Small Dresser Makeover: Painted Mustard Yellow

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See how I upcycled this mini dresser using homemade mustard yellow chalk paint and wood stain. This makeover is a perfect project for beginners.

I found this small chest of drawers on the Facebook Marketplace. The seller was located in the neighboring village and the selling price was cheap (€ 10 )! I immediately decided to buy it.

small dresser makeover - before
Small dresser before the makeover

Here is how it looks when I purchased it. It was cute but really outdated. There were several scratches all over the dresser. It is not a real wood piece of furniture. It is made of a mix of solid wood, veneer and particle board. Honestly, it is not a super high quality piece of furniture… But it was a perfect candidate for a makeover.

Here is how it looks after I painted it. Much better? I like this mustard yellow so much…

mini dresser makeover to mustard yello

Since the selling price was very cheap I decided to go for some experiments. I tried to make my own chalk paint!  I will share my opinions and tricks later. Subscribe to my newsletter if you don’t want to miss it.

Supply List for the Small Dresser Makeover:

Prepping the Dresser

First, I removed the drawers and the handles using a screwdriver. I stored the handles and screws in a small box as I planned to use them later. I usually use plastic boxes for food delivery (after cleaning them, hem).

Removing the drawers and the handles

The small dresser was sealed with acrylic lacquer. So I lightly sanded the entire piece with 220-grit sandpaper. Sanding allows the paint to adhere better to that piece of furniture. Always sand, even if it’s light. I strongly recommend doing it, even if you plan to use chalk paint, your small dresser makeover will last longer. No need to use your electric sander, sanding by hand is just fine.

The drawer fronts were in good condition, except for one drawer that needed some fixing. I applied a small amount of wood filler on the damaged corner, let it dry for a couple of hours, and sanded it to a smooth touch.

Corner fixing

At this stage, I knew I wanted a wood top. I used my electrical sander to remove the varnish and expose the veneer underneath. When sanding veneer, you need to be careful not to sand through the veneer.

After sanding smooth, I cleaned the piece. First I gave it a very good vacuuming, then I cleaned it with a damp rag (using my favorite vinegar and water solution ). I allowed it to dry overnight before I started painting. 

Painting the Small Dresser

The following day, it was time to paint. I chose a tangy yellow mustard color for this project. I used my homemade chalk paint recipe for this project.  It’s actually a mix of regular latex paint and calcium carbonate. Should you want to try to make your own, I recommend you to read this interesting blog post on this subject. Denise’s blog is amazing, full of useful tips and inspirations. I definitely love it! 

And one last piece of advice before you start painting: make sure to stir your paint before applying it. 

Top picture: after one coat of paint – bottom picture: after two coats of paints

After about 2-3 hours of drying time, I applied a second coat of paint. I sanded lightly after the second coat of paint. Since the original piece of furniture was quite darker than the paint I applied a third coat of paint for a better result.

Light sanding after the second coat of paint

Staining the Top of the Dresser

The wood on the top of the piece was really light and I didn’t find the wood super beautiful. I decided to stain it. I was looking for a natural solution and found it is possible to stain unfinished wood with coffee. You can check here.

I did not have instant coffee so I decided to make a strong coffee using my regular coffee machine. But I think my coffee was not strong enough.

After applying 3 coats of coffee stain, the wood became a little bit darker but not as brown as I wanted. And since the top was veneer and not solid wood I did not want to take the risk of ruining it by applying too much water.

Applying coffee stain on the top of the mini dresser

So I decided to use another solution and go for a natural walnut stain. After applying 2 coats of stain, I was satisfied with the result.

Applying walnut stain on the top

Distressing & Adding Top Coat

Once the dresser dried overnight, I took my 220-grit sandpaper and lightly distressed it around the edges and the drawers. I also sanded again the entire piece for a smooth finish. Then I used a tack cloth to remove the sanding dust. 

To seal the piece, I chose a Clear Paste Wax. I used a lint-free cloth to apply wax all over the piece. I allowed the wax to dry for about 2-3 hours and then buff the wax with a clean, lint-free cloth. One coat of wax was enough. 

Lastly, I gave the old handles a good clean and put them back in place. 

Handles – before and after

Here is another after picture. I’m pretty satisfied with how this little dresser makeover turned out!

Mustard yellow mini dresser after makeover

For this project, I also painted the inside of the drawers. It is much prettier when you open them.

Painted drawers
small dresser makeover: top corner

Nothing fancy, but it is a bright and vibrant modern piece that would be perfect as bedside table or in a child bedroom. My daughter immediately wanted it for her bedroom.

Have a nice week-end!

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