Can 80s Furniture Work in Today’s Home??

*The Old Fashioned Milk Paint Co. provided me with product to complete this makeover.  However, all thoughts, opinions, and love of milk paint are wholly my own.



Can an 80s dresser work in today's home? Painted Pitch Black OFMP it can /




An 80s dresser is given a fresh makeover with Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Pitch Black /



Interesting question.  Can an 80s piece of furniture work in today’s home??   I’ll let you be the judge after you read this post.   This furniture makeover started with a text.  A neighbor friend was putting a big old dresser at the curb, and she wanted to know if I wanted first dibs.   To quote her text, she said it wasn’t a nice piece of furniture.    It was actually part of their newlywed furniture!   She was right.  The dresser is not all wood, it doesn’t have dovetail joints, the rails are plastic, and the drawer bottoms are pressboard.  While it is not a piece of furniture I would normally flip, it is still a big, useful dresser.  And I bet half the homes in America have a very similar piece of furniture.  Not everyone can afford to go out and buy new furniture when their style changes.  Could this dresser be saved from the curb and given a makeover so it could work in today’s home?  Forget about making a profit; this makeover could be a good example of working with what you have.   Challenge accepted, and these sweet neighbors even delivered the dresser!  😀



Giving an 80s dresser a fresh makeover with Pitch Black Old Fashioned Milk Paint /



I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:  Black paint can make anything look good.   And with the dresser’s batwing pulls (which we’ll discuss later) I thought the dresser had a colonial look.  I knew Old Fashioned Milk Paint Company’s Pitch Black was the perfect color for this piece.



Giving an 80s dresser a makeover with Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Pitch Black /


The dresser was shiny, so the first thing I did was scuff sand with 220 grit sandpaper for the length of about three songs.  (Which isn’t bad considering it’s size.)   Then I wiped everything down with a vinegar/water mix.  As soon as I started painting, I knew Pitch Black was the right choice.


We all know that a coat of paint can bring out the details in a piece, but it can also show the flaws!    It wasn’t until after the first coat of paint had dried that I realized the manufacturer had not filled in any of the nail holes.   Not a big deal.   A little wood filler, sanding, and a little more paint solved that minor problem.



Can an 80s dresser work in today's home?


The Pitch Black (with Extra-Bond  added) covered beautifully, and the dresser only needed one coat.  And there was no chipping at all …. or so I thought.   When I checked on the dresser the next day, there was one spot on the top that had severe chipping.  Such a shame, because the rest of the dresser looked stunning.

I brushed off the chips, sanded the area really well, and reapplied paint.   Unfortunately, this actually made things worse.  I believe the water in the paint reactivated the dry paint, and the spot became larger.    I sanded again; wiped it with vinegar/water mix and hoped for the best.   It was better, but still not perfect.   After the third attempt, I cut my losses and threw in the towel.  Something at some point had soaked into that spot, and I believe it was acting as a barrier for the milk paint to soak in and adhere. .  ** And this my friends, is why I prefer to start with a quality or all wood piece of furniture.   If I thought I would see a return on my time, I could have sanded or stripped the whole top and started over.   But that would just be a cosmetic fix.  And no matter how nice it looked on the outside, it would never be in the price range of an all wood, dovetailed drawered dresser.    I’ve never mentioned it, but I suffer from Raynaud’s Disease, and it’s been particularly bad this year.   I just couldn’t spend any more time in a cold garage working on this piece.   I feel no shame for throwing in the towel.   It’s all part of working smarter, not harder.


Once everything had dried, I gave the whole dresser a very light sanding, wiped it clean, and applied a coat of Tung Oil.   Can I just say, that I LOVE the look of Tung Oil over Pitch Black!!   The variations of pigments in milk paint are so beautiful to begin with, but then you add that Tung Oil and it just softens everything.   I look at this dresser and just have to touch it.   In the picture below you can see the area where the paint did not adhere:



80s Dresser updated with Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Pitch Black /


Shall we talk about the drawer pulls now??  This dresser has twelve of them!  I wish the budget would have allowed me to replace them.  If I thought I could recoup the cost, I would have gladly added this hardware from Anthropologie:



Slide View: 4: Gilded Triad Knob - Anthropologie



Or this one:



