Nautical Dresser Spruce Up


The finished piece!

Mike and I live with his parents. Well, not really, in the most literal sense of the phrase, but our living situation is more complicated than the two of us.

Buttonwoods Mornings

We are lucky enough to live in a beachside house owned by both Mike and his parents, but where Mike (and now I) live year round. His parents and siblings are here as often as they can be during boat season. Not does that mean that we’re blessed with this gorgeous morning view, but we all get along great and his parents are easygoing about the look of the house, which means we (I) get to decorate however we (I) please (within reason).

Until I moved in this past March, this place was essentially Mike’s bachelor pad. Functionally great for hosting a crowd, but no feminine touch.

Rest assured that when I moved in, the feminine touch moved in with me. A rug here, a new couch there, some IKEA Kallax cubbies in the mud room… Most of our things blended naturally together in each room, which made the move-in much easier, but one room just wasn’t an easy match – the bedroom.

My solution? Downsize our furniture count, fix up the closets, and turn Mike’s dad’s childhood dresser into a nautical piece to brighten things up (which he was nice enough to let me do!)

Read more…

Not a picture of our room (sadly!)

The Colors
When I first moved in, Mike had been using his comforter from HIGH SCHOOL. Yes, you read that right. So when we were cleaning out some of the closets and found this beautiful Harbor House Seaside Bedding Set just tucked away somewhere, I was excited. I love the nautical look and it matches the feel of the whole house, so we switched over to this bedding and I decided to mirror these colors in the bureau.

The Paint
Having worked with chalk paint before, I was set on using this type of paint to refinish the dresser because it’s so easy. This was actually my first try using my own homemade chalk paint recipe and it worked incredibly well. I picked Valspar colors (Ambient Light and Designer White) and had our local hardware store mix them in flat latex quarts of Clark and Kensington paints. I had been hoping to buy LESS paint, but the quart was the only size I could find locally that didn’t have the satin texture.

The Piece
The dresser was located upstairs in our bedroom. Our stairs are pretty narrow, so we decided it would be best if I did the core of the piece right in the room, and set it up on a few old blankets to protect the rug.


Huge color difference between the old wood and the new white coat of paint. Note the hilarious painter’s setup on some old comforters in the bedroom!

Mike was nice enough to remove the mirror and take out all of the hardware from the drawers for me, as well as cart them downstairs. Much to both of our dismay, he tripped on the gin and tonic I had left him on the stairs (not my smartest placement!) and one of the drawers came tumbling down with him. Unluckily, this was one of the top two drawers with extra detailing, and both of the drawer details split off. I used Titebond Original Wood Glue and two small clamps to repair the drawer – and actually found a use for the Clinical Anatomy book I never opened during my summer class when I used it to put weight on the piece and hold the wood together during the glue process.


The Process
Business as usual in the chalk paint world. Before I started each piece of the dresser, I wiped it down with a rag using warm water and soap, and let it quickly dry. Then, off to painting! Two coats did the trick – white on the frame of the dresser, and blue on the drawers. I did the sides of the drawers as well, so the original wood wouldn’t look awkward against the dresser’s new bright white frame. I mixed the chalk paint right in a Tupperware container, and used my favorite 19 cent chip brush to get the job done. All in all, it took me about 6 hours to do the whole frame and 5 drawers – since the 6th was still in repair.

I had some leftover wax from the antique vanity I refurbished last summer, so I waxed the frame of the dresser with Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Wax in Clear. I always hate this part! My arms get so tired rubbing the wax in and getting the furniture to the right shine. They don’t sell Miss Mustard Seed locally, and I ran out, so I ended up buying Amy Howard Clear Wax from the store nearby. I wasn’t a fan of the wax – it smelled like a car shop and was harder to use – but it got the job done. Since the top of the dresser would get more wear from items sliding across it, I sprayed on two coats of RustOleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover in Satin to add some durability.

The Little Things


1/4 furniture plugs

Finally, the pulls. The original dresser had both knobs and pulls, but they were tarnished and didn’t fit the nautical theme. Instead, I bought these nautical jute knot knobs for the top drawers, and found 4″ boat cleats to use as the pulls below. Avid boater Mike was psyched about the cleats, which made me excited he was invested in the project too. They were a splurge, but definitely worth it!

An unfortunate snafu – I hadn’t thought through the boat cleat purchase enough before painting, and realized after the drawers were waxed that the holes for the old pulls didn’t line up with where the cleats would need to go. Brilliant idea from Mike – use dowel pins! Even more brilliant idea from the guy at the hardware store – Flat Head Furniture Plugs. They were the perfect size, popped right in, and with a small paintbrush, were easy to cover and blend in with the rest of the drawer.

Last thing left? Lining the drawers. I found a blue striped liner that I liked and did both the bottoms and sides of the insides of the drawers. As a side note, I will never do this again. Not my best skill!

The Finished Product


The finished piece!

I was so excited to see the transformation of this piece, and the room actually feels different when you walk in. Where the old walnut dresser made the room darker and the mirror was blocked by the TV, our new nautical piece brightens the room with all the natural light and the mirror makes everything bigger!

Total Project Cost: $200 – a totally custom piece that was 100% worth the splurges
Brushes: 4/$0.75
Amy Howard Clear Wax: $16.00
2 quarts of paint Clark and Kensington: $35.00
Drawer Liner: $28 (two packs)
Nautical Jute Knobs: $60 (two packs, I had 4 left over)
Boat Cleats: $60 (12)


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