How to Give an Old Dresser a Modern Makeover

Breathe new life into an old dresser with a bit of tape and paint.

Dress up an old dresser with this fun modern look. If you have an old dresser or can find one at a local thrift shop, this simple paint technique is an easy way to give it a bold new purpose. The design is up to you. Choose to show more wood and less paint or vice versa. By painting the dresser, you can be sure that you get exactly what you want and that it coordinates perfectly with the overall look of your space.

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Tools and Materials

  • old dresser
  • screwdriver
  • sandpaper
  • sander
  • 1" and 1-1/2" masking tape
  • craft knife
  • spray paint
  • varnish
  • small paintbrush
  • fine-gauge steel wool
  • drawer pulls, if desired

Step 1: Remove Hardware

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Begin by removing the drawer pulls and hardware. If you're going to replace the hardware, take the old pieces to the store so you can match up the size.

Step 2: Remove Old Finish

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Sand the dresser completely with a sander to remove the existing paint. Use sandpaper or a sanding block to remove paint from detailed areas.

Step 3: Create Design With Tape

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Apply masking tape from the back of the top, across the top and down the front with a slight curve. To vary the width of the lines, make some of the masks with 1" masking tape and some with 1-1/2" masking tape. Cross some of the pieces of tape over each other to create triangular spaces between them. Fill the spaces at the bottom with more masking tape.

Step 4: Cut Away Gaps for Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Use a craft or utility knife to cut the tape at the gaps around the drawers.

Step 5: Add Tape to Drawer Edges

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Remove the drawers and place small pieces of tape at the cuts to continue the pattern around the edges of the drawers. Repeat the process for the entire dresser. Press all of the tape firmly to the drawers and dresser for a good seal on the edges of the tape.

Step 6: Paint

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Spray paint the dresser and the drawers with a light, even coat. Allow the paint to dry and apply a second coat if necessary. If desired, paint the original drawer pulls at this time.

Step 7: Remove Tape

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Remove all of the masking tape and discard.

Step 8: Seal Exposed Wood

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Use a small paintbrush and varnish to seal the exposed wood that was under the masking tape. Allow the varnish to dry completely before proceeding.

Step 9: Smooth It Out

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Lightly rub the entire surface of the dresser and drawers to remove any paint dust and soften the edges from the masking tape. Dust the entire project with a lightly damp paper towel to remove any sanding residue.

Step 10: Attach Hardware

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Reattach the original drawer pulls or give the dresser an update with new pulls.

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

Modern Painted Dresser

Modern Painted Dresser

Learn how to make a modern painted dresser.

Photo by: Sam Henderson

Sam Henderson

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