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White Chalky Paint Dresser Makeover

Here is how we took a freebie dresser and gave it a makeover with white chalk paint!

Did I ever tell you that my amazing husband had to work five hours away from home for four years near the start of our marriage?

He used to drive nearly five hours, work for five or six days, and then drive back home for his four or five days off.

At the time we felt it was worth the sacrifice…I got to keep my job while he got to start his new career.

And we made it work.

He had this crappy little basement suite (okay, it wasn’t that crappy, but it wasn’t that nice either…)

And a few hand-me down pieces of old furniture.

His Mom’s bff gave him some dressers and an old bed frame to use while he was up there, and this particular dresser came along with those ‘freebies’.

Who knew it could be made over with paint to be such a looker??

And not just once, but twice!

White Distressed Chalky Paint Dresser Makeover graphic.

For the original dresser makeover, I have to give complete credit to my husband. He sanded the top and refinished it and painted the whole piece. He did a great job on it. It looked so much better than it had started out.

The old dresser with its brown look and lamps and pictures on top of it.

I don’t have any pictures of the original BEFORE… But before we had painted, the hubs gave it a black and wood makeover, it started out more like this…but perhaps a little darker and shinier:

A old style brown dresser.


But it has been years now.

That portion of our life is, thankfully, behind us. Glad we got it over with before the boys came along.

And it was time to move on from our original re-incarnation of this bedroom dresser makeover as well.

Time for look #3 for this old gal.

I started by giving the whole piece a thorough wipe down. I don’t want to talk about how dusty it got in the cracks… and black shows everything.

Using a cloth to get the dust off of the dresser before painting it.

Because he had used oil paint to refinish it originally, I primed it with some really adherent Zinsser primer.

The primer paint with a paint brush beside it.

And then used the most beautiful shade of Country Chic chalk based paint in an airy white: it is called Simplicity and the name totally does it justice.

A can of the white chalk paint on the counter.

Painting the drawers of the dresser.

Because I was doing this project outdoors in the summer weather it dried pretty quickly. Rather then distress it with a wet cloth, as I often do, I decided to try out my little palm sanded. I figured that would allow me to show through to some of the black underneath but it would also take it right down to the original wood in spots. And it sure did. I had to be careful not to take off tooooo much with it – but I am happy with how chunky the distressing turned out for this furniture piece.

A side view of the white chalky painted dresser.

Then I waxed it with the clear natural wax. It gave it such a beautiful sheen and I love knowing that the surface on top is more protected from all those little scuffing dangers that lurk around our bedroom…or across the hall, in their bedroom.

A can of wax and a hard wax brush.

Once it sat for a bit I buffed it all dry with a clean, lint-free cloth…

Buffing the dresser with a cloth.


Metal pulls on the white dresser.

So much fresher and brighter in our bedroom…

Maybe you remember it from when I shared our Master Bedroom paint refresh a couple of months ago??

I’ve been slowly working away at freshening up our bedroom over the past few months…just a few more customized changes and it should be good. For the time being.

The shite dresser in the bedroom.

A picture of a seagull, a love and peace picture and a love picture with yellow above the dresser.

White Distressed Chalky Paint Dresser with a lamp and mirror.

A small stool beside the dresser.

The bedroom with the dresser, a small stool and a white and gray rug.

What do you think?

Quite an amazing transformation, right?

And it is just paint!! No need to buy anything new when you have a solid old piece like this gal…

The old wooden brown dresser and the white chalky dresser.

Want to whiten up a dresser?

Pin it to remember it

 How to turn a dated old dresser into a beautiful statement piece with white chalky based paint poster.Any furniture transformations going on around your place?

Well this Sunday is the Get Your DIY On Challenge: Furniture Revivals!


Here is what my cohosts have been up to:

Get your DIY on furniture revivals graphic.

Gold Dresser Makeover at Just a Girl and Her Blog

Chalkboard Table at House by Hoff

Bookshelf Makeover at The Hankful House

French Provincial Chair Makeover at Confessions of a Serial DIY-er

White Chalky Dresser Makeover at The Happy Housie (you are here!)

I can’t wait to see what you have to share with us on Sunday!


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  1. Krista
    I’m a newbie at all this diy stuff so please forgive any dumb questions. I’m going to try this on my bedroom suit that I’ve had about 25 years. It is a dark wood/stain that was from the manufacturer. Would I need to do any priming or anything else to it before I start using the chalk paint?

    Also any other suggestions regarding redoing original furniture stain would be welcome.

    You’ve made this sound easy enough that even someone like me can do it. We will see!!!

    1. Hi Sherri – I think I responded to you by email but have been really busy with moving so I can’t remember if I did or just thought I did! Lol – anyhow, you definitely want to sand a bit I would say if it’s a shiny manufacturers finish. And each brand of chalk paint can have slightly different instructions. If you think the colour might “bleed through” the paint then you probably want to prime, otherwise you should be good to go!

  2. Hi Krista, You did a beautiful job refinishing your dresser. You knew it had good bones and potential. I love the look. BUT, why surround it with so much “clutter” on the surface and wall ? There is too much competition…too much for the eye to take in. The dresser should take center stage. Let it be the star of your room. A lamp or two and a nice mirror in the white pallet – distressed and in the right proportion. This is just too beautiful to have to compete with everything around it.

  3. Hi Krista! Hoping you can help me… recently painted a dresser and end table chalk white. They were pretty similar to how your dresser started out but covered with decades of grime and nastiness. Sanded most of it right down to the wood to get rid of any build up, wiped them down, three coats of primer, two coats of chalk paint, and two coats of the top coat/protectant that was recommended with the chalk paint. At first it was gorgeous, but now they’re taking on an ugly yellow hue as the wood slime (I assume) comes through. I don’t know what to do to fix it and I still have one other dresser to start HELP!!

