I don’t often buy pieces of furniture that are already painted. There are a few reasons for that. First of all, you may not know what kind of paint you are painting over. Is it oil based? If the previous paint is oil based you will not get good adhesion over it with a water based paint. Second, you don’t know how well the previous painter prepped the piece before painting. If their coat of paint is not stable, your’s won’t be stable either. Third, if the existing paint job is full of drips and brush marks you will need to fix those before you paint (by sanding them down). Fourth, if you are going to distress your piece by sanding it you risk having the existing color of the piece show through on the edges, so if you don’t like the color you are out of luck. Lastly, while stripping the existing paint might be an option for some, I am not a fan. It’s a messy, time consuming job.
None of these things are obstacles that can’t be overcome, but it takes time to deal with them and why bother when I can just keep looking and find an unpainted piece to work on?
But as always, there are exceptions to every rule. This dresser is one of them. I broke my own rule simply because this piece was dirt cheap.
Since this piece is already painted, I thought I would take a moment to critique the previous paint job and explain what I think isn’t working for this dresser
No. 1 – The terracotta paint color. This is just kind of a hideous color. I’m sorry if any of you out there are lovers of terracotta, but I’m definitely not. I’ll put this color right up there with faux tiger oak, I just don’t like it.
No. 2 – The oversized, over-shiny, bulging brass drawer pulls. Ugh. Could these be any more unattractive? They really aren’t suited for the style of this dresser.
No. 3 – The two-toned look. Normally I enjoy a good two-toned piece and I’ve certainly done a few in my day (here, here, here and here are some good examples). In the case of this dresser though, the two-toned color scheme seems to be emphasizing the fact that the upper drawer is different than the rest. In my opinion it just throws off the balance of the entire piece and makes it look strangely top heavy.
No. 4 – The bad distress job on the drawer fronts. These drawers look like they were just hit randomly with the sandpaper. They don’t look naturally distressed over time. I know that some people are OK with this look, but it just doesn’t do it for me.
The trick here is going to be whether or not I can improve upon this piece.
I started by removing the hardware and sanding the piece. I sanded it a bit more heavily than I would normally just to be sure I was going to get good adhesion over that existing paint. I also wiped the piece down with some TSP Substitute. Next, I filled some of the holes left by the original hardware. I had some new pulls in mind and although they also require two holes each, they are spaced just a little wider than the existing holes.
I started painting with a base coat of Fusion’s Inglenook.
Ah, better already I think. Inglenook is such a lovely color I was tempted to just stop here, but I didn’t actually have enough Inglenook for a second coat. Plus, I was going to add these drawer pulls …
Aren’t they sweet? They are from Hobby Lobby and their full price is $8.99 each. Kind of high if you need 8 of them. So of course I waited for the half-price sale and then paid $4.50 each instead. Even then it was $36 just for the pulls. However, since I’d gotten such a great deal on the dresser itself I felt like I could splurge a bit on the hardware.
Anyway, these pulls are just a little bit more green than the Inglenook, so in came Fusion’s Brook which is almost a perfect match for the pulls. These two colors are really very similar. The Brook, much like the pulls, is just a little darker and a tad more green.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just paint the first coat in Brook too. Well, it’s simple, I didn’t have enough of that color for two coats either. And since I’m a total cheapskate (and I already splurged on those drawer pulls!), rather than buy more paint I just made do with a basecoat of Inglenook followed by a second coat of Brook. It was a simple solution and a great way to use up two jars with not a lot of paint left in either one.
You might have noticed that I said I needed 8 drawer pulls, but this dresser originally came with 10. There was a mismatched pair on the top drawer. The top drawer itself is mismatched with the rest of the drawers.
As I was working on this piece I realized that it looked far better without any knobs on that top drawer. You can still easily open and close it from the sides of the drawer. So I filled the holes from the previous knobs and just left the drawer without hardware. Now it’s sort of a ‘hidden’ drawer. It looks like it’s just part of the trim that wraps around to the sides as well. It’s a great place to hide the family jewels!
As you can also see in that photo, I just barely distressed the edges of this dresser. I didn’t want to reveal too much of that terracotta color that is underneath.
I used a lot of vintage greens in my props for the photos including some old wallpaper and that awesome green bird cage.
So there you have it. A pretty blue-green cottage style dresser.
I think I improved upon the existing paint scheme, what do you think?