Black and brass dresser makeover

October 27, 2014

Yesterday I finished up the last DIY project for the family room – I think I keep saying everything is the “last” project and then I realize I have another one. For for real – this is it. We’ve been able to rework most of what was in the room before in the new set up and I’m pretty excited about that. 

In our old set up we used a dresser as the entertainment center:


I use dressers all over our house for storage – they’re pretty and functional. Most of them are Craigslist finds – well, pretty much all of them actually. The one above is one of my favorites but it was too long for the new spot in the family room set up.

So I switched that out for one that’s been in our bedroom for years. I’ve always had a plan to paint it but I bought it because I LOVED the lines:

paiting a dresser

Most of my dressers I would never paint – even with some damage I love the warm feel of the wood. This one though, I’ve never loved. The finish was a “fake” look – it’s an odd look that I didn’t care for. It had almost a spattered finish on the wood, I’m not sure how else to describe it. Let’s just say it wasn’t a pretty wood finish. And I’ve always really disliked the hardware on it as well – it’s felt too frilly for me.

So I didn’t feel bad painting this one. I considered just sanding it down to a more natural state – I’m loving that trend lately. But the new chair that sits in front of it already has a lighter look and I knew it wouldn’t be enough contrast.

AND sanding it down would require a ton of work – taking it outside and trying to get into all the little detailed areas of the piece. I prefer sitting on my butt and painting inside. ;)

I started by wiping it down well – I’ve used tsp cleaner in the past but over the past few years I’ve realized just regular cleaning wipes work just as well. You just want to get any residue or dust off of whatever you’re painting.

I primed it with my favorite primer:

bin primer painting furniture

I have this tinted gray because I use it on all of our interior black doors. It’s a super thin primer and SO easy to apply. It always goes on incredibly well and dries really fast.

Because I wanted to replace the hardware I filled the holes on the top drawers (they were a different type of hardware than the rest of the drawers):

how to paint furniture

After the coat of primer I made sure to give the flat surfaces a really quick sanding:

sanding furniture

I kind of loathe sanding but this is just a light, fast sanding to knock it down just a bit. You’ll want to do that between each coat of color too – if you don’t (I skipped it once or twice this time) your surfaces won’t be super smooth. Not a big deal but it feels better with a smoother finish.

I knew I was going to like it when it was all primed and ready for paint: how to paint furniture

I swear sometimes painting a piece really helps the pretty details and lines shine.

I found this AWESOME brush at Lowe’s that I used for most of the painting:

square paint brush

It’s a square brush and I’ve never seen one like it. It’s made for painting window panels but it was perfect for getting into all the grooves in the dresser. Loved it!

I’ve said many times over the years that I believe every room should have a touch of black. It’s grounding and gives some great contrast. I used to paint ever.y.thing. black but I’ve stopped that. ;) But I knew this one would look striking in a darker color so I went for it. I used the Graphite color by Sherwin Williams that I’ve used for our interior doors.

I found hardware that matched the wide (five inch) span of the old hardware but it was a brushed nickel and kind of basic. I didn’t love it. So I held up the old hardware against the new dark color and feel head over heels with it:

vintage brass hardware

Well huh! I’m not kidding when I say I really didn’t care for these handles before – and now I absolutely positively LOVE them. I gave them a good cleaning with my brass cleaner and they are looking so much better than before. (Yes I had to knock out that filler I had put in the top drawers.)

You can see all the pretty lines of the dresser here:

black dresser

I am obsessed with it now. Obsessed:

black dresser brass hardware

It’s so beautiful, I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out! 

On our doors that Graphite color looks more black but you can see it’s true color better here – a dark, dark gray:

painted black dresser

I haven’t dressed it up yet – I just threw stuff on it for the pictures.

This dresser serves as my “office” storage. Or at least it will soon – I have some items in it but need to switch out my supplies from the dresser that used to sit in my office.

dresser for office storage

The best part – I spent $7 on a new brush and that’s all this redo cost me. WHOOT! I had the primer and paint so that’s always a bonus. I haven’t distressed it at all yet – I’ve said before that distressing stresses me. :) After all that work I hate to mess it up on purpose. So I’ll probably just let that happen on it’s own. And soon I’ll put a couple coats of satin poly on the top to protect it against scuff marks.

I am still laughing about that hardware too – I can’t believe how much I love it against the darker color. I think this may be my favorite painted piece ever and it’s the handles that put it over the top for me. Have you painted furniture? Do you have a go-to color?

I’ll be back on Wednesday with the whole space! I’m going to work hard over the next two days to get all the smaller details finished up.

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  1. Sarah!! This dresser looks so good! I'm with you...the handles are amazing. Looks like a million dollar piece. :) I bought a $15 bookcase over the weekend, and now you've gotten me even more excited to paint it! Have a great week!

  2. Love the new color and yes, the hardware too.

  3. It's beautiful! I love black furniture!! And those handles look amazing! I don't think it needs distressed, so I wouldn't stress about that! lol

    I haven't painted any furniture yet but I bought a desk that I need to paint! Too scared though!

