How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (2023)

I love two toned furniture projects using dark stain and almost any color. I'm going to show you how to update a dresser with a two-toned look. It involves navy and Jacobean stain. This month’s power tool challenge post is all about modify—which is what I normally do to all of my projects. But I took a step back this month and made it a little easier, but I am still including lots of tidbits to help you learn something from this modified dresser.

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (1)I picked up this dresser, aka a chest of drawers earlier this summer from my hairdresser. It has definitely seen better days. Because the theme this month is “modify” I decided to update this dresser working on the bottom of this piece. It’s a little “dated”, don’t you think?

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (2)

So much better, looking a little modern!! Can you believe it's the same piece of furniture?

Not into wood working, looking for an easy dresser makeover with paint?

Let's see how to update a dresser . . .

How to disassemble furniture

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (3)I began the modification process by removing the old trim on the front of the dresser. At this point, you must resist the urge to just start prying and hammering the wood trim. You must look for the hidden screws and remove them. After doing so, all the wood trim will be easily removed.

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (4)

Using a 1x6 in place of the old trim was the plan. I actually wanted to add trim around the front and both sides. However, the width I needed was a full 6” a 1x6 wouldn’t work, so I just decided to add trim inside the front legs.

I keep a small piece of sandpaper near my saw at all times so that as soon as I cut a board, I can knock off the splintering pieces.

*this post contains affiliate links*

Pocket holes attach new trim pieces

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (5)To attach the 1x6, I used my kreg jig to drill pocket holes on each end of the board, as well as a couple on the width of the board.

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (6)Here you can see that I used a right angle clamp and some pocket hole screws in order to attach the 1x6 in between the existing legs of the dresser. Notice right by the trigger of the drill the pocket hole along the width of the board for extra strength.

(Video) Painted Dresser Makeover to UPDATE an OUTDATED Oak Finish

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (7)Here is the new 1x6 in place.

More Ways to Update a Dresser

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (8)The dresser top was in really bad shape, but I figured it would be better to sand the finish off instead of stripping it.

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (9)I buy these sanding discs in 50 count because they are so much cheaper that way. I started with 60 grit, then went to 150, then 200.

Make any necessary repairs

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (10)After inspecting all the drawers, there were some repairs to be done. I used Gorilla Wood Glue and bar clamps.

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (11)One of the dove tail joints had come loose, more Gorilla Wood Glue and another clamp to take care of it. I use baby wipes in the shop for lots of uses, including wiping up glue.

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (12)While the glue was setting up, I removed all of the knobs. Only 2 of the drawers needed repairs.

Refinish drawer fronts

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (13)The same technique was used to remove the finish from the drawer fronts. 60, 150, 220. I actually used citristrip for the small middle piece, then sanded it to finish removing the finish.

Stain the top and drawers

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (14)Minwax Jacobean stainwas used on the top of the dresser and the drawer fronts.

Prepare to paint the updated dresser

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (15)I mixed up some diy chalky paint primer using an oops dark blue and plaster of paris. I applied it using a cheap chip brush. Do you know how much I love these brushes? Sure, the first couple of times you use them, they shed horribly, but the more you use them, the better they get!

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (16)I painted about 3 light coats over the dresser sides and front.

Things don't always go as planned

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (17)This is me anxiously doing a dry run test to see how much I love it. Not so much.

It is so obvious that the new board was added. So I decide to patch it some more. (I used a little sawdust and wood glue to fill that small gap before I painted it)

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (18)At the end of day 1, I used a lot of spackling to patch the seam . . . then I came in and looked at the pictures. I really should do that more often, instead of waiting till the end of the day. I could barely sleep that night for thinking about removing this new 1x6 and doing something different.

(Video) Outdated to Modern Dresser Makeover | Using Trending Paint Color of 2022 |Extreme Furniture Makeover

A much better plan to update a dresser

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (19)The very first thing on day 2 I carefully removed all of the screws and pried the newly installed 1x6 away from the front of the dresser. While it was upside down I sanded the plaster and cut four scrap pieces to “beef up” the original sides (legs) To see if it was going to look okay, I clamped the new pieces and set it right side up.

