DIY: Refinish A Chest In Five Hours For Less Than $40.00–Including The Chest!


When I suddenly needed a dresser for my guest room for my son’s girlfriend, who was staying with us for a while after graduating college, I thought at first I’d  buy those plastic bins with the drawers in them to go inside the closet.  But, after seeing that they cost anywhere from $20.00 to $40.00 for three drawers and how flim-flam they were I decided to switch gears and buy an actual piece of furniture that I could just refinish. 

The problem was, due to some very serious family illnesses we were dealing with, I waited till the last minute to get started.  Like literally the last minute.  So on Thursday, a few days before she was to arrive, I found what I thought was the perfect piece at CCA’s (Christian Community Action) Resale Shop.  By the time I went home to double-check measurements and got back to the store to buy it someone else had slipped in and purchased it first!  With the clock ticking, and booked all day Friday with clients, I was beyond frustrated.  Fortunately the next day when my husband happened to be driving by a garage sale some furniture caught his eye. 


He stopped, checked it out and tried to call me to find out which of two pieces I would want.  I was in a meeting with some clients and couldn’t take the call so when he couldn’t get a hold of me he just decided to buy both pieces – a three drawer chest, and a taller five drawer chest – each for a whopping $20.00!  He got both pieces for less than one plastic bin of drawers!  (Knowing how limited I was on time he figured he’d go ahead and get them, because if one or both didn’t work we could just donate them to a local charity.)  Just in case you didn’t catch it – that was Friday; she was arriving on Sunday, which left me Saturday to get it done.


He did good – the smaller chest was the perfect size, but of course, was hideous looking.  This was it after I took the drawers out.  (I always forget to start taking pictures at the very beginning of a project.) By the way, I started the project around 12:30p Saturday afternoon. 


This is what the drawers looked like.


The first thing I did was gather some tools so I could smack it up one side and down the other to give it a mottled, distressed look.  (Although, it was already distressed in a bad way I wanted to give it distress with a purpose.)


So I clobbered it with this hammer….


and whacked it with this gardening tool.


When I was finished “distressing” it I gave it a good sanding.


I repeated the same thing on the drawers.


After going over the piece a couple of times with sand paper I wiped it down really well to get rid of all the particles and dust.


After that – I think it was around 1:30p -  I ran up to Home Depot to purchase paint.  (No, I wasn’t organized enough to have gotten all that before I started!) After perusing the paint section I decided on this spray paint that offered 2 times the coverage. 


I just sprayed the chest and the drawers with one coat and it really did give it nice coverage.  I was pleasantly surprised


When the paint was good and dry – around 35 or 40 minutes later I sprayed over the black with this Hammered Metal Oil Rubbed Bronze.  Just a light coating to give it depth and dimension.  Again, just as with the black paint, all I needed was just one coat to give it just a little more interest and character. 


I hadn’t originally planned on it, but after I had finished spray painting I decided to take it one step further.  Since I had some of this metallic antique gold leafing on hand I lightly dry brushed the chest and the drawers.


This process has to be done very delicately or you’ll end up with too heavy handed a look. 


So after you dab your brush into the paint you blot it really well on a towel to where it’s almost dry (hence the term dry-brush!).


And then very lightly brush it onto the piece….




Which gives it this sort of look.



When I was finished with all the painting I sprayed it with a sealer for extra protection.


By 5:30pm it was completely finished, dry to the touch and ready to move into her room. Yes, really, it was!


And, here’s what it looks like in her room.  Not bad for less than $40.00 in product (including the chest) and five hours of my time start to finish. 


It was ready and waiting for her when she arrived. Nothing like last minute, down to the wire projects!

Here’s the material price list:

Chest -  $20.00

Black Spray Paint = $ 5.96 (2@$2.98)

Hammered Metal – $ 5.27

Sand Paper – $  3.97

My Total Cost – $ 36.45 (including tax for paint and sandpaper)

(The gold leaf and the sealer would add approximately $7.00 – $10.00)

Oh, and one more thing…..

Just for fun I bought this tray at CCA (when I saw the original dresser I wanted) for $4.49 and used the exact same products to refinish it while I was refinishing the chest.







And, it’s perfect for my books, magazines and netbook.  Well worth $4.49 and 20 minutes combined time to finish it. 

Sometimes a last minute frenzy works to your advantage.  All in all it was very productive day!

Happy Decorating!!!

  1 comment for “DIY: Refinish A Chest In Five Hours For Less Than $40.00–Including The Chest!

  1. kathy
    May 31, 2011 at 4:34 pm

    Looks beautiful! I love it and I am going to start looking for some pieces to put in our spare rooms!!!!

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