The Southern Nest Blog

A beautiful old piece…I just couldn’t give this one up.

A beautiful old piece…I just couldn’t give this one up.

I know I always say every piece of furniture is my favorite. But a recent piece I found…oh, it is just fabulous.


I went to my local ReStore on a Tuesday (I try to pop in as much as I can on Tuesdays, as that’s when they put all of the new stuff out. I was walking through, quickly skimming the massive pieces of furniture, when my eyes fell on this little puppy.  It was labeled ‘Handyman’s Special’…meaning it was falling apart. But it was so old and the shape was so gorgeous. I snatched it up.

I got it home and questioned my decision. It looked pretty rough and I was afraid I bit off more than I could chew. Due to missing wheels, it was lopsided, the veneer was coming off the top in flakes, and the normally attached mirror had snapped off and broken, leaving a broken ‘arm’ sticking out from the dresser.


I let it sit for about a week, thinking about what I wanted to do. Then, I launched in and tackled it.

First, I removed the remaining wheels on the piece. They were not necessary and instantly made it look better. I removed the broken ‘arm’ and attachments for the mirror. Next…the veneer. Well, this was a lesson.
I started by sanding the top with a sander. Parts of the veneer were coming off, but the rest was stuck on and it was not budging. I considered calling ReStore and re-donating it, as I was beyond frustrated. I kept trying to flake away the veneer and it just was not happening. So, after doing a little research, I discovered the greatest tool ever for removing damaged veneer. A wet towel. No joke.
I soaked a beach towel in water and left it to sit on the top of the dresser. I left it there for a few hours.



I came back and removed the towel…and voila. The previously stubborn veneer had now begun to separate, bubble, and lift away from the piece.




I was able to pull some off with only my fingers. The rest I removed with a plastic paint scraping tool. And the wood that appeared underneath…oh my gosh. (I felt like one of those ladies in the DIY shows that squeals when they remove laminate flooring to discover gorgeous original hardwood floors.) As I removed the veneer, the most beautiful oak wood appeared. It was knotty, warm…just perfect.



I cleaned off the remaining glue and got to work on the oak. I sanded it down and applied a light coat of ebony stain. I did it about three times, making sure to wipe the piece well after each application. Next, I applied tung oil to ‘wake the wood up.’ After the tung oil sat for a while, I coated the top with a clear wax coat three times.  I then cleaned the body of the dresser very well and applied white milk paint.



I sanded and scuffed the paint like crazy…I really wanted this piece to look very worn.   The result took my breath away.












During my little photo session, everyone wanted to jump into the picture.  First, my little superhero….



And Gigi, while enjoying a snack….




Even the dog.  This is how the “photo sessions” seem to go these days.


We all really love this piece.  I couldn’t even bring it to the Sleepy Poet just yet. It needs to spend a little time with me first. 🙂

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  1. I love this transformation! Thanks for sharing. You are one of the features at the Make it Pretty party at The Dedicated House. Here is the link to this week’s party: Hope to see your prettiness again at the bash! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  2. This is the most amazing thing I have ever seen!! I love it so much!!! I also love the way you walk us through the steps. Seriously, I’m in love.


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