the faux family heirloom.

My neighbor, nnK (that’s short for new neighbor Karen, because when she moved in we already had another Karen next door) offered me an antique dresser a while back.  Her style is very mid-mod.  She loves blonde, Heywood Wakefield furniture in particular.  If you know what Hey-Wake looks like, you’ll quickly realize that this dresser is basically the direct opposite of her style.

However, she had been hanging on to this piece for years even though it really didn’t suit her style.  Why?  Because she got it from her grandmother and she thought it was a family heirloom.  Right up until her mom recently told her that no, grandma actually purchased this dresser at a garage sale.  It had never been a treasured family heirloom at all.

Suddenly nnK had the freedom to get rid of it, so it came my way.

Initially I thought I would just paint it black rather than trying to fight with covering that dark stain with a lighter color.  But I kept hesitating.  Finally I realized that even though it was going to take an extra step or two, I really wanted to lighten this one up.

I felt there was a good chance that the dark stain was going to bleed through my paint, so I started out by giving this piece a coat of Dixie Belle’s BOSS.

This product comes in Clear and White, and will block bleed through.  I had Clear on hand so that’s what I used.

I’ve learned that BOSS works best if you let it dry for a full 24 hours before painting over it.  This is one product where the recommended dry time really can make a difference.

I got amazing coverage with Dixie Belle’s Sawmill Gravy over the BOSS.  I barely even needed a 2nd coat.

Once the paint was dry, I sanded to distress and then pulled out the Fresh Flowers transfer from with prima.

Because this dresser is somewhat petite and only has two drawers, I didn’t want to overwhelm it.  So I just used the wording portion of the transfer.

I really tend to gravitate towards a more simple look.  In this case, I kept the hardware simple too.  If you look back at the ‘before’ photo, you’ll see that only three of the pulls matched.  I decided to even that out a little by finding another matching pull for the odd one out.

I wish I had four of the originals because I do like them a little bit better than the replacements.

But ultimately I doubt anyone is going to really pay that much attention.

The final touch was to coat everything including the drawer pulls with a light coat of clear wax.  A little bit of wax does a nice job of freshening up old drawer pulls like these.

This little dresser would be perfect as a TV stand.  It’s fairly low, and the size would balance out your average flat screen TV.

Or, you could just use it as a plant stand of sorts …

  filled with plants, or buckets of fresh peonies!

Speaking of which, it’s peony season!  It’s a short one, so we have to enjoy every second while it lasts.  It helps that my neighbor Arlene’s peonies bloom just a tad earlier than some of mine, and she’s super generous with them so that extends the season a little.

The white one and the pale pink one at the top of the photo are mine, the deeper pink ones are from Arlene’s plants.  I also have a really deep magenta colored version, and another variety of white, but those aren’t quite open yet.

So, I’m curious, how many of you are hanging on to a piece of furniture that’s not your style simply because it’s a ‘family heirloom’?  If so, maybe you should check the provenance on that thing 😉

As always, thank you to Dixie Belle Paint Co and to with prima for providing the products used for today’s projects.

If you’re looking for Dixie Belle products you can find them here.

If you’re looking for with prima products you can find local retailers here, or online sources here.

28 thoughts on “the faux family heirloom.

  1. Hahaha! I recently had the same experience….I had held on to (for about 15 years) a less-than-attractive (and itchy!) crocheted blanket that I thought my grandmother had lovingly made for a family member. I found out that she had purchased it a garage sale….and she didn’t like it either! That is why it went to the family member, then to me 🙂


  2. Love this piece and the transfer application is just right. I tend to use pieces like this as bedside tables. The key is the height of the mattress = height of tabletop otherwise the proportions can look off. A bit higher seems to work but lower tends to appear like it’s squatting.
    My goodness those peonies are gorgeous. Something I need to add to my garden. I’m always sad we didn’t dig the ones up from our last home as they were from my husbands grandmothers.


  3. I love when you find out the heirlooms are not, in fact, heirlooms. I bet most of us have stories that mirror that. I love this small dresser, it is very versatile, coffee station, bedside table, entry hall table, tv stand. You did a great job updating this and I know it will sell quickly. And I have peony envy. They are so beautiful and smell heavenly.


  4. Your renovation gave this piece a new lease on life!! It’s night and day. Much prefer the new over the old .Great job


  5. Love it. Clean and simple. Seems as though so many are getting heavy handed with transfers. To me it is eye clutter. This piece is a beautiful transformation.


    1. My personal preference is for a simple look as well. I do feel like I am in the minority on that sometimes, so thanks for joining me there Kaye 😉


    2. I’m glad NNK discovered she could part with something that was totally not her style. This is gorgeous and even better since you freshened it up. Love the handles and especially the transfers. I’ve always said “less is better”…, well, ok, maybe that wasn’t me, but I can appreciate the look, I just can’t seem to emulate it. 😖


  6. I have a tea cart that I wish was a faux heirloom. I have tried giving it to everyone in my family with no takers. I have never thought about painting it, but now I think I will. It is dark walnut and I think painting it white with a transfer would really help. I may even end up liking it! Thanks for the inspiration. BTW I also like the mismatched handles.


    1. I am all for painting a family heirloom if it will help you love it. I have a couple of pieces that were ‘family heirlooms’ that I painted and now enjoy actually using v. hiding them away in storage.


  7. No such thing as ‘family heirloom’ in my case – we have immigrated to Canada 17 years ago and couldn’t bring anything big with us. May be that’s why i hoard old stuff – it patches the nostalgia hole.. Hmm..can it be used as an official excuse?
    Love the dresser – it turned out amazing! And peonies… i can smell it from here!


  8. What a cute little dresser/table. You always make them up just right. Sawmill gravy is such a pretty color.


    1. I believe that Sawmill Gravy is a southern thang. It’s basically the sausage gravy that goes over biscuits, which tends to be pretty much this color. Since biscuits and gravy is one of my favorite things, I guess it’s no surprise that I love this color 😉


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