Playing Dress-Up!

Restoring or completely altering the look of a dusty old piece of furniture that you found at Father Time’s yard sale can sometimes seem like more work than it’s worth.

I’m here to tell you otherwise, my friend. Pretend I sound like Sam Elliott as I gently guide you through what it took to turn these…

dresser drawers, unfinished drawers

…into these.

white campaign dresser, refinished campaign dresser

Most of this project, and any other project as I have found them, comes down to prep work. And every time I try and take a shortcut, I get burned worse than Lana’s favorite, “Burnt Broccoli”. In this case, I tried to go straight to priming the body of the dresser before I sanded them. I thought a good wipe down would do the trick. I ended up with raised specks and lines of imperfections that would ultimately ruin the look of the finish. So, if you haven’t done this before, learn from me and just start with a good ol’ sanding.

sanding a dresser

Look at me. I’m doing it again. Jumping ahead with no regard to process. FIRST, you’ll want to remove the trademark brass fixtures from the campaign dresser drawers and the cabinet itself. The drawers are easy enough, just a couple screws and they pop right out. For the nailed in decorative pieces on the dresser I used a spackling knife to gently get in between them and the wood and pry them out. Keep everything in a little bag! You will lose these little nails if you don’t and I wouldn’t want to be the one trolling the internet trying to find replacements. Now back to the sanding.

sanded dressers

campaign dresser hardware

You don’t need to go crazy with it. These particular dressers were made with just a thin wood-like veneer pasted onto particle board. So you definitely don’t want to go on a sanding bonanza. Just a quick once over with a fine grain sandpaper (I used 220). The handheld Makita sander I have made it a snap and the 3M sheets helped me make sure it was perfect.

I’m lucky enough to have a workshop downstairs at our place. But good fortune also has a good sense of humor. Everytime I try and spray paint down there the smoke alarm goes off and I have to donate gas money to the fire department. This time, however, I had an equally poor idea. I’d spray paint in the garden room. Long story short, if you don’t want to spend the day after on your hands and knees cleaning up overspray like I did, go back to step one… Prep work! Eventually, after I had already made a mess, I covered the ENTIRE floor (not just the general area I was working in) with a tarp. This simple act should go without saying, but no one was watching me. And I like to play the long odds. I lost.

Let’s assume you’re not like me and you have protected your assets. Now you can get to MORE PREP WORK! Tape off the edges around the area where the drawer face meets the shelvy bit. Here’s a pic since I can’t seem to find the word that differentiates the two.

campaign dresser drawers

Lovely. Now start priming. I used this Rustoleum 2x coverage primer. Why? Because it said 2x. I don’t want to manually apply the second “X” if I don’t have to. It also says that it bonds to just about anything, which is the quality I look for in my primer just after seeing how many “X’s” it has. I gave them two coats. If you’re keeping score at home we are up to four “X’s”. Astonishing. What will modern science do for us next? Primer dries quickly, but it got dark, so I went to bed. Sidenote: I was painting barefoot. If you get primer on your toenails it will be there for a long time.

rust-o-lium primer

After a healthy rest you can continue. I happened to have a bunch of these X-O Rust gloss white spray paint cans from a previous project. They say, “Direct to Metal”. I say, “Don’t tell me what to do”. And guess what… beautiful. I’m not sure how X-O feels about having a Rustoleum space helmet on, but that thing really takes the pain outta your sprayin’ finger, so I say deal with it X-O. Two coats of this later and you’ll be on the home stretch. Sidenote 2: I didn’t tape anything off on the dresser itself. If I ever have anyone at my house removing drawers to see if there is overspray, I’ll need to rethink my choice in friends.

how to prime a dresser

If you plan on touching or using the dressers you’ll want to put some sort of clear coat on them. I went with Krylon clear gloss. Why? It was ? the price of Polycrylic and I knew, one day, I’d want an extra hot dog, and now that dream can come true. By now you’ll know how many coats I did. Three! I just went for it.

After the party I threw myself for doing a third coat wound down I got to replacing the hardware. My trusty bag had not disappeared any of the tiny nails so it was just a matter of lining everything back up. Here’s the face I make when I haven’t lost any critical pieces of a project. Pure joy.

joey make a house a home

Here’s the finished product again. And I gotta tell ya, I’m pretty happy with it. The drawers still pull out and everything!

white campaign dresser, refinished campaign dresser

refinished campaign dresser, white campaign dresser, sharron montrose, nursery dresser

No math, no measuring, no reason anyone couldn’t do the same. But wear shoes.

Like sharing? We do too! Grab our button and share the DIY love!

Just copy and paste the code below!

<a href=”” target=”_blank”><img border=”0″ alt=”” src=””></a>


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Sarah Dymond says:

    LOVE it! Little A is going to have such a cute room!

  2. I love the tutorial, particularly the Xs and not letting directions be the boss of you. I had my own adventures in spray painting this weekend and I have some lovely glossy yellow toenails. I think the fumes were getting to me because by the end I almost considered giving each nail a little blast just to even them out.

  3. Where did that awesome porcupine photo come from? TIA :)

  4. Looks great. I just love the porcupine too.


  1. […] / 7 November 27, 2012 · Leave a Comment Good morning lovlies! Did you get a chance to check out some nursery progress a la Joey yesterday? I am wildly in love with the campaign dressers he refinished! Today’s […]

  2. A Room for A says:

    […] married the campaign dressers we rehabbed and bought a piece of reclaimed wood to seamlessly create a top. The dressers were a $200 find off […]

  3. […] Get this Look: Bearskin Rug Leather Strap Shelf Play Masks: Opposite of Far Dressers: Craigslist (then refinished) Reclaimed Wood On Top of Dresser: Good Wood, Nashville “A” marque letter: DIY […]

Speak Your Mind


CommentLuv badge

'); //]]>