Linen Dresser Makeover

Grey Dresser

It feels like ages since I’ve put paintbrush to furniture.

In fact, I’d even forgotten just how therapeutic it can be!

If you’ve been following along with the makeover of my parent’s living-dining room then you’ll probably know the back-story to this dresser.

Dresser Before

Sorry, not the greatest pic (taken from the eBay listing).

For anyone new here, and just to re-cap, I bought this baby from eBay for $80. I love old wood and generally shy away from painting anything with lots of natural character so it took me a while to find something antique in style which I was also willing to paint. Although far from new, I actually believe this dresser is a reproduction of sorts, possibly crafted by a home handyman.

I do like the warm pine of this piece, however knew I needed to re-finish it in a light neutral to help break-up all the wood already in the space. For a while I struggled with which sort of neutral exactly though…white, cream, grey, beige? Eventually, I decided to take my cue from the armchairs in the living room. Drawing the colour of their linen back into the dining space should not only help to keep the overall scheme consistent though should also create a gentle link between the two zones.

Dresser with Armchair

This was one of those no-fuss kinda makeovers.

Dresser Makeover | The Painted Hive

Check out my new massive green demijohn – always wanted one!

I used some left over acrylic wall paint we already had to mix up a warm grey-green (Dulux ‘Alpine Summer’ and ‘Amazon Vine’ are similar to my custom colour). I then simply removed the handles (and patched their holes), lightly sanded the dresser and slapped on two coats of paint.

No primer. No sealer.

Scientific Flask | The Painted Hive

The original metal drop handles were fine though for a more primitive look we replaced them with inexpensive wooden knobs (hence my need to patch the holes). We also polished-up the brass keyholes so they contrast nicely.

Brass Keyhole

If you follow me socially, you may already have heard this little story, though as I was shopping my parent’s house, gathering pretty jars and bottles to style the finished dresser, I remarked to mum that she had a heap of glassware.

She looked at me strangely.

“What?” she replied. “Only one of those is actually mine”.

I looked over the collection more carefully and, sure enough, all but one belonged to me!

I have a habit of buying inexpensive pretty things (mostly glassware it would appear!), then finding I have nowhere to display them in my little house – at least, not all at once – so tend to rotate my decor through my parent’s larger home.

Seems I had forgotten just how much stuff I actually have!

Bottles and Ferns | The Painted Hive

Like I already mentioned, this piece was fine as is. I just needed to change it up to better fit with our overall scheme for the room.

Dresser Before and After

We’re getting so close to finishing this space now. I’m a tad excited!

Dresser Redo Dog




  1. Kl says:

    OMG. Another heirloom ‘made over’! Sorry, am cringing at your insensitivity.

    • Sorry, though did you read through the blog post? This is a reproduction of sorts. It actually appears to be some kind of project piece, maybe by an apprentice or practicing woodworker. I rarely paint antique pieces (just because I love old wood) though believe there is a time and place for it. Stuff is just stuff. The guy I bought this from said it was going to the tip if it didn’t sell.

      • Kl says:

        Yes. I did read the post. I incorrectly used the word insensitive instead of ignorance in my comment. The wee dresser is made from Kauri pine and although the cabinet has been ‘restored’ in someone’s attempt to preserve the piece the drawers with their escutcheons are definitely antique. It was not my intention to be rude. You are of course entitled to do whatever you want with your furniture. At least you rescued this piece from a worse fate and in doing so have provided another generation with the opportunity to strip and enjoy the history of this item. I love your painted furniture and enjoy your posts however I wanted to draw your and your readers attention to researching the value of items (not necessarily monetary) in their possession before slapping on a coat of paint.

        • That’s cool. I totally get it and I appreciate your opinion though calling me insensitive and ignorant does hurt a bit.

          I actually put a lot of time and thought into sourcing an antique-style piece I was also willing to paint (and which was within our tight budget). Like I mentioned, this is a “reproduction of sorts”, having been adapted several times over the years. It did have its charm, though was in far from original condition and is also far from a craftsman built item. Both the handles and escutcheons appear to be retrofitted for cosmetic purposes, the rear panel has been replaced with ply, the cut-outs in the plinth have been added at some stage and parts of the drawers and runners are constructed from chipboard.

