How To Update A Dresser In 3 Steps!

We probably all have that piece of furniture in a room that we are just over already. For me, that piece is the double dresser in our bedroom. We’ve had it for about eight years now and it’s a solid piece of furniture that works well, but I was just so tired of looking at it every day, if you know what I mean. It also is as black as black can possibly be and for a small room with small high windows (thanks, mid-century design!) the dark color just wasn’t helping the room feel bright. I decided that it needed a bit of a makeover and I thought I’d share my three tips for updating any dresser to feel fresh and a bit special as well!

Change the paint color or stain: This will be your biggest change, so think carefully about your color choice here! While it’s totally doable to repaint a dresser whenever you want, it is a bit of a pain with taking out all the drawers, etc., so try to choose a color that you won’t be sick of in six months. I have other big pops of color in my bedroom, so I opted to keep the dresser a neutral white and that helped with my overall goal of brightening up the room as much as possible. I would suggest using a lacquer if possible for a dresser as a lacquer is a harder drying and glossier paint, so you have the best chance of withstanding putting things of top of the dresser if you like to use the top surface as a shelf (this is an eco-friendly non-toxic lacquer that I like).

I took out all the drawers, did a light sanding of the dresser and drawer fronts to rough up the surface (using fine sandpaper), wiped off the sanding dust and did a coat of primer before 3-4 coats of the lacquer. You may not have to do that many coats if your original dresser is a lighter color (although you do want to layer thin coats of lacquer rather than thick ones), but I went from alllll the way black to alllll the way white, so I needed a few extra coats.

Update the hardware (or add some!): Elsie’s tips for painting metal. I decided to give my handles a coat of gold spray paint to change the look of them, but you can also switch out your hardware for a totally different set for a bigger impact. If you want to add hardware that has a different mount setup (like a pull that attaches through two holes instead of a knob with one hole) you can use wood filler to fill the existing hole before painting the dresser (sanding the area smooth when the filler has dried) and then drill new holes in whatever location you want for the new hardware. Some dressers may not have originally had any hardware, so maybe add some to the drawers for a different look! If you want to spray paint your handles also, check out in a manner that lasts.

Add a unique detail: Once you’ve changed the color and hardware on your dresser, you could call it quits and you’d have a brand new dresser to show for it, but … why not go one step further and add a fun detail?! The options are basically endless on this front, but you could use wallpaper (or even removable wallpaper) to cover the fronts of the drawers, Mod Podge a photo onto the drawers, add gold hardware details, use a paint pen to draw a design, or add a wood shape to the drawers like I did! I ordered three of this shape in the 12″ size, cut them in half, painted them with primer and then gold spray paint, and glued them onto the tops of each drawer. Simple but it makes a huge difference!

I love the look and I’m so glad I added the extra detail of the star cutout. I think it helps compliment our mid-century vibe and give the dresser a bit of an edge that it didn’t have before we added it. Don’t forget to think of what DIY options you have once you are over a piece of furniture in your house—especially with larger items. It can really save you some money vs. getting something new and you get to reuse an item and give it a longer life as well. Hope this helped inspire you to make a change! xo. Laura

Credits // Author and Photography: Laura Gummerman. Project Assistant: Collin DuPree. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
  • Hi Laura,
    What was the exact paint color / sheen you used for this dresser? It’s gorgeous and I want to paint mine like this as well! Thanks!

  • I’d actually recommend using stickers if you can find some you like, instead of painting shapes since they’re easier to be removed and much more renter-friendly.
    But this transformation looks gorgeous anyways.

  • Hi Laura, Would you mind sharing what color white you chose? I am torn between just using the non-tinted or one of their tinted whites. I don’t want to order a swatch book just to look at white paint.


  • ¡Increíbles ideas! También un pisos de madera te aporta sofisticación, elegancia y sobre todo calidez.

  • What?? Amazing! I’ve been really wanting to update my old dresser. This is inspiring! xo

    Allison |

  • Love it on white, such a huge difference.
    And I like how you took pictures from different angles, lots of people only take one from afar too

  • This looks great! I love the ideas you mentioned and can already think of multiple pieces of furniture in my house that need some updating!

  • Wauw! This is so cool, the golden stars are sooo cute!!

    Laura |

  • This is such a tasteful and unique makeover. And wow! The wallpaper idea just blew my mind. I own a $1200 dressed with mirror panels on the drawers and 2 have cracked. I’ve been looking for a solution for years. Even tried to sell it on Craigslist for $200. I cannot wait to give it a make over using it wallpaper. Seriously, thank you SO much for the tip!

  • The white looks so much better in my opinion, and I love the gold details! It looks so good!

  • This is so cute! I absolutely love the gold wooden stars! Also, thanks so much for the lacquer recommendation. I’ve been wondering how to do this right!

  • So beautiful and a HUGE change. Did you find it difficult to paint inside the house? I ask because we have some furniture up three flights of stairs and I want to paint it but it seemed like a big chore to lug it outside. Do you have any tips for working indoors?

    Eva |

  • You forgot THE most important step! You absolutely must CLEAN the furniture befor you do a thing to it! It will never last if you don’t!

  • You’ve turned something so generic and boring into something totally unique! I love the gold detailing on the new dresser. It’s a lot brighter and looks so much more cheerful!! 🙂

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.