Monday, February 6, 2012

Big Blue Dresser, the Reveal

I'm finally finished with my most recent furniture refurbishing project, and it's time for a little bit of Before and After action.  This project has been firmly driven by Murphy's Law, with obstacle after obstacle being thrown in my path.  I won't dwell on this now, since it's finished and it looks so fabulous ... it's time to share.  Settle in, and I will show you the process.



The subject dresser was a very tired, very heavy, well-made nine-drawer dresser from Dixie Furniture Company, which is now part of Lexington.



This piece is the perfect blank canvas for a bit of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint magic!



It definitely has its challenges, though.



According to my research, Dixie was a mid-quality manufacturer before it was acquired by Lexington.  I'm not sure what they consider to be 'mid-quality' because this dresser is made completely from solid wood ... except for the back piece of each drawer, which I find puzzling.



Quality joinery throughout!  This piece is solid ... which is the most important consideration when evaluating a piece of furniture I plan to redo.  (I'm not spending my time putting a new finish on a piece of junk furniture.)



The top of this dresser is getting stained and varnished, so the first step was to take off the old finish.



My 'Go To' tool for work like this is my trusty heat gun.  I wouldn't recommend this for beginners who are working on a piece that isn't going to be painted, because it takes quite a bit of experience to get the touch to strip the varnish and not scorch the wood.  (I stripped all the woodwork in our house with a heat gun, so I am intimately familiar with the subtleties off this technique.)  It's a good thing, too, because the finish on this dresser is lacquer ... which is super flammable.  The slightest bit of overheating would ignite the lacquer on my scraper, putting off profuse white smoke.  This is DEFINITELY a job to be done outside!



Once the lacquer was gone, I used my trusty palm sander to smooth the surface and to get rid of the last remnants of the original finish.  This gives it a nice even surface for the new stain ... my new favorite color, 'Kona' by Rustoleum.



One coat of wood conditioner, one coat of stain, two coats of Minwax oil-based satin polyurethane, and the top is now finished.  For the smoothest finish possible, be sure to lightly sand between coats of stain and varnish.  (I use a superfine sanding sponge for this.)



The body color is Annie Sloan's 'Aubusson Blue'.



The actual painting is the quickest part of this job.  After the paint was dry, and I lightly sanded and carefully distressed the edges of the drawers and the body of the dresser, it was time for the magic of a hand-rubbed wax finish.

Left: sanded and distressed.  Right: finished drawer, with clear and dark wax.


When I distress, I use two grits of sandpaper to try to replicate a naturally time-worn finish.  Here are a couple of examples.

This is what the applique at the bottom of the dresser looked like after painting.



Here it is with a little bit of scuffing from a piece of 220 grit sandpaper.



The distressing is further refined with a quick buff with a superfine sanding sponge.



The waxing brings out the subtleties of the distressing.  Here is one of the dresser feet, sanded and ready for wax.



Clear wax shines the underneath finish that's peeking through, but it looks a bit flat.



Dark wax, and a lot of buffing, brings out the contours and the 'patina' of this piece.  



All the hardware needed was a quick spritz of Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint, and it was good to go.



I've kept you waiting long enough.  Are you ready for the big reveal?



My 'glamour shots' photos had to be staged in my basement workshop, because this piece is big and heavy and I don't have anywhere else to move it.  Even in this not-so-ideal spot, this beast is beautiful.



For a finishing touch, all of the drawers are lined with coordinating vintage Waverly wallpaper.



There you have it ... quite a transformation, if I do say so myself.

It went from this:



To this:



Now Big Blue is ready for its new home.  Even though this piece started life as a dresser, someone could easily use it as a buffet in their dining room or as a media stand for a big flat-screen TV.  I don't have room for it in my booth at the antique mall, so I listed this piece on Craig's List yesterday.  This is the first time I've put one of my refurbished pieces on CL, so we'll see how it goes.

(2/7/12:  Edited to add ... Big Blue just left here with a fabulous new owner.  I'm thrilled to see it go to such a great home!)

I'll be back tomorrow with some lessons on exactly how I waxed this piece.  Stay tuned.

51 comments:

  1. it's BEAUTIFUL!!!i saw this listing on craigs list this morning before you posted. i have been searching for a desk for my son's room and whenever i see the word "french" in the furniture i ALWAYS look. hope it sells fast for you- and from the looks of it, it should! :o)

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  2. Amazing re-do~ you did a beautiful job~ picked the perfect colors they look wonderful together~
    smiles
    Teresa

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  3. This is beautiful! And that is a lot of work you put into it, but so well worth it.

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  4. Beautiful!!! You did an awesome job!!! Hope it sells fast!!! :)

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  5. Beautiful.. Love you color choices! -Susan

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  6. Stunning transformation - beautiful work!

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  7. This is just stunning! Fabulous transformation.

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  8. I really like the wallpaper lining! It is a very nice smart and personal touch.

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  9. Stunning! I love the color. I think I have the matching chest! Unfortunately...mine is in the closet. We have talked about refinishing it and bringing it out, but we haven't done that just yet. HMMM, Inspiration!

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  10. I must have missed the post where you said what kind of wax you use. I have some old furniture where the finish isn't bad enough to re-do, but has gotten dull and dry looking. Despite my attempts to clean it it looks perpetually dusty.

    Do you think wax might be a good solution to give it a shine back? How does it work on heavily carved surfaces? (another reason I don't want to completely strip and refinish)

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  11. It's a doll. You made me recall my heat gun episodes stripping paint off windows. I cracked a few panes before I got in the groove. Nice work.

