DIY: A Step-by-Step Guide to Rehabbing a Girl’s Dresser

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An old dresser, just awaiting some fresh paint and a little love

New Dresser! All pretty now!

I have seen these long low dressers with seating on the top for little readers on Pinterest a lot lately, and decided to try and create one myself. Considering this is only my second real attempt at rehabbing furniture I think it turned out well.

I completed this project in about ten days, but with more diligence this could easily be a great weekend warrior project.

Supplies Needed:

1. The Dresser – the one I used was actually once an under-bed storage piece that went with an old bunk bed. We had sold the rest of the bunk bed before the move but I had hoped to restore this part of it.

2. Sandpaper – I used 160 and 100 grades to get the job done. I also used a hand sander to help out with a few spots but this is not necessary.

3. Primer

4. Paint – basic indoor paint should be fine, I think I used Behr

5. Old Pillowcases – The drawers are covered in material, I scored some pillowcases at a thrift store for $1 each to use for this project (and used what was left to doll up some curtains for the room)

6. Mod Podge

7. Lacquer – Just a basic clear gloss, I used Minwax’s product

8. Natural fiber brushes – I would recommend two, one for the primer and paint and one for the lacquer.  The lacquer can be hard to get off the brush so I used an older one and simply threw it away once I was done.



1. Sand the piece down.

You do not have to get down to the raw wood, but at least buff up the current finish on the furniture so the paint will stick well, and if there are any imperfections (my piece had a little water damage on the top) sand that down so it is smooth.

2. Prime the piece.

Since the wood was darkly stained I did two layers of primer on everything. This included the insides of the drawers and the fronts of the drawers, since I was going to paint the inside of the drawers and cover the front with the fabric.  Make sure to follow the directions on the primer to allow for proper drying times.

3. Paint the piece.

I painted the main body of the dresser a lovely coral color and opted to do the drawers in a bold orange. Originally my plan was to do more of a pale orange and bright yellow, but the local hardware store had cans of the coral and orange colors in the clearance section, so I quickly changed my color scheme and saved close to $20. I had to do three layers of the orange and two of the coral to get good coverage.  Again make sure to let the paint dry fully before applying the next layer.

Tip: Paint from the top down and be sure not to let any drips gather at edges and corners. I stood the drawers up on their back ends so I could paint the whole drawer at once.

4. Cut the fabric.

I did a very crude measuring job and just held the fabric to the drawer and cut around it. This left extra material around the edge which was good, I trimmed this off later and did not have any shortage issues.

5. Mod Podge the fabric to the drawer front.

This was one of the trickier parts. The trick was to apply the Mod Podge as quickly and as evenly as possible. This stuff dries fast, and I had to reapply in a few places that had started to dry. As soon as you have good coverage with the glue put the fabric on, get it adjusted and smoothed out quickly. The material I used was thin and light and adjusted easily.

Tip: Make sure you have primed well before this step (on a very dark stain you might even consider a layer or two of actual white paint) because ANY coloration changes will bleed through the material once it is glued on.


6. Lacquer the fabric.

Once the Mod Podge is thoroughly dry, I gave it a full 24 hours, paint a lacquer finish over it, this will help to ensure the fabric is fully attached to the furniture. I trimmed the material around the edge of the drawer before lacquering it and then used the brush to flatten out any left over strings to the side of the drawer while painting. I only used one layer, but you might consider using more, especially if the dresser is going to get a lot of use.

7. Reassemble the piece.

To make it more cozy (without trying to figure out how to sew up a custom made cushion for it) I added some stuffed animals, boxes with books and a few pillows on the top.

The Wrap

Finally sit back and relax while enjoying your ‘new’ piece of furniture.  My daughter is loving hers, she will crawl up there with her blanky and read books all by herself.  Total I probably spent $30 on this project, but I did not even come close to using all the paint & lacquer I bought so that expense will be spread out amongst other future projects.  If you try something like this please let us know how it goes, we would love to see some of your furniture rehab projects!


Samantha is the newest member of the team here, and when she is not wrapped up in writing she is a full time mom of 2.5 children (two toddlers of her own and sometimes her lovely step-daughter as well).This mom loves to cook and craft and stay as organized as possible while living in this chaos.Beyond this useful blog she also runs a personal blog,

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