Mid-Century Modern Dresser Makeover

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hey there! I'm monica 

I pride myself on making amazing style and design accessible for everyone, regardless of location, budget, or ability! My design philosophy is rooted in authenticity + attainability - If I can do it, you can too! My work has been featured in countless publications, but I take the most pride in homeowners that have been personally inspired by my DIY ideas and have tried something in their own homes!

learn more about ME + MY BIZ

 I had awesome grandparents. Interesting, dynamic, hard-working and loving. I really could go on and on, but what I really want to focus on is this dresser. What does it have to do with my grandparents, you ask?  Well, they lived in Georgia for as long as I can remember and had this really cool bedroom set. Growing up I thought it was strange and so dated, but now I totally appreciate the lines and style of the pieces. After my Grandpa passed away, my sweet Grandma moved up north to PA to live with my parents and she brought along her bedroom set. Sadly, my grandma passed away a short time later and my parents had to decide what to do with all of her stuff. This is where I come in. I jumped at the chance to inherit a dresser that reminds me so much of two people I loved so much. I knew it would be the perfect addition to Bennett’s nursery .  Lots of people may cringe at the fact that I made changes to it, but Mo and I are huge fans of making family furniture work with your style. All the history, love and memories are still there, it just now fits better in my home.  To each, his own, I guess, and for me, this piece is just right now.

mid-century modern dresser makeover

This dresser is no shrinking violet, huh? It’s a long and low piece with a ton of storage, but I didn’t want to go with the warm, honey tone (I know, I know, Monica predicts honey tones are in, but guess what?! Not in my house. Ha! Now she’s the one rolling her eyes.)  I love love love the legs on this dresser and wanted to draw attention to them, so I knew exactly what direction I was headed.



Aren’t these drawers funky?


Enter Annie Sloan Decorative Chalk Paint. Guys, if you haven’t tried this stuff, what are you waiting for? No sanding. No priming, No work, basically. Just brush it on, distress (or leave full-coverage) to your liking and seal with furniture wax. So incredibly easy! I wanted a charcoal gray, so I mixed a custom color of Paris Grey and Graphite. I just kind of eye-balled the color as I went, adding a little bit of graphite to the Paris grey in a pan until I got the right tone.


 I brushed on two coats, letting it dry between each coat. Wierdly, the color was a bit lighter than I was hoping, but rather than mixing more paint, I had another idea in mind.


  I mixed Annie Sloan’s clear furniture wax with a bit of the dark wax on a paper plate, wiped the mixed wax onto dresser with a brush, and then wiped it off with an old t-shirt.  Mixing the clear wax into the dark makes the dark wax a bit more forgiving- you can adjust the darkness as necessary. Slapping on the dark wax by itself would be way too overwhelming and would be difficult to get a non-streaky look. This process allowed me to get just the right color. Man, I love it when you can completely customize a piece to your liking. Such a good feeling.


Finally, I added orange to the bottom apron and all four legs for a fun, surprising pop of color that tied in with the rest of the nursery. I like that the orange makes this piece not too serious and draws attention to those great legs. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Am I right? Once the dresser cured for a while (read: a month or so after the baby was born because I was slightly thrown off that he came four weeks early) I had the perfect mid-century modern beauty for my baby’s new room.


 Actually, I’m kind of jealous that it’s not in my room. Just doesn’t seem right. 😉



Now that baby B is four months old (what?! Is that really true?), and we’ve spent a good amount of time in his nursery, I can honestly say that this dresser makes my heart happy. It’s a fun piece, but also reminds me of my awesome grandparents every day.

Tell me. Would you paint family furniture to make it work with your design or is it too sacred to do that? 

Oh, and PS. If you want some Annie Sloan Chalk Paint of your own, we order ours from Shaunna here. She’s the best and has some awesome tutorials for how to use it on her blog. Tell her we sent you! 🙂

The comments +

  1. Beth Marie says:

    I dont have a family piece however i did score on a Dixie Furniture mid-centry dresser at a garage salefor $20. I’m totally afraid of painting it!!

    • Monica says:

      That sounds like a great score Beth Marie! Maybe let it sit for a little bit and think about what you’d like to do with it…and check out our blog for more ideas!! 🙂

    • 'just say no ' to paint says:

      shabby chic now chalk paint oh boy is right somewhere down the line someone will do the right thing and restore it back to its original beauty ,at least the curved drawer fronts and legs should have been kept natural wood those features are what make this a classic example of 60s beautiful Danish design

      • lol Nearly all of the pieces painted by upcyclers today are not solid wood. They simply have really nice (and replaceable) very thin sheets of veneer over cheaper wood frames/bases…they are either solid wood planks (not typical), plywood (several sheets of thin cut wood glued together), or particle board (pulverized wood chunks and resin compressed together…and that crap tends to crumble over time). Almost nothing is made from solid wood (and has not been for a very long time, veneer has been around for centuries!!) because it would cost too much!!! Hence, the reason a really nice, high quality wood sheet of veneer is used over them…to make it look more expensive.

        With that being said, what’s really the difference between a colored stain or paint?? Not much, they both add character and loveliness to a piece of furniture that would otherwise be in a landfill. Paint also tends to bring out all of the beautiful carved details that are common in mid century/vintage pieces. It makes them pop and you can actually notice them!! I like to paint and stain, but have also painted entire pieces. It all depends on the piece (the shape it’s in, the details, etc.). If I get a really nice piece of furniture that has no blemishes…it’s getting multiple colors of stain to add interest; but it’s not common at all to get a piece, in our price range, with no blemishes. If I get one that has pieces of veneer missing or peeling off, no way am I going to re-veneer it, it’s getting repaired with wood putty and then painted!

        I really wish people would get off of the “natural beauty” look of “solid wood” furniture kick. The only way you could ever bring this stuff back to its natural beauty is to turn it back into a tree!!!

        I think it’s gorgeous and so much livelier now! Beautiful work, Monica!!

  2. Amy says:

    I would like to give chalk paint a try on an old vanity but the thought of ordering a paint color online is daunting. Are there any local stores that carry the product? (I am in Harleysville)

  3. […] Modern Dresser Makeover (Chalk Paint!) from East Coast Creative […]

  4. I love the color combo you went with! I also love the “Oh boy” letters above the dresser – too cute!

  5. Colleen says:

    Love this reincarnation. Our son, coincidentally named Bennett too, has an armoire in his room which is the only piece of furniture that my great grandparents brought over here from Italy. It was my grandfather’s as a child as well. I painted it white and did an orange color gradient down the front drawers. My grandparents are thrilled that it has a “new life” and it reflects both our family history and the new life in our family. 🙂

  6. stephanie says:

    What is the name of the mint paint you used?

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  9. Annie says:

    just beautiful, thanks for sharing your technique. amazing the differences!

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