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How to Create a Shabby Chic Dresser: Step by Step Instructions on Painting

Updated on March 9, 2012

An Old Dresser to Paint

We found the perfect $20 dresser at a yard sale with the best details and I envisioned how perfect it would look with a little TLC.

Before...Dark, Ugly Dresser

After... Beautiful, White, Shabby Chic Dresser

How to Prep a Dresser for Painting

The most important part of painting furniture is the prep work. The first thing I did with this dresser was sand it to make sure the paint had something to stick to. This does not have to be a long, drawn out only took me about 10 minutes. I just went over it with the roughest sandpaper that I had on hand.

Then I did 2 coats of primer (I used Kilz for this project). The better job you do with the priming, the less work you have to do with the painting....

How to Paint a Dresser

After everything was primed and ready to go I got out my paint and mixed in my paint conditioner. I must say I absolutely {Love} my paint conditioner! I notice a huge difference in the appearance of brush strokes when I use it! For this project I used Creamy White in eggshell from Olympic.

I did about three coats of paint to make sure everything was covered. After the paint was dry I started on the distressing. This is my favorite part! I just pick up some sand paper that I have laying around and start sanding it down. The biggest thing for me when distressing is not to make it look uniform. I want it to look natural, not perfect.

For this project I used a Mocha glaze to add the antique look. This was my first attempt with glazing and it was so easy. I usually use a stain and it definitely isn't as forgiving. The glaze is workable for up to 45 minutes! I just put it on and wiped it off with a damp cloth and the areas that I didn't want it.

You can check out more of my projects at


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    • Brooke profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Oregon

      Louise I think it all depends on your personal style...for me, I would choose a focal piece in my favorite color and then do the rest of the furniture in a coordinating color to compliment that piece. I prefer to do it so that they all aren't competing with each other.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      What do you think about choosing two or three colours in the same general hue, light peacock, robin's egg, and cream to re-paint all six piece of furniture in my bedroom? Would the different colours be quaint or too random?

    • Brooke profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Oregon

      I have still had decent results without the paint conditioner, but it makes it so much easier to not have those brush strokes :-)

    • Brooke profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Oregon

      Thanks everyone!

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      7 years ago from new jersey

      fantastic hub. I love shabby chic! Isn't it fun to be creative and successful.

    • Pamela N Red profile image

      Pamela N Red 

      7 years ago from Oklahoma

      That looks really great.

    • thebookmom profile image


      7 years ago from Nebraska

      That turned out amazing, well done! Your instructions are easy to follow as well.

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      7 years ago from England

      Hi, this is great! and so well timed! I have a small dresser cabinet in my bedroom and I have been looking at it for about 2 weeks now, thinking, you need a makeover! perfect! bookmarked and ready to go! lol! thanks!

    • rebeccamealey profile image

      Rebecca Mealey 

      7 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

      I love Shabby Chic, and your project looks great. Good job explaining the process.....I did a bedroom suite years ago and didn't sand. Wish I had read this first, the paint peeled right off, of course!

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      Wow, you've really made it look great! I love the look!

    • RTalloni profile image


      7 years ago from the short journey

      Bravo for your project! Nice job and you'll get lots of use out of your painted dresser!

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      I loved the dresser and the other projects you have done that you have in your blog. I have a few painting projects I am going to tackle in the spring, so I am glad to have learned about paint conditioner now!

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      7 years ago from San Francisco

      We recently updated an old dresser of my in-laws by painting it. Unfortunately, I hadn't read your Hub and didn't use paint conditioner. I will definitely do this in the future!

    • AllSuretyBonds profile image


      7 years ago

      Gorgeous. Growing up in a family of painters we have done this many times. It is such a good feeling to create a beautiful piece of furniture for such a great price.

    • stayingalivemoma profile image

      Valerie Washington 

      7 years ago from Tempe, Arizona

      cool, it has a nice antique feel to it. good job!


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