before and after

Before & After: Kelly’s Dramatic Dresser Make-under

by Grace Bonney

Some before & afters are all about adding to a piece of furniture and some- often my favorite- are about stripping away layers of paint to reveal the original design. This dresser make-under comes from Kelly at The Ridiculous Redhead. After stripping down through layers and layers of paint, Kelly found the original piece used four different types of wood, all of which get to shine on their own in the newly refinished piece. You can check out more details from her project right here. It’s such a stunning make-under. xo, grace

*There are some truly gnarly process shots after the jump…

Paint being removed in layers with SoyGel

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  • Thanks for sharing and wonderful work. As I have posted on Kelly’s site. I would love information like how long it took and what stripping tools look like? I always have issues with the nooks and crannies. How many layers of stripping did the person do? Is there any particular reason to use Soy Gel? What is good stripper recommendation? I have never seen this brand in my local Home Depot or Lowes, is this a specialty item?

  • Lately I’ve been seeing so many DIY projects where the original wood on dressers, chairs etc. have been painted- often with fun, trendy colors and patterns. Great to see creativity and whimsy on these projects, but I always cringe a little… I’m a lover of natural wood, and lots of it, and it’s so refreshing to see a project that celebrates the original glorious wood finish of this awesome dresser. Beautifully done!

  • It looks gorgeous Kelly. You do great work. I love these types of projects and do them myself. I’m curious to find out what you use as a final finish/sealer? My favorite has been Homer Formby’s tongue oil finish, but I’m always open to new suggestions and greener products.

  • SO dang beautiful! Why did people in the past cover it up?! WHY, PAST PEOPLE? Whyyy…

  • Gorgeous! I often think that before anyone is ‘allowed’ to paint over vintage wood they should be required to spend some time stripping furniture first. That way they might fully understand the impact painting over vintage wood furniture can have.

  • I seriously applaud Kelly on the patience and fortitude it took to finish this. I have a really simple hoosier cabinet that I STILL haven’t finished stripping after starting a year ago and it doesn’t have any detail at all in comparison to this beauty.

  • Originally, all the woods would have been stained to match, so allowing them to retain their true colors is actually a fresh idea, and not really a restoration.

  • So beautiful! My husband and I just scored a great Danish Modern Dresser on Craigslist, it needs a little TLC, sanding and staining I can’t wait to get started on the project this weekend!

  • Thank you to all of you for the kinds words and visits to my blog and site!

    I used Vermont Natural Coatings Polywhey in satin for the clear finish. It’s made from whey, the by product of cheese production, instead of petroleum. It is really nice to work with and doesn’t have a yucky smell. I am looking to experiment with oil finishes next.

    I often cringe when I see beautiful wood painted over but I remind myself that it can be stripped off again in the future. It’s a better fate than all those old beautiful pieces that get thrown to the landfill!

  • awesome job/idea!! you’ve certainly inspired my procrastinating butt! never an easy feat, to say the least!! kudos on a job well

  • Oh yes.
    I don’t know why people are so shocked that someone had painted this — have you seen d*s Before+After posts from around ’09? Many were very distressing. This post is reparations for that very recent shameful era. Cheers to intrinsic natural beauty!