          I agree that the old pine is lovely, and I would have happily left it under other circumstances, though this room could take no more wood! I was always going to need to paint an old piece to soften and break-up all the brown. As such, this sweet little dresser can be enjoyed much more thoroughly in its current painted state, and won’t detract from or clash with the floors and antique dining table.

          I agree that thought should be put into the decision to paint old furniture, though don’t necessarily think it’s the wrong thing to do under most circumstances. I have no regrets about painting the dresser and, like I said, stuff is just stuff.


          • Adele says:

            you shouldn’t need to defend yourself. you’re right, stuff is just stuff! the old pine dresser looks fabulous painted to decorate your parents home.

          • Lauri McIntosh says:

            I can’t believe how rude people can be when hiding behind their monitor. Do what you love and enjoy the heck out of it. I know what you mean about rooms with too much wood. It’s beautiful

          • Megan says:

            I have 2 pieces of kauri pine furniture I have painted with chalk paint. OMG the sacrilege 😉😉😉. Thanks for the inspiration and for introducing me to chalk paint.

  2. Sherry hart says:

    I’m about to paint everything that gorgeous gray now and put all of my bottles on them:). Just gorgeous!!!

  3. Megan says:

    Love it! I’ve been looking for something just like this (at the right price) for our mudroom to store away all the stuff (dig stuff, hats, gloves ect). I have never purchased furniture off if eBay before. Any pointers?

  4. Hi Kristine,

    Even though I just started reading/following, I am already sucked in! I think because I am about to do the same thing for my parents! We’ve just finished updating their laundry room and are moving onto the living room, dining room, and foyer next! They’ve lived in their house for over 30 years and have many of the same items from when I was a kid! I am excited to see how it all turns out for you guys! Love the dresser. The color is fabulous!

    • I’m about to (finally!) share the reveal this week Lauren! Thanks so much for your patience.

  5. Deb from Maryland says:

    Hi Kristine,
    Love, love, love that hue of grey! The shape and now color of the chest fits perfectly into the room decor. As usual, you did good. ;)

  6. Jane says:

    Beautiful! Love that you used what you had. The contrast of the blue jays is great!


    • So in love with the blue-green glassware too Jane though it probably won’t stay like that. It looks lovely in this snapshot though might be too busy in the context of the whole space. We’ll see.

  7. Adele says:

    The dresser looks great, love the switch to wooden knobs. More importantly…. where on earth did you find that giant demijohn? I actually got a bit teary looking at it. It’s superb.
    Can’t wait to see the whole makeover!

    • Thanks Adele :)
      Isn’t that demijohn awesome? I found it on eBay for $60 (which I thought was a bit of a bargain compared to some others I have seen). I’m so in love with it!

  8. Erin says:

    Kristine, we were destined to be best friends; we have such similar taste in furniture (See the dresser I did last year: )

    Any chance you would like to move to the States?

    BEAUTIFUL makeover.

    • Yes, Erin – kindred spirits! Your dresser is just gorgeous. The escutcheons are the absolute perfect finishing touch!

  9. Lisa says:

    I absolutely LOVE how this turned out! It is BEAUTIFUL! I LOVE the color you picked!! I am also in love with all of your glass bottles! Your story is too funny! Thinking they were your Mother’s. Ha! Great job!

  10. Jamie says:

    How beautiful!! It’s amazing at what a little paint can do. And, your model is adorable!! :) Thank you for sharing this with us at the #HomeMattersParty

  11. First of all I appreciate you for the beautiful work, house looking very gorgeous and I surprise after seeing such beautiful wall. Thanks for creating and sharing superb information of home decor.

  12. what you have done is beautiful! I take great pride in my work and it is great to see what others can do. well dont it looks superb!

