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Sheet Music Dresser Tutorial

I purchased this antique dresser at an auction for $6.00 last fall. It was a beautiful bird’s eye maple, so it pained me to have to paint it, but the veneer was chipped and bubbled and beyond my ability to repair. So, I had to come up with a way to cover it. Some free antique sheet music from my grandparent’s attic was the perfect solution. 
This project was so fun!  Not only did I relish giving the dresser a new life, but I loved finding interesting and unexpected items from around my house for the “photo shoot.”  A naked lamp shade becomes a cloche for books, ironstone, and coral in addition to a display for old photos.  An antique frame painted white becomes a perfect place to feature an antique christening gown and a family letter from the 1880’s held in place by a starfish.
One of the keys to decorating with whites is to use lots of texture and varying tones of white and neutrals.  I love the texture of this bird’s nest against the smooth, bright white eggs, the gloss of the ironstone and the yellowed sheet music.  A feast for the eyes.
This letter not only displays beautiful penmanship, but the age of the paper looks lovely against the crisp white frame.  It was written to one of my ancestors and references her survival through the siege at Petersburg, Virginia during the Civil War.
I love old christening gowns and baby dresses, so this was the perfect time to show one off.  The antique wooden hanger balances gracefully on the edge of the empty frame.
 This is what the dresser looked like when I brought it home a few months ago.  I’m sorry it’s buried under other yard sale finds, but you get the idea!  It was a good haul that day!
It took me so long to work on this piece because I was wringing out all of my creative juices to figure out how I could save this beautiful bird’s eye veneer.  Some of it just needed stain and poly, but several areas were chipped, bubbled and missing.  I finally faced the truth that it needed some expensive restoration or it needed to be painted.  Paint is what I do, so paint it was.
But paint does not cover missing, chipping, and bubbled veneer.  Mod Podge is a fairly recent discovery for me…I know, late bloomer.  Vintage sheet music was the perfect solution to hide the imperfections.
I brushed the Mod Podge directly on the drawers and applied the sheet music, cutting around the key holes, knob holes and edges with an Exacto knife.  I then applied a liberal coat of Mod Podge over the sheet music.
The paper is always a little bubbly when it’s wet, but it dries flat, so don’t think you did something wrong if you’re trying this.  I then applied an antiquing glaze (a mix of clear glaze and burnt umber universal tint) over the sheet music and one more coat of Mod Podge.  I finished off the top with a coat of Wipe On Poly to make it water resistant.
The rest of the dresser was primed in a Sherwin Williams’ bonding primer and one coat of latex semi-gloss ProClassic paint in Creamy.  I hit the edges of the dresser with a sander and applied an antique glaze.
I love the original wheels on this piece and how the yellowed sheet music is framed by the white on the body of the dresser.
Here are some additional pictures of the items in the arrangement on and above the dresser.
For more furniture makeover posts, click HERE.

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  1. Alaina said…I love the idea with the music sheets. There was a dresser in pine, I have always wanted pine, but the condition is not the best, didn't really want to paint it but now I know what to do with it. Now I only hope it is still available. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. My lovely friend Gina over at Willow Decor sent me here. I am truly speechless! Your dresser (and everything around it) turned out amazing. And I thought I was clever wrapping a branch… ( ). Obviously, I have to learn from you and think more grand!

    You have my vote!

    ox, Mon

  3. lovely! you did a fantastic job on the dresser!!! The whole vignette is truly dreamy & divine……

    If you have a minute come see my frenchy bedroom makeover & enter my jeanne d' arc giveaway!!


  4. A well-deserved first place! I loved every aspect of your white entry. Congratulations!

    And you got some really great finds. Definitely makes me want to go thrifting soon. Cheers!

    Nicole :)

  5. This project really turned out beautifully! The vintage music is just so sweet- I think I need it for my piano room!!! Great job.

  6. I've said it before and I'm sayin' it again…this is b.e.a.u.t.i.f.u.l.
    Every little detail.


  7. Beautiful… a real conversation piece. This is the perfect idea for the not so perfect dresser. Love it!

  8. I just wanted to stop by and let you know that I linked to this post today from the Home & Garden channel at Craft Gossip. :)

    Your feature will appear in the main Craft Gossip RSS feed, on the main home page and can be found directly here

    If you would like a "featured by" button, you can grab one here!

  9. Absolutely gorgeous and a great idea! I just might have to try this!

  10. Your dresser turned out beautiful – I linked it to my "book pages" post too!

  11. This a Wonderful Piece! Thank you so Much for the Tutorial! Your Creativity is so Inspired! You can tell that you really Love What you do!
    Thank you Again!
    Happy Tuesday!

  12. Hi Marian! My name is Vera and I’m from Brazil. I liked this decoration with sheet music and I’m publishing on my blog a bit of this project. I’m here lincando readers for your blog. If you can not agree to delete the photos. The link is this – – await his return – Hugs

  13. My grandfather used to rebuild player pianos when he was alive. I have an old dresser with a lot of damage and this is just the inspiration I needed to find a purpose for it. I have one of his pianos and tons and tons of rolls. This old dresser of mine will go perfectly in my piano room now!!! Thank you so much for posting this!! I’m nearly in tears and so excited to get started!! Thank you, thank you!

  14. I am trying to recreate this look with my dresser and need help! I have a major concern with the burnt umber tint. My local Sherwin Williams was kind enough to give me some for free and I’ve diluted it in water but when I brush it onto the sheet music after mod-podging onto the drawers, I find it comes out very ‘streaky’ and not even the way it looks in the pictures above. I’ve tried with different types of brushes and even a damp rag and I’ve even tried different concentrations of tint but instead of having a nice warm tint like it does in the photos it just looks like I smeared brown stuff all over the sheet music. HELP!

  15. oh my word, I have similar shots of Drew putntig things together for Bentley’s room! I love that you are documenting… this baby boy newman must be documented. ha. so excited for you both… yay for another south end babe!


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