DIY | Furniture | My Projects | Projects | UPcycle

The $19 Mid Century Dresser Transformation

On a recent trip to a newly discovered thrift store I uncovered the most amazing dresser/chest of drawers under a pile of crap It was perfect for my bedroom.  Those of you may recall my mess of a bedroom when I disclosed my bedroom secrets.  Initially I was like cool, its a Mid Century look a like that I can paint and make look like something I would want in my house. But when I get home, I started pulling out the drawers, discovering this is REALLY Mid century. It’s tagged and all. SO WHAT DO I DO? I Googled John Stuart Inc. and found other furniture pieces by this company.

John Stuart Furniture

The John Stuart Furniture Company, Fourth Avenue and 32nd Street, New York was organized in 1934 by three men, all of whom had spent all their business lives in the furniture industry.  So I thought darn, what can I do?  If I paint this, does it lose its value? But then I thought, who cares it’s mine. And to top it off I only spent $19.  But while the exterior finish was a veneer it was solid and heavy.  It was a well built dresser. I actually loved the brass hardware. However, there was nothing I could do stain-wise that would make it work in my house….in my bedroom.  It had some veneer damage. But I could fix that with a little hardening wood filler.  Old furniture, like old homes have a story to tell.

And this dresser was no exception.  It contained the history of its past families.  Sure I could use a gel stain in mahogany, or maple or pecan.  But the more I looked at it, the more I realized that just wasn’t going to work…for me.  I guess new story.
So I went back to my garage and started sanding.



I sanded everything! I filled any imperfections in the veneer with wood filler. Then I wiped the dresser down with a damp cloth.  I decided I was going to change the hardware and paint the dresser using paint that I had from CabinetFail. I used BEHR Premium Plus #770F-5 Dark Ash Zero VOC Semi-Gloss.  To keep the cost down of refinishing this I decided to make some drawer pulls using wooden dowels.  I wanted the pulls to run the width of the drawers.

By lining the drawers up evenly I was able to measure the holes for the new drawer pulls.

I filled the old holes for the the old drawer pulls with wood filler.

I sanded the dresser down one more time paying close attention to the areas where I filled with wood filler.

Instead of using a paint sprayer (I was too lazy to clean it after I was done.) I opted for a paint roller that was ideal for cabinets and achieving a smooth finish.

I did 2 coats.

Using the Metallic spray paint I used for the handles I painted the brass tips of the dresser legs. I used Rust-Oleum Vintage Metallic Rose Gold.
Once the drawers were dry I was able to attach the new “hardware.”  I was getting so excited because it looked just like metal.  But it’s WOOD! The trick to properly lining up the drawer pulls is to place the drawers side by side evenly to do all the measurements once.  For this look it’s imperative that the drawer pulls line up evenly.

I used a carpenter’s square and a piece of 1×2 to keep the dowels even as I tightened it into the bell hangers.

Once I had the handled attached It was time to take this bad boy back to my bedroom and fill it up! Yea I really need to do some spring cleaning or sorting or something because I really did fill this up!  But I loved the accent pieces I got from TJ Maxx. Love that place!
Till Next Time! ~ T.


The smooth finish accomplished by using the round foam roller.
Wooden pulls that look like metal or copper


Similar Posts


  1. Lovely!!! You did such an amazing job on this project. The handles are priceless. You inspired me….

    1. Thank you so much Lori! That means a lot to me. This is probably one of my favorite projects.

  2. So pretty! I love the idea of making your own drawer pulls. I’m hoping I can do this on a smaller scale with the antique dresser I’ve been trying to refinish forever. What a cool idea!

    1. Thank you so much! I know you can do it! You can opt for a smaller dowel and bell hanger. Please share pictures of your completed project. Good Luck!

  3. John Stuart company would be proud! Nice job!

  4. Angie Neely Penn says:

    Love the idea of dowels for drawer pulls! But what are bell hangers and where do you find them?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *