I’ve been so excited to share today’s piece with you guys! I actually finished it over a week ago, but I had so many other posts waiting to go … plus I had been bumping the wax giveaway post for several weeks so I had to get that one up last week (by the way, the winners have all been notified via email and are Pat, Laura & Sheri).
OK, so on with today’s post!
Obviously it had seen better days, that’s why it was free.
Let’s start by identifying the issues.
My handyman neighbor Ken hauled this piece next door to his own workshop to give it a complete overhaul.
He started by removing that odd strip of wood that had been added to the bottom front of the dresser. I suspect that was added at some point as a quick fix to hold the dresser together. Ken took it off and then glued and clamped those joints back together. He also removed the top of the dresser and re-glued it with dowel pins.
Next he replaced one of the drawer slides for the top drawer that was missing from the inside. That was why the top drawer was sagging down on the right side.
Then he also built up the bottom sides of that drawer.
The sides of a drawer can wear down after rubbing on those slides after 75+ years or so! That causes the drawer to tilt backwards a bit at the top when it’s pushed in.
As you’ll see shortly, the top drawer now sits in place perfectly thanks to Ken’s repairs.
Once the repairs were all finished, I stripped and waxed the top of the dresser using my usual technique. Stripping with Citristrip, cleaning, sanding and then waxing with Miss Mustard Seed’s Antiquing Wax.
When I have a piece with a solid wood top like this with plenty of stains and dings, I prefer to leave them. I love the patina they add, the sense of age and of this being a piece that was well used.
Next I sanded the rest of the piece and cleaned it well using Krud Kutter kitchen degreaser, followed by a rinse with clean water.
The chippy, vintage look of milk paint is perfect for these antique Eastlake style pieces so I pulled out my stash of partially used bags of milk paint. I had just a small amount of paint left in three different colors, Homestead House Raw Silk, Homestead House Casement and Miss Mustard Seed Marzipan. None of them would have made enough paint for the entire piece, so I mixed them all together which ended up creating the perfect creamy color for this dresser.
I ended up doing three coats of paint on the body of the dresser to get good coverage with the light color over the dark original stain, but I only need two coats on the drawers fronts which were already painted white. I had briefly debated the idea of just leaving the drawer fronts as is, but once I started painting the rest of the piece I could see that they really needed fresh paint as well.
Next came the really fun part of this project. I went through some of the new transfers that Prima Marketing sent me from their re.design line. I pulled out an amazing floral design called Rose Celebration that comes on six sheets (two across and three down) and is a whopping 44″ wide x 30″ tall.
I really debated whether or not to use it on this dresser because the drawer fronts are only 32″ wide, so I knew I would be trimming about 6″ off each side of the design which felt sort of sacrilegious. But in the end I decided what the heck. I’m never going to find a dresser that is perfectly sized for the transfer, better to modify the transfer than endlessly search for a piece exactly 44″ wide, right? Plus, since this dresser came from Jackie and she has such an amazing garden, it seemed entirely appropriate to go with this gorgeous floral transfer.
A quick q tip: before you get started with one of these transfers, lay it out on a large table (or in my case, your baby grand piano) and make sure you have the pieces ready to go in the right order.
I then put the dresser up on some horses so that it was at a convenient height to work on. With the drawers in place, I measured to find the center of the front of each and marked it with a pencil. Next, I trimmed off most of the excess 6″ from the left side of the first sheet I’d be working with just to make it more manageable. Then I removed the backing paper from the transfer and lined up the center of the design with my pencil marks at the center of the top drawer. Once I was sure I had it even and level, I pressed it into place with my hands. Before continuing on, I used a razor blade to trim the transfer more precisely on the left side and to slice the plastic sheet at the top and bottom of the drawers so it would lay more flat. Then I used the wooden stick that comes with every transfer to apply it to the drawer.
Next I lined up the top right side piece of the transfer and followed the same process. Then I moved down and lined up the top of the next piece with the bottom of the piece that was already applied above it.
Lining up the design was similar to lining up a repeat pattern on wallpaper. If you’ve ever wallpapered, you will easily be able to line up one of these transfers.
I just continued to follow this process and applied the transfer going across and then down the rest of the dresser.
Keep in mind that perfection is not the name of the game here. There were a few spots where I didn’t get the transfer adhered entirely, and things got a little kittywampus as far as keeping a straight line all the way across. But as you’re about to see, that is entirely unnoticeable in the finished piece.
OK, you’ve gotten this far into my post and you’re probably dying to see the whole picture. I won’t leave you in suspense any longer.
What the what? How amazing is that?
You might be wondering at this point what happened to the mirror. I like to remove them and turn them into separate pieces and you’ll see that later in the week, so stay tuned.
But back to this dresser itself …
I could just sit around and stare at it because it’s so pretty.
I like to use clear glass knobs on pieces with transfers because they don’t distract from the design of the transfers.
By the way, I have not added a top coat of any kind to the body of the dresser. To make the piece more washable, I would add the Real Milk Paint Co’s Finishing Cream in Dead Flat over the paint and transfer. That product is my favorite for pieces like this because I like the sheen (or lack thereof) and I like that its thick, gel-like consistency means little danger of drips (I’m bad about drips). If you aren’t as drippy as I am, the Miss Mustard Seed Tough Coat is also a good option. And of course, you could just use wax as well (yes, you can wax over the top of these transfers).
However, I have a couple of milk painted pieces in my own home including one with a transfer that I didn’t top coat and they have held up beautifully.
The top of the dresser is likely to see the most danger from sweating drinking glasses or other wet things being placed on it, and that is protected with the Miss Mustard Seed Antiquing Wax.
If you want to find out where to buy any of the Prima Marketing re.design products near you or online, check out this link to their ‘where to buy’ page.
I have to say, I am very proud of the work that both Ken and I did to salvage this dresser. It always feels good to take a piece that most people would have chucked into the bin and turn it into something beautiful.
If you are local and in need of a beautiful floral dresser, be sure to check my ‘available for local sale‘ page to see if this piece is still available.