Restoration Hardware-Inspired MCM Dresser Makeover

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for D. Lawless Hardware & Osborne Wood Products..  It contains affiliate links so you can find the products I'm sharing easily. All opinions about these products are  entirely my own. Please see full disclosure policy here.

When someone gifts you a Kent Coffey "The Pilot" dresser, you accept before realizing exactly how much work will be involved in refinishing it.  That was definitely the case in this MCM dresser.  It had been used in a Curious George-themed nursery and I am nicknaming it the 'Ketchup & Mustard' dresser.  I wonder if the baby needed shades with all that brightness going on.  

The paint was wearing off and it definitely needed to be removed instead of simply painting over.  A BIG misconception with chalky paint is no prep work is required. However, to do a professional job, there is always some amount of prep involved.  Little did I know how much elbow grease would be required since they used ENAMEL instead of latex paint.  Please promise me you will never, ever use enamel paint on furniture.

I started with Soy Strip and all this goo is remnants of some of the paint removed. I strongly dislike stripping furniture and prefer just to sand but this job required both, much to my dismay.  

The stripper didn't remove all the paint so I ended up sanding (and sanding some more) to get down to bare wood.

Underneath all that paint was solid MAHOGANY wood!  I'm still flabbergasted this expensive wood was covered up.

There were a couple areas with gouges and marks needing repair. I used my secret CPR weapon mixed with the color gel stain (Java) I was using to stain the body of the dresser to fill the holes.

Using Java gel, I stained the entire body of the dresser.  Once the first coat was dry, I added a second layer using Antique Walnut.

A casualty of aggressively sanding off the enamel paint was going through the veneer on a few drawer fronts.  I hoped after I stained the drawers, I could use my dry brushing technique to cover the spots I sanded through.

This dresser was one of those projects where all the trials and tribulations helped me learn a new staining technique, which I am totally in love with by the way.

This picture was taken after the first coat of stain with Classic Grey by Minwax.  I dry brushed Antique Walnut gel stain over the areas I sanded through the veneer. I crossed my fingers and prayed my layering technique would hide that ugly blotchy area.

I wanted the drawer fronts to have a driftwood style stain to contrast with the dark, Java body. This was tricky since the dresser was mahogany, which has a red hue and takes stain much differently than oak or walnut.

Next, I applied a coat of Early American by Minwax and once it was dry applied a thin coat of Antique Walnut gel to help hide the dry brushed area. To add some dimension and an authentic driftwood appearance, I applied Winter White glaze by General Finishes and then a custom grey glaze over the white.  

With all those layers, this beautiful Restoration Hardware-style stained finish emerged. Not only is it GORGEOUS but it completely hid all the areas I had sanded through the veneer.  After all the hard work of stripping and staining, I was terrified of having to paint the drawer fronts to fix my sanding oops. Luckily, because I sanded through I ended up discovering a way to use stain and glaze for a Restoration Hardware-type finish!

The dresser originally sat on a raised box instead of feet.  The wood on the box frame was beyond repair and we wanted to add feet anyway.  As you can see, there is still remnants of the awful red paint that wouldn't come off despite my best efforts.  Since this part of the dresser wouldn't be seen, I gave in and left it.

The box frame was attached with pocket screws and it was pretty easy to remove, although not all in one piece.

This Wheeler Tapered Foot from Osborne Wood Products kept with the MCM style of the dresser.

I stained the wood on the legs with Java gel to match the body of the dresser.  After adding a brace for support, Triple Threat attached all the tapered legs. To protect all the hard work, I applied three coats of poly to the entire dresser to protect this beautiful new finish.

I typically try to use original hardware but wanted some pulls that were a little more substantial while staying true to the modern style of the dresser.  These bronze pulls from D. Lawless Hardware were the perfect update!  

There was a little work involved since the hardware holes didn't match up.  We filled the original holes with dowels and stained right over them.  Luckily, they blend right in with the layered finish.

The contrast between the dark body and driftwood drawers is such a great combination.

All my hard work paid off and was a huge labor of love.  We have been working on giving my son a bigger big boy room and this dresser is just the beginning. 

Do you remember how this dresser looked before?  Let's compare the before and after.

Now, that the dresser is finished, I'm ready to tackle the rest of the room.  My next project is building an industrial-style side table.  Stay tuned to see how it turns out.