DIY Fluted Dresser Makeover

Check out this DIY Fluted Dresser makeover with a thrifted Art Deco style dresser, paint, and some wooden half dowels to give a fresh and modern look.

Get more Green Painted Furniture Ideas here!

thrifted art deco dresser before

This week I did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now. I can’t wait to show you what I did!

Here’s the piece that I started out with. It’s an art deco-style dresser with a really sad paint job that was scratching off in some spots.

closeup of painted and scratched dresser before

I was really curious to see if it was painted with lead-based paint because that would change how I could remove the paint from it.

One drawer also had a broken drawer track that needed to be repaired.

But I loved that curved drawer on the bottom.

So let’s dive into the makeover!

DIY Fluted Dresser Makeover

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Supplies Used:

poorly painted art deco dresser makeover - before

DIY Fluted Dresser Makeover

  1. Fixing the Drawer Tracks
  2. Testing for Lead-Based Paint
  3. Removing the Hardware
  4. Removing the Paint
  5. Adding Half Dowels to the Bottom Drawer
  6. Prepping for Paint
  7. Painting with Fusion Mineral Paint
  8. Filling in Wood Grain
  9. Adding New Hardware
  10. After

Step 1: Fixing Dresser Drawer Tracks

First I worked on repairing the broken drawer track.

I found some simple scrap wood, cut it to size, and glued it into place.

And then I added some weight on top of the wood to help it stay in place while the glue dried for 24 hours.

paint cans on holding drawer tracks in place while the glue dries
closeup of fixed drawer track

And then I found out that the bottom drawer’s track wasn’t attached to the dresser.

It looked like the screws were loose and fell out.

I tried to screw the screws back in, but they wouldn’t grip anything. So I grabbed some larger and longer screws from my stash and screwed the drawer track back into place.

Step 2: How to Test For Lead Paint on Furniture

Then I used a lead check test to test the paint and see if it was lead-based paint.

These things are super easy to use!

teasting for lead paint with instant lead paint test

Literally, within a minute you know if the paint is lead-based or not.

All you do is basically squeeze the tube, shake it up and rub it on.

Check out my post on how to test for lead paint on furniture to learn more.

Anyway, after that, I knew that the paint didn’t have any lead in it. So I could remove the paint any way I pleased.

Step 3: Removing the Hardware

While I thought about how I wanted to remove the paint, I moved on to removing the drawer pulls from the drawers.

closeup of dresser's old handles

And then since I planned to change out the hardware, I filled the old hardware holes with my favorite filler and wood repair product, KwikWood.

Learn more about how to use KwikWood to change hardware holes.

Step 4: Removing the Paint

If you’ve been to my blog or seen my videos before, you might have noticed that I like to try new things.

Removing Paint with a Heat Gun

So, I borrowed a heat gun from my sister and tried my hand at using a heat gun and metal scraper to remove the paint.

I scraped at the paint a little bit with just the scraper to see how hard it would be to scrape it off without heat.

And it came off… a little bit.

So I plugged in the heat gun and held it a few inches away from the paint to heat up the paint. Then I used my metal scraper to scrape off the paint.

removing the old paint with a wagner heat gun

And then after 7 minutes of it, I decided it was too much for me. Haha

I’m not sure if I totally did it wrong, but I didn’t love how much I had to put into it to get the paint scraped off.

Update: It would have been so much easier to use this carbide scraper to remove the paint!

1/4 of the paint removed from dresser top

Removing the Paint with a Sander

Sooo then I tried sanding it off.

I used 100 grit sandpaper and my Dewalt orbital sander. And in about 10 minutes I was able to finish sanding the top of the dresser.

Check out the best sander to remove paint here.

sanding off the old paint with orbital sander

Removing the Paint with a Chemical Stripper

But I honestly didn’t love just sitting there. I had some other things to get done right then, like making dinner and getting the kids ready for bed, and I wondered if it would be easier, in the end, to strip off the paint.

