My $30 Craig’s List Dresser Revealed – At Long Last!

Marian ParsonsBefore and Afters, Furniture Makeovers, Hand Painted Furniture90 Comments

Can you believe that this… …was this? I purchased this French Provincial dresser off of Craig’s list in October and have been chipping away at it at a snail’s pace. First of all, as you can see, it was missing most of the hardware. Normally this isn’t an issue, but the style of this dresser demanded specific hardware. I’m embarrassed to say that I shelled out almost $70.00 to buy vintage hardware that matched the original. It was an e-Bay bidding war that became very emotional. That puts my investment total at $100.00, which is high for me, but still awesome for a solid wood dresser of this quality, style, and size.

Since this piece is solid wood, I decided to strip the top and stain it in a dark walnut. I was ready to go to war with this thick polyurethane top coat, but it came off surprisingly easy. Check out my furniture stripping tutorial if you want to know how.

I then sanded the top to a smooth finish. I also removed the hardware, sanded, and applied a deglossing agent to prepare the body of the piece to paint. Using my Graco sprayer, I applied a coat of poly and 2 coats of Sherwin Williams ProClassic Semigloss paint in Creamy.

I applied a dark walnut stain to the top of this piece. It looked like it was soaking in beautifully, but after letting it sit for a while, I noticed the stain was resisting in a few places. It is always so discouraging when this kind of thing happens. So, I had to sand it all down again and start over. Luckily, all of the work on this piece and the expensive hardware was worth it. I stained it again and applied 3 coats of semi-gloss Wipe-on Poly by Minwax. I also sprayed the hardware in an oil rubbed bronze spray paint in order to unify the finish of the original hardware and the look-a-likes I purchased on E-bay.

This hardware was a royal pain to install as well! Each handle is slightly different, so I had to be very exact when I was drilling the holes. There is still a little tweaking that has to be done, but it’s usable.

I’m not sure that this piece is done, yet. I am thinking about adding some decorative painting and antiquing. I’m just not sure what I want to do, so I’m going to live with it for a while before I commit to something.

For now, I love, love, love it! The lamps were a freebie from my aunt with Wal-Mart shades, the pedestals and domes were $2.50 for 3 at a Salvation Army (those are another story), and my moss topiaries are in the center. The ironstone platters on the wall were $2.50 each and the antique gold frame was $1.00, all purchased at yard sales. I’m still playing around with the accessories, but I just had to share this dresser.
Miss Mustard Seed

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My $30 Craig’s List Dresser Revealed – At Long Last!

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90 Comments on “My $30 Craig’s List Dresser Revealed – At Long Last!”

  1. This turned out very pretty!
    I bought one nearly like it for my daughter for $50.00..we sanded the top, as you did, and stained it…then painted the bottom in black. All the orginial hardware was there. I also bought one for myself and painted it all black. We both LOVE them and now we have so much storage….
    You did a marvelous job!!
    xo bj

  2. Wow! You did a beautiful job! I love that dresser! My mom had a similar piece…all white and then antiqued…and I can vouch for the amount of storage you have just added! Gorgeous! Merry Christma to you and your family!…Debbie

  3. Girl, I would say that you have definitely outdone yourself on this beautiful dresser. I love the curves and the two tones with the white and dark stain. I don't think that I would do anything else to it, it's so frenchy looking. Love it.
    If you tried to buy a dresser like yours, I would guess it would be over $2,000.
    Wonderful Job.


  4. What a gorgeous piece of furniture. You did an amazing job on it. I absolutely love it! Merry Christmas to you and your family.


  5. This looks amazing! The lines on this dresser are fantastic. Love the stained top. Good idea to wait and see how you feel about the painting or glazing on top of it. Sometimes I feel I rush into a decision and {in my case} should have just left well enough alone. I think this is one of my top 3 favorites of pieces that you've done!

  6. This is absolutely beautiful. My husband has inherited one very similar to this but it has a mirror that fits on the back. I am praying he lets me get my hands on it. I'd like to paint it and give it a good antique look. I can't wait.

  7. Love, love, love how this turned out. I used all the products you recommended on my sideboard re-do (the water based stripper, frog tape, etc) and it's turned out great. I have a few more touch ups on that too but I'm anxious to get the sunroom painted and redecorated using things I already have after Christmas.


  8. This piece is beautiful. I love it just the way it is! I also think you did a great job with your accessorizing (and great bargains too!)
    Happy Holidays.

  9. Just beautiful!! Well done. And you have me inspired with this one. We desperately need a new dresser for our master bedroom….the one you just did would be perfect for us. I will keep my eyes open….would make a great winter project for me!

  10. I love the walnut tops, white bottoms on so many of your pieces. Williams-Sonoma Home has some pieces like that. I would pay huge $ for a dresser that big that is solid wood. I also would leave it "as is" because I think decorative painting would compete too much with the hardware.

  11. You got a really good deal!! And it looks great. I love that style and for almost a year I have been watching one like it at a nearby resale shop. It started out at $250, then $200 and now I think it is at $175, which is not a good deal in my opinion…Soooo, instead I bought a 1925 dresser with mirror for $30 that was setting next to it and after stripping to bare wood, sanding and painting it black, I love it even more. Maybe in a couple of years the other one will come down to a reasonable price and I can have it too!


    Now if I can just find one for myself!

  13. That piece is stunning just as is now. It really has a simple beauty to it. Definitely worth the extra money spent on it.

