Driftwood Dresser – Before & After

Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



As far as I’m concerned, this post is all about the “befores”.  And I’m warning you, they pictures are not pretty. You may even be wondering why in the world I would purchase something so hideous bright.  ….



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



Have you ever seen a “rainbow” dresser before? Now you can say you have! 😀  This three drawer dresser was manufactured by Yaeger Furniture in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  I’m guessing in the 1970s??.  While I’m all for letting kids express themselves, and I’ve got very creative kids, I’d rather they save it for a wall or canvas, clothes, or even hair color.   I draw the line at quality furniture.   And tattoos.    No tattoos allowed.  Because I’m old fashioned like that!!  😉


This dresser made me a little sad. Even though I knew I would face ridicule from the family, I had to rescue it.



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



 And, yes, they did ridicule me!



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



Many thanks to Kristi and E for delivering the dresser to me. I was recovering from a minor surgery and wasn’t supposed to be doing any heavy lifting. But that didn’t stop me from going garage saleing — or getting out the Citristrip 5 minutes after their truck pulled away!! 😉



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



 Even all the beautiful original hardware had been painted!   🙁  🙁   🙁



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com




Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



 As you may have guessed, I ended up stripping the whole dresser. This turned out to be a job and a half.  Besides the rainbow top coat, the dresser had once upon a time been blue, white, and yellow.


I’ve been looking at a lot of Land of Nod and Restoration Hardware children’s catalogs, and I found inspiration in RH’s Harlowe Collection. I love it’s finish, and the dimensions and hardware are almost identical to my rainbow dresser:



Clockworkinteriors.com - This RH dresser was the inspiration for the rainbow dresser.



Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  But it certainly wasn’t from lack of trying! Sometimes things just don’t go as planned.


Unfortunately, I couldn’t completely get the paint off of the body of the dresser, so I had to settle for staining just the top.  “Goodbye RH Knock Off. Maybe next time…”  🙁  On to Plan B.


I initially gave the top of the dresser  two coats of Varathane’s Wood Stain in Driftwood, but it ended up looking like flat gray paint. Not at all what I was going for.  This was totally my mistake, by the way.  It says right on the can “one coat necessary”.  Sometimes you just need to walk away.  So I let the dresser sit for a couple of days, and came back and went over the top with one coat of Varathane Wood Stain in Sunbleached.  Phew!  So much better. The top now has a softness and movement to it that I happen to love.



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



 As for the body of the dresser, I gave it two coats of Sweet Pickins milk paint in the color Galvanized. Once again it didn’t go as planned.  There was no chipping at all, which you come to expect when painting with milk paint.  And the finish just looked flat. Flat I can live with, but it was also the wrong color grey.   (Heavy sigh.)   It didn’t match the stained top at all, which you’ll remember I’m now happy with.  On to Plan C.



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



 I was planning on painting white in the recesses of the drawer fronts, and I decided to just whitewash over the whole body of the dresser. I watered down some Annie Sloan Old White chalk paint and painted it on and wiped it off with a damp rag. It really does look like driftwood to me. The white brightened up the dull gray, and it now complements the stained top.



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



The insides of the drawers were all paint splattered, and as much as I hate covering up dovetail joints, I had to do it. A lot of my customers are pregnant, and I couldn’t imagine a new mother putting baby clothes in those ugly dresser drawers. So they were given a coat of General Finishes Persian Blue – inside and out. It’s actually a nice surprise to open the drawers and see that sweet pop of color.


In the photos below, I’ve staged the dresser in a child’s bedroom :



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



Isn’t this little bunny the cutest thing?!!  Sweet Daughter designed and stitched it for my birthday!  (And she even “put a bird on it“, which is a running joke around our house.   It’s hard to see, but the bunny is actually wearing a bird necklace!  I think she will hereafter be known as “Talented” Daughter instead of Sweet Daughter!



Clockworkinteriors.com - The Ruffled Raven (my daughter!) made this sweet, adorable bunny!



