Painted Dresser with Raw Wood Drawers

Painted Dresser tutorial step by step guide to painting a dresser and creating raw wood drawers

This simple, step by step painted dresser guide will show you how I transformed a dark, hand-me-down dresser using a little paint and a whole lot of elbow grease!

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Hey everyone! Hope you are all enjoying your weekend, today I am super excited to share a simple painted dresser tutorial with you!

One of the things I was determined to do this year was share projects that we have done in the past that I just never got around to blogging about. 

Blogging takes so much time, especially when it comes to DIY projects. Not only are you trying to complete the DIY itself (with young children might I add), but you are also having to stop, take photos of the process, then edit those photos, type up the tutorial, create Pinterest graphics…the list goes on and on. 

BUT like I said, I AM going to try my very hardest to finally fill you all in on some of the projects that I am asked about the most, so here we go! 

Last Sunday I did a little poll on Instagram asking what you would prefer to see this week, and this painted dresser makeover ranked the highest. Now let me just say that I once again, I took a lot of the progress shots with my iPhone during this project. It was a messy one, but ohhhh so worth it in the end!!

We were given this dresser shortly after we were married, and for 5 years I was too scared to touch it. I thought that if I painted it I would ruin it, so I bought dark, mahogany colored picture frames and baskets for our bedroom to try to tie the whole room together and make it work.

DIY painted dresser makeover before photo

Deep down, I never loved the finish. Don’t get me wrong, it was gorgeous as is and I’m sure many people think I’m crazy for messing with it. But I knew that I didn’t love it. So I finally mustered up the courage to change it. 

DIY dresser makeover

Painted Dresser – Step One

The first thing I did (after removing the hardware) was apply stripper to the dresser drawer fronts.

Now normally, I would tell you to remove your drawers and take them outside to do a project like this. For whatever reason, though, I could not for the life of me figure out how to remove the drawers. My husband even messed with it and he could not pull them out either. So they stayed in place as I worked. 

How to strip furniture DIY
how to strip a dark finish off of a dresser step by step guide

When you are working with stripper, please use precautions. A sweet friend of mine who taught me how to use stripper once told me – “Andrea, no piece of furniture is more valuable than your eyes or your skin.” Be SURE to wear protective glasses and heavy duty rubber gloves before you get started. 

Also, make sure you are in a well ventilated area. We worked on this in late spring so I was able to open all the windows and have fans going as well. Personally, I wasn’t blown away by the stripper I used. I think it was all we had on hand at the time, but I have heard rave reviews about a product called Citri-Strip. I am looking forward to trying it on a small side table soon, but so many of my friends use and love that product!

Whichever product you end up using, simply follow the directions provided. You can see that I used a plastic putty knife to scrape off my finish, then I worked my way up the dresser and tried to reuse as much of the stripper as I could.

DIY guide to stripping furniture

Another thing I like to use when stripping wood is a fine grade of steel wool. I like to pour stripper right on to the wool and work it into the wood, removing as much of the finish as I can. 

How to strip dark wood furniture

After stripping all of the drawers, it’s wise to clean your wood with something like Mineral Spirits before you do any sanding. That way any residue left on your wood won’t gunk up your sand paper. 

Painted Dresser – Step Two

My husband then took his palm sander and went to town on the dresser drawer fronts, getting them as light as he could.

He started with 80 grit sandpaper then finished with 120. One question that I’m asked often is whether or not I sealed the drawers. To be honest, I wish that I had. Unfortunately all I had at the time was a glossy Polycrylic, and I just didn’t like how it made the drawers look wet. I loved the look and feel of the raw wood, so I left them untouched. They do make a matte Polycyclic and another option would have been a clear wax, but my drawers have held up well without any sealing and I haven’t dealt with any stains or marks of any kind. 

Cottage style chest with raw wood drawers DIY

Painted Dresser – Step Three

Finally, I decided to paint the rest of the dresser. (This is the paint brush I use and love!)

