Vintage yellow painted dresser refinish makeover

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I am always searching for cheap vintage furniture that can be rescued from destruction and made over into something beautiful, and finding the perfect nightstand for our master bedroom was at the top of my list. Furniture on Craigslist seems to be selling for an arm and a leg these days, so I was beyond excited when I saw this vintage solid wood dresser listed for only $25! It had great lines and a shape that wouldn’t clash with the modern dresser on my husband’s side of the bed. It was located in another town that is half an hour away and was literally right around the corner from where I was headed to my son’s gymnastics class. It was fate. Sold!

old vintage dresser before being painted

This piece was in even worse shape than I had expected, but I knew that there was a ton of potential there. When I say that the dresser smelled musty beyond belief, I’m giving it a HUGE compliment. Seriously, I think there could have been dead things in there at one point. The smell was atrocious.

drawers of inside dresser shown

The drawers were busted and stained, and there was a strange light green funk all over the back side of the piece. YUCK.

I started by giving the entire dresser a dousing of straight vinegar to see if it would help get rid of some of the smell, and after it dried, I sanded the heck of it with my palm sander. I had to enlist the help of my husband to give it a deeper and more thorough sanding because the smell of the dust was practically enough to knock me out! After he finished sanding, I gave it another spray down with vinegar which cut the smell dramatically afterwards.

vintage dresser makeover started with primer coating dresser

I love Kilz spray primer. Great big puffy heart LOVE them. This stuff is amazing! I decided to give the entire dresser, inside and out, a coat of primer to help seal in the remaining smell and the deep set old stains. It took me six cans of spray primer to coat the dresser and all the drawers, but it worked like magic. NO more funky smell at all! Amazing!

I mixed together a few cans of yellow paint that I had in my garage until I found the shade that I wanted, and whipped out my trusty cheap-o paint sprayer. This thing is pretty amazing too. It does a really impressive job for being such an inexpensive tool. The best part is that I only used about half of this sprayer cup of paint to give the entire dresser two coats of paint. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to brush painting furniture!
dresser painted yellow and drying in garage to vent
After the paint dried I used my oscillating tool to rough up the edges and distress it a bit. I was planning to give the dresser a layer of brown glaze so that it wouldn’t be so bright, but I chickened out since none of the swatches I painted on the backside looked like I envisioned. In the end I’m glad I kept it bright. This piece was a true labor of love, but it was so SO worth it!
finished pretty yellow dresser refurbished and placed in bedroom
diy yellow dresser refurbished and placed in bedroom
vintage dresser made over with chevron pattern inside drawers

Those nasty old drawers look so much nicer with their new paint and grey chevron drawer liners!

roughed edges of vintage style furniture

The chippy finish gives the piece an aged shabby chic cottage look, but it’s not so distressed that it overwhelms the look. I don’t usually distress my furniture, but I’m thinking that this might start a new trend for me.

upcycled old dresser made into new yellow dresser
cute made up dresser

It took me forever to decide on what type of hardware I wanted to use, but I finally went with Liberty Hardware pulls and rings because I wanted something that looked both modern and vintage, and I didn’t want to break the bank either. The dresser only cost $25, so I was determined not to spend more than that (shipping included) on my hardware!

vintage dresser with decorations and wall hanging

I’m totally in love with the way it came out!

old key locks on vintage dresser

My most favorite details are the new keyhole plates. The original dresser didn’t have any, but I fell in love with these while I was shopping for the hardware and had to add them to my cart as well. These babies add so much charm and finish to the piece, and they only set me back a whopping 80 cents for both of them!

Vintage yellow painted dresser refinish makeover

Everyone loves a good before-and-after, right?

We kept this pop of bright yellow in our living room for a couple of days so that I could photograph it, and I fell in love with the splash of color and cheer that it brought to the room. I’m already planning on making over a yellow hope chest to take it’s place once it moves up into my bedroom!

signature of Heidi from Happiness is Homemade craft blog

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  1. Hi,
    I love what you have done…I would like to do the same with a small furniture that I have at home. However, I no experience with paining wood and I guess it is more than painting. Where should I start looking? Any suggestions? Thanks

    1. This spray gun uses a compressor, but if you’d prefer an electric plug-in version without a compressor, I highly recommend the HomeRight Finish Max sprayer. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I love this dresser and the yellow! I’m wanting to paint a dresser yellow and find I’m overwhelmed with the different shades, could you please share what colour yellow you used? Much appreciated!!

    1. Hi Kim! I wish I could help, but my yellow paint was actually a mixture of several different shades that we had in the garage. I just mixed them and added some white until it was the color I wanted. Good luck! ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Hi. I too love this! I am painting a thrift find captains bed a similar yellow for my daughters room. I’ve never used a sprayer before I’m interested in learning on this peice. My question is did you do anything to the paint before putting in spray cup? And what size nozzle do you use? … Also do you ever seal your painted furniture with clear coat? I’m thinking I might try that too this time.

    1. Hi Brandie,

      I did have to thin my paint just a very little bit to use with the sprayer. I used water to thin my paint because my paint was a water-based latex. I was surprised at how little paint was needed to paint my entire dresser! I did not seal this piece, but I do think that at some point I probably will do a clear coat just on the top because it needs to withstand more use (and abuse from the kiddos!) than I originally thought it would. ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. Seriously… I LOVE your dresser! My aunt just found a similar dresser and I just sent her the link to your post so she can get some ideas!

  5. Hey Heidi!
    So cute…I’ll be using some of your techniques when I take on an antique dresser that I just got from my mom! I’ll be sure to share my results too! =)

  6. I am in LOVE…if I lived closer I’d come take it while you were grocery shopping ๐Ÿ™‚ xoxo

  7. Great job! It reminds me of the yellow dresser that graced the cover of Martha Stewart in the late 90’s or early 2000 (I believe it was her most popular cover ever!). But the icing on the cake—the chevron drawer liner!

  8. Loving the yellow, Heidi!! Yes, you’re so right…just the sides are different. That’s so crazy! And I’m LOVING that hardware you used…gorgeous. The yellow is so sunny and fabulous. xoxo

  9. It’s perfect. Those pulls are to die for. Then the chevron ๐Ÿ™‚ The contrast against the yellow is gorgeous. So nice to meet you, you are very talented. looking forward to more ๐Ÿ™‚ I also love dandelions but I’m so allergic. Poor guys get a bad wrap!

  10. I must say it does look cool, its the first time I have seen this done to a coloured piece, I have a set of drawers that I’m now going to do the same theme with, I’ll post them when I am done. Thanks for sharing. All the best, John.

  11. Thank you! That lovely painting was done by my sister for my birthday a few years ago. It’s one of my most favorite things in my home! ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. love that yellow paint! Similar to one I used in my Master!