Do you have old and boring furniture lying around, just waiting for someone to breathe some life into it? I do. Its a plain, brown dresser and it’s as basic as it can be. THEN, while I was online window shopping, I laid my eyes on the most perfect dresser with a price to match! $500?! Hell nah! I’m too broke for that, fam. And then it hit me, I can actually revamp an old dresser to look $500 under $50!
It is surprisingly easy to revamp old furniture, but my method is not perfect per se. I wouldn’t sell it to anyone, as there are glaring imperfections which I will show later in the post, so you know what you’re getting yourself into. But I LOVED the end result and wanted to share it with you all!
I don’t know if there’s a particular name for the type of design that I like. But I call it the ‘Mixed drawers’ design. Very creative, I know. This matches my personality PERFECTLY since I love wayyy too many different themes and styles, so why not have it all in one dresser, amirite?
Here’s my moodboard where I get my main inspirations from to revamp my old dresser:
My dresser has 3 tiers, so I decided on 3 themes for each one: Classical, Victorian and Scandinavian. I initially wanted an Industrial and Luggage theme, but it was hard to tie the themes together. A challenge I faced was making the drawers look unique but still harmonising well with the rest.
The magic is in the herringbone wood decal y’all! At least for my design, this decal worked WONDERS into making my dresser look high-end.
What I Used
3 sets of handles to correspond to the 3 different themes
Herringbone Wood design PVC decal/adhesive
I bought mine from Shopee but the item is no longer for sale. I found similar herringbone design from Amazon here: Multi-coloured wood grain and Brown wood grain
2 small photo frames (bought it from Daiso for $2 each)
The main criteria are to make sure that it’s wide enough for the handle to fit in but not too wide such that it protrudes unnaturally from the drawer. Remember, it should appear to be part of the dresser.
Victorian design Rubber Motif/Applique
Similar to the frames, there should be a way to fit this rubber moulding around the handles. The good thing about rubber is that you can cut it, so there’s plenty of room to work with.
I bought this from Carousell, which is based in Singapore, and I can’t find it on other international platforms. You can try contacting the seller to see if they do international shipping!
Otherwise, you can try Rubber Wood Appliques, which unfortunately isn’t flexible, so any amendments need to be made with a cutter and sandpaper.
These wood carvings really sold my dresser! Makes it look legit AF. If the product doesn’t ship to your country, there are similar mouldings in Amazon.
Saw (I’ve never used this in my life, till this project)
This should be the same colour as your dresser. Mine is dark brown.
Before you start shopping for these materials, here are a few things you should take note of:
Pitch of hole: Measure your drawers’ ‘pitch of hole’ and make sure your new handles match up to the measurement.
The size of the frames and rubber applique: Take into consideration the length of your new handles and check that they would fit into your chosen frames and applique.
Length and width of wood trimmings: Plan where you would like to paste the wood trimmings and if there is even a spot for this. The challenge is to find wood trimming that is of the appropriate width for your dresser.
Draft: Draw out a draft of your dresser with the various themes to ensure they go well together. Trust me, my initial plans were MUCH MORE fancier and crazy and experimental. Think 6 different themes! But after drawing it out, I realised it didn’t fit into the design of my room at all! So I toned it down to just 3 themes.
The Actual Process
Remove the contents of the dresser and ensure its all cleaned up. Remove the handles and any fixtures on it.
Measure the length of the wood trimming that is needed on each side and saw it off.
This was the hardest step for me as I have never used a saw in my life.
If you have sandpaper, sand off the edges of the wood trimming.
Superglue these wood trimmings to your dresser. Do this ONE AT A TIME. I didn’t and so I didn’t even have enough hands to press down on the wood when they all came gliding down.
I’m not sure if you guys would experience this, but the wood kept GLIDING down from its glued position. So I spent a few minutes just pressing the wood against my dresser to really allow the glue to bond with it.
Be generous with the glue but prepare a paper towel to wipe off any excess glue that comes trickling down. There’s a lot of that. Maybe I was too generous 😬.
Once the wood trimmings have been glued in place, paint it in your dresser’s base colour.
Paste the herringbone wood adhesive on the surface of the table. Use as many rows as needed & fold any excess over the edge.
While waiting for the paint to dry, we can now start on the drawers!
Measure the frames and cut out that measurements from the Herringbone Wood Grain decal.
The key is to make sure it is visible ONLY from the inside of the frame and doesn’t extend beyond that.
Paste the decal at the centre of the drawer.
Tip: Position the pitch holes of the handles at the centre.
Then poke the pitch holes through the decal once it is pasted on. The screw of the handle would do the job nicely.
Next, install the handles for this tier.
Time to bring out the frames!
Remove any glass panels and fixtures from the photo frames.
We only want those rectangular frames. Position and glue the frame over the handle and make sure it is symmetrical on both sides.
Paint the frames in the base colour again and wait for it to dry.
Moving on to the next tier of drawers, my concept was white Victorian. This was a bit of a failed attempt as I wanted to make an inverse design of sorts, but it can’t really be seen. SO the modified version should be:
Paste white wood decal on both drawers. Make sure the wood panels line up.
Fold over any excess decal. This might look unsightly after a while, as it will tend to be folded back up after a while. My budget fix was simple to tape it over so it stays. Let me know if you guys have a better solution to fix this!
Install the handles.
Position the rubber appliques around the handle.
Cut out any parts that don’t fit and trim it to ensure even edges. I used 2 same-design rubber appliques for each drawer as rubber is flexible so I can easily glue and merge the appliques together, like so.
And here’s the tricky part. Glue down the rubber appliques and don’t be too generous with it.
I used too much and the glue leaked all over my new handles. It was a mess. If this happens to you, make sure you have a paper towel with you to quickly clean it up. It’s only a pain to remove once it has dried up.
Optional: Remove the handles and paint the inside area to any desired colour. I painted mine somewhat cloudy white, just to give a mix of design to it.
Install the handles after it has dried.
3rd and final tier! This is the easiest one yet.
Remember that herringbone wood grain adhesive? Paste it on the drawers and poke the pitch holes through it yet again, and install the handles.
That’s it. And it looks amazing. The power of herringbone design!
By now, the paint should have dried. Time to whip out the gold. The trick here is to use DRY paintbrush with wide bristles to give that texture. Dip sparingly into the gold paint and gently GLIDE the brush across the wood trimmings. The purpose is to accentuate the texture of the wood.
Finish it up with a clear spray sealant and we’re done!
Let me know if you have DIY-ed and revamped any old furniture around your house and how it went! I would love to hear your stories!