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Update a thrift store dresser with these DIY tips

If you like a graphic wallpaper design or bright colors but don't want to make the commitment, try lining or painting the inside of a drawer instead.
If you like a graphic wallpaper design or bright colors but don't want to make the commitment, try lining or painting the inside of a drawer instead.

You've seen it at the second hand store; the vintage dresser that has great detailing but is in need of some TLC.  Maybe you see the possibilities right away and buy the little gem right then and there.   Or maybe you pass it up because you wouldn't know how to make it look like new.  Either way, the question remains: "What could make this dresser really cool?"  Lucky for you, I have the answers!

Update a vintage find with a few coats of paint and new hardware.

Start with the right piece. 
When you are considering any second hand piece of furniture you should always check that the drawers are on track and the doors open and close properly.  It is best to buy solid wood as it will hold up over time and you can either re-stain it or paint it.  If you plan to put a lot of time and energy into updating an old piece, make sure you choose one that is sturdy and well made.  You can always sand or paint over scratches, scuffs, and nicks but you can't change its structure.

Choose your look. 
Where is this dresser going?  If it is for a kids room, paint it in a high gloss finish so it can be wiped down easily.  If you want it to be a versatile piece that you can use in many different areas of the house consider sanding it down and staining it a dark brown.  Doing this will give it a timeless look that will get you through many years of decor changes.  If you are looking to introduce some color into your room try painting the whole thing a bright version of your favorite color.  Go for it!  If it looks crazy, paint it again!   If you aren't much of a risk taker you can always play it safe and remember :  when in doubt, paint it white.

Get inspired. 
Before you attempt anything, it might be a good idea to look online for ideas and how-to articles for updating your new piece, especially if you have never painted furniture before.  Start by doing a google image search for "DIY painted dresser" and see what catches your eye.  There are hundreds of design blogs out there with great photos and stories on similar projects.  A couple worth checking out: (click on the before and after section) and

The slideshow below will give you some inspiration to help you get started.  Good Luck!

Local Resources

Modern Hardware  Located in Grand Rapids, this store has a great selection of decorative hardware for furniture, kitchens and bathrooms.

ICON sign.  A local sign company in Grand Rapids that can make stencils for furniture painting as well as wall decals and quotes, large format prints, and canvas wraps for your home decor.  Call for custom design.  616-726-7200 or

L'Enfant  If you are not the creative type but love the look of a custom piece contact Sue with L'Enfant.  She can create a unique new look for anyone's personal style.  Check out her etsy store by clicking on the link above.

Second Time Around Furniture  This Grand Rapids used furniture store is loaded with great finds for the DIY obsessed.  Bring your mini van!  You will surely find something that you can't resist.  Also in their neighborhood: New 2 You Shoppe, Goodwill, and Sevens Paint Store for your painting supplies.