So I laid down some cardboard and brushed my favorite stripper all over it and put plastic wrap over the stripper to keep it from drying out.

coseup of citristrip under plastic

I’ll spare you from all of the details here, but if you’re curious, here’s how I like to strip paint with a paint stripper.

The Fastest Way to Remove Paint From Furniture

I’m a numbers girl, so just for kicks and giggles, I looked at how long it took me to strip vs sand…

In the end, it took me just over 2 hours of actual work to get the paint and most of the old finish off, including sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper after everything was dry.

I’m not sure, but I’m going to guess that it would have taken an hour and a half to sand it all down to just the old finish.

dresser after stripping and before sanding

Plus I would have had to sand it again with 150 and 220 grit to smooth it out after the rough 100 grit sanding got most of the paint off.

So in the end I think stripping off the paint was the fastest!

Learn more about the best tools for removing paint from wood here.

Filling Small Knicks and Dings

Anyway, after I was done sanding everything smooth, I filled in some small holes with wood filler and touched up the KwikWood since the stripper removed some of it.

filling dings in dresser with wood filler

Then I sanded it all down so it was smooth with the wood once it was dry.

Step 5: Adding Half Round Dowels to the Bottom Drawer

Have you seen the fluted furniture and reeded décor trend going on recently?

I’m absolutely loving the trend, including the west elm inspired dresser that my friend Katie from Salvaged by K Scott created a few months ago.

((I’ve learned that what I created is actually a ribbed dresser and not a fluted dresser. But most people I know actually refer to it as fluted.))

Picking Out the Half Round Dowels

So I went to our local Lowes Hardware store and picked out some half-round dowels to recreate the look in my own way.

You can also use square dowels if you want a slightly different look like we did with this DIY Slatted Wood Dresser.

Half of them were warped like none other, so I had to be careful about the ones I picked.

checking for straight dowels at lowes

Cutting the Dowels

Then I measured the height of the drawer and cut 3 of the dowels at a time to get enough to cover the drawer front.

I used a block to make sure that I cut them all the same length.

Actually, my drawer was 1/8 of an inch taller on one side, so I had to adjust the cuts a little bit from one side to the other side.

cutting 3 half round dowels with miter saw at one time

And as I cut the pieces I laid them on the drawer to make sure they would fit right.

Sanding the Dowels

Then I sanded each piece with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the splinters and rough edges.

sanding edges of wood dowels by hand

Creating a Straight Edge

When it was time to attach the dowels, I clamped a piece of wood to the top of the drawer so all of the pieces of wood would line up with the top of the drawer.

clamping wood to the drawer to act as a straight edge

Gluing the Half Round Dowels to the Drawer Front

And then I found the middle of the drawer and started gluing the wood dowels to the drawer front with some gorilla glue.

I used this awesome rubber glue brush to spread out the glue. (Yeah, it was really awesome!)

brushing glue onto the drawer
glue brush for wood glue

And then I put the dowels in place. It actually went faster than I thought it would, taking about an hour to cut and glue all of the pieces to this one drawer.

(Is that bad that I thought that was fast?! haha)

Let the Glue Dry

Then I let it dry until the next day.

And then I sanded down the uneven bottom edge of the dowels with my orbital sander and 220 grit sandpaper.

sanding side of drawer down with orbital sander where the dowel went over the edge

I also had to sand down the edges of the drawer where the dowels overhung on each side a bit.

And then I put the drawer back in place and holy moly, I loved the added texture!

We used this same technique, but used square dowels to add some trendy detail on these painted wood end tables too!

Step 6: Prepping for Paint

So I got ready to paint it!

Get all the nitty-gritty details on how to prepare furniture before painting here!

dresser almost ready to paint

First I vacuumed everything off.

And then I wiped everything down with a tack cloth to pick up the remaining dust.

Look at how much dust the tack cloth still picked up!

dirty tack cloth


And then I sprayed 2 coats of clear shellac on everything.

This stuff is my go-to primer to block bleed-through stains from coming through the paint, and with almost raw wood, I definitely was going to need help from a really good stain blocker.