  14. oh my word, it truly is beautiful.

    when you use a wood stain, did you use a conditioner before applying the stain? i found that helped with my last project, as far as the wood taking the stain evenly in all areas.

    your hard work definitely, definitely paid off. the lines of this piece, the colors…. wow. it's just stunning. well done!

  15. absolutely stunning. I wouldn't add a thing as far as the antiquing or more painting. Just my opinion, but it may be over the top. Let those handles be the accessory.

  16. wow! you did a beautiful job! it is always so hard to know when you are finished with a piece and i know i am always so eager to start using it, especially when you have all those other fun finds to decorate with!

  17. This is fabulous!!!!! I absolutely love it, and it was worth the ebay war to get the hardware! I am hoping to re-do our bedroom at the first of the year, and I will be looking for some pieces like this. I showed this to my husband and it agreed it was an amazing re-do!

  18. I'm so glad you found me so I could make my way over here! Your dresser is stunning. I don't blame you for going high on those handles, they were so worth it.

    We are practically neighbors, I live in eastern PA.

  19. Super stunning transformation!

    Thanks for visiting my blog. Small world – hubby works in the Sterling/Leesburg area, and we were married in Central PA.


  20. That turned out beautiful and worth the investment. I'm going to check out your tutorial too bc I just got a piece this weekend from my grandparents house that I'm going to have to refinish. It's a buffet but very similar to your piece. Seeing yours gets me excited about getting started on mine. Have a Merry Christmas!

  21. Oh the lines! How beautiful!

    Sometimes you have to step back from a piece and live with it for a bit before you do anything else. IMHO this one is so classic that it looks perfect as it is.

  22. Fabulous! Your signature two-tone never fails to disappoint!

    Also love that you showed the failure aspect. It makes me fear even less when attempting something new.

    Love your staging by the way. I think you're done here. NEXT! 🙂


  23. Love it! I was wondering what type of paint you used for the body of the dresser? And did you use polycrylic or something on top to seal it?

  24. You restored this grand piece into a treasure! It looks better than it did in its original skin. You must feel very smug! I bet as you walk by it you sometimes just stop to look at it and pat yourself on the back. You should! You deserve it for rescuing such a great piece of furniture and turning it into something so beautiful.

  25. Hi there! I absolutely love this dresser transformation! I actually just came across a dresser just like this one and want to refinish it just like you did this one! I am having the same issue that you did while staining the top of it! It is very blotchy. What did I do differently the second time u sanded it down and stained it to make it look so good the second time around? I need the help!! Thanks!

  26. What color are the walls in the room on the picture? They look light blue. My carpet is tones of beige and walls are SW 7529 Sand Beach and medium dark brown hickory wood trim.. I’m wondering if that is too much brown or should the wall be a different color than beige.

  27. I think it’s fabulous the way it is now. It’s classic and as the times change you can change the accessories, but the dresser will last forever.

  28. What a find for you and for me, why me because I own a five piece bedroom set just like your dresser. Back in the eighties I was looking for a set and came across this antique shop, told the keeper what I was looking for and he sold me a 5 piece bedroom set for less than $500.00. I never new the name of my set, but loved it and thanks to you I know the the name of my beautiful bedroom set.

  29. This is BEAUTIFUL. ….. I’m in the mood to recycle and do a furniture transformation! ! I love antique make the bedroom more cozy!!! I’m looking for one to start my project. ..thanks for the MOTIVATION! !!

  30. Well done!!! It is a good example that with a little of imagination and hard work you can do anything!!!!
    I am very proud of you even not knowing you because you reminded me my self….
    Gorgeus piece!
    Yrene Cedeno

  31. I think you did a marvelous job, of course with the makeover, but you decor is precious! Very trending, yet elegant. I have a very similar piece, that belonged to my mother-in-law, and when the family cleared out her home, no one wanted it, or the 2 night stands that she had for many, many years, so I rescued them. I am going to check on the same colors you used, very classy. Fortunately I have all of the hardware, but will be doing repair due to it’s showing it’s age. But I’m excited about it, also will just chip away a little at a time! Thanks for posting and the inspiration!

  32. It looks absolutely amazing, the hardware really works on it. I had similar issues when renovating my kitchen table, I found that using a pre-stain conditioner helps the stain soak in evenly. I had great success on my dresser top once I learnt that trick! Thank you for sharing such a success story. xx Ari xx

  33. What a great job (and your hard work shows) you have done on your great find for $30! Congratulations on a job well done.
    A possible suggestion for detailing your project, should you choose to: raised stenciling using say wood putty or Fixall for a textured design. You can make your own stencils or purchase them online for this purpose.
    Period designs are available through Dover Publications for purchase or free on their website and also in stores and sometimes available in local libraries or interlibrary loan. Or you may like decoupage after seeing what Dover also has on their website, a French technique you might enjoy trying.
    Again, congratulations and “Believe in the beauty of your dreams.” –Aubry

  34. MMS, I LOVE the dresser! It’s a good thing too when you can say I’m not sure if I’m finished. Living with it for a while is smart and good advice! I want to start my first in many years refinishing project. The big difference is that this dresser is veneer. Will check out your tutorial, but let me know if you have any words of wisdom for me. Beautiful work!

  35. Pingback: My $30 Craig's List Dresser Revealed - At Long Last! - Miss Mustard Seed | Dadne

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