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Brad's Unfinished Dresser

Home Renovations

Brad's Unfinished Dresser
If you’ve noticed we’ve been absent lately, it’s because we got the home renovations bug and have been covered in drywall dust and paint for the past couple of weeks. We’re still in the process of painting more rooms, but we thought we would share with you our experience should you want to try it out yourselves. Be warned, this type of activity can make or break you. Tread carefully.


I got to the point this summer where I was tired of the poor college student décor in our bedroom. You know what I’m talking about – the mismatched, old 70’s dressers straight from the dumpster complete with sticking drawer and old varnish smell. While our dressers have served us well, they needed a little reviving so we decided to refinish them instead of spending more money on brand spanking new ones. Sometimes I wish we had just gone to The Brick.

Susan's Finished DresserAs the first day turned into evening and I had only sanded down 2 drawers I knew I was doomed. My hands have never felt closer to those of an 80-year-old arthritic woman’s than they did that day. Sweet heavens, rent a power sander if for some reason you want to attempt this after reading our experience.

Since we also wanted to replace the old hardware, we had to fill the existing holes with wood filler. I had no part in this, so it was quite easy for me! Although, when I think back I see Brad raging on the patio as he tries to slough off the hardened filler with his inadequate square of sandpaper.

If you can get yourself through the sanding process, the rest is quite fun and satisfying. Instead of staining, we decided to paint both of our dressers an espresso colour. We used a little foam roller, which worked quite nicely to achieve an even finish. It was very exciting to watch our old, decrepit furniture transform before our eyes into slightly less decrepit furniture.

Once the paint dried we measured the drawers for their new hardware and, voila, we were done! Okay, it wasn’t that easy. Actually, we were so sick and irritated by the end of it that we called in Brad’s mom for reinforcement, i.e. to help put on the handles. Admittedly, not our shining moment. Who knew you have to screw both sides of the handle on at the same time? Not I!

You would think after this tiring experience we would shy aware from any further home improvements, but we are currently in the middle of repainting my office. Home renovations are a ton of work and they make me feel like lighting a match, but in the end they are (usually) worth it.


I have to admit right away that before this summer I had basically no experience with any kind of home renovation, no matter how small. Sure I helped paint my bedroom as a kid, but beyond that I was useless. Well, I’m happy to say that I have learned a few things over the past few weeks and I am officially slightly less useless.

When we first considered sprucing up our dressers, I naively thought that it would be done in a day, maybe two at the most. Wow, was I ever wrong. That said, most of the hold ups were due to my lack of experience with this sort of thing.

The problems began when I tried to fill the holes on the front of the dresser drawers left behind by the old hardware. I was moving pretty fast trying to get through the process quickly, not thinking about the fact that I was slopping on WAY too much wood filler on each hole. I assumed it would easily sand off and I’d be on my merry way. Not so much. For what seemed like an eternity, I spent my time hunched over dresser drawers, sanding, and sanding, and sanding some more. By the end I was starting to feel like Tom Hanks in Survivor when he tries to start a fire and ends up just slowly gliding two pieces of wood together.

Once the sanding was finally complete we painted everything, which was the easiest and most fun part of the whole process. Then came problem number two. I had drilling anxiety. After all that work sanding wood filler from the previous holes, I was terrified of drilling new holes for the new hardware. I was convinced I would make them uneven. Once reinforcements arrived, I got the hang of it.

Brad's Finished DresserIn the end I really like how they turned out. Was it worth the effort to save the money by not buying new dressers? I think it was. If you had asked me that question right after we finished I would have said no. But now I can look at them and know that I was part of making them look the way they do. Also, we did save a lot of money. Buying new dressers would not be cheap. This only cost us around $150. So it was worth it, but I wouldn’t do it again unless I had to.

We’re currently knee deep in redoing our home offices. Mine is basically finished with a fresh coat of paint and some new blinds, but Susan’s is still in chaos. I think by the end of the summer we will be very pleased with the progress we’ve made. Our house (specifically upstairs) will no longer be a sea of beige!

If you’re a couple who are well versed in each other’s ways, you should try some simple DIY home renovations. If you’re a new couple who have yet to experience each other at their worst, run far far away from a project like this. We definitely had a few tense moments with each other while making our dressers look nice, so just be aware of that.

To avoid several trips to Home Depot here’s a list of some things you’ll need:

  • sandpaper and/or a power sander (we used medium to coarse)
  • a handy friend or relative
  • paint
  • foam rollers
  • paint tray
  • drop cloth (or old bed sheet or newspapers)
  • hardware
  • wood filler (if adding new holes to replace old hardware)
  • electric screwdriver

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