  To finish the dresser’s makeover, the whole thing was given two coats of General Finishes High Performance Top Coat, and I thought I was finally done with this project.   The only thing left to do was add the hardware, which I had also stripped.



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com




Have you noticed the beautiful original hardware is missing? (And are you detecting a pattern with this makeover?!!)


While I was able to strip the hardware back to it’s original brass finish, the dresser now looks nothing like my RH Harlowe inspiration piece.  My dresser is all cottage and beachy, and the original hardware is dainty … fancy even!  And wouldn’t you know I still have the original hardware holes!  [Are you as sick of this makeover as I am?!!]  Fortunately I was able to find hardware that matched the style of the dresser and the existing hardware holes and I even like them!



Painted Driftwood Dresser / Clockworkinteriors.com



To be completely honest, I’m still a little disappointed that I couldn’t pull off my RH knock off. I also realize that my driftwood dresser isn’t going to appeal to everyone. But I do hope that people can appreciate how far it’s come and realize just how much work went into it’s makeover. [If I hadn’t walked away from the dresser a couple of times, this one would have definitely been left curbside!!]


Would I do it again? Joke’s on me …. I already am!! 😀  Thanks so much for stopping by!  Cynthia


Linking up with:


Lehman LaneKnick of Time .. … Embracing Change …   …..  ….. Dwellings – The Heart of Your HomeBetween Naps on the Porch … … Coastal Charm …  … Cedar Hill Farmhouse … … Thrifty Décor Chick … The Curator’s Collection …… Recreated DesignsUnique JunktiqueThe Boondocks Blog


Before and After Party – First Monday of the Month @ Thrifty Décor Chick

Hit Me With Your Best Shot @ Just a Girl and Her Blog

Dream. Create. Inspire. Link @ Lehman Lane

Be Inspired @ Elizabeth and Co.

Creative Inspirations Linky Party @ Embracing Change

Making Broken Beautiful @ The Curator’s Collection

Sizzle Into Summer  @ DIY By Design

Bewitchin” Projects Block Party @ Recreated Designs


For your convenience, I’ve linked to some of the products used to complete this makeover.  If a purchase is made, it’s possible I may receive a small commission, but it does not affect your sale price.  Just  sharing products I actually use and like.  😀

59 Responses

  1. Wowwww. All your hard work paid off. Beautiful transformation, and your daughter’s bunny is SO CUTE!

  2. Cynthia, I think it’s lovely! Certainly nothing like how it originally started. Luckily. And yes, you should change her name. I favor “Sweet and Talented daughter”. Plus adorable. That’s a mouthful!

  3. Your dresser came out really pretty; I like what you placed atop it, too!

  4. Saw this on WOW. Absolutely love how this piece turned out! You did a great job, and in my mind, it’s better than Restoration Hardware!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Ashley, and thanks for stopping by!

  5. Don’t you just hate it when a furniture piece has a mind of it’s own! Your hard word and persistence paid off because it may not be the RH makeover you had envisioned, the makeover you gave Cynthia it is beautiful! I’m sure it’ll sell quickly for you.

    • Thanks for your kind words, Marie! Sometimes the best thing you can do is walk away from a piece … unfortunately, I’m a slow learner! haha

  6. Cynthia, you had me at driftwood. I love the transformation! Hey, just letting you know that I co-host a monthly contest called The Fab Flippin’ Contest! We would love for you to participate. Details are on my blog. Nice job!

    • Thanks, Michelle — and you had me at Flippin’, because that’s what I call myself … a furniture flipper ! Will most definitely check it out. Thanks again.

  7. LOL – put. a. bird. on. it!
    Beautiful dresser. I think it’s simply gorgeous and I may have found the inspiration for my next piece!!

    • Do I detect another “Portlandia” fan, Patra?! 😉 Thanks so much for your kind words!