  13. Mary H says:

    I think it looks great and I am sorry you had to deal with the insensitive person in the above comments. Like my mama always said :If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all!”
    I know painting wood is personal preference and I have painted antique items passed down to me to make them fit into my decor. That grey is a lovely color!

    • Thanks Mary, I agree. If a simple (and non-destructive) coat of paint means we can enjoy vintage and antique pieces of furniture more thoroughly in our own homes, then why not? Better than having them languishing in the garage or making us cringe each time we look at them. To each their own.

  14. Havalah says:

    I love this. I think it looks great! I also love your collection of jars on top, I’m totally going to do that. Thanks for the inspiration, it was just what I needed!

  15. Terry says:

    Kristine! You did a beautiful job of giving it a primitive feel! It looks so much better this way and you styled it beautifully! Well done! I am drooling over that painting above it …. sooo pretty! I hope you enjoy a lovely weekend!
    The Curator’s Collection & Making Broken Beautiful

    • Thanks so much Terry :) And thank you for hosting Making Broken Beautiful.

  16. Cyn Benson says:

    I love the simplicity of the bureau and how well it goes with the chair. Then again I also love your bottles and the puppy. Awesome.

  17. Loved it! I love the color you chose and that you gave new life to this dresser! Bravo! Did I also mention how much I love your styling of the glass on the dresser? Your post will be featured this week on Friday Favorites at I would love for you to stop by and see your feature!! Hugs- Christine at Must Love Home

  18. Sarah says:

    Hi Kristine. Thanks for referring me to your blog on Sunday ; it’s just the kickstart I need to get moving on my eclectic collection of old furniture. I’m sitting at the PC now writing a shopping list for the hardware store. I’m a complete novice with painting furniture (have painted a lot of walls but that’s it) : you mention above that you didn’t seal the dresser, but do you think sealing would be worthwhile (in addition to the two coats of paint) for a coffee table to avoid cup rings etc?

    • Hi Sarah

      So nice to hear from you :)

      It really depends what type of paint you end up using. Chalk paint (or any type of flat/matte paint) would definitely benefit from a seal coat (using clear wax or a water-based poly) as they can be quite porous and prone to mark and stain. However, a good quality satin or semi-gloss paint should be fine. I have used Dulux Aquanamel before and can recommend it.

      Just be mindful of the sheen level you want. Obviously, if you’re after a matte look any type of sealer is going to introduce some lustre. If you want a particularly shiny finish then you’re best to use a gloss paint from the start.

      Depending on your pieces you may also want to use a stain blocking primer first.


  19. Zoe says:

    When you painted this lovely dresser, what technique did you employ? Brushes? Sponge applicators? A roller? What do you think gives the best finish when you’re not planning to distress after painting! Thank you.

  20. luke says:

    This look amazing

  21. Anno says:

    Hi Kristine, sorry to see the trolling. I think that in fact the painted finish is more typical of the style of this piece than leaving the Kauri pine unfinished. While I also like stripping back pieces like this (often because they were originally painted in thick cream-coloured oil emulsion), in fact I think your treatment is more authentic. The handles suit it better now too. Nice work, it looks great.

    • Thank you :)

      • Anno says:

        Aha! I’ve just had a closer look at the striped back ‘before’ picture and the visible nails are a bit of a giveaway that it was intended to be painted – I’m sure the original maker never intended those to be seen. It looks like part of the fine 20th century tradition of modest home-made furniture, it’s nice to think of that heritage and making a place for it in a 21st century home.

        I’ve discovered your blog recently and have been inspired by what you have achieved with hard work, vision and a good eye. It’s reminded me to take a fresh look at what I’ve got and make the most of it- thank you!

        • Kristine says:

          Thanks so much. Yes, it was far from a master crafted piece, which is exactly one of the reasons I chose to purchase it for painting in the first place. I’m glad you can see where I was coming from.
          I’m glad you found me and that some of my projects have helped inspire you. Sorry fresh posts are few and far between at the moment. With the Melbourne Covid Lock-Down getting things done hasn’t been easy! Hopefully we will be allowed to venture out soon.

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