Garage Gremlin to Delightful Dresser: Dresser Makeover

When we first moved into our house in Italy we had hardly any furniture - our van we drove over from the UK was groaning with stuff and 3 cats in giant pet cages but very little furniture. The people we bought our house from left quite a lot of furniture behind, but it was mostly unattractive veneer or broken - still, we had to use as much as possible as there was no way we could afford to fill all the rooms with new furniture as well as renovate (I will also say that there is very little by way of furniture stores in Italy that sell the kind of style I like: rustic, country, shabby, ethnic, etc. - they do however have lots of used furniture stores - yippee!). This is where it all started for me and my love affair with making old things great again - one of the first pieces I ever worked on - it's not the most beautiful dresser I've ever seen by any stretch of the imagination but I think I can confidently say it went from garage gremlin to delightful dresser!

Firstly, it needed some cleaning with a good de-greaser to make sure that the primer and paint adhered nicely to the unit rather than the dirt!

I took all the doors off and measured what lengths of trim I needed to cut to add the country paneling to each door. These were cut with a mitre box and hand saw to get a nice 45 degree angle. These were then tacked with small nails to the front of each cupboard.

I also added a small wooden traditional know to each door to further add to a more country look.

I used a primer first and then a soft grey spray paint to get the smoothest finish - these days I would probably use a chalk-based paint, but this finish has held up pretty well over the years.

It took two coats of the spray paint over the primer to get full coverage which was 4 cans in total.

The top cupboard unit needed to come off in order to make this piece manageable to move and reassemble once painted inside the house.

The original unit had some metal brackets which supported the top cupboards which I wanted to replace with something more in keeping with a country dresser style. I decided to cut some pieces of wood to sit in their place to be screwed to the top and bottom units.

I drew out a pattern which I traced onto two pieces of wood and used a router to cut out the shapes; I needed to cut the backs of these too to match the shape of the backboard which wasn't totally straight. The cutouts were then sanded and screwed to the base, backboard and eventually the upper unit.

I also wanted a place to display some cute crockery, so I cut a long, thin shelf to fit between the base unit and upper cupboards. I also used the router here to round of the front edge and cut a groove along the front of the shelf for upright plates to rest in to stop the sliding off the shelf. This was then screwed to the backboard and newly cut out sides and all painted to match the rest of the unit.

The feet were sprayed white rather than replacing them with something else, but this might have been a nice touch too along with a decorative back piece along the top of the unit - next time maybe!

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