How to restore a mid-century dresser

Recently we came across this beautiful mid century dresser at a thrift store and couldn’t deny the potential.  I was in the market for a dresser as Kevin and I had grow out of the open concept shelving we bought from IKEA a few years back.  Plus it was so annoying having to keep all our clothing folded and neat because our guests could see it!

Classic mid-century dresser awaiting a new home

Classic mid-century dresser awaiting a new home

We knew we would have to put some work into restoring the piece but it was only $70 so we were up for the challenge.  The main issue was there were quite a few scratches, especially on the top surface. 


Restoration Tip #1

Knowing that the dresser had wood veneer we chose to use a stripping agent rather than the usual choice of a sander.  This allows you a bit more control with the stripping process and helps avoid accidentally removing the veneer.

The protective coating comes off quite nicely and leaves you with a raw surface that is much easier to work with.  Unfortunately, some of the damage had already been done, most noticeably this piece of missing veneer along the front edge.

Missing veneer on right edge

Missing veneer on right edge


Restoration Tip #2

Using colored pencils I colored in the missing veneer, imitating the wood grain around it.  I used 5 different colored pencil colors to replicate the wood grain and used a white colored pencil on top to blend it all in.  Remember to color in the direction of the wood grain!

Once I was satisfied with the result I re-stained the whole piece and the missing veneer (on left of this picture) is now very hard to notice.

Finally we added three coats of polyurethane for protection.  We are very happy with how this piece came out and it has added a lot of character to our bedroom.  The one thing I hope you'll take away from this blog is that just because a piece of furniture is old, scratched or even missing veneer does not mean it is worth giving up on!

We couldn't be happier with the finished dresser