I took this ugly, disgusting dresser and transformed it into a beautiful DIY unfinished natural wood dresser and today I’m sharing all the fun details with you all!
Undeniably, there’s a problem with being a DIYer. I can’t quite seem to reconcile my wallet with retail priced products. While visiting shops and thrift stores, I see maker pieces that draw me in. I gasp and swoon and oogle over that gorgeous piece. That is, until I look at the price tag.
I sigh and walk away because it’s always too rich for my blood. As a result, I’m always hunting in dives for cheap pieces I can love back to life, just like this chest, and boy does it have a story!
So, there was this local junk shop that was closing it’s doors and it was a sad, sorry place. Windows busted out, random bowls of cat food laying around, and forgotten items that not many people would want.
The truly sad part is that I believe the owner squatted there amid all that junk. I think I even walked out with a few flea bites. It was a kind man down on his luck just wanting to make a buck so he was basically giving his items away.
That’s when I saw this dresser. And I saw the groups of people turning their nose up at this disgusting piece.
Covered in stains, it had a unique smell, was missing a drawer and the remaining drawers had a mysterious fuzz growing inside of them.
Formerly a beauty, it was now a sad piece that needed love. I adored the curves and lines of the dresser and knew I could give it grace and love it back to life. Here’s how I did it – I’ll provide affiliate links for your convenience. Read my full disclosure here.
DIY Unfinished Natural Wood Dresser Supplies
- Old Dresser
- Citristrip Stripping Gel
- Scraping Tool
- Sandpaper and Sanding Block
- Plywood 4 X 8 – 1/4 inch smooth for drawer inserts
- circular saw
- wood glue
- rubber gloves, mask and goggles
- Glass drawer knobs and pulls from Hobby Lobby
To begin, I started taking the drawers out.
A total aside – I did not take pictures because of the dangerous state of this piece. Donning a hazmat suit, I tackled that piece with much caution. Chiefly concerned for my safety, I was worried that I’d carry any cooties from this piece to my phone or camera. That wasn’t about to happen, so no pics of the stripping process.
The mystery fuzz really bothered me, so we removed all the bottoms from each drawer and took them to the dump.
We, really meaning Trent, because it really, really gave me the all-overs.
While he was heroically disposing of the ick, I started stripping the piece with a scraper and Citristrip stripping gel.
Stripping furniture can get really messy, so prepare a container to place the gunk in. An old cardboard box worked perfectly for this. Just apply the stripper, let it sit a bit, and scrape it off.
After you strip the piece, wipe it down afterward. I used soapy water because I knew it would be sanded, but you can use vinegar as well.
Using a sanding block, I started sanding the chest. Since this was in such poor shape, I also sanded the interior to make sure I removed any remaining yuck that was there before.
Similarly, I sanded the interior and exterior of all the drawers, just to be safe.
Looking good, there, girlie!
For the missing drawer, we cut a piece of thin plywood to act as a shelf for blankets or books.
It was at this point that I fell in love with the natural look. The veining in the wood grain stole my heart!
Using the same thin plywood, we inserted cut to size pieces into each drawer for the bottom.
Now it was time for the jewelry!!
The piece in it’s before state still had it’s glass drawer pulls, but they were all broken, so I couldn’t salvage them. I scored some gorgeous replicas at Hobby Lobby’s 50% off sale.
I love that one of the brass key holes remained in tact and hopefully I can find 2 more to match the top drawers. Obviously, it was difficult to remove all the previous stain from the grooves. However, that is my favorite element, adding that aged look!
Here’s how I styled my
DIY Unfinished Natural Wood Dresser
Finally, this DIY unfinished natural wood dresser is happily at home next to my sofa.
I hung an old tobacco basket over the chest with a favorite DIY frame and artwork of mine.
It’s a gold frame spray painted black and distressed to let peeks of that gold shine through. I framed my old Scrapbook paper photo mat with old sheet music and key elements.
I’m so pleased with how my DIY unfinished natural wood dresser turn out! I can’t wait to hear your thoughts. Let me know if this inspires you to hunt down a piece to love back to life. For tips on how to care for unfinished furniture, I found this article here to be very helpful.