Antique Oak Dresser with Ornate Mirror

Looking back at the before pictures of this antique dresser has really encouraged me this morning! It’s easy to forget the transformation when I’ve been looking at the finished product in my studio the last couple of weeks.

I need to re-stage my after pictures with a brighter floral arrangement and adjust my lighting, but I thought it was worth the post as this piece truly is a work of art and total Transformation-Tuesday material!


I found this piece on a buy, sell, and trade Facebook site. The woman who sold it to me proudly declared that it, “didn’t need any work” and “you only need two knobs and it will be good to go.” I guess people have different understandings on the words, “good to go” because I would have NEVER put my belongings in this piece in the shape it was in when I got it.

Not only was it a home for many creepy creatures, it was broken…. The drawers were in terrible shape and the top was thin and damaged. It was a little distressing, after I made my original payment, to realize this needed another $100 in supplies to get it in shape. But, I was encouraged when I began sanding the piece down because I started to see the character, wood grain, overall design, and craftsmanship of the original piece -beneath the grime of nearly a century of use.

A shout out to my brother, John, who visited Maryland and spent a few days at the studio helping me with this piece -including rebuilding the drawers! Working with a friend is always more fun!


I bet this mirror weighs over 50 pounds. It appears to be double plated and the glass has little age marks, which I think add to the story of this piece; the marks give us a glimpse at how long it’s has been reflecting the lives surrounding it -which I love thinking about!


I was hoping to find solid wood underneath the surface of the thin, worn out top. But I had no such luck. So I had to rebuild. I stepped back and tried to pull a design element out of the dresser to incorporate on the new top. I wanted to keep the original look of the piece. The slats on the side of the dresser caught my eye and I decided to use slats of quality oak boards as the new top.

These drawers were really interesting; the dresser itself was made of a couple of different types of wood. The left drawer below had been sanded twice, the right drawer had been sanded, but only once. Beneath all the scratches was a gorgeous grain. Any guess on what type of wood these are? I’m not 100% sure.

And now the reveal!

The drawers are seriously swoon worthy! They are smooth and the grain is so rich and deep. The lady who sold it to me, you remember, the one who said the drawers worked and it just needed two knobs, also asked me to please not paint it.


… I hope she never stumbles across this post for I would hate for her to be disappointed!

I feel like there truly is a time to paint, and a time to restore. But, I love when I can mix the two, because I feel like sometimes paint can highlight the wood grain more than everything being stained.

I used General Finishes Antique White milk paint for the base, and GF’s Gel Stain in an Antique Walnut tone. I topped the stain with a polyurethane and the milk paint with GF’s High Performance Top Coat. I think these products, the new design, and the hours of work that went into this piece completely revived it.


Here are the rebuilt drawers (Thanks, John!!!).

I’m very proud of the top as I feel it highlights the original design used throughout the piece.

Here’s a good shot of the two coming together.


The lines and detail on this dresser are subtle, but really add character and dimension.

The lightly distressed mirror is incredible. I can’t believe the amount of wood used on just the mirror alone! Truly a work of art (And VERY heavy).

That’s all I have for you today, friends. I’m feeling encouraged to go out and keep creating. I would love for you to share with a family member or friend who might enjoy this! It’s available at my studio (I do ship)!

Thanks for taking time to read this. I hope you feel inspired to keep your quality pieces that just need some love, because it’s totally worth it! If you enjoy my blog, hit the subscribe button to the right and you will get an email every time I write a post and share my furniture stories! You can also follow along on my InstagramFacebook, and Pinterest!

Have a wonderful day!