Tag Archives: hardware

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

As I’ve slowly been dabbling in the world of furniture rehab the last year, I’ve learned quite a bit. Namely, that restoring wood furniture takes time and patience. I understand why people choose to go the painted furniture route because, frankly, it’s a lot easier!

A few weeks ago I revealed that I had finally finished DIYing my mom’s childhood bedroom dresser.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

It’s been a beast to get it done. Nonetheless, I definitely don’t regret this DIY dresser project!

I shared a few months ago the dresser and how I stripped it of its (many layers) of paint.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

Read about my sanding process here.

After that, I spent a boatload of time sanding. Usually I just use a palm sander (starting with rough grit paper up to very fine).

But the gouges in the surface of this dresser were so deep I needed to use our belt sander. (And as you can see by the photo below I needed a bit of assistance using it. I was a little Lucille-Ball-esque letting it carry me away with it!)

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

It was well worth all the effort of sanding though – it now has a nice new surface!

It goes well with the other DIY dresser I have refinished!

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

This time around I did use one new method: pre-staining.

Why Pre-Stain?

Pre-Stain is typically used on raw or soft wood materials. The pre-stain helps to prepare the wood so the stain will soak in more evenly – preventing blotches and streaks.

How to Use Pre-Stain:

Using pre-stain is simple. Going forward, I would definitely use it on any furniture staining projects I have, just to make the final color that much richer.

I used Minwax Pre-Stain conditioner. A large can will run you about $10, but will last you forever! After you have finished all your sanding, brush on the pre-stain with a foam brush just like stain, and let it sit for 5-15 minutes. Then just wipe off any excess.

You will want to stain your piece within 2 hours from pre-staining it for the best absorption.

Read how I stain and polyurethane here.

This dresser was stained with Minwax Special Walnut stain and topped with Cabot Semi-Gloss Fast Drying Polyurethane. I always use foam brushes when applying stain or poly, and just a friendly reminder – DON’T SHAKE THE POLY! Stir it gently! Otherwise the air bubbles will dry and your dresser will feel like you spilled PopRox on it.

DIY Tutorial: Refinishing a Painted Dresser and How to Pre-Stain Wood

Dresser Hardware

For the hardware,  I chose with mercury glass knobs. I found a 4-pack in HomeGoods for $8.00! You can find the same ones on Amazon ($12 for 2) or let yourself be seduced by the glitz of Anthropologie and get ripped off for $8.00 a pop for the exact same knobs!

For the top drawers I found smaller mercury glass knobs at Target for a whopping $20 for set of 4. I couldn’t find smaller knobs like them anywhere so I bought them. And they are perfect!

For the keyholes, I gently pried out the old metal inserts with a screwdriver. I’ve seen replacements online for $2/each, and may add those at a later point.

That brings my grand total for this DIY dresser makeover to about $45. (Pre-Stain – $10, Hardware: $28, Sandpaper: ~$5)

While this project took me ages to finish, I’m so happy I kept at it! It was totally worth it!

Subscribe to Design Lively: Facebook Twitter  | Bloglovin‘  | RSS

Thanks for stopping by! : ) Kat

I’m linking this project up to one of my favorite furniture rehab gurus – Miss Mustard Seed’s Friday Furniture link party.

DIY Tutorial: How to Refinish an Old Dresser

Thank you for all the love from my before and after dresser reveal!

This dresser I got from my grandparents was in pretty good shape – except the original finish was dark, cloudy and crackly.

And after 50+ years of use it was showing its age.

I took everything outside and used a palm sander. This was by far the hardest and most time consuming. I probably spent a solid 6 hours sanding over the course of two days.

I started with 150 grit, and worked my way up to 300 grit. (150 to 200 to 250 to 300 – don’t skip any!)

The finish was so old it took a very long time to get through. It kept building up in clumps on the sandpaper. I just picked it off with a razor blade every 10 minutes and kept going!

In a few small stubborn spots I did use chemical strippers – I used a spray can of KleanStrip and scraped it off with a paint scraper after 15 minutes and continued sanding.

It was worth all the hard work! Check out the difference – see how black the original finish was!?

Now the new top is nice and smooth.

To stain I used 2 coats of Mixwax Dark Walnut. I brushed it on with a foam brush and let it sit about five minutes. Then I wiped it down with an old cloth. After 20 minutes I put another coat of stain on.

Then I brushed on a coat of Cabot Semi-Gloss Fast Drying (HAH!) Poly with a foam brush.

Because it is SO hot and humid out, I needed to wait three days before I could do the next layer of poly.

I am not a patience project person. It was not easy for me to wait!

Another 3 days later and we were good to go!

Before, between and after each coat of poly I took a fine sanding “sponge” and lightly sanded. This will ensure a finish that is smooth to the touch. And don’t shake the can of poly! It will fill it with bubbles and your dresser finish will feel like it has a rash. I learned this the hard way.

After a week of poly-drying, it was finally ready to go upstairs!

Check out that beauteous wood grain!! Bye-bye cloudy black finish!

I bought 12 of these Clear Melon Glass Cabinet Knobs Drawer Pulls from Bonanza.com for $50. It was a little steep for this thrifty gal (my DIY attempts failed me), but this was the only cost I encountered with the dresser. You can only be so stingy, you know.


