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How to Upcycle a Chest of Drawers – the ‘Pink Lady’

This How to Guide for How to Upcycle a Chest of Drawers was provided by Katie Morris from Upcycled Restyled.

This post was originally published in 2019 but has been updated with new links to some of the materials used to make it easier for you to replicate this project.

I love to upcycle furniture; it’s something I’ve enjoyed for over a decade now. I started when my partner and I had our first home together and money was tight.

I remember chocolate brown being bang on trend back then, so to match our brand new brown leather sofas from DFS I nabbed some pine furniture from freecycle and stained it brown to match – brown on brown on brown!

Thankfully my skills and sense of style have come a long way since those heady brown days and I would love to share a tutorial on how I upcycled this gorgeous mid century chest of drawers.


Materials Needed – Chest of Drawers:

Step 1: Clean

I started off by removing the hardware and then gave the chest of drawers a thorough clean using hot soapy water and a sponge to remove any grease, grime and dust. This is an important step as any grease or dirt left could affect the overall finish and durability of the paintwork.

Some old furniture can be a bit smelly sometimes too so adding something like Zoflora to the soapy water will help combat any whiffy pieces of furniture! Luckily this chest of drawers was in fabulous condition so only needed a gentle clean.

Step 2: Sand

Once the drawers were dry I gave the whole piece a sand using my mouse sander and 120 grit. As I was painting the majority of the drawers I only gave it a light sanding just to key the surface. For the top I switched to a 60 grit to remove the old finish following the direction of the wood grain.

I stripped it back to bare wood and then went over again with 120 grit to smooth over the wood. I hand sanded any areas that were difficult to get to with the sander.

Step 3: Clean (again!)

Using some diluted sugar soap in an old spray bottle and a damp cloth, I gave the chest of drawers another clean to r

Remove all the sawdust from sanding and any more grease that had lifted from sanding.

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Step 4: Tape

This step will really help give your piece a flawless, professional finish. I taped around the edges of the drawer fronts and around the top edges where I wanted to keep the wood top exposed. I used FrogTape Painter’s Masking Tape for this.

Step 5: Paint

Depending on what paint you decide to use, you may or may not need to prime. As I used Frenchic Al Fresco paint which is a mineral and chalk based paint, there is no need to prime. 

I like to start my piece upside down (unless it’s massive!) as it’s so much easier painting the bottom ends of the legs!

Using a small foam roller I painted thin coats to give me as smooth a finish as possible. I used the angled furniture brush for the areas that the roller could not reach. As you can see from the photos even with the first coat this paint has amazing coverage. I painted 3 coats to ensure there were no patchy areas.

Step 6: Sand the Paintwork

Once all the paint was dry I gave the paint work a very light sanding using a 220 grit to remove any brush strokes and drips to ensure that all important flawless finish.

Step 7: Paint the Feet & Handles

For the gold feet I measured 3cms from the bottom and taped the area. I mixed gold and copper Frensheen which comes in powder form and with Frenchic Finishing Coat to create the metallic paint. There are several metallic paints and spray paints on the market, I just really like using this product as you have control over how subtle or bold you want the final finish to be.

For the handles I had some old pine handles left over from a previous upcycle so I gave them a light sand and painted them with the gold/copper paint I had previously made for the feet. There are some really affordable handles on Etsy and Amazon and I have a real love for cup handles which would have also been a great choice for this piece.

Step 8: Refinishing Exposed Wood

I liked the grain of the wood so I didn’t paint the top, which meant it needed a bit of refinishing to match the glamour of the rest of the piece. Using Colron Finishing Oil I applied 2 coats using a cloth to really bring out the grain of the wood and also help protect it.

Step 9: Seal the Paintwork

This is an optional step is you are using Frenchic, however I like to add a protective top coat as I sell my pieces and want the paintwork to last for years to come so adding a top coat just gives me peace of mind.  Using Polyvine Dead Flat top coat and a lint free cloth I applied two coats.

The Frenchic Finishing Coat that was used to create the metallic paint could also be used for this step but I wanted this piece to have a really matt finish so opted for the Polyvine. Once the top coat has dried you can then put the handles on.

Step 10: Admire your Finished Piece!


And her she is, the Pink Lady! A very simple but striking finish has brought this forgotten piece of furniture bang up to date and is a very versatile chest of drawers that would work in almost room in the house.

I hope you have enjoyed this tutorial as much as I enjoyed making it and I would love to see any pieces you have done that have been inspired by this guide!

If you liked it, Pin it and come back to it later!

mid century modern painted furniture tutorial

This How to Guide was written for Upcycle My Stuff by Katie Morris from Upcycled Restyled. Since writing this piece for us Katie has moved on to other projects but you can find out more details about her and her past work here.

You might also like these furniture flipping projects:

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