Before and After Dresser Makeover – DIY Step by Step Tutorial

This before and after dresser makeover of a vintage gentleman’s dresser will have you wanting to find one of your own! The difference paint can make is remarkable!

Do you have a beautiful piece of antique furniture in need of a fresh coat of paint? This vintage dresser makeover will help you see exactly how easy it is to add a pop of color with just a good cleaning and a bit of paint. You’ll be able to give your old furniture a new life with this DIY dresser makeover tutorial. Even better – no sanding required!

how to paint an antique dresser without sanding

Paint is amazing.

It is a great way to transform just about anything. Even a dull and drab old piece of furniture like this gentlemen’s dresser.

A few coats of paint can transform a piece so quickly. Well, at least after you have done all of the prep work!

This is a great way to add a touch of character (and storage) to any space without splurging on a new dresser. Hunt your local thrift stores and yard sales for the perfect piece and refinish it yourself for a completely new look!

The following post may contain affiliate links. That means if you click and then buy something, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you! Thank you for supporting my blog. full disclosure here.

antique gentlemen's dresser before makeover sitting in workshop


 If you want to milk paint furniture, you need to gather a few simple supplies to set you up for success:

front view of gentlemen's dresser after makeover staged with lamp, plant and vintage books an chalkboard on wall
side view an antique gentlemen's dresser after being painted in black milk paint

step one: prep furniture for paint

Thankfully, this antique gentlemen’s dresser didn’t need much prep work to bring it back to its former glory. 

All he needed was a good shop vac-ing and a good cleaning with Simple Green and water.

Then he was ready to paint!

You can always take a moment here to scuff up the existing surface of your dresser to help the paint adhere to the dresser. The finish on this dresser was in good shape, so it wasn’t necessary. If your dresser has a really dark color, heavy scent, or an inconsistent finish, it’s also worth it to add a coat or two of a high-quality primer before adding your new color.

If your dresser has any deep scratches or gouges, take a minute to fill in those marks with wood filler and sand them smooth before painting.

dog in picture with painted antique gentlemen's dresser after makeover

step two: paint your old dresser

Once your dresser has been cleaned up, it’s time to start painting. Use your paint brush to apply 2-3 coats of your favorite chalk paint or milk paint.  Allow the paint to dry fully in between coats. Don’t worry about the brush strokes too much; they add instant character!

If you decide to keep the natural wood look on your dresser, you can always use wood stain to make it a darker color. Just be sure to sand the wood down first to get the best results. Prefer a distressed look? Try these furniture distressing strategies to make your chest of drawers look like it’s been around the block a time or two.

side angle view of front of antique gentlemen's dresser showing carved details

step three: seal the wood

Once the paint is fully dried, rub some hemp oil into the paint to give it a rich, dark black. For any sections of wood that are not painted (liked stained wood), seal it with MMS MilkCoat in Matte to give a gorgeous flat finish

The flat finish of the topcoat gives the look of a hand-rubbed wax finish with the durability of polyurethane.

I love that stuff!!

top view of restored gentlemen's dresser with lamp, vintage books and a plant

the perfect paint for an old dresser makeover

Since the dresser is a gentlemen’s dresser (will talk about why it is a gentlemen’s dresser later in this post), I decided on Miss Mustard Seeds Milk Paint in Typewriter.

It has a gorgeous, rich shade and is a fantastic black paint to use on antique furniture. If you prefer chalk paint, check out Caviar Chalk Mineral Paint. It’s the black paint I used to update the dressers in my grandson’s nursery, and it is perfect for a chalk paint dresser makeover.

side view of top of restored antique gentlemen's dresser

what is a gentlemen’s dresser?

Do you see the box sitting on top of the dresser? There are two of them – one on each side.

These two boxes were used by the gentleman for his gloves, his wallet/money clip, his loose change, and his pocket watch.

Those items could be tucked away at the end of a workday and would be ready for the next workday.

close up shot of restored wood top on gentlemen's dresser

how to refresh vintage drawer pulls

The teardrop pulls add the perfect amount of detail to the carved wood backplates in this vintage wood dresser makeover. They cleaned up nicely with a tiny bit of sanding on the wood part and gilding wax on the metal part.

Drawer pull perfection! Aren’t these the perfect fit?

You have so many options to give your own drawer pulls a little makeover. 

  • Sand and buff them 
  • Spray paint them gold or copper
  • Buy new hardware with a modern look
  • Brush them with a little paint to make your dresser (or a contrasting color)

Sometimes the best option is just to give them a bit of cleaning. If your piece doesn’t have handles or pulls with a lot of character, you can check Etsy or your local hardware store for some great options.

side view of antique gentlemen's dresser after being painted in MIss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Typewriter black

antique gentlemen’s dresser makeover before and after

Thanks for stopping by for this antique gentlemen’s before and after dresser makeover.

As you can see, not all makeovers are labor-intensive.

Some just need a light sanding, a quick cleaning and then they are ready for the fun part – painting!

It’s amazing to me how painted antique dressers can look amazing in literally any room of the house. 

Keep it in the living room to hold your favorite trinkets and tuck away extra pillows and throws. In the bathroom, it’d be the perfect dresser to hold towels, back up TP, and lotions and balms. Personally, I think this piece is the perfect candidate for a bedroom because it has such a stunning modern look. It’d look so much fun with some fresh flowers or seasonal decor!

glove box on top of restored gentlemen's dresser painted in Miss Mustard Seed Milk paint in Typewriter black

more dresser makeover ideas

If you loved learning how to use milk paint in this before and after dresser makeover, you’ll also love these other furniture makeovers!