 Lusso Knob - $12 / Anthropologie


Unfortunately, each of these knobs are $12 a piece, and I would need 12.   That’s not happening.   On the D Lawless Hardware site, I found a more affordable bin pull that I liked:


3" Nickel Rectangular Bin Pull P17212-PN-C


These pulls are only $4.00, but it would still cost me roughly $65 when you include tax and shipping.  Still more than I want to spend on this makeover.   Because of the blemished top, I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to ask $65 more for it.  I’ve never used milk paint on metal, and this seemed like a good time to give it a try.   After one coat of paint and a light distress, I actually don’t hate the batwings on this dresser.    And if the new owner doesn’t care for them, they can very easily be swapped out.  😀



Big 80s dresser is given a fresh makeover with Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Pitch black /



So??  What do you think??   Remember, you’re the judge!   Would you let this dresser in your home?   I would. Besides being used in a bedroom, I think it would look awesome in an entry way or dining room.



An old 80s dresser is given a fresh makeover with Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Pitch Black /



And with the addition of new hardware, I think you could most definitely give it a more modern look.



80s Dresser is given a fresh makeover with Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Pitch Black /


Murphy’s law!  Now that I’ve spent so much time looking at this dresser, I’m wondering why I didn’t just keep the top three drawers and add a shelf below for open storage??!    Hello!  That would have been easy!   Well, at least now I have a Plan B if nobody appreciates it as is.   😉



80s dresser is updated with Old Fashioned Milk Paint in Pitch Black /



***   If you like it, don’t forget to pin this project for later! ***


How to make an 80s piece of furniture work in today's home /


As always, if you have any questions regarding OFMP, I’m happy to answer to the best of my ability.  😀    I’m signing off today with my favorite gallery wall photograph:  My sweet little Gremlins climbing down Mount Sinai (or Mount Moses as Egyptian locals call it) with their new Bedouin friend.    Till next time, Cynthia



Climbing down Mount Sinai, Egypt with their new Bedouin friend /



Linking up with:


Celebrate and DecorateSavvy Southern Style …. My Repurposed LifeCharm Bracelet DivaFrench Country CottageFriday Furniture FixThe Boondocks Blog … Love of Home …. Finding Silver PenniesRecreated DesignsDwellings-The Heart of Your Home ….  Between Naps on the Porch Coastal CharmConfessions of a Plate AddictThrifty Décor Chick

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18 Responses

  1. Can it work? Yes it can, and you made it work! Great job! Thanks for sharing at Celebrate Your Story!

    • Thank you, Chloe, and thanks for being such a gracious host each week! Take care, Cynthia

  2. I love how Old Fashioned Milk Paint can transform a piece and update it.

    • It is definitely my favorite paint to play with. Good thing it’s all natural, right?! Thanks for stopping by today, Debra. Take care, Cynthia

  3. Nice work! There’s so much from the 80s that needs some love! Well done!

  4. I actually have a piece similar to that one with those pulls. Mine is all wood however. I have been thinking of painting it. After seeing this one, I think I just might.

    • Thank you, and lucky you, Beverly! If this piece was all wood, I could have rescued the top and replaced the hardware. Good luck with your project if you decide to paint! Take care, Cynthia

  5. I would use it in a heartbeat, it looks great!

    • Awwww, thank you, Sandra. You’re always so sweet. Hope you have a lovely weekend. Cynthia

  6. It definitely works Cynthia, it’s beautiful and would look stunning in our home. Beautifully done as always.

    • Thanks for the kind words, Michelle. It’s appreciated! Take care, Cynthia

  7. Anything free qualifies for an upcycle in my book, and this one fits the bill! Great job, love the tung oil finish! Thanks for sharing at Fridays Furniture Fix Cynthia.

    • Thanks so much, Brenda! Tung Oil over black is the way to go because you’ll avoid any chance of the dreaded cloudiness. (Learned that one the hard way, unfortunately.) Take care, Cynthia

  8. Looks amazing and it really works. Thank you for sharing at, See you next week!

    • Thank you, Fabiola! And thanks for hosting and stopping by today. Take care, Cynthia

  9. This turned out beautifully Cynthia! I love the black. So pretty <3

    • Thank you, Lisa! And thanks for being such a supportive host. It’s appreciated! Take care, Cynthia

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