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (20)I used Gorilla wood glue and my nail gun to attach the new pieces of wood. I then used my orbital sander to make the new piece blend better with the old piece.

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (21)

There was a lot of patching, painting, and sanding to do to make the two pieces look like one leg. After this photo I also patched the staple dents.

TIP: use a scrap piece of wood with your sandpaper to get a flatter, smoother finish when sanding.

A vintage dresser is updated into a more modern style

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (22)I personally think it is much better, but anything was a huge improvement over the original dresser trim.

Dark wax tones down the color and helps seal

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (23)Oops! I know this isn’t a blue dresser, it’s actually a red library table that I got the same day as this dresser. But I forgot to take a picture of the jet black wax I used on the blue dresser to tone down the color a little. It wasn’t as deep as I had wanted it to be. This wax and sponge are fromHeirloom Traditions Paint.

Hardware jig makes installing new knobs easy

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (24)

How to use the Kreg cabinet hardware jig

  • Adjust the drill guides and the edge guide for your handles

  • Clamp the jig in place

  • Drill through the guides

  • Sand the rough edges

  • Attach hardware

    (Video) Dresser MAKEOVER and light stained wood top | furniture flip | taupe

  • Smile!

A video about using a hardware jig

Wait! Don’t think it’s that easy? I made a video . . .

This jig is so much easier than the other jig I’ve had for years. Not only that, it’s small and compact, and it’s not that expensive. It will save you time and trouble, believe me I know. I have installed this kind of hardware before on my Cord Clutter post. One of those pulls still has one screw missing because the handle is crooked when installed.

Navy Blue and Stained Modified Dresser

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (25)I really thought I was going to be able to complete this project in one day. Because of the EXTRA modifications, it took 2 days, but I’m so glad I made the extra effort. You may be wondering about the original KNOB holes. I left them. Because I was able to very strategically place the new pulls, they are not visible.

Old Dresser Updated

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (26)Look at those perfectly spaced bin pulls from D. Lawless Hardware. I bought them a couple of years ago, and have just been waiting for the perfect piece to use them. I’m so glad I waited till I got that new Kreg Hardware Jig.

Did you notice the new faux whitewashed floor?

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (27)
How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (28)

I’m seriously loving how this free dresser turned out with a little modification. How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (29) I think you will LOVE the other projects from my friends, they are such a talented bunch!

How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain (30)

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How to Update a Dresser | Navy and dark stain? ›

You can use gel stain over an existing finish, when you're staining a dresser darker, on painted furniture with a stained top. You can use gel stain on veneer furniture as well, and even use it over paint to create a weathered wood finish like this.

How do you refinish a dark stained dresser? ›

How to Refinish a Dresser
  1. Step 1: Choose a Stain. Staining beautifies wood and helps reduce the contrast between the different types of grains in different pieces of furniture. ...
  2. Step 2: Remove Hardware, Drawers and Clean Surfaces. ...
  3. Safety Alert! ...
  4. Step 3: Remove Old Finish. ...
  5. Step 4: Apply Sanding Sealer. ...
  6. Step 6: Finish It.

Can I stain a dresser darker? ›

You can use gel stain over an existing finish, when you're staining a dresser darker, on painted furniture with a stained top. You can use gel stain on veneer furniture as well, and even use it over paint to create a weathered wood finish like this.

How do you update dark wood furniture? ›

Lay a brightly patterned runner across a wood dresser or table. Opt for bold bedding or wall art in a bedroom outfitted with wood furniture. Table lamps, vases, and planters in a rainbow of colors can also help cheer up dark wood furniture.

Can you stain a dresser that is already stained? ›

Can I stain on top of old stain? Yes! In fact, applying stain over stain is a fairly simple process. It works especially well if you're applying a dark stain over a lighter stain.

