Tag Archives: bedroom

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser  I’ve inherited another family dresser!

My first refinishing project was a dark stained wood dresser that came from my Grandparent’s bedroom. Although I kept it a dark stain, it took quite a bit of work to get it there! Read more about that here.

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

We are kind of bureau-starved in this house, so my Mom was kind enough to haul this dresser out of her basement.

Fun Fact: This was the dresser from my Mom’s bedroom growing up (aw!) and one of the drawers is still lined with her childhood bedroom wallpaper!

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

The first question to ask yourself when refinishing any piece of furniture: is it worth refinishing?

Both my family dressers are solid hardwood, structurally sturdy and were built with the all-important dovetailed corners.

In my opinion, if a dresser doesn’t have dovetailed corners, I wouldn’t bother putting all the work into refinishing it. It’s a mark of good craftsmanship.

Evidence of dovetailed corners seen here:

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

I started this project in the fall and it’s only half-way done! It got WAY too cold for me to keep working on it in the garage – so that’s where it sits. Soon I should be able to finish it though, it’s starting to warm up!

In this post, I’ll talk about stripping the dresser of paint, which is a different beast than stripped a stained dresser.

I started with this Klean-Strip chemical paint stripper and a plastic scraper.

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

First, WEAR GLOVES. Then, in a well-ventilated area, brush the stripper on to the painted areas. I used a foam brush so I could just throw it away at the end.

Then wait 15-25 minutes. It will look bubbly like this when it’s ready to be scraped: I quickly learned that the plastic scraper was a waste of time and got out an old metal scraper. (Note: I ruined this scraper, just letting you know.)

Scrape the surface (being careful not to gouge the wood with the corners of the scraper) and discard directly into a trash bag.

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser
I even found an old sticker underneath the paint.

Repeat. Again and Again. The lengthiness of this part of the process will depend on a lot of things – Was there varnish over the paint? How many layers of paint? What’s the temperature outside? etc.

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

After my first afternoon I was able to take it down to this point:

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

A weekend or two later I returned to attack the dresser body. To no avail. This is where my problems started! First, I ran out of stripper so I ordered a new type – this kind:

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted DresserCitri-Strip Paint and Varnish Stripping Gel

I applied, waited and… nothing. Now I know – ALWAYS refinish furniture in the summer when it’s warm and you can be outside! Not in a 15 degree garage.

Note: Chemical Stripper won’t work if it’s too cold!

We brought the space heater into the garage to warm up the air and let the stripper work away at the paint – it’s important for you to LEAVE the garage at this point and not inhale all the fumes. This stripper smells like oranges and it’s easy to forget you are dealing with toxic chemicals.

The space heater helped some. So I reapplied and scraped several more times.

Then I brought the big gun out – that would be, the heat gun – I should have done this earlier!

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresservia Home Depot

To use a heat gun, just plug it in, turn it on and hold about 4-5 inches away from the surface. It will start to bubble (similar looking to the paint stripper). Then you can scrap it off with your metal scraper just like with the chemical stripper. It’s just like a hair dryer.

Then the sky opened up and angels sang.

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

I have no photos of this portion because when my hands weren’t covered in chemical goop, I had a scraper in one hand and a heat gun in the other.

Using the heat gun allowed me to get to this point – now we’re getting somewhere!!

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

Unfortunately, there are a LOT of gouges in the top that were minimized by the billion layers of paint on this dresser. But I will deal with that when it’s not so cold. Hopefully soon now that it’s feeling spring-y.

I’m eagerly awaiting my dresser upgrade!

DIY Tutorial: Stripping a Painted Dresser

The natural wood is a warm reddish hue.

As you can see, stripping a painted dresser is not difficult, it just takes some time.

This particular dresser had 5-6 coats of paint on it, so it took me a bit longer for that reason too.

My only suggestions:

If you’re going to put the effort into stripping a dresser, make sure it’s a solid piece of furniture (look for dovetailed corners).

Also (this is JUST me) but I wouldn’t start with a very curvaceous dresser – flat surfaces are much easier to scrap/sand down!

Next steps: Sanding this monster smooth!

Have you ever stripped a piece of furniture?

Did you have wallpaper in your room growing up?

I went through three different wallpapers over the course of my youth – two different yellow striped wallpapers and one wallpaper with pink/blue flowers!

House Tour & Second Floor Update (Both Long Overdue!)

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

I have finally posted an overall house “tour” of before and progress photos!

See our overall house progress here: Our DIY House Tour

This month is 2 years since we put an offer on the house. Yes, TWO – I can’t believe it’s been that long. I posted an update on the first floor in the fall.

In all honesty, we’ve pretty much just patched and painted here, and it still needs a LOT of surface work help. We also have some big plans in our head to help make our bathroom larger (as it’s currently the only one upstairs), which would mean knocking down walls in a number of rooms… so we aren’t exactly inclined to perfect what is going to be torn out.