I chose these knobs because this dressy is sexy and sophisticated! With the sleek dark stain and lots of curves, it was begging for some swanky hardware.

Glass is timeless, and the floral cut added a bit of girliness. The antique brass centers bought out the warmness of the wood. At least that’s what I was thinking when I purchased them… and I think I was right!

I must say, I am very happy with the result.

There is still a mirror and mirror attachment that go on top – I have yet to start those! Someday I’ll get there.

Until then, I’m enjoying this dresser being in our bedroom. I love how it looks with the cool gray walls.

I will absolutely give refinishing furniture another try – it was totally worth the end result. And while the sanding was painful and the poly-drying took forever, I know this is a piece we will keep for a very long time.

Do you have any furniture lying around waiting to be refinished?

Cabinet Knobs – Oh the Choices!

I am currently in the middle of refinishing my first pieces of furniture – hardcore!

I have finished raw furniture and have repainted furniture, but I have never taken a piece and fully sanded it down before – until now.

I got an old dresser from my grandparents in the fall and it has been sitting in our sunroom waiting to be brought back to life. I’ll post about that whole process later, because right now I’m looking at knobs!

Since this dresser is pretty special to me I’d like to get some fun hardware for it! The dresser is an espresso color that is tall and straight with some curves at the bottom. And I need 12 knobs so they can’t be too expensive!


Should I get fancy, classy glass knobs? That could look pretty with the dark espresso color.


Or fun ceramic ones like these babies from World Market?

If you know me at all, you know I LOVE these seaglass knobs from BeachyRustica – but I don’t think they would go with the style of the dresser one bit. : (


I supposed I could also DIY the ones that came with the dresser… Hmmmm, that’s a thought…

These are adorable!! But at $8 a pop that’s getting pretty pricey.


I also love these from Anthrologie! But again, at $8/knob that would cost me $96 in hardware for one dresser. Yikes.

What do you think? Glass? Ceramic? Plain old brushed nickel? DIY?



Let me just ask right now – how on earth is there NO Hobby Lobby in Massachusetts or World Market in New England!?

Dear Business Development and Store Locator Teams of Hobby Lobby and/or World Market,

Please build a new store new my house. That is where everyone in blogland happens to buy cute hardware. And you don’t ship things that small.

Thank you,

Doors, Handles, Knobs and Toes. (Knobs and Toes.): How to Install Cabinet Door Knobs

I lasted posted about my kitchen a week before Christmas and set our goal to be D-O-N-E with the kitchen by the end of January. So far we are on track and are about half-way through our remaining list of to-do items!

We installed the rest of our cabinet doors with the exception of the two underneath the sink. We still need to replace some piece of wood before can finish that up.

Along with new cabinet doors we also purchased new facings for our drawers. Those have been installed along with the handles.

I like that our handles are hefty and slightly retro. They feel nice and sturdy. We will be using these vertically as pantry door handles (when we get there). We got them from Lowe’s.

Then we installed the knobs on our cabinet doors.

First we decided where on the door we wanted the knob to be – low, middle or high on the shaker border. We chose the middle (and I reaffirmed my choice after consulting my Kitchen Pinterest board and liking this one best).

We ordered these amazing little templates off Amazon (here) to avoid unfortunate mathematical error when it came to drilling our cabinet doors and drawers. I won’t lie. Regardless, I had to go in the other room when me started drilling the first one.

We marked the hole with a pencil and pre-drilled the door with a bit similarly sized to the screw that came with the knob for a snug fit.

Then we inserted the screw by hand and added the knob in front.

And we have ALMOST all our cabinets DONE!!! I can’t believe it! I love it.

Buying new cabinet doors instead of ripping everything out was a huge time-saver and our kitchen looks brand new.

Can you believe it used to look like this?

Other news in kitchen-land:

We (*ahem* Moose) rewired all our outlets and lightswitches in the kitchen so they are all crisp and clean.

We (*me!) finally found and ordered a ceiling light for over the island. It should be here in a week or so.

Moose also installed our over-the-sink track lighting. Let there be light! I can finally see what I am cooking.

We bought it on sale at Lowe’s back in the summer.

Hold up, did I say “over the island” a few sentences ago? YES I DID!

We also recently purchased a raw wood island from The Mill Store.

(Yep… I’m really going to miss staring at my trash can and having kitchen cabinets all over the floor… I just don’t know what I’ll do with myself when it’s over. Maybe you’ll find me eating spaghetti off the floor.)

The island has yet to be painted and stained, but this is the general idea – except white legs, no casters and we remove our shelves to store the stools underneath:


Once we choose a stain for the top of the island we will also stain the top of the sideboard (which has been covered up by plastic placemats for the last 6 months).

What do we have left?

– Install new sink task light
– Find, purchase and install ceiling light
– Put in new wood pieces under the sink
– Finish installing drawer panels
– Finish installing cabinet doors (except for 2 more)
– Add cabinet door hardware and pantry door handles
– Stain top of sideboard
– Add quarter-round under granite
– Toe-kick
– Install hardware to attach dishwasher to the granite
– Repair and paint molding on doorframe
– Find and purchase and paint/stain kitchen island and stools
– Finish re-wiring the outlets and put switch plate covers on
– Finally take off the protective film on the dishwasher! After 8 months!

Sadly, we’re already starting our phase II kitchen list. But that can wait. Woot!