How I refinished my childhood dresser: a story just 7 years in the making. Experience 48.

Once upon a time a little girl had a dresser. That dresser was green, but the little girl wanted it to be a bright garish shade of yellow, the better to match her bright floral wallpaper (hey, it was the seventies). So a bright garish yellow dresser she had. Only, sadly, the yellow was a shade too far (in more ways than one) and the drawers got stuck in the dresser. A lot. So when the girl grew a little older and went off into the world she left the garish yellow sticky-drawered dresser behind. Who wants sticky drawers out in the world, after all?

But that wasn’t the end of the dresser. No, after a number of years the girl and her mother hatched a plan to refinish the dresser. To strip it down and make it pretty again! They would be green! They would be sustainable! This before it became a trend. The girl and her mother were ahead of their time.

Until they weren’t. The years passed. Seven long years and the garish yellow sticky-drawered dresser sat in the garage. But the mother kept her inspiration magazine. Then one day, the girl set out on a quest to have 100 new experiences in one year. And she thought to herself, “I’ve never re-finished a dresser before.”

How hard could it be,” the girl thought. “You strip it down, you paint it up, you sand it here, you sand it there (for old-timey effect). Boom.”

Boom, indeed.

It’s a time-honored tale of home improvement or otherwise crafty projects. The girl planned for a three-day project. She didn’t even bother picking out paint on her first trip to Home Depot, because she knew she’d be back.

She bought the easy paint stripper that you “just paint on then the paint scrapes right off!” Just like on HGTV.

The girl slathered on the paint stripper, waited as directed, then began to scrape. And scrape. And scrape and scrape and scrape. As it turns out, the dresser that was green before it was yellow? Was blue before it was green. And red before it was blue. So the girl slathered on more paint stripper and scraped and scraped some more. Then the girl made her second trip to Home Depot and bought more paint stripper. (The road to green sustainability is often paved with toxic chemicals.) Finally, after three long days of intermittent slathering and scraping, the dresser was bare wood again.

Then the girl bought her stain and paint (but forgot to buy new knobs, naturally). Sadly, though, she had to wait until another weekend to sand the dresser. And for yet another weekend before she could paint. And make one more trip to Home Depot (the knobs).

She was in the home stretch. The paint was sealed up and stored away. The girl could taste victory. When her final “sanding for effect” went awry. The girl grumbled. The girl shook her errant sandpaper at the sky. Then she broke out the paint for one last (mercifully quick) touch-up.

Then. Then! At last! Just three days, plus another day a couple of weeks later, plus another weekend a couple of weeks after that (after a mere seven years), the dresser was finished.

And it was a sight to behold:


And perhaps, for all the money spent on brushes, and paint stripper, and scrapers, and more paint stripper, and paint, and knobs (don’t forget the knobs), the girl could have gotten a dresser from IKEA. But where’s the fun in that?


2 thoughts on “How I refinished my childhood dresser: a story just 7 years in the making. Experience 48.

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