  4. WOW! Amazing, I love that dresser!!! Great job!!!

  5. Really pretty! I had to laugh though, the same thing happened to me with my kitchen cabinet hardware. Hated it with the wood tone (too fancy!) but once the cabinets were painted I loved them.

  6. "Square" brush!?!? I'm confused - that looks like an angled brush to me. But that aside - that dresser redo is A W E S O M E. I will be looking for something to paint black as soon as I finish typing this comment. Awesome!!


  7. Love that color! I have a hall tree that would look awesome painted darker.

  8. This is beautiful, Sarah. Black paint makes everything better! ;)

  9. I love it! I have been on a "paint everything white" kick!

  10. it's beautiful - I'm a sucker for a dresser make-over! love the color and the handles :)

  11. Beautiful - I agree that sometimes wood furniture is better left unpainted, but this dresser looks so great with the paint. I'm in love with the handles!

  12. Nice color. Is the dresser positioned on the same wall as your fireplace? I guess I'll see on Wednesday!

  13. Nice!! And is that your new chair?? Lucky little duck! I have been eyeballing that style forever!!

  14. Sarah: I can not believe the transformation. It truly looks like a different piece. The original color did not do this dresser any justice. I love the graphite color and the hardware, unbelievable on the new color. I can not wait to see the entire reveal!

  15. I have painted two pieces and get so frustrated with seeing brush strokes. I don't think I sanded between coats though! For paint I used Valspar, so I would like to use Benjamin Moore or Sherwin Williams to see if there is a difference. I am going to try some milk paint with the additive that makes it more like regular paint and plan on redoing a table I pulled out of a trash pile. I will definitely pick up the brush you recommended. I have only painted two pieces so far, in white. But just picked up a small dresser for ten bucks and want to try something out of my comfort zone!

  16. What a beautiful dresser! The hardware looks gorgeous with that color! It's funny that you say you went through an all-black phase - I'm in the middle of a white one. It's hard to resist the urge to paint everything white, but it just makes me happy! I figure I can always paint it again when I get on another color kick :)

  17. I want to go home and paint something this graphite color TONIGHT!!! I love the color and I also love the old hardware.
    Bertie DeWane

  18. Love, love, LOVE this!! I have dressers (all from Craigslist as well) all over our house that I use for storage. It is amazing how useful they are for extra storage! I have a table I need to refinish and I may go with this same color :-)

  19. Oh my word, how GORGEOUS is that?? Beautiful!
    xo Heidi

  20. I think it looks fantastic! I love the dark grey and the handles really shine against teh darker color. They looked kind of hokey against the weird wood.

  21. OOOh it turned out so chic! Great job, I'll have to show this to my guy later as a little decorating inspiration!!

    506 Miles: from Detroit to Nashville

  22. Long time follower who has never commented (though I had adored your office). Literally went 'ooohhhhhhh' at this breathtaking makeover! Simply gorgeous!!

  23. Perfect choice for that peice! Gotta love when your hard work pays off 😊

  24. I absolutely LOVE this! The colour is fab and you so made the right call with the hardware. It totally works. I beg you not to distress it. It is beautiful as it is! ;-) I can't wait to get cracking with painting some of my own furniture. This is so inspiring.

  25. I have an old-ish piece that was inlayed and very fancy but I couldn't stand it. It's a massive China cabinet sort of thingy. Earlier this year, against everyones adice, I grabbed the black paint, a paint brush and it is now sleek and modern and i love it. I especially disliked it's old granny panty hardware now it's sexy.

  26. Girl, brass is back! In a big way! Not like brass door knobs, but just like your drawer pulls. Little gold shiny accents are so in- I love it!!

  27. So at the beginning of the post you were saying you were going to repaint & change out the hardware; you never liked the hardware....and my brain said, "oh, that looks like cool hardware! Aw. I'm sure what Sarah puts on it will be nice though, can't wait to see."
    I guess the title should have been my clue, but I actually kind of forgot your post title.
    So delighted to see you kept it, bc I thought it was really unique.

    It looks splendid.

  28. what a beautiful transformation! I will be inheriting my mom's blond 60's period china cabinet, with muted brass hardware. I'm thinking I'll remove the top, go graphite and the original pulls will look awesome as our tv stand. Thanks for the inspiration!

  29. I really love it, the color is beautiful and the lines of the dresser. The hardware is gorgeous. I'm loving on your bobbin chair and would love to know where you purchased, if you don't mind. I want 2 for our family room and have been looking at them forever; however, I have not seen any great prices yet. Love all you do and thanks for sharing.

  30. You're right! The old hardware is totally amazing with the painted version of the dresser! I don't know how you do it, but you do it every time. I'm in awe. :-)

  31. Wonderful job!
    I was trying to fine SW Graphite but I don't think it exists. Is that Benjamin Moore Graphite? I'm painting a piece this weekend and love that look.


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