Vintage Empire Dresser Meets Mint Chocolate Chip

When I stepped back from my glaze work (the brown finish) on this dresser, my stomach began to growl. I think the chocolaty-brown glaze over my Persian Blue milk paint turned this piece into a green mint-chocolate-chip dream and it made me have nothing but ice cream on my brain.

I’m joking.

Kind of.

I scored this piece off a Facebook garage sale group from a kind man who owns a moving company. When I saw his photo, I was hoping to restore it with a dark java stain, but I ended up painting it because the veneer wasn’t in the best of shape (this is what happens when you buy furniture in the dark).

-Funny side note, I picked this dresser up at 9:00 p.m., but right before that my GPS led me to  his neighbor’s home. When I asked his neighbors how much I owed them for the dresser, they looked at me like I was a CRAZY woman. -_-

So, I really did want to restore it originally. But once I looked at the piece in the light, I realized it wasn’t going to happen. Sometimes, it’s okay when our ideas crash around us; because the challenge the crash creates makes us dig a little deeper into our creativity to find a solution. Which I did!

I ALWAYS forget to take a before picture BEFORE I start working on the piece. Why? Why can’t I learn? I just get so excited and start pulling off hardware and applying wood putty before I remember to take a picture. I then have to pry myself away, dust my hands off, and go grab my camera before the piece starts looking way better. Anyway. Maybe one day I’ll learn. But probably not.

The veneer, which is a thin piece of wooden finish that creates a rich wood grain, was really chipped and broken. And, I find when the pattern of the grain looks all the same, it makes the piece a little boring to refinish. Since this piece wasn’t solid oak, I opted to fix the veneer with wood filler, sand the piece, and paint. Empire dressers have the most amazing curves.

This was definitely an old dresser. And, of course, I forgot to photograph the mirror that goes with it before I restored it. I was excited to give this piece an antique glaze because I knew that it would highlight all the character this dresser had received from a lifetime of use. Don’t underestimate the power of chips, nicks, and wood grain when trying to highlight a piece of furniture and show its character. To me, these imperfections tell a story and remind us of the people and time before us while creating interest, dimension, and texture. Because what in life is actually perfect?

I painted this piece with General Finishes’ Persian Blue, which is a really sweet and beautiful blue milk paint that looks nothing like the brown-ish green I ended up with. When I added General Finishes’ Van Dyke Brown Glaze, it transformed the color and made it look antiqued and warm.

When you glaze a piece of furniture, the glaze will fall into all the brush strokes, nicks, dings, groves, etc. Glazing gives a piece two tones and highlights details.

The mirror on this piece is GORGEOUS. I love the Empire curves that gracefully hold it in place. You just can’t find furniture like this anymore; at least, not easily! I stripped it down and added General Finishes’ Java Gel Stain to contrast the chippy dresser with a smooth, clean finish.

I stained all the original wooden knobs with Java Gel as well to tie them in with the mirror. Fancy knobs are awesome, but sometimes simple design speaks for itself!

Well, that’s all for this Friday’s transformation! I have officially completed my first month in my studio space at Gallery 3976 in Annapolis and I LOVE it. Can I tell you that I was scared at first to sign the lease, take the next step with my business, and be in charge of a whole studio space? Now, after a month of pouring myself into this space and getting to know so many incredible people, I can’t imagine how I was running my business without it. My studio space has been a game changer, and I can’t wait to see where it takes me this next year. Want to come visit me? Let me know when you can make it out and we will set up a meeting!

Thanks for joining me on this journey. I’m happy to say that this piece sold to a precious Annapolis local. She said it would be the inspiration for her master bedroom, which made my heart do backflips from happiness; I’m so happy that my art is making someone else’s home a brighter and happier space.

A big thank you to my fellow artisans for their encouragement, and my husband for delivering this piece to my client’s home -he’s a dream.

If you have a piece you would like renewed with a custom finish, don’t hesitate to let me know!