Once again I was trying to use what we had on hand, so I found our exterior house paint color amidst my paint collection in the basement and decided to give it a try! Look how this painted dresser turned out! 

painted dresser with wooden drawers DIY guide

Since our home was painted by the previous owners, I don’t have an exact color I can give you. We had to touch up a few spots that were peeling off so we simply had the paint color matched at the hardware store. I can tell you that it is VERY similar to “Chinchilla” by Behr paint. It’s maybe a hair different.

I turned the paint into chalk paint using a recipe that I love – 

  • 1 cup latex paint
  • 2 TBS Plaster of Paris
  • 2 TBS of water
  • Mix the water and Plaster of Paris until it is dissolved, add 1 cup of paint. 

And that’s it! Chalk paint is amazing because it doesn’t require any prep work. No sanding, no stripping, just painting. I love the way this painted dresser turned out! The mix of the deep gray and wood on this painted dresser is so beautiful to me.

I did seal the gray with my Polycrylic, which I definitely prefer because it doesn’t yellow over time like Polyurethane does. You can see the difference in the finish between the paint and wood in these photos…

polycrylic over chalk paint on a dresser step by step
using polycrylic to seal chalk paint on a painted dresser

What do you guys think of this painted dresser? I’m so happy I went for it and gave this a makeover. I seriously love it so much more now then I did when it was dark. 

Wood drawers and painted dresser step by step guide.
painted dresser DIY tutorial

I actually love the variations in the wood, it makes the drawers look more weathered and imperfect.

DIY cottage style dresser refinished
DIY refinished dresser tutorial step by step

Do you have any questions about this painted dresser tutorial? Let me know in the comments!! Thanks so much for stopping by today friends!! 🙂



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  1. I think it turned out beautiful, Andrea! I redid a table and china hutch of my ex husbands grandfather and it had that dark mahogany stain on it. So I know the mess you went through to get that stuff off! You did a great job, and thank god for chalk paint, right?! 😁👍🏻

    1. Thank you Shelia!! Yes, you know exactly!! Haha! I bet your hutch turned out beautiful! Thank you for visiting my blog and leaving such a sweet comment!:)

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  3. So pretty! Turned out great!

    It’s funny cuz we have the exact same style of night stands that I’m in the process of redoing. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to get the drawers out until hubby helped me.(I even one time unscrewed the back because something fell behind and I couldn’t get the drawers out to reach it lol) There’s a plastic strip attached to the dresser under the drawer. You have to pull the drawer out and reach under or use a butter knife or something and push that piece of plastic down. Maybe that will save you some headache if you ever need to pull the drawers out.

    1. Aww Jenny thank you!! That is so funny because we had the same issue! I literally worked on the drawers while they were still inside of the dresser because I could not get them out. So good to know if I ever need to work on them again! Thank you for the tip! 🙂

  4. Thank you and it looks beautiful. I will be trying this on a small dresser my uncle made. How do you refinish the insides of the drawers?

  5. Do you remember if your paint was a flat or eggshell paint before you turned it into chalk paint? Or was it a satin or semi-gloss? And was the polycrilic was a matte finish? I’ve been looking for something to do with our dresser and this is it!!

    1. Hi Kathryn!! The paint I used was flat, and the poly was a matte finish!! Please tag me once you finish your dresser, I’d love to see how it turns out!! 🙂

  6. I am trying to do this project with a dresser. I hope mine turns out just as beautiful. One question..did you use the matte polycrylic on both the painted part as wll as the drawers?

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  8. It turned out so nice! Great job!

    I was curious if you did any Oreo work to the part you painted. Or is it just a good cleaning? What do you suggest cleaning with that won’t leave a residue behind?

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  11. I was wondering what you used for the hardware to make it dark? I’m currently done with my dresser however I’m trying to figure out what to do with the hardware- i need them to be blackish!


    1. Hello Anna, I simply spray painted them! It’s a simple process to remove them and lay them out and paint them. I hope this helps!

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