    1. Hi Emily,
      What type of top coat did you use? One that was recommended by the company you say? And the primer, as well? Sometimes top coats will yellow over time (I’ve used varathane before and it has yellowed on me before). Sounds like a lot of work, and if you used a good stain-blocking primer it should not have yellowed like that! It would help if I knew what brands you used of each.

      1. Hi Krista, I used the Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 primer, the Rustoleum Chalked paint in linen white and the associated Rustoleum Chalked protective top coat. It was a lovely crisp white for the first few days (just enough time to get the room put back together, figures), then it started to show a yellowish line on one drawer, and now every drawer has a horrible yellow tint. I should note that I sanded the drawers and the top of the dresser really, really well and took off all of the finish in an effort to get through decades of grime. The sides and ornate corners/legs I wasn’t as thorough with and it doesn’t seem to be affected to the same degree but still isn’t as crisp as it was… I THINK it’s maple.

    2. My only other thought is that perhaps dust settled on it between coats? I wiped it down with a cloth between each coat and vacuumed the room after sanding but it’s still our temporary workshop as we renovate the house. Dust is in the air and there’s a wood stove going pretty much 24-7.

  4. I want to get this look with a few pieces have. Two are already painted french provincial style. Should I first paint them dark brown then paint white and sand? Would it be better to just paint white and use dark wax to get the antique look since it’s not already painted brown?

    1. Hi there, are you hoping to have some dark show through where you sand, as well as the wood? If you want some of the black, which it was painted before (except for the top), then you could always just add some black paint over the raised edges where you want the dark to show through, then perhaps use a paint on/wet sand technique (wait only about half hour then “sand” off the white paint with a damp cloth). Otherwise, it will also look beautiful to paint it all white and then just sand off in spots to show the original wood colour. I hope this helps – I would need to see the piece to give the best advice. You can always email me:) krista@thehappyhousie.com

  5. Your dresser is absolutely beautiful. I am starting with a blond dresser and I’d like the dark wood or color when I distress it. Do I first have to paint it a dark color, let it dry, sand it, and then chalk paint it the white?

  6. Thanks so much for sharing this Krista! It looks gorgeous!
    I’ve only painted a chair and a little table so far so I’m a newbie. How do you know
    where to sand and “distress” a piece of furniture? Any tips on this?
    Thanks again!

    1. I would say that you want to sand or distress it wherever natural wear would have occurred over the years; so on the top edges, corners, on the handles/knobs and around the handles/knobs a little bit where years of opening them would have worn off the paint. On this dresser I focused on distressing the raised edges of the drawers fronts as well in order to show off the character of them. Hope that helps!

    1. Hi Meg,
      The first time we painted it, we sanded it well. The second time I believe that I just wiped it down. But it wouldn’t be a bad idea to give up a rough up with sanding first. And then I used a really excellent primer overtop of the black oil paint finish. Supposedly you don’t need to prime with chalk paint, but I wasn’t taking any chances since we had used oil:) I hope that helps!

    1. Hi Hannah! One of my favourite sources for pulls is D Lawless Hardware. They are online and have tons of selection and really reasonable prices. Hope that helps!

  7. How many coats of the chalk paint did you have to do on this piece? It is beautiful by the way! I am planning on redoing a piece for my nursery.

    1. Hello Sammi,
      I’m trying to remember if I did two or three coats of chalk paint… I know I primed it first because I had used black oil paint. But then I think I only did two coats of the white chalk paint over top. I am still thrilled with how it turned out – I was looking at it admiringly just the other day (because I’m a geek like that)! Good luck with your project!

  8. Love the dresser and this whole room! Wondering where you got the two canvases to the left of the dresser hanging on the wall? Thanks!

  9. Hi Krista! I love your dresser transformation! I recently started using chalk paint and have made over a nightstand and a chair from Craigslist. It is amazing to me how a little time and paint can make an old piece of furniture completely new. Thanks for sharing. Nice job!

  10. It is beautiful Krista! I love black but the white look is my favorite! And the distressing— perfect!!

    1. Thanks Kendra- the black was a nice too, but a different look…and after having it that way for seven years I was ready for a change:) So thrilled you came by!

  11. Gorgeous, Krista! What a huge difference. The white with the sanded edges is such a great look on this dresser. Great makeover!! XO

    1. Thanks Christy- a dresser with those lines is just crying out for distressing, right? And you know how to spot them!

  12. Amazing! Who knew it had such character! I’m such a sucker for these transformations, lol. Love the way you also did the gallery wall behind it!

  13. Thanks you so much Krista….I going to make this for my house. Looking to do a wall gallery in my main living area. This is going to be part of that gallery.
    Love what you do 🙂

    1. Awesome! We are about to start painting our living room so I am excited to get to redo the gallery wall…always such a fun process! So glad you came by, Dawn!!

    1. I know, isn’t white paint amazing?? So far we have painted the whole kitchen white…and I feel like it is going to make it’s way into several other rooms; I love it so much!

    1. There is a learning curve to it, as least I found there was. Can’t wait to see what you are working on Shauna!!

  14. The dresser is stunning! The moldings before made the dresser unattractive, but now they enhance it. Fab job!!!!
    (would you mind sharing the words to the art piece “Love, Hope, Peace, Faith?)-

    1. Thank you Dawn!! The wording is: love is the key that opens the heart. hope is the dream that awakens the soul. peace is the light that guides the way. faith is the certainty that sees us through.

    1. Thanks Kristi- quite the change, I know. I love it so much more now… we had the same hardware before but you couldn’t even see it!

  15. SO much better! Love the white chalk paint – I’ve never heard of that brand before. Thanks for the review!!

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