  8. Cynthia, oh my word i can totally relate to this post. i would have been standing beside that piece grieving that rainbow finish too. i know it was a lot of extra work but wow, it’s amazing now. totally gorgeous. you loved this dresser back to life. i hope your weekend is restful and relaxing, coco

    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Coco, and thanks for stopping by. Hope you enjoy your weekend, as well!

  9. I love it and think it’s a beautiful transformation. Thank you for sharing it with Share It One MOre Time. Cathy

  10. Such an amazing transformation! You were brave to take on that rainbow dresser, what an ordeal! It turned out beautifully! And don’t you love it when you find hardware you really like and it actually fits the existing holes?

    • I sure do, Ann, because there was no way I could replicate that finish if I had to patch and drill new ones! Thanks for your kid words–I’m a real fan of your furniture transformations!

  11. Oh, I love the transformation! And I especially like the beach decor to accessorize it. Who knew a “rainbow” dresser could look so elegant?? Thank you for the inspiration.

    Joanne@ Sea Glass Cottage

    • LOL … I pretty much took everything off the dining room table and placed it on the dresser! haha Thanks for stopping by, Joanne!

  12. The makeover may not have gone as planned, but it sure turned out beautiful! And the little rabbit made by your daughter is precious! …comimg from Coastal Charm!

    • Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words, Rhonda! Take care!

  13. Hi Cynthia! Thank you so much for sharing your dresser makeover on Dream. Create. Inspire. Link! We’re so happy to say that you were our most clicked feature for this week! I hope we’ll see you there again this afternoon!


  14. Cynthia, I love it! I love the driftwood look and would put this in my house in a heart beat!
    Thanks so much for sharing it at Something to Talk About!

    • Thanks, Karen! While it didn’t turn out exactly like I wanted, from where it started, it’s a huge improvement! 😀

  15. I think it’s beautiful! Yeah, you have more perseverance in you than I have! 🙂 And that rainbow look?? I think I would have gone for that in my teens! haha

  16. Cynthia,
    I love it! It’s so wonderful when a project comes out so beautiful…even when it ends up being plan C! It’s a lovely, versatile piece, for sure!

    • Thanks for your kind words, Lauree! This project definitely went to plan C! haha

  17. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.

    Wow Cynthia, that rainbow dresser was certainly bright. I think I would have passed it right by. But I love the new driftwood finish. You really gave this one a whole new life! Featured you at Be Inspired this morning. Thanks so much for sharing!

    • What a nice surprise with my morning coffee, Sharon! Thank you and thanks for your kind words!

  18. Oh my Cynthia! You REALLY gave this some class now! You know how sometimes people wear the wrong thing for their body types and when they get it right people say “wow!” ? ….. this is the same thing. This piece just needed a new dress! :0)
    So classy now, and I love how you styled it. It will be able to live in any room now :0)
    Thank you so much for sharing at my Broken Made Beautiful furniture linky party. I hope you will join and inspire again next week!


    • Thanks so much for your kind words, Terry! It was a project to be sure. And of course I’ll link up again — THANK YOU for hosting!

  19. Wow, what an incredible transformation. I will be featuring this tonight at my Sizzle into Summer party. Please stop by and pick up an I’ve Been Featured button. Thanks. http://diybydesign.blogspot.com

  20. […] a fun and inventive idea! Finally, two beautiful dresser redos I had to share — Cynthia gave this dresser a driftwood look:  You seriously won’t even believe what the before looked like. Pretty […]

  21. Love it, love it, love it!

  22. Love it, I have an ugly old dresser to refinish, hope it turns out as beautiful as yours!

    • Hi Penny, and thank you! Dressers are my favorite pieces of furniture to transform — It’s amazing what a little paint can do. Good luck with your project! Cynthia

  23. I can not believe this before and after. Beautifully done!

    • Thank you, Sherry! Let’s just say it wasn’t one of my easier makeovers! LOL Most proud that I didn’t leave it at the curb. 😀

  24. I loooove how this turned out Cynthia! You did a beautiful, beautiful job! You are one of my features tomorrow out at http://www.recreateddesigns. Thanks so much for linking this up to our Bewitchin’ Projects Block party last week 😉 I always love seeing what you’ve been up to! Have a lovely weekend. Hugs, Lisa

    • Awwwww, thanks for your kind words, Lisa. Thanks also for hosting and for the feature. It’s so appreciated! Take care.

