Before & After: Dresser Makeover using Fabric, Shoe Leather and Concrete

by Amy Azzarito

I never get tired of a good dresser makeover. It’s one of those things that I hate to spend money on, considering how many lonely dressers are lurking around the corners of thrift stores, just waiting for a good home. This particular piece was made over by designer Aleksandra Mierzwa, and if you look closely, you can really get a sense of all the work she put into this project. After painting the entire dresser, she covered the drawers in canvas and then stuck foil scales to the outside, adding additional painted detailing. The handles were made from an old pair of white leather shoes and then the whole piece was topped with a concrete counter top. Pretty fantastic. (More details on the project are here). –Amy

See more after photos  and project details after the jump!

After removing the hardware and cleaning the dresser with a wet cloth, Aleksandra Mierzwa used a medium grit sandpaper to rough up the surface before painting. Using a roller, she painted the dresser with a white oil paint. When the paint was still slightly sticky, Aleksandra placed a gray canvas over the drawers and then pulled the sides of the canvas around to the inside of the doors, fixing the fabric in place with universal glue and a staple gun. Next, Aleksandra made her own vector drawing of scales and then used a cutting machine to cut the shapes out of a self-adhesive foil. She stuck the scales on the drawers and then added some additional paint details. To create the handles, Aleksandra cut up a scale shape from a pair of old white leather shoes and fixed the new handle onto the door with a staple. The finishing touch was a concrete counter top that Alexsandra had custom ordered for the dresser.

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  • Oh, this just breaks my heart. If I hadn’t seen the before, the after would not be something I’d care about either way- but damn, that was a beautiful piece before it got “made over.”

  • this is one piece that shouldn’t have been “made over”. the wood was beautiful!! it’s a shame it’s covered up now. it was a timeless piece and probably could’ve just used new hardware. the new look may look very dated in a few years, sorry to say.

  • As somebody who wishes they could find reasonably priced mid-century pieces in this kind of condition, this makeover makes me more than a little sad. The designer did a good job, but it was already a beautiful piece :(

  • To each their own…I, personally, gasped out loud when I saw what had been done to a beautiful MCM credenza. The wood glowed!!

  • I would kill to have that piece of furniture in its before state. It’s almost a sin to take such a gorgeous vintage piece and degrade it this way. Yes, I say degrade because it was beautiful and classic before but the after, while cute and trendy, looks cheap by comparison and will look dated in no time. It’s such a horrible, horrible shame. I hope it can be restored. This sort of experimentation should be saved for a damaged piece, not one in such pristine condition.

  • Why would you cover that? It looks like book-matched veneer. Sell it, give it away, but don’t cover it. There are plenty of pieces that you can do this to that are made with worse materials.

  • The before is so beautiful, and looks like it was in great condition. I don’t see why the makeover was needed!

  • OH NO! This item should have been left alone! The original was timeless, the after an all to soon has been! Shame Shame Shame!

  • so many gorgeous details…glad you posted close-up pictures! even that close-up though it’s hard to tell that it’s a foil, and not the pattern of the fabric. gorgeous!

  • I agree with the bulk of other comments — if this had been a beat-up credenza in need of a major overhaul, then the “after” would be great (although not to everyone’s taste). However, the “before” pic looks like a gorgeous piece of classic furniture in very good or excellent condition, so the “after” just makes me sad.

  • Sure, I love a good dresser makeover, too. But this isn’t one. Sure, it took lots of time and effort to come up with that, but it should have been done on an Ikea piece or something in poor shape. Not a piece in good shape, with classic lines and a fabulous finish. I’m a little in awe of the lack of vision on the part of the person who did this.

  • I don’t usually like chiming in with negative comments, I think it can be really rude and inconsiderate to someone who put in a ton of hard work on a project. But this is just… no thanks. I’m trying to come up with something positive to say about it and I’m drawing a blank.

  • If there were such a thing as child protective services for classic, mid century pieces, this person would surely be separated from this poor, abused credenza. This is shameful.

  • @Megan … I agree. I’m sorry to the people who took the time to share their hard work with us, but it really doesn’t have the beauty of the original. This is one of those situations where we have to consider the long-term ramifications of “rehabbing” a classic piece. Eventually the rehabbed pieces go out of vogue and end up in a landfill when nobody wants to hassle with undoing a crafter’s handiwork. The classics will always have a place.

  • That thing was a P.O.S now it looks sophisticated. that mid century stuff makes me want to vomit good job to whoever had the vision

  • I don’t dislike the after but I wish they would have left it alone. A midmo piece in that good of condition should stay as is IMO. It’s only worth being creative if you need to cover damage that can’t be repaired.

  • I do personally prefer the wood finish, but thanks so much for posting. To those who think painting over wood is a crying shame, we get it already!!! Just look at this post as a resource for some great ideas for refinishing an item that doesn’t have great wood to begin with, or that’s already been painted.

  • A beautiful stunning sophisticated piece of furniture turned into an disgustingly trendy toy and made to look like it came from Ikea. That’s not sad, it’s appalling.

  • The final piece looks happy and fresh, but I agree with Alexis that they converted a clasic into a trendy disposable piece.
    And the dust trapped in the canvas is going to be impossible to get rid of. So it will be very allergenic. Furniture has to be besides beautiful, practical and esasy to clean..

  • I am normally not a wood purist, but it does break my heart a little to see such a wonderful piece of wood furniture painted and covered in this way. I love the concrete top, and would have even loved it on the piece as it originally was. If this treatment was done on a crappy, salvaged piece of furniture, I would think it was a great save. While, it looks lovely, it is a now a trendy piece of furniture that could very well go out of style in a few years, where she had a classic, timeless piece to begin with.

