Y'all might want grab a cup of coffee and sit down, Momma's got a story to tell. If you don't want to hear my story, by all means just scroll down and check out the pictures. You won't hurt my feelings none. But this piece was a labor of love for a reason. To appreciate that love, you need to hear the story.
It's a bit uncanny how this piece came into my life. Before that, let me tell you where it all started. I have a cherrywood highboy dresser from my childhood with a matching nightstand. (I still have the nightstand, just not pictured here.)
(Rush job on snapping the picture so I apologize for it's not-so-professional appearance. Good Lord, it's going to drive me crazy that the dresser is off-center to the picture hanging above it. I'm out of town, but I'll fix that sucker as soon as I get home.)

I've had that piece for as long as I can remember. My grandfather used to work at a furniture store in Ripley, Tennessee when I was little. Whether he purchased it or my mother, I don't recall. But what I do remember, it was painted that avocado green of the seventies. It sure was ugly. My mother, talented as she was, gave it a new life with an aged cream color. Not off-white but cream. It was beautiful. Then somewhere along the way (Maybe when I was in high school?) she stripped it down to the bare wood. That cherrywood was gorgeous.

Funny childhood story tooI know, I'm getting off track with my story, but I'm from the south and we never tell a story in a straight line. For some reason, when I was a child I was worried that someone would steal my furniture. So underneath this piece, in my childhood handwriting, is my name. Childhood me was going to foil the plans of any wannabe robber I tell you. (I'll post pictures of it when I get home.)

Anyway, back to my story. Quite a few years ago two of the handles broke; I've been looking for replacements ever since. They are a difficult size too (2" centers.) I've looked everywhere online and found nothing. I was even happy to settle with something that was in the same style. Nope. I'd given up and decided I needed to replace all the handles. About a month ago, for no reason at all, I got a bug to look for the handles again. So I jumped on Esty and within less than five minutes I found two, TWO matching handles! I couldn't believe it! All these years and snap, just like that I found matching handles. They weren't cheap, but I didn't care. I would have sold my youngest child to get these handles.

Here's the uncanny part. (If you've stuck around to read this far I hope like heck you're not disappointed with my "uncanny" part.) For the last year I've been looking for a dresser for the guest room, the same room my childhood highboy dresser sleeps. Occasionally perusing on Craigslist I had not been able to find anything I liked. (I wasn't going to buy a new dresser when I figured I'd refinish something anyway.) Two days after I found the handles to the old dresser, I found this...
(Please excuse the crude photo, it's the ONLY before photo I have. The photo from the Craigslist ad.)

The lady wanted $75 for this dresser, firm on the price too. I didn't care, I would have sold my oldest child to get this dresser. (Already sold the youngest for the dresser handles.) It is the exact match to my childhood dresser. THE EXACT! Same handles, same curve fronts, same grooved out track between the drawers. I called her immediately, and said I'm on my way. An hour drive later, this puppy was mine. It was worn out and haggard, reeked of cigarette smoke. None of that mattered because I was going to be stripping it down. (It's also heavy as all get out. Obviously I have a thing for heavy furniture.)

It took me ten hours to strip it down to the bare wood. Here are the stages of that process.

This curved and grooved edge here was the hardest to strip.
 I had to lay her on her back to keep the stripper from sliding off.
Look at this beauty! 10 hours of back breaking work (and my hands cramping like the devil) but this final product was worth all the work. A labor of love. I almost cried at how pretty she was.
(You know, it wasn't until after I took this picture below that I noticed my laundry was hanging in the background. All I can say is thank God I didn't have my drawers drying that day. (For all you non-southern folk, "drawers" is your panties.))
I oiled the piece, just like my mother had done to my original dresser, and called it a day. But once I oiled it, it made the gorgeous cherry wood a bold orange color. Too bold for my liking.
So then I tried to wax it with white wax to tone it down. (In an inconspicuous spot.) It looked like the haze of a smoke filled room, not pretty. Then I decided to used some leftover oatmeal colored wall paint and do a wash over it, trying to give it a softer tone of the wood without it looking hazy. This was difficult to achieve but through some trial and error, I finally got the desired look I was going for. I lightly sanded it with 320 grit sandpaper to get the perfect "pickled" look.

For comparison, here's the finished and unfinished drawers.
Then there was the matter of the handles. I was going to strip then down to the shiny brass, cover them with the oatmeal paint I mentioned above, then sand back the high points for a lighter layered look. (Here's a picture of the shiny brass versus the original antiqued brass.) In the end, I settled on something in between.
This is a picture of me spending another couple of hours trying to age back the handles I had stripped with a vinegar and salt solution. I tried several methods until one actually worked.
By the time I was through, approximately 18 hours of work, I got exactly what I wanted. Isn't she a beauty? Per usual I name all my pieces. (When it's this much work it feels more like art, naming it feels like the right thing to do.) The coloring in this dresser reminds me of pink depression glass with it's peachy-pink hue. So I named this piece: Pink Cherry Blossoms, one of the popular colors of that glass.
Now I get to redo the highboy dresser and nightstand, but I'll save that for another day.


To say this piece was where it all started would be a flat out lie. My mother has always refinished furniture either out of desire for change or just being the more affordable option to buying something new. I've done the same. But this particular piece was something I refinished recently where I actually wowed myself.

Originally I purchased this piece from Homegoods. (And it wasn't cheap.) It's a beast. This sucker weighs a ton. Solid wood. Teak maybe? The motif painted on the front was of sunflowers and vegetables. (Why vegetables, I have no idea.) I was never in love with the veggies, and it was always my intention to paint the piece to something more French blue. It only took about six years for me to get around to it.

(I apologize in advance for the before and during pics, I wasn't planning on blogging about this back then. But thankfully I have them.)

Here's where it started...

It took a day to refinish it. Half a day to sand it, and yes, I used an ancient electric sander I own that does not have the bag to catch dust. I will never do that again. (Notice the garden kneeling pad I used (bottom photo.) It saved my knees working on the lower part. Pro tip. You're welcome.)

Then it took the other half of the day to paint it. I know there are all these wonderful brands of chalk paint out there, but I used good ole fashion latex wall paint. Most particularly the leftover paint sample rejects from when we painted the interior of our home a few years ago. (It was actually two different colors that were similar enough that I dumped them in one bucket and mixed them.) I'm sure there are a lot of you gasping that I'd use latex to paint furniture but it works quite well. And isn't that the point of upcycling? To recycle what we no longer use into something better. I think it is. And if you're worried about it being water resistant, slap some polyurethane over it. (I'm not a fan of doing that unless I have to. I find polyurethane too shiny, even the matte ones. And it's too difficult to get smooth minimal brush stroke lines or dots from foam brush for my picky tastes. But it's a necessary evil sometimes. i.e. kitchen tables.) Here's the base coat...[I'll look up the paint color names soon for y'all.]

Then I dry-brushed a heavy coat of this bluish-gray color (below top.) Then hit the low spots with this bronze color (below bottom.) I worked in small areas so if I put on too much paint, I was able to wipe it off with a damp rag.

The final product turned out amazing, if I do say so myself. (And I just did.) And because I'm a dork, I name my pieces. This one is On Dove's Wings, because it reminds me of the coloring of the local doves here in California.

And now this wonderful piece is in my office with all my crafting supplies.