  25. […] Are you enjoying your summer so far?  Have you been knee-deep in projects? I have, and this weekend I took to just catch up on a whole bunch of them.  I usually have three or four projects going at any given time and sometimes it’s nice to just have a day or two to catch up and actually finish them.  The problem is, every time I finish one, there are six more waiting to be started 😉  I will never complain though as that’s what keeps me inspired and happy. Be inspired today and may you find time to finish all of your projects! Enjoy!DIY Batik Wall Decor by Raven would… Bathroom Light Fixture Makeover by Sawdust SistersDriftwood Dresser – Before & After by Clockwork Interiors […]

  26. Awww, c’mon, Cynthia! The original finish wasn’t THAT bad!
    Didn’t the consept of ‘Unicorn Spit’ originally come from that very piece? lol
    Seriously, your version is definitely more appealing to me. In fact, it’s VERY classy!

    • Thank you, Ellen!! And thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave a comment. 😀

  27. I’m sure that I’m repeating other comments when I say ‘absolutely fantastic’.Being a perfectionist,it’s difficult to accept something that doesn’t meet your vision.In kindness I say you did a really great job and for next time I hope you get that jumping up and down joy of getting exactly what you want.

  28. This project turned out so beautiful! All Restoration Hardware’s chest of drawers has going for it is the hardware, which is very pretty. But your chest has so much more going on, with the white lines around the drawers, the darker top, and the painted drawer insides. I also like your new hardware as opposed to the ones that were originally on it. It is a beautiful piece and one I would be proud to show off. After failing over a hundred times to make a working lightbulb, Thomas Edison said he didn’t look at it as failure, but rather, he had discovered over a hundred ways NOT to make a lightbulb. Your next dresser will be even more beautiful because your starting point is much further along.

    • I hope you’re a writer, Robby, and if you’re not … you should be! Thanks so much for the lovely words and encouragement. Take care, and thanks for stopping by today! Cynthia

  29. I’m so sorry she gave you such a hard time Cynthia, but you stuck it through and did an amazing job. I love the driftwood look you’ve created. I’m sure she’ll find a loving home somewhere

    • Thank you, Michelle! Yes, someone swooped up the driftwood dresser the day it was listed. Smart buy for them, as it was a quality piece of furniture. Retail would have cost at least a $1,000. Furniture makeovers are the way to go when you’re on a budget! Thanks for stopping by today, Michelle1 Take care, Cynthia

  30. Cynthia what are you complaining about. This dresser turned out gorgeous. Maybe I’m a dullard but it has all those beautiful grey and white hues. The only difference I see is that the top is a little more toned down. I love what you did to it. Especially coming from that train wreck that it was. I want to create this same exact look on a piece of furniture I have. And no I don’t care about the HR piece, I want your look!!

    • Thank you, Mary! We learn so much with all our pieces, don’t we? Knowing when to walk away from a piece for a couple of days so I could start with a fresh set of eyes was my big lesson onh this piece. Hope you’re having a wonderful week! Cynthia

  31. A gorgeous transformation Cynthia, Personally I’m all for the driftwood finish look living in a coastal area myself, I adore it and your is executed very nicely! I’m sure this piece thanks you immensely for its new fabulous look! Thanks for sharing your PITA project at #fridaysfurniturefix it was so worth all the hard work!

    • You are so fortunate to live in a coastal area, Brenda. While Seattle has gorgeous water and mountain views, sandy beaches and palm trees are not part of it. Thanks so much for stopping by today! Take care, Cynthia

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