Saturday, October 4, 2014

Vintage Dresser refinished in Java Gel from General Finishes

This little dresser is why I love doing what I do! 
I think it has lived an amazing and exciting life!  I can just picture it new, some woman so excited to have a lovely piece of furniture.  Maybe it was her first.  I can picture the beautiful wood grain and the sheen of a freshly lacquered surface.  I can picture her reaction at it receiving its first ding or scratch.  Maybe she lovingly tried to fix it, maybe she thought "Oh well."  I can see the years taking their toll on the finish and it being moved around the house.  I can imagine the first time someone thought to take a paint brush to it thinking, at this point, it could only help. 
I found traces of fire engine red, canary yellow, royal blue, and bright green, along with white and black.  I'm not exactly sure what it looked like the first time it was painted, but I can imagine the artist, paint brush in hand, standing back admiring their work. 
There are pieces missing off the base, but it's solid with beautiful, dovetail drawers that still slide perfectly, evidence of good craftsmanship.  A lot of it had been sanded down by my client, so the finish was uneven and rough.  I finished sanding the whole thing down to the bare wood and was thrilled to find what was beneath the paint.
My client and her husband decided they wanted something classic.  I thought that was perfect for this piece.  It's got such beautiful, clean lines and a pretty bow front.  I also didn't do exactly what we discussed, so I hope it's ok!!
I posted this on my FB page a few days ago and wondered if anybody didn't read and thought this was an "after".  The thought made me giggle a little. :)
 This is what the top looked like when I received it.  Notice the dark mark on the bottom right hand side.  It look like a sideways heart.  Remember it. :)

You just know I did my secret-in-the-garage-behind-closed-doors happy dance about this one!  How could I not? 
It's so beautiful!  I know some probably think I am a wood hater since I paint everything, but nothing could be farther from the truth.  I love a pretty piece of wood and was so happy the drawer fronts were in such good condition.  

 The color of the body of the dresser is Light French Gray by Sherwin Williams.  I've used it before and I love how it's subtle and neutral.  It could fit in with almost any décor. I had to do multiple coats of shellac between coats of paint as the bleed through was horrible.  I think part of it was because the pigment from the red paint that was used on it before soaked into the wood and the new paint sucked it out. Just my guess. ;)
I sanded the drawers down, being careful not to sand through the veneer as it was thin.  I gave them one coat of Java Gel by General Finishes (just wiped it on with shop towels because I didn't have a chip brush on hand and wiped off immediately, going over it several times to get as much stain off as possible so I could still see the wood grain) followed by 3 coats of Minwax Polycrylic (sanding between each coat).  I love the highlights and the lowlights. The wood just glows-so beautiful!
She still had 6 of the original pulls so I opted to use them on the lower drawers and used these ceramic rosettes on the uppers.  I always love the contrast of different textures.  I like the dark pulls (I used Oil Rubbed Bronze) on the dark drawers and the white of the rosettes against the gray paint.

 Remember this top?  The grain is incredible.  It's actually two pieces of veneer laid side by side.  When the pieces mirror each other it is called book match veneer.  You'll notice these two pieces "mirror" each other in the way they are placed, but they aren't identical (notice the rings on the top of the picture are smaller than the rings on the bottom).  I've never seen this before and I loved it. 
Remember the mark I pointed out?  When I stained the wood it wasn't there.  But, when I did the first coat of poly I noticed the wood resisted the poly.  So, there must be something soaked in the wood on that particular spot. I couldn't sand the wood anymore because it's already thin and I didn't want to sand through the veneer so I left it.  At first I was freaking out a little, but then decided I liked the idea of a heart in the top of this particular piece.  It's been loved (almost to death, lol) and now it has a beauty mark to show for it!


A new life for a lovely little dresser!


  1. Absolutely awesome! Stunning! And I say you not only have a good eye but a beautiful gift! I am sure your client will love it.

  2. Oh my, how absolutely perfect! You outdid yourself on this one Lisa!

  3. Beautiful and thank you so much for educating us not only about the piece itself but also your techniques & finishes. Inspiration for those of us less talented. ♡

  4. OK, I admit it, I DID think that first pic was the "after" for a couple of really is beautiful!

  5. This is so, so, so beautiful!!!! My new favorite. :)


  6. I am in love! Sometimes you think things are going to be a fad and just fade away after a while, but two-toned pieces never get old for me! A perfect mix of paint and preserved wood. Thanks for sharing.


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