Since this is an older home, there is no true “master”, so we chose this one. After a beastly battle with a few layers of wallpaper I spackled the walls and the ceilings and painted. Although you might not be able to tell from photos, we have quite a bit more spackle and caulking work ahead of us. We took down the mammothly heavy (70lb!) closet doors, which will sometime we replaced with new doors. We also took down the ceiling fan and installed new lighting. (You will see this is a theme in every room I’m about to mention).

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively


This bathroom is like a wounded man limping to cross the finish line… constantly moving, but painfully slow. As we have plans to completely gut this bathroom, we’ve made minimal updates. We replaced the vanity (the original was broken on the side), tore out the double glass shower doors, took down the medicine cabinet (the mirror finish was literally peeling off) and installed a new light. You would think that with all that replacing this bathroom would look pretty good – but with our gutting plans – we went for the cheapest temporary pieces we could find. When we bought the house, the entire ceiling in the bathroom and hallway was peel-city. This was because there was never any venting system installed!!! We installed a vent and heater, and worked on the ceiling. This room has been painted a few times, for now it’s gray.

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively


As I mentioned, the ceiling in the hallway was peeling like crazy. We’ve had to go back a few times and re-touch (and you can see we are currently in progress of that in the photo below). The vent has certainly helped a lot with this. The peeling problem could also be because this house was winterized and de-winterized a lot in a short period of time since it was a foreclosed property. More paint and spackle in here. We’ve also added runners – the original hardwood up here is a rough in certain spots.

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Guest Room:

Aye. There’s not much to tell about this room – it’s been minimally updated. We painted the walls, tore down the ceiling fan and closet doors and installed new lighting. That’s about it! This room needs love!

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Guest Room:

Same story here! We did a bit of painting and took down the ceiling fan. We’ve also rewired all the bedrooms upstairs. Also, this closet is insanely wide, so the doors are still here. I have no idea what we’re going to do with them!

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively


This is a weird room. It has so much potential and so many limitations due to it’s really awkward shape. The peaked portion of the room was added at a later date and was refinished poorly – drywall seams show everywhere.  We’ve painted in here, and that’s about it. We have some big dreams up our sleeves for turning this room into a master bedroom, but we have enough projects on our hands! Maybe someday….!

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Our DIY House Tour - DesignLively

Breaking the Rules: Puttings Beds in front of Windows

Sometimes you’ve got to break a few rules.

There are a lot of rules I tend to ignore. Like “match your purse to your shoes”, “don’t swim right after you eat” and “don’t wear red and pink together”.

However, in some ways, I’m a rule-follower when it comes to decorating. Like, don’t mix and match hardware/appliance finishes. Etc.

But, our old house comes with small bedrooms. Small bedrooms with huge windows and double closets (albeit, awesome) but they take up a lot of wall real estate.

So we had to choose between 2 bad design choices:

1. Putting a bed against a window

2. Having our feet point away from the main door (why do I know these things? Too much Oprah.)

That’s why, after switching from room to room (last summer, we tried out 3 different bedrooms before we picked one) and trying out a few furniture layouts, we….. put our bed in front of a window.

And I love it!

And although I miss the window, we have two other huge windows on the other side of the wall that bring in lots of light.

While I would have liked to put the bed in front of these windows instead, that nice radiator you see below them put the Heisman on that plan.

To help create a “center” I hung a hefty curtain rod, added sheer drapes and a string of metal stars. Someday I’d like to get a shorter and more “open” headboard, but for now we are workin’ with what we’ve got.

Fortunately there were lots of other great examples that I scoped out before we jumped for it.

This one is even similar colors:

via Live in Des Moines

And this airy beauty:

via The Handmade Home

And I love this one! I have always wanted a bright red and white geometric quilt. Maybe in the future, or a guestroom.


Sometimes breaking the rules is so right.

In other words, Happy Weekend!!


Before and After: Refinishing an Old Wood Dresser

Last month I posted on some cabinet knobs that I was debating over for a dresser I was refinishing.

In fact, it it the first piece of furniture I have ever truly refinished!

I’ve finished raw wood and painted over old finishes, but I’ve never sanded a piece of furniture down to it’s raw state.

As usual, I was so caught up and excited about my project I forgot to take a true “before” photo, that’s why there are no drawers in this picture. They were lying all over my yard.

This is an old red mahogany beauty.

It belonged to my Great Aunt Annie. Then it was passed on to my lovely grandparents and sat in their bedroom for many years. Now it belongs to me!

See how it looks now:

I couldn’t be more pleased with the result.

I’m quoting my husband when I say it looks like our first “grown up piece of furniture”, which is quite true.

I’ll post a full tutorial next week. : )

Happy Weekend!

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