My brother and sister in law were looking to get rid of an old dresser right around the time we needed something bigger in the kids bunk room at the family cottage. It was quickly decided the dresser would make the trek to the Laurentians. However, we weren’t about to let it go looking all sad, tired and yellow. We gave this old dresser a face lift to suit it’s new cottage home. Below we give you step by step instructions so you too can create a DIY painted cottage dresser.
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Here is a picture of the dresser before refinishing. It was in good shape, except for the missing hole plug on the base. This was an easy fix after a quick trip to our local home improvement store.
The Process – how to paint a dresser for the cottage
We knew we wanted to keep the top of the dresser wood to complement the beauty of it natural surroundings. We decided to use mineral paint in various shades of blue with a white frame to match the coastal decor in the kids room. Here are the steps you can take to create the same DIY painted cottage dresser:
Step 1 – clean
Use TSP or another good degreaser to clean the dresser. If you skip cleaning, and believe me, I know the temptation, you end up sanding the dirt and grime into the wood pores and it can negatively affect your finished paint coat. Make sure to rinse off the TSP before you continue prepping the piece.
Step 2 – sand
Use a medium grit sandpaper (around 100) to scuff up the frame and drawer fronts of the dresser. Since these will be painted, you do not have to try and remove the previous finish.
The top of the dresser does need to be sanded down to raw wood. We used a palm sander with medium grit sandpaper followed by hand sanding with a finer grit.
Clean away the sanding dust with a damp cloth followed by tack cloth.
Step 3 – oil the top
You can finish the wood top any way you want. On this piece we used Fusion’s hemp oil. Using a lint free rag, spread the oil generously over the wood. Wait a few minutes and then wiped off the excess oil. Repeat the process again until the wood stops absorbing the oil. We love using help oil for several reasons:
- it’s all natural and chemical free;
- the oil will seal and protect the wood from the inside out;
- it does not scratch like other synthetic wood coatings; and
- it is super easy to use.
Keeping the dresser top natural wood really complements the beachy-cottage theme!
Step 4 – mix and paint
Now the fun part! To get the color gradient, buy at least one pint of the darkest blue you want to use and one pint of white. We used Cottage Paint’s Serenity in Blue Blazer and Cottage White.
You’ll need several plastic containers for mixing – more than the number of colors you plan to use so you can experiment a little. You’ll also need several clean paint brushes, stir sticks, a scrap piece of wood and a permanent marker so you can mix and test your colors.
Start by adding the same amount of the darkest blue to each container. You’ll want to add at least a cup so you have enough for at least two coats on each drawer. Using a plastic spoon, add incremental amount of white to one container. The more white you add, the greater the color contrast will be between each drawer.
Blend the white and blue with a paint stick until the color is uniform. Paint a sample of the color on your scrap wood and label both the wood AND the plastic container with the ratio of white paint added.
Repeat the process with the next container, adding double the amount of white you added to the previous container.
When you have a few shades of blue on your sample board, choose the ones that you like the most and paint your drawer fronts. Paint the frame of the dresser in white.
Because we used mineral paint, it only took 2 coats to get perfect coverage and no top coat is required! You can read more about why we love mineral paint here.
Step 5 – final touches
For a little more whimsy, we stenciled numbers on each drawer. Not only do they add charm, but they help the kids remember which drawer is theirs!
We also replaced the dated hardware with some charming bin pulls from Amazon.
The finished dresser is super cute! The natural wood top, bold blues and white and the faded stencil numbering all add to the beach/cottage feel. We think it will go nicely with the nautical theme in the kids’ bunk room at the cottage.
What do you think of this painted cottage dresser makeover? Have you tried hemp oil? Do you love it as much as we do? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below!