo Kin

Great way to preserve some of that wood. I hate when I see people destroy the wood by painting it solid enamel/latex/acrylic. You might as well just build a melamine buffet from scratch if you want that look. You did a great job, spectacular!