A few years ago when Joe and I were furnishing our first house together, we picked up a pair of mid-century dressers at one of our favorite thrift stores for under $200. Total steal. And while the shape of the dressers was great, they were unfortunately covered in some sort of strange 1970’s green veneer. Why, furniture gods? Why?? In order to make them even slightly acceptable, I quickly (and sloppily) threw a few coats of brown paint on them to fit in with the rest of the furniture in our bedroom and replaced the very old and dated hardware. I don’t have any “before” pictures but, trust me, it wasn’t pretty.It seemed like a good decision at the time but over the last few years, the dressers have started looking pretty sad and frumpy to me. I hadn’t done the best job painting them (I needed that green veneer out of sight FAST…so take my time I did not) and the brown color just wasn’t doing anything for me. It certainly wasn’t doing anything for the great lines of this mid-century dresser so I decided to bite the bullet and give this baby a mid-century dresser makeover.
I wanted to expose some of the natural wood and I liked the idea of glossy white drawers so I knew I would need to strip the many layers of paint and veneer to get the look I was going for. Paint (and all other kinds of) stripping was new to me so I did some research and prepared myself for the very messy and very time consuming process while hoping it would all be worth it in the end. Fingers crossed (because that’s always a good sign at the beginning of a project, right?) I went with this Klean-Strip Premium Stripper and (you know, since I’m not a professional stripper…) just followed the directions on the back of the can to get this party started.
One thing I can’t stress enough is the importance of wearing chemical resistant gloves. You can find them right next to the paint stripper (and the rest of the supplies) in the Home Depot paint aisle. This stuff is no joke and the few times that my skin did come in contact with the chemical…ouch! I would even suggest wearing long sleeves, long pants, and shoes that cover your feet completely just to be safe. This stuff means serious business so don’t skimp when it comes to protecting your skin. I used a used paintbrush that I wasn’t worried about ruining (because you most likely won’t be able to use it for painting again) and an old metal dog bowl that has since been designated the stripper bowl
because strippers need water too to pour the chemical into and brushed a thick layer onto the dresser. The stripper has an applesauce-like consistency and easily brushes onto all surfaces without dripping everywhere.
Almost immediately, the paint begins to bubble up and after 15 minutes, it’s ready to be scraped up. Using a plastic scraper (as opposed to a metal one) helps to prevent damaging the wood as you scrape.
After sitting for 15 minutes, most areas scrape off very easily but some spots may need another another round of stripper. It’s definitely a time consuming process but I promise there is a light at the end of this very messy tunnel.
Once all of the paint and veneer was stripped and the bare wood was exposed, I used some super fine steel wool to apply a layer of Howard Restore-A-Finish.
This stuff is seriously amazing. It instantly revives the luster the wood has lost from layers of paint and veneer and brings out it’s natural finish & shine. It’s not a drastic change but it makes a big impact.
Even though the entire time I was stripping
I was trying to pay my way through college I was kicking myself for rushing into a bad paint decision originally, I’m crazy about how it turned out and even happier that all of the work was worth it in the end.
Happy 4th of July, folks!