Circa 1950’s Oak Dresser restoration project

Back in the restoration saddle, we’ve managed to turn another piece of furniture from drab and functional into a stylish statement piece. Like most of ‘our’ furniture this dresser is older than I am, but unlike other pieces this dresser has been with me all my life. Over the years has had it’s fair share abuse, various makeovers some of which were quite disastrous.

The story goes that my mum brought this dresser secondhand when she first left home as a youngin, fast fwd some years and I was born and the dresser was setup house my clothes. It was quite different then, with tall legs and space for a chest to slide underneath.The life of the piece was altered with the removal of it’s legs so that the child version of me could reach the drawers and all my worldly possessions.

This was the first of a number of face-lifts this item has been through. It’s been painted white, probably with lead paint, it’s been spray painted with a variety of colours of misspent youth and it’s been painfully scoured and sanded and restored back to golden Oak – the latter was not easily done, I should know I did scouring myself and it took WEEKS. It’s also endured a number of different fittings, from the original handles, antique replica pull handles, streamline matt silver bar handles…………….. and so on, it was never ‘right’.

So that’s the back story.

Here’s where this reno started. I had stripped back the piece a few years ago and it was still in great condition, except with handles that were of a streamlined sliver bar design and to be fair – really didn’t fit the style.

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So this job was a nice quick fix up with a quick sanding to key the surface and give it a little spruce up. I also acquired some gorgeous vintage solid brass door handles from my mum’s partner – Thanks Paully!!!

Hubby put some hard man hours into polishing them and bringing out their shiny beauty. After much thought about design and look I decided that I just couldn’t bring myself to paint or stain the beautiful aged Oak so settled for a simple chic compromise by applying a distressed painted back plate to frame the handles and camouflage all the repaired drill holes from previous handle fittings.
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A few coats of high gloss varnish were applied to seal the bare wood and bring out the grain and overall beauty of the wood.

Hubby assisted with the drilling and placement of the holes for the handles. Assembly was interesting; let me rephrase – it was terrifying – I had my first ever ‘do I, don’t I?’ Moment shortly after the first couple of handles were installed. The doubt crept in mainly due to the visual shock of how big door handles actually are compared to proper furniture fittings – who knew? These handles stick out a long way and they are huge. Hubby shook his head in frustration and persevered with the installation whilst I had an epic freak out. The problem was – even if I wanted to ‘stop’ we couldn’t reverse the process once the bolt holes were drilled and the lock tight had dried. I’ve never doubted myself before on a project and as it turns out my freak out was completely ridiculous. In hindsight I put this delirious moment down to a combination of hunger, fatigue and varnish fumes – let that be a lesson to you all – work in a well ventilated area and remember to take breaks, and above all eat.

The minute all the handles were locked in place a range of emotions spilt forth including embarrassment, amazement, excitement, and relief.

I loved it the minute it was finished, super chic and simple it would suit any upmarket loft, or villa setting and would compliment any interior style.

It’s a real joy to see and use it every morning. It is my newest favourite addition to our revamped collection of upcycled furniture.

Here’s the results

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5 thoughts on “Circa 1950’s Oak Dresser restoration project

  1. This was bought when I first set up house away from home, flatting situation actually. Before I had met your Dad The egg had not even formed let alone developed into a peanut. They were old than. I Bought the dresser with a mirror (attached), this set of drawers with the legs and a double bed. The part about your father taking off the legs is true so that you could reach them. Than fluff came so she got the mirror/drawers- cant remember where I put my clothes hahaha As for misspent youth mmmmm

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    • Thanks mummy, for my very nice dresser. Hope you like it. Johnny was thinking maybe in the future we’d restore the legs as well, since I’ve grown taller now. 🙂 FLUFFS MISSPENT YOUTH.

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  2. Oh yet another makeover!! Umm are you saying i mispent my youth…? Haha and i think your mother bought this second hand when she first moved out of home well before you were a peanut in the womb… Haha

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    • Hahahahaaaa I didn’t say who’s misspent youth, but if you wanna fess up that’s fine. Yeah, mums story changes every time she tells it to me that why I said so ‘the story goes’…. *shrug* and been with us forever, I just picked the story I was in. You should do your one up too 😉

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