the autumn catalogue dresser.

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t normally do custom work.  Mainly because I find it too stressful.  I spend the entire time I’m working on a piece worried about whether or not it’s going to meet the customer’s specifications.  It’s just not as much fun for me.  I’d rather be free to make decisions on the fly as I run into problems, and then when the piece is finished try to find a buyer to match up with it.

However, earlier this year when I did the Blue Alligator dresser I had two people who really wanted it.

Since there was only one dresser, it went to the first person in line.  The second person in line, Debbie (not my sister, but another Debbie) mentioned that if I ever did another dresser with the same Iron Orchid Designs transfer she’d love to have it.

So, I did another one.

And as it turned out, Debbie didn’t like the color I chose.  Blue wouldn’t work in the room she wanted it for.

Ironically, I ended up again having two people who both wanted the blue one though, and once again it went to the first person in line.

So now I’ve done a third.  And although it wasn’t technically a custom job, I did paint it in a warm white, which is what Debbie wanted.

And this time I hit the nail on the head.  Debbie loves it.  And seriously, can you blame her?

But let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Oh boy.  I’m not going to sugar coat it, this one was in rough, rough shape when I got it.  That ‘before’ photo was taken after it came back from Ken’s workshop.  Ken took this one completely apart and put it back together again with fresh glue and wood reinforcements in every corner.  As you can see, it had only one sad little drawer pull.  Ken added the twine handles so that he could operate the drawers while he was working on them.

Not only was all the glue dried out, the finish was pretty dried out and beat up as well.

But I had a feeling there was some gorgeous wood underneath all of that abuse.

So after Ken performed his repair magic, I got out the stripper and started with the top.  I stripped any remaining finish off the top and sanded it down.  Then I waxed it with Miss Mustard Seed Antiquing Wax.  Yes, it’s just the wax over the bare wood.  Miss Mustard Seed has a great video tutorial on how to do this on YouTube, so if you’ve never seen it be sure to check it out.

Sure enough, it was the perfect way to go.  Just look how beautiful that wood is now!  I love these dresser tops that are made out of solid planks of wood rather than a sheet of veneer.

Meanwhile, I filled in the holes for the original drawer pulls on the drawers.  I knew I wanted to switch to glass knobs on this one (with just one hole each rather than the two required for a pull), so I filled the extra holes with Elmer’s ProBond wood filler and let that harden up while I was working on the top.

To prep the rest of the dresser I sanded it lightly by hand.  That finish was so dry that it basically just came off at the merest touch of the sandpaper.  I vacuumed up the dust, wiped the dresser down with a damp cloth and then painted the body and drawer fronts in Fusion’s Limestone.  It took three coats to properly cover that dark wood.

Once dry, I sanded the edges to distress and then applied the Iron Orchid Designs ‘Seeds’ transfer.  The transfer worked beautifully with the Fusion paint.

Q-tip:  the entire ‘Seeds’ transfer is almost 37″ long, this dresser is just under 33″ tall total, while the total space for the transfer is only about 23″ tall.  So I didn’t use the whole thing.  If you look back to the first two dressers, you’ll see that I did the same thing with each of them.  And in fact, I used different sections of the transfer on each one.  It’s quite easy to ‘cut and paste’ in this way with the IOD transfers.  And now I have a section of the transfer left over that will work beautifully on another piece.  It’s a great way to get two pieces out of one transfer.

Once the transfer was applied I went over it ever so lightly with 220 grit sandpaper.  That helps minimize the ‘halo’ that shows around each letter at certain angles of light.

Finally, I drilled new holes and added my clear glass knobs.

I’ve refinished a few serpentine dressers in my day (some of my faves are here, here and here), but this one is especially curvy.

Even the sides are curved.

I think this dresser has been improved 100%, don’t you agree?

So tell me, which of the three versions is your favorite?

50 thoughts on “the autumn catalogue dresser.

    1. Thanks Kim. In this case I did not wax the entire dresser since Fusion paint doesn’t require a top coat. However, you can put any top coat over the transfer. I have waxed over them and used the Real Milk Paint Co’s Dead Flat over them, and both worked well. If you want extra protection or if you want the surface of the transfer to be washable you may want to add a topcoat. I have a transfer on the cupboard where I store my painting supplies, I’m in and out of that cupboard a lot and I did not put a topcoat over the transfer and it is holding up perfectly well.


  1. Wow. Just wow. You took a crusty piece of furniture and made it oh so wonderful! Great vision. I love the top just sanded with wax. It has a lived in look sorta like a frequently washed pair of jeans. And asking us to pick which one of the three is our favorite is like asking a mom to pick her most favorite child. If I was pressed to answer, I’d say the middle one, the light blue – I just like the drawers and the hardware. But all are welcome to come live at my house! (I know they are all sold!) thanks for the inspiration on a Friday!


