5 Modern Ways to Refurbish that Dresser from Grandma

Updated: Jun 16

As Millennials, we seem to be at more disadvantages than future generations. College debts are higher, job availability is lower, and the means of getting our own place doesn’t seem to be an option until we’re breaching thirty. And when we do get our own place, we put all our money towards rent or a down payment so you can forget about decorating it with actual furniture. We acquire furniture our family that has been kept in the basement, pieces that our parents have had since they first moved in. These are old, out-dated, and most of the time UGLY!

But fear not! While you may have to make do with some yellow oak dining set that screams 1980s (shoutout to my parents), there could be that diamond in the rough. That gem of a piece that just needs a little love to make it shine. Most of the time these are storage pieces, such as dressers and cabinets. And while you maybe able to tell right now that it’s a piece your grandma has had for ages, you won’t be able to recognize it with these five updating tips!



Image via Second Chance by Misty ETSY

There are so many ways to paint. From ombre to color block, you can really get creative and have fun with a piece. For a more timeless look, staying with a solid color will be your best friend. That doesn’t mean it can still be fun! How about this highboy dresser in this deep green and washed finish?



Image via Saw, Nail, and Paint

Add some interest by mixing paint and wood stain. This dresser in a walnut stain and navy blue paint job is both fun and classy. Just remember when staining to sand the wood down past the finish.

Swap out the Knobs


Image via Style Mutt Home

This old highboy not only transformed with a fresh coat of paint, but the modern pulls update this classic piece as well.



Image via Spoonflower Blog

Wallpaper isn’t just for walls! Wallpaper has come such a long way since the days of boring florals. There are so many fun options out there, just like this cute fox dresser.



Image via The Painted Hive 

Going for that eclectic and well-traveled look? This Tribal Baltic stencil makes this dresser a statement piece.

Tips For Future Furniture Shoppers

So many you didn’t inherit that hutch from grandma. If you’re interested in the DIY world of furniture, here are some tips you should keep in mind….

Shop on Craigslist and Thrift Stores

Instead of dropping some serious money on a West Elm or Crate & Barrel piece that let’s face it, everyone has, search sites like Craigslist and thrift stores for great deals. It may take some time, and multiple trips to the store, but the search is half the fun! I’ve gotten my cute metal bed frame as well as my leather couch on Craigslist for a fraction of what they would of cost in the store. You’ll find a lot of unique pieces too, which will set your place a part from the others.

Buy Solid Wood or Metal Pieces

In the age of mass-producing, a lot of furniture companies cut costs by using low grade materials, such as MDF and thin wood veneers to make a piece look like the real deal. It’s an inexpensive trick for them, but suck for consumers, especially when it comes to repurposing and refinishing. In order for a piece of furniture to be refinished, it has to often times be sanded down, which strips off some of the wood. If your piece isn’t solid wood, that sanding process will eat right into the MDF board. Go for solid wood pieces which can be repurposed for years to come.

Look For Consistency in Form

Buying multiple pieces of furniture can be a challenge. You want everything to look like it’s meant to belong together. This can be even trickier when shopping at thrift stores where you usually can’t find a complete set, and the vast spectrum of wood tones ranges from pine to walnut wood. A tip for sifting through furniture and selecting the pieces is to pay attention to the form of the piece….especially the legs! The legs of a piece of furniture often depict the time period and style.

Look for legs that all have a similar shape. If you’re not planning on painting your piece, another thing to pay attention to is the wood species of the piece. Find pieces that have the same wood pieces if you are just going to restain, as the wood grain will show through.

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