Thursday, March 31, 2011

Giving a new look to a BJD-sized wooden dresser

The finished dresser
I started with a $5 wooden doll dresser (about 10" high) from a garage sale. I think it might have been a jewelery box at one time, but it needed a little aesthetic help.

You don't need a fancy workshop for this project - the entire thing was done on the balcony of my apartment with things I already had, or picked up from Home Depot. Safety first, though - remember to protect your mouth and eyes from sawdust and paint fumes. Oh, and don't hammer your thumb, either.
The dresser: before

Step 1: Peel off yucky gold velvet lining from the inside of the drawers. Throw velvet in the trash and hope never to see it again.

Step 2: Remove hardware from drawer fronts. A flat screwdriver worked well for me, but feel free to use a crowbar if they're not cooperating.

Step 3: Sand old paint off. (In retrospect, I would have just spraypainted right over top of it to save time - and arm muscle.) Wipe off sawdust for a clean painting surface.

Step 4: Spray paint surfaces with white glossy spray paint, to give it a smooth coating. Let dry. (I know it's hard, but be patient and let it dry.)

Step 5: Spray paint over with matte black spray paint. Let dry. My paint crackled as it dried to reveal the white paint beneath, which I actually like. If you don't want this look, you'll have to ask somebody else because I don't know how this happened!

Step 6: Spray paint hardware. If you want to spray paint the nails, push them half-way in to a piece of styrofoam or corrugated cardboard to told them upright.

Step 7: Re-attach hardware to drawer fronts.

Some "before" shots:

The inside of the drawers, rid of their YUCKY velvet!

Before shot of the detail on the top.
The dresser without its drawers - oh my!

Back of the old dresser

Some "after" shots:

The beautiful carved edges.

A beautiful pattern that looks like it's stamped into the wood, but could be carved.
A close-up of the entirely unintentional (but delightful) "crackle-effect"

The original dresser had 2 drawer pulls the large drawers, but was missing a couple of them, so I moved the large drawer pulls to the center, so that I only needed one per drawer. One nail was missing, so I found a similarly-sized screw in my glasses repair it!

Showing the replacement screw.
 Now, it's ready for one of my BJDs to store their stuff, use as a photography prop, or a display. And all for less than $10!


  1. Ooh, how I wish I had found that before you painted it! I love those little 1960s gilded Italian pieces, and they're not easy to come by, not in good condition. They and other pieces, such as trays, pencil cups, wastebaskets, and cigarette boxes, were made as inexpensive home designer and tourist pieces, and exported to the US in large numbers back in the "Hollywood Regency" era, the early to mid-1960s. Jewelry chests like yours do make great doll dressers. I have a beautiful one sitting on my own dresser! It looks like a miniature closet. I found it in a thrift store in Vermont for about $5, and couldn't believe my luck! I've been trying to find more like it for years! But they weren't made especially well, and the dusty gilding style must've looked very dated by the time the mid-70s rolled around. They must've looked really "grandma" by then.

    And I know what you mean about the yellow's an old-gold color that reminds me of another time. When that stuff goes shoddy, with that funky old jewelry smell, it's just depressing looking.

    Take care, and I hope your doll enjoyed her great dresser!


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