Can I stain over stain without sanding? ›

Good news, you can stain wood without sanding the old finish off! But you'll still have to do some prep to make the new gel stain bond properly with the old stain. Start by always cleaning the old finish with a good cleaner and degreaser, like TSP. Be sure to rinse all of that cleaner off before moving on.

How can I change the color of my old dresser? ›

How to Sand and Paint a Dresser
  1. Remove all of the hardware. To accomplish an even paint job, remove drawer pulls or knobs, and store them in a safe place.
  2. Start by sanding. ...
  3. Follow up with priming. ...
  4. Apply the first coat of paint. ...
  5. After drying, apply a second coat of paint. ...
  6. Add varnish. ...
  7. Replace the hardware.
Sep 15, 2021

How do you make a dresser look expensive? ›

8 Excellent Ways to Make a Cheap Furniture Find Look More...
  1. Replace or remove hardware. ...
  2. Faux the finish. ...
  3. Display nice stuff on it. ...
  4. Lighten the visual load. ...
  5. Add white or black. ...
  6. Add sleek pattern. ...
  7. Splurge on expensive upholstery materials and methods. ...
  8. Change the function entirely.
Mar 11, 2020

Is dark stain out of style? ›

They Will Never Go Out Of Style

The dark stained look is beautiful as well and has also been used throughout the years to both make wood more beautiful and to help preserve it. This helps you to know that your cabinets will always be desired and will never lose their appeal.

Is it better to paint or stain a dresser? ›

Furniture pieces with mild to moderate flaws that you can sand out are great to stain—the right stain can cover the imperfections and make the item look new again. For furniture with severe flaws that you cannot easily fix by sanding, paint will better cover these issues and make the piece look new again.

Do you have to remove all stain before restaining? ›

Generally speaking, it's a good idea to completely remove all traces of the previous coat of deck stain before applying a new one. The reasons for this may be fairly obvious -- a previous coat of stain might be peeling away from the surface in several areas.

What compliments dark wood furniture? ›

One way to style your dark wood furniture is to contrast it with light colours. This doesn't have to be a stark black-and-white contrast, but making use of lighter-coloured neutrals is a good way to go. Warm neutrals such as soft greys, stone and beige variants will pair very nicely with dark wood.

Is dark wood furniture making a comeback? ›

According to Etsy's 2023 Home Decor Trends Guide, dark wood is making a strong comeback, so if you're especially into vintage living room ideas and modern Victorian interior themes, this one's for you.

Do you have to sand a dresser before staining it? ›

The best way to stain wood is to prepare the wood surface by sanding it with a sanding block or orbital sander. Sandpaper with a lower grit number will make wood rougher, allowing more stain to absorb and creating a darker color. Start with 120-grit sandpaper on refinished pieces.

How can I change the color of stained wood? ›

The easiest thing to do when you don't like your wood stain color is to grab a darker stain, and apply it on top of the initial stain job. If you don't want a darker shade, sanding down the piece and re-staining is also an option.

How to make mid century furniture look modern? ›

How to bring mid-century modern into your home
  1. Find a bold accent piece and work your room around it. ...
  2. Update your lighting. ...
  3. Create a wood accent wall. ...
  4. Add a piece of art. ...
  5. Introduce geometric elements. ...
  6. Try removing your window treatments.

How do you recolor a wooden dresser? ›

  1. Sand the Existing Finish. If your dresser has a smooth finish and is in good shape, feel free to skip this step if you use chalk paint. ...
  2. Clean the Dresser and Let It Dry. Remove any dust and debris from the surface. ...
  3. Roll on a Coat of Paint. ...
  4. Trim With a Brush. ...
  5. Buff on a Wax Finish. ...
  6. Reattach Your Hardware.
Jul 11, 2022

How do you make an old wooden dresser look new? ›

To refinish a dresser you must first sand off the preexisting layers of stain, varnish, or paint, clean it well, then apply the new finish. You can decide if painting or staining is the best choice for your space or you can do a combination of paint and stain.