  • I love this makeover – it actually made me exclaim out loud when I saw it! Good job! Each to their own opinions… ;-)

  • P.s – I still love this, but – I’m probably being an idiot – which bits of the scallops is foil? Are the outlines the foil bits, and the solid bits the canvas showing through? Just interested :-) I adore the scallop shapes, and was thinking this would have looked good with a honeycomb pattern too – maybe for your next creation?!

  • I don’t agree that it looked good before. I looked very old-fashioned – and not in a good way – cheap and unsophisticated. I love vintage, but this wasn’t it.

    The new design is a different style and fits better with the surrounding. I am not sure if I would want it in my own home, but here – it fits.

    P.s. I love the leather handles!

  • I rarely comment on blogs, and only read these comments to see if anyone else thought the same way as me. They do! What a shame.

  • I’ve no objection to people painting over wood if the wood isn’t nice, but this was a gorgeous mid-century piece and now it looks a bit crap. The concrete top unbalances the lines of the original, the colours are drab and the canvas is weird on a sideboard. I like the concept of leather, canvas and concrete, but this just doesn’t work and has far too many elements. I don’t see the need for the canvas, as Cecilio points out it won’t be wipeable, and against that you can’t tell the scales are made of foil at all, and couldn’t they have put the foil straight on to the painted wood? The light grey paint with the concrete looks like they were trying and failing to match it, whereas if they’d gone with a dark grey or a black it would have given it a nice contrast and retained more of an industrial edge. The scales don’t go with the industrial top at all, they are a bit twee. If they’d done scales on to wood with the wood showing through and no concrete top, I would have been sad about the mid-century sideboard being upcycled but it would have worked better as a piece. This is attempting three different trends all at once but missing all of them!

  • I never comment… but had to here. This makes me sad. I agree about protective services…

  • Is there a Regretsy for furniture make-overs? Feel free to go twee craftsy all over a piece of furniture (which will look dated in 5 minutes flat) if that floats your boat. But use a damaged or cheap IKEA piece. Don’t mangle a nice piece in good condition for it. This is just sad.

  • Since this is a makeover, it is slightly in bad taste to keep harping about the original condition of the piece. Its utility and aesthetics are what the owner considers them to be. That apart, I feel that the new design is beautiful. It looks like a cross between a scale and a honeycomb pattern, and has a really nice feel to it. It would look great anywhere. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  • This is a disgrace. Just because MCM isn’t your style doesn’t mean you should go wreck a beautiful piece of vintage furniture. If you must satisfy your bloggery Pinterest project craving, go pick up a $30 thrift store piece. Do not ruin a vintage piece that people would pay hundreds for just so you can be trendy and cool for 2 minutes. The original was beautiful. The makeover is horrid.

  • This is really sad. That was a beautiful MCM piece that I’m sure would have looked lovely in someone’s home who would have appreciated it in its Before state. Its very hard to find pieces like that. From a design point of view, your After just does not work. The Before was truly timeless and could have brought happiness to someone for decades. The After is something that is just tragic. The colors are all wrong and the concrete is ridiculous. I don’t even know what kind of trend it was trying to be. I’m going to go hug my mcm house now.

  • I’m so sorry I can’t say something nice about this obvious labor of love. But I can’t. I loved the original, I don’t appreciate the makeover, and I’m just sad at the loss of this nice piece of furniture.

  • @Ashley. Why so mean? People can have different tastes and opinions, remember?
    Plus it is clear that to be cool and trendy among the commenters of d*s you’d better be a fan of MCM.
    I think the after is really creative and curated even if it does not match my taste as I think I will never like the use of fabrics on a furniture. I like the use of concrete though.
    So at least respect the hardwork put into this makeover.

  • Living in Europe as does the designer, I am quite surprised at people’s reactions to this makeover. There are tons of these ugly wood veneer cabinets in charity shops, and nobody wants them. I guess they just seem horribly dated and cheap. It’s not like she had painted an antique!

  • horrifying! why would they destroy such a beautifully designed and well maintained credenza like that?! eeeeshhhh…

  • I really like this, I have been planning to update a hideous veneer bar/cupboard I picked up at a charity shop, but that has an interesting shape. This convinces me it will look so much better in white – thanks for sharing :)

  • The dreser in its “before” state visually popped against the walls, it was a really eye-catching piece simply with the wood finish! Then she decides to camoflauge it to match the wall and then put a slab of concrete on top? What?

  • The person did NOT ask for opinions. Personally, I think it is rude and in poor taste to comment negatively on a makeover. If you don’t have something nice to say, just don’t say anything at all.

  • Some of the earlier comments are correct…this isn’t an antique. It’s a piece of furniture awaiting a new life. And the canvas personally is a great way to cover up a previous life of scratches, etc.

  • Even if it wasn’t an antique and it was an unsophisticated piece of furniture found in charities, it still looked better before. It was more interesting and popping out against the white wall, now it looks like cement with fish scales! Not a successful transformation.

  • The before piece was a gorgeous work of art with great craftsmanship. Very sad to see what it turned into:( …and I love before and after’s, but I guess only for pieces that really need a makeover.

  • It is so sad that the beautiful wood grain of the drawer fronts was not appreciated. To make it more current, just a coat of the white paint on the body, leaving the drawers alone would have been stunning. Or just the top painted white. Sometimes we have to know when to leave things alone.

  • Hi, I am French, and I really appreciat the new design of this dresser!
    It was certainly a beautiful piece before, but it was a little bit old fashion…now it’s just gorgeous!
    Very good job!!!