Read this post to learn what bleed through is.

spraying clear shellac on dresser
dresser after sprayed with 2 coats of clear shellac

I like to let the shellac dry at least overnight to help it really block stains, so I didn’t get painting until the next morning.

**See how the top of the dresser has most of the old finish left on it, but some of it was sanded all the way off?

Yeah, I should have done something to that before I started painting. I’ll show you what happened in a bit!

Step 7: Painting with Fusion Mineral Paint

I used Fusion Mineral Paint’s color Bayberry and brushed it on with the amazing Staalmeester paintbrush.

fusion mineral paint Bayberry

( I received the Fusion Mineral Paint and Staalmeester Paintbrush from Melanie at Lost and Found Decor. They are a family-owned business that has a great assortment of paint supplies for your projects.)

I didn’t thin the paint out at all, but I did spray a mist of water on the dresser before brushing on the paint to minimize brush marks.

spraying the dresser with mist of water before painting
using a staalmeester paintbrush to brush on fusion mineral paint

The awesome thing about this paint is that it doesn’t require a topcoat to be super durable.

I’m pretty picky when it comes to making sure paint is durable, but this stuff is good!

It dries to a matte finish, and this time I decided that I was happy with the matte look, so I didn’t bother top coating it.

((Update: Yeah, I ended up top coating it because the matte finish gets marked up really easily.)

In between coats I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.

sanding fusion mineral paint with 220 grit sandpaper in between coats of paint

Step 8: Fixing the Top

And then after the 2nd coat of paint was dry, I noticed that in the right lighting, I could see a line where the old finish hadn’t been completely sanded off the top.

So, I brushed on some 123 grey tinted primer all over the top of the dresser to give it better coverage.

wood grain showing through paint

Filling in Wood Grain

But as that was drying, I thought I should also make sure that the wood grain was filled in to help with the difference. Learn more about how to hide wood grain here!

So, after the primer was dry, I thinned out some spackling and brushed the spackling all over the top of the dresser.

Thinning it out makes it easy to brush on, and it makes it really easy to get it into the grain of the wood. This is a genius tip that I learned from Dani at JustPaintItByDani.

thinned out spackling brushed on to fill in wood grain

After the spackling dried, I sanded it smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.

And then I cleaned off all of the dust.

And sprayed more clear shellac over it.

I’ve learned in the past that the spackling in the grain can create bleed-through issues, so I didn’t want to take any chances.

dresser top without wood grain showing

The next day I painted the top again with a couple of more coats of paint.

The paint dried in about an hour or so, so it was a pretty quick process!

Step 9: Adding New Hardware

Last, but not least, I finished it off with new hardware.

I noticed on West Elm’s site that the hardware on some of their dressers was attached closer to the top of the drawers, and I really really love that look!

So I measured, drilled new holes for the hardware, and attached the hardware up towards the top and middle of the 3 top drawers.

And then I added knobs to the bottom drawer.

Now I know why most people opt for hardware that goes on the edge instead of putting it on the textured drawers.

When I drilled into the dowels, the wood split really badly.

So before I could attach the new knobs, I had to fill in the damage and paint the drawer again.

split dowels where I drilled holes for knobs

DIY Fluted Dresser Makeover – After

And here’s what it looks like now.

closeup of green painted art deco dresser in fusion mineral paint
side shot of green painted diy fluted dresser with black hardware
green painted diy fluted dresser with bottom curvy drawer that has half round dowels glued onto it to create ribbed look

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE the detail on the bottom drawer!

I absolutely love this Bayberry color, and I love the offset hardware.

The extra reeded detail cost about $25 extra for the one drawer.

And since I loved the shape of this dresser, and how well it was made, it was totally worth it to me to spend some time stripping off the old paint so I knew that the new paint could stick really well.

green painted DIY fluted dresser makeover class=

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One Comment

  1. I just love how you made over this dresser. Even green paint is beautiful. “ greens not my fav”
    But hey, it works.

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