How to make IKEA dresser look expensive? ›

How to make your IKEA furniture look more expensive
  1. Knobs and pulls. A super simple way to add some excitement to your room is to simply change, or add knobs and pulls to your IKEA furniture. ...
  2. Furniture legs. ...
  3. Make it float. ...
  4. Change the tops. ...
  5. Switch the fronts.

What materials do I need to redo a dresser? ›

Supplies needed to refurbish an old dresser
  1. Sandpaper in fine, medium and coarse.
  2. Oscillating tool with sanding attachment and pads.
  3. Cloth for wiping sanding dust.
  4. Screwdriver for removing hardware.
  5. Paint brushes.
  6. Drop cloth.
  7. Water-based pre-stain.
  8. Water-based stain in pink.

What color stain is most popular? ›

Brown-toned stains are, without a doubt, one of the most classic options for furniture wood stain colors.

What is the most expensive looking wood stain? ›

Acrylic-based stains are the most expensive in the market. These stains provide ideal protection and an appealing look to the wooden shed. These stains increase the natural beauty of the wood grains. Maintenance of acrylic-based stained sheds is expensive, but they last longer than other types.

What are the disadvantages of staining wood? ›

The Cons of Staining Wood

While some stains can last up to five years, postponing re-staining a wood surface for too long can cause the job to become more complex and labour intensive. Even decks that are stripped and re-stained will still require maintenance every couple of years.

Should I stain the inside of a dresser? ›

I'd definitely finish the drawer interiors in order to seal and smooth the wood that will come in contact with clean clothing.

What is the most popular paint color for dresser? ›

White and off-white are the most popular colors for painted furniture. Red comes in second.

What happens if you stain over stain? ›

Staining over stain is easy and works beautifully if you're applying a dark stain over a lighter stain on raw wood. This rule applies to oil-based stains, water-based stains, and gel stains. 2. You can mix 2 or more stains together to make DIY custom stains.

Do I need to prime over old stain? ›

Applying oil-based or shellac primer is a required step when painting over stained wood. Stain is oil-based, so latex primers won't adhere to it properly. You'll need to allow about two days of drying for an oil-based primer. Shellac primer dries in a couple hours, but for best results let it dry overnight.

Do you have to sand old stain before staining? ›

If you plan to stain (or restain) the deck, sand the surface before application to make the wood better absorb the coating. Remember, water-based stains will need to be stripped off before you apply a new finish, while oil-based stains can be recoated after using a deck cleaner.

What color looks best on dark wood? ›

Light colors go very well with dark flooring. Pale, cool blue walls work especially well in a dining room, if you're looking for a lively pop of color. Calming blue and blue gray shades can bring contrast to the dark wood to brighten your space.

Does GREY go with dark wood furniture? ›

Stick to the dark side

Wood does not have to contrast with grey. This dining space shows how choosing timber in a similarly deep tone brings a beautifully sophisticated feel to a grey scheme. The dark wooden wine rack almost blends in against the charcoal brick wall, but helps bring variety of tone and texture to it.

Should furniture be darker or lighter than walls? ›

This is really down to two things - your own personal preference and the size of your room. In general, lighter walls and darker sofas work best for smaller rooms.

What does dark furniture do to a room? ›

Dark furniture can be a good choice when you have a large, spacious room that feels too big to be comfortable. It helps shrink that room, making it more intimate and more inviting. If you have a small room, however, furniture in darker tones may appear to shrink it even more, so that it feels stifling or overcrowded.

Can you sand out dark stained wood? ›

To sand wood previously stained you must start by using medium-grit sandpaper followed by a progression of increasingly finer sandpaper grits. This should remove most of the color left by an old stain. If you're applying a new stain, it should mask any residual color.

Do you have to remove old stain before restaining furniture? ›

You don't need to remove all of the old stain to apply darker stain. But you do need to remove all of the lacquer, varnish or anything that will prevent new stain from absorbing into the wood. It's easy to see the shiny edges of old lacquer, or the scratched surface of old lacquer.


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