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  12. I love it! I just love that color, I pineed it!

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  13. What a gorgeous piece, Connie. I absolutely love it. xo Diana

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  14. Gorgeous! And it has ALL the handles. Interesting fix, though, in a pinch.♥♫

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  15. Connie I am stunned by how gorgeous that piece is after the makeover! You are so talented! I really love it. Wish I lived 'closer' but then I would have to figure out where to put it!! Hugs, Linda

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  16. Absolutely GORGEOUS!!!!!!!... wow, Connie. Really beautiful work.

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  17. That is fantastic and I'll bet someone will grab it right up! Was the missing pull with the dresser, or did you manage to actually find one to match?

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  18. Your work just keeps getting better and better, fantastic! I am sure you will have a quick sale.

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  19. So this is the dresser you were hinting about, Connie. WOW! You did an amazing job on it! It's just stunning and looks like it came out of a French mansion! Now I know what you mean about the Aubusson Blue. Gorgeous!! :)

    xoxo laurie

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  20. Oh. My. Goodness. Connie, you did an amazing job!! I am extremely impressed at how you transformed this piece. Girl, you are good!!
    I truly look forward to a lesson in waxing as I've never attempted to refurbish anything but have plans for a few pieces.

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  21. Ah....the magic of ASCP and a little elbow grease!

    Stunning!!!

    Well done my friend..I'm sure it will be sold very soon.

    Janet xox

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  22. I really love your finished product--GREAT JOB!!
    I have a very similar dresser and have been on the fence about stripping or painting--and what color. . .hmmmmmm...!
    Catherine

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  23. Saw it on CL and sent you a note -- it turned out beautifully! Congrats on the quick sale!

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  24. That is gorgeous Connie! Love the color and the beautiful stained top! Hope you'll share at the party again this week and be sure to check out the features from last week!

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  25. Connie, that is gorgeous and wow it sure sold quickly.

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  26. Ok, WOW, just WOW, it's beautiful! I'm not surprised at all that it is now in a wonderful new home!

    Kat :)

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  27. Beautiful transformation..The color is amazing!

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  28. Fantastically beautiful! Congratulations on the quick sale!!

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  29. That is one gorgeous piece ... you must be thrilled with the results! *Becca* (new follower by way of Savvy Southern Style)

    www.adventuresindecorating1.blogspot.com

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  30. This is gorgeous. I painted a dresser last year, but I love the color of yours!

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  31. you did a beautiful job with this piece! impressed!

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  32. Fabulous job & color! Did you find a matching pull? If so, where & how did you do it? I have furniture with the same pulls & I'm missing 1 or 2. Thanks

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  33. Just finished the same piece this week - a Dixie 9-drawer. Mine is ASCP Pure White. I love what you did with the color and natural top.

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  34. Beautiful! What a fantastic make over, I love those old French dressers.

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  35. Came from Miss Mustard Seed. It's absolutely gorgeous!

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  36. What a beautiful piece. I love the stained top.

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  37. Very Beautiful! I just pinned it :)

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  38. When looking online for inspirational pics of how to paint my triple Dixie dresser, I came across your blog and pics. Thank you for holding my hand while I tackled my first HUGE painting project! It looks phenomenal!

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  39. This looks great! I am wanting to do this to a farm kitchen table and chairs, If you don't mind can you please explain the details on the products and steps used to paint the top? I am having a little bit of difficulty understanding the steps and conditioner, and finishes, etc(I have never refinished wood)

    Thank You!

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  40. where did you get the replacement hardware?

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  41. Deborah, I hope you see this reply ... your email is not in your profile, and I cannot send it to you directly.

    The replacement hardware for this dresser was taken from another dresser that I had in my shed. I had no luck finding a replacement handle, and I was lucky to have something already that I could use.

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  42. I just found your post this evening and I have to say, it is gorgeous! I have this exact same dresser, high boy and night stand. I have been looking for ways to update them. You've inspired me to fix 'em up!

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  43. Connie,

    The Big Blue Dresser was stunning...you did a lovely job giving it a new life =)

    Was the AS "Aubusson Blue" a straight color from the can? Or was it lightened with the Old White?

    Thanks for any assistance...your work is inspirational!


    -Bradley

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  44. Bradley, plain old ASCP Aubusson, straight from the can. It is one of my very favorite Annie Sloan colors. My painting skills have evolved since I published this. If I were to do this project today, I would use a brown glaze instead of the dark wax ... glaze is permanent, dark wax is not.

    Tutorial on how to apply a simple glaze is here:
    http://hartwoodroses.blogspot.com/2013/12/use-glaze-to-add-depth-to-chalk-paint.html

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  45. Connie,

    Thank you so much for the reply, and the helpful tips =) We came across your page while referencing techniques on restoring a dresser we have...found your Big Blue Dresser page and realized this old hutch we own is a Dixie piece as well! We are going to follow your recipe and palette (sans dark wax) and hope for the best.

    Love your work...look forward to seeing more!


    -Bradley

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  46. Love the piece you finished. Outstanding! When you say, you spritzed the hardware with Oil-Rubbed Bronze spray paint. Is this a type of paint? If so, what is the brand name?

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    1. Debbie, it was probably Rustoleum spray paint. When I say that I spritzed it, that's exactly what I did ... sprayed a very light coat of paint to accentuate the original hardware color, not mask it.

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