Saturday, September 21, 2013

diy: dresser turned kitchen cabinet

Remember months ago when I promised a diy post about another dresser we had remodeled to fit in our kitchen. Well, here it is...just a tad bit late... I could blame it on a whole bunch of things, but instead let's just talk details.  

Our goal was to turn this walnut dresser into a updated two-toned dresser to store baking sheets and pans, spices, etc. in our small (rather dark) kitchen. I wanted to be sure that any furniture we added would not make the space feel any smaller. We also wanted a versatile, neutral color that would transition well into other rooms in the future.

Here's the "before" minus the hardware:
1st step: stripping
We covered the sides with a drop cloth, donned on some gloves, and applied the stripper with a paintbrush. After letting it sit on the top for an hour or two, we removed the excess goop with a stripper tool and a scrubber. Then we used mineral spirits to remove any remaining sticky spots.  
2nd: bleaching
The top was still much darker than what we wanted, so we decided to bleach the wood. Side note: I'm not entirely sure that you can tell we did this step in our finished product because of the shellac we used. Oh well, live and learn...
3rd: sanding
Then after the wood bleach was wiped off with water. We let it dry and then sanded down the grain that had been raised in the process. 
4th: sealing
We followed the sanding with a clear spray shellac over the top to seal the wood. (Sorry, no pictures of that part). We used Zinnser Clear Shellac Traditional Finish (the same shellac we used in our prior projects), but in a spray form.

5th: sanding/painting 
Finally, it was time to paint the lower part of the dresser and the drawers! Before we painted we lightly sanded everything, so the paint would stick. We found that three coats of Behr (in a shade of white that I forget what it's called) were needed to cover the dark wood. We chose the satin enamel finish to give the dresser a bit of gloss and to enable easy clean up of messy kitchen spills.
Our diy process was slowed significantly when we discovered that the distance between the drawer handle holds is an uncommon size. None of the major suppliers sell 4 1/2 inch pulls in stores. After a few weeks of searching we finally found some on ebay. They aren't my favorite handles, but the options were slim. We spray painted the handles with Rust-oleum Satin Nickel Metallic Paint and Primer in One. I would have preferred to find sleeker handles, but this was the best we could do without paying $20 a handle.

The finished product! It fits perfectly under our window to the living/dining room. I cannot stress enough how much I desperately needed the extra space for all the miscellaneous kitchen stuff. My spices fit perfectly in the top right drawer, the big middle drawers are perfect for baking pans and cutting boards, and the smaller drawers are great for immersion blenders, strainers, etc.

I absolutely love the way the finish highlights the beautiful grain of the wood!
If you're looking to improve your kitchen or add some storage, I'd recommend finding your own dresser in need of some tlc and get refinishing! 


  1. This is stunning, Caitlin! I love it!

    1. Thanks Claire! It has definitely updated our tiny kitchen!