See all my favorite easy dresser makeover projects here!

close up of tear drop pull after being restored with rub n buff metal polish
close up of two drawer pulls on restored antique gentlemen's dresser

easy lamp makeover project

See that lamp sitting on top of the gorgeous dresser? I’ll show you how I gave a cheap thrift store ugly brass lamp a makeover! This is a super easy project that you will love!! Click below for the post!

Easy Lamp Makeover with Milk Paint

Isn’t this antique dresser makeover so gorgeous? Although I’m sure this piece would have been great in a different color, too, I love the dark black with the warm wood tones. It’s amazing how much a little bit of paint can completely transform this piece! This has to be one of my favorite furniture pieces, and you really just can’t find new handles with as much detail and character. It’s a fantastic piece!

wide shot of gentlemen's dresser that has been painted in Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Typewriter black staged with a lamp, old books, a plant, a chalkboard on the wall, a stack of branches and a chair

PS. You might notice some differences in the tone of the milk paint color in the images of this vintage dresser makeover. I usually shoot in natural light in my studio, but for this shoot, I used some additional photography lights. I’m not a huge fan of the studio lights but it took this experiment for me to figure this out 🙂

looking for another way to paint a dresser black? Then you will love How to Paint a Dresser Black with Chalk Paint!

We would love you to join our journey over on Instagram and Facebook! You can also find more inspiration on our Pinterest page! We’re always pinning fresh ideas. You can also check out our YouTube channel to see step-by-step instructions for our favorite DIY projects. You’ll love it!

Before and After Dresser Makeover Step by Step Tutorial

wide shot of gentlemen's dresser that has been painted in Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Typewriter black staged with a lamp, old books, a plant, a chalkboard on the wall, a stack of branches and a chair

This before and after dresser makeover of a vintage gentleman's dresser will have you wanting to find one of your own! The difference paint can make is remarkable!

Prep Time 1 hour
Active Time 2 hours
Total Time 3 hours
Difficulty Moderate


  1. Prep the furniture by thoroughly cleaning and making any necessary repairs.
  2. Scuff sand if the surface is shiny from the previous finish.
  3. Paint the dresser in the desired color of milk paint in 2-3 coats of paint to cover the surfaces
  4. Seal the painted surfaces with hemp oil and then seal the natural wood top with Milkcoat flat sealer.
  5. Use gilding wax on the drawer pulls for a quick hardware makeover.


See the video below for instructions on mixing milk paint.

looking for more paint transformations?

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  1. This piece is perfection, Cindy! I love the color you chose and the hardware is amazing too. It’s all really elegant. As always you are so talented and such an inspiration too! Big hugs, CoCo

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thank you CoCo! That hardware stole my heart! Have a great day!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks, Leslie for the encouragement!

  2. Oh wow! What an amazing transformation. Those drawer pulls are to die for! Thanks for sharing this – great inspiration.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Carol! And yes, those drawer pulls are a-maze-ing!!

  3. Cindy, I love what you did with this piece. Those handles are gorgeous. The perfect color for this vintage dresser.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Don’t you love those handles?? Thanks for stopping by Tammy!

  4. Oh the power of paint! You have created an absolutely gorgeous piece of furniture that will last forever! I love the color and that the top is left unpainted.
    Thanks for sharing this beauty;)

  5. You did an amazing job on this makeover. Your gentlemen’s dresser looks wonderful. I think this piece may have originally had a mirror attached to it because my mom has a dresser that looks exactly like yours and there’s a mirror attached. Is this for you or will you sell it?

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      I think you are right Paula. We recently reworked another gentlemen’s dresser and it had a mirror. Plus this one had marks on the back where it would have attached. This piece sold and believe me, I would have loved to kept it!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Isn’t that hardware amazing?? Thanks for stopping by!

  6. This is an amazing makeover! I always say paint is magical and yo worked your magic on this piece. Love the top you kept wood.

    Love the drawer pulls too.

    Will you keep this? It’s probably hard to keep everything.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      I only wish I had enough rooms for all the makeovers! The piece sold very quickly so I’m glad for that!

  7. This gentleman’s dresser makeover is gorgeous – I love the colour! How do you manage to get your hands on such amazing furniture pieces?

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Jayne, you would never believe the huge pile I pulled this out of in a rummage sale. It was definitely worth it!

  8. Cindy, you have such vision. That is a fabulous transformation. What a beautiful piece. We have an antique bedroom set and it’s seen better days, but I’ve never really thought about painting it. Until now. Off to pin this to my Fabulous Furniture board so I can remember it if I get brave this summer!!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Yes! Put your brave boots on and grab a paint brush!!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      And thank you for stopping by!

  9. This piece is so gorgeous! The color you chose is very “gentlemanly” ! I love the drawer pulls.

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Isn’t black the perfect color for this handsome dresser?? Thanks for stopping by!

  10. You are just so talented! I am always amazed with the transformations you make. Just beautiful!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Thanks Melba! Isn’t that dresser so handsome?? Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Wow! That is fabulous!
    Haven’t tried Milk paint, but this has me thinking I will have to give it a try. I LOVE the top and had been scared of using the flat finish, but it still looks to have a nice hand-rubbed sheen. That’s a definite, must use nest time!
    Thanks bunches!

    1. Cynthia Gayle says:

      Don’t be scared about using a flat finish for tops of furniture! Try using General Finishes High-Performance Top Coat – you won’t be disappointed! Thanks for stopping by Diane!

  12. gorgeous job, Cindy. Everything looks more elegant in black! And the detailing and knobs on this are just so perfect.

    1. This is one of my favorite makeovers. So glad you enjoyed it Janet!

  13. This piece of furniture is GORGEOUS. I love the transformation. Pinned!