From the outset, I knew I wanted to highlight the horizontal division in the build of this old dresser. Choosing the colour and other decorative elements was, as is frequently the case, an evolutionary process.
Because the current top is not original, although quite old, curiosity led me to do a little research to discover more about this piece. There is a possibility that it was the base of a hutch or originally had a marble top, but despite my efforts, I’m still in the dark. If you have any insights, please leave a comment below.
The same steps are used for every piece. It starts with cleaning, which means a good vacuum. All sides, inside and out, and on the bottom. Recently, I tried Dixie Bell’s White Lightning cleaner, and I must admit, it is very good at its job. To clean off all grunge, grime and unknowns, I’ve mixed my solution in a spray bottle which I find convenient and less wasteful. After washing that down with clean water, I removed the hardware, undecided on whether I would use them again or replace them with something more modern. They needed a clean and polish, so I left that decision for later.
Before I started removing the old finish, I made any repairs and filled any gaps. Although this stage takes time, it is an excellent way to become more closely acquainted with the piece. I took my time gluing and filling but decided against making the piece look perfect. There is a balance somewhere between making new and holding onto the old stories.
Finally, I was ready to start with the sanding. Because I was planning to paint the bottom two-thirds, I only scuffed sanded this segment. The top third, including the drawer front, I sanded down to raw wood. The top of the piece was wood veneer, so this process was delicate. My Mirka DEOS 353CV patiently removed the stains on the inside of the drawers and smoothed out the outer edges. My Mirka and I left nothing untouched.
Fusion Mineral Paint remains one of my favourite paints regarding colour, coverage and quality. Bayberry and Cathedral Taupe were mixed in equal parts. It only took a couple of coats for full coverage. For the top third, I diluted Cathedral Taupe with water and did a whitewash. This allowed the wood grain to show through while lightening the orange tones of the wood.
As this dried, I tackled the hardware and waited for the Aztek stencil I ordered to arrive. Using a shallow pan, I mixed white vinegar with water and brought it carefully to the boil. I let this simmer for some time before scrubbing the hardware with a hard, bristled brush and an old toothbrush. After washing them off and drying them, I finally used a metal cleaner to buff them up. I also used a wax with a hint of gold to give them a lovely sheen and protection.
The stencil was the perfect complement to the piece, and I used Fusion’s embossing paste to create a slightly raised edge, which I then dried brush with the undertone of Cathedral Taupe and white. Subtle but present.
There is always that moment when the drawers go back in, the hardware screwed into place and the piece placed against a blank wall, where one either feels amazed at how well it has come together or disquiet. Am I finished or is there something that doesn’t fit? And there it was, all shiny and new and pleasing to the eye. Such a relief. I was glad I took the risk with the original hardware, despite going back and forth for several days on that front.
A few photos later and I contacted my client, who excitedly came over that evening for the big reveal and to take it home. I left it staged on the wall and felt thrilled when her response was ecstatic. Her husband is a carpenter, so when he also nodded with approval, I also felt immense relief.
When a piece brings joy and delight to others, then I am happy.