  2. I gotta say the white curvy one too…but I do love the colored ones as well. I think it just depends on what will work the best in your own home. For me, kt would be the white. Love how that wood came back to life. Just amazing what can be done with a piece of junk…but in the right hands. And with the right know-how.


  3. I love this dresser! The serpentine curves are beautiful. My favorite things are usually white, but I would have a difficult time picking one out of the three that you did. Your talent is amazing. I love what you do and that you share with all of us. The new Qtips are a great addition to the blog. 😊


  4. Aha, so that’s what happened to the sweet little dresser I dithered over too long! Such a story! And this is quite the Cinderella make-over. Having hunted out a dresser of my own now, only experience could give one the ability to fearlessly look past a very rough exterior to find the gem inside. This curvey white is definitely my favorite!


    1. Ha, did you really consider this one Kim? The seller ended up being someone I’d purchased from before, super nice guy. But both pieces I’ve purchased from him were pretty wonky!


      1. Actually I had become frustrated looking for a dresser “in the raw,” and checked out your For Sale tab. I was measuring my available space and checked back to find it gone☹️. I have since found a little charmer of my own with a host of problems lurking sweetly below its surface. I am hopeful of a very good outcome, though! Really makes me admire how you have stuck with this for the long haul. Dutifully studying your posts for helpful hints and advice…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I find it very interesting since I am such and Eastlake fan that I love today’s piece the best. I tend to go for very tailored lines but this baby is a heart stealer. I found myself wondering if you would have attempted a piece in this condition when you first started painting? Of course maybe having Ken as an accomplice takes a bit of the fear factor out of the equation.
    I have to add I completely understand your hesitation in taking on custom work. Particularly since that is all I do. It is much less stressful when you are working to please oneself.
    P.S. Love the warmth of the Limestone color I need to purchase some of that.


    1. Good question Victoria! I absolutely would not have attempted this piece when I first started painting. I would have considered it good fuel for a bonfire. And it is Ken that makes the difference. I still wouldn’t attempt a piece like this on my own because I don’t have the patience for the repair process. But Ken really seems to enjoy it. He considers pieces like this to be a puzzle that he has to take apart and put back together again.


  6. So so pretty! No wonder Debbie moved to MN. Your furniture skills make up for the winter. Can’t decide if I like the white or blue better. Either is a winner!


  7. Wow that last one is a thing of beauty and a joy to behold. Oh dear I am coming around. I think I will lock up my paint brushes. I am going to try and find some transfers at Michaels for that dry sink I told you about. Have a good weekend. Love to Mom and Debbie (you too) Betty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think you might be disappointed at Michaels Betty. They don’t have the furniture sized IOD transfers, just the tiny Tim Holtz ones (which are far too small for a piece of furniture). Google ‘Iron Orchid Designs decor transfers’ and check out the sizing as compared to your dry sink. You may want to just order one online.


    1. It was just tad bit trickier to keep the transfer straight on those curved drawers, so keep that in mind while working with yours. I cut each section of the transfer apart for each drawer just to make it a little less unwieldy. Just remember to get it straight before sticking it down!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. They are all amazing and special in there own right! How satisfying to give a broken treasure a new lease on life.
    I am inspired to finally try a transfer.


  9. They are all beautiful but the white one is gorgeous. The curves of the dresser itself, the contrast of the black lettering against the white, and that wood top. Stunning.


  10. I am loving this last version! And wondering how many people are lined up for this one and want the next one you do? LOL. The last photo of this dresser sent me on a quick trip to my paint stash to see if the Fusion pots I have might be in Limestone! Sadly no, but now Limestone is on my list for my next trip to the stockist


      1. I bought a big jar of Limestone in Fusion and will be starting a project today. If it turns out half as pretty as your dresser I will be happy. I’ve recommended your blog to a friend who has medium to dark wood cabinets and dark rooms due to being a log cabin. I told her your projects would convince her wood loving husband that chalk painted furniture would enhance their log walls. Thanks for providing so much inspiration and information.


      2. Thanks so much Sugar. Although I know from experience that those wood loving people can be hard to convince! Best of luck to your friend. My sister would envy her log cabin, by the way.


    1. I love the way the top turned out as well. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to save it, but it’s amazing what you can do with a little stripper, sand paper and some wax!


  11. All are beautiful, but the white one is so versatile. All your work to give it a new life is truly amazing. I totally agree that painting is definitely the way to go on this one! Lovely job!!!


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