Painted Dresser Makeover: Tips and Tricks for Painting Thrifted Furniture

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

The saga continues! After a successful run of painting this ikea dresser a few years ago I decided not to press my luck and hadn't flipped a piece of furniture since. HOWEVER, when I got my hand on this free dresser with excellent drawers I was met with the opportunity to challenge myself to use an impossible color choice *gulp* purple. So yeah, violet is the color of the year--but every year we always bend the official color to more tolerable hues. In this case I think I can get away with a plum, wine or eggplant shade while still falling within the challenge boundaries. I picked a Sherwin Williams shade, Mature Grape , in a high-gloss door/trim paint. Here are some of my tips for painting furniture below!

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

First things, First
Make sure it's "worth it". Furniture should be solid with no major infrastructure issues, preferably wood (not laminated, ug). You can find free furniture on the curb, at the dump or at thrift stores. Keep in mind paint and paint materials and hardware are NOT free, so try to cut down costs where you can to truly make this budget makeover brag-worthy. Remove drawers and vacuum out any debris before starting to paint.

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

Use a screwdriver to remove all hardware and assess if you need to purchase new pulls to refresh the look! 

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

Scuff it up. 
Most manufactured furniture has a durable clear coat on top, despite it's flat finish, so be sure to sand all surfaces of your furniture with an 80 grit sanding block prior to painting on a primer/color coat. Paint adhesion is always better with a sanded surface. Wipe down or vacuum away all the dust before moving onto the next steps.

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

Get these exact bin pulls here.  Unfortunately I can't find any comparable to the tassel pulls!

Prime it

My first foray into painting an un-fished wood dresser was lazy and the tannins eventually leeched through the paint in certain areas leaving round stained splotches. Don't fret, it still looks amazing but I wish I had prevented it with a prep-coat. I used a sand-able Kilz primer to seal the wood and avoid any tannin bleed through. Painting solid wood is always a safer bet than painting laminates, but it is possible especially with a gripping layer like a primer underneath your paint.

*On this particular dresser project I only did one coat of purple paint on the drawer faces and allowed the wood grain to show through like a stain. It worked really well with the boho feel of the jute pulls!

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

Invest in quality brushes

Old paint brushes from other DIY projects simply wont do, invest in a paintbrush $8+ for quality bristles and smooth application.

Sanding between coats is your BFF

Yes it adds hours to your project time but it allows for smoother application and an overall shinier finish. A 120 grit sanding block should get the job done.

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

Once your paint has cured for several days you can add hardware and line the drawers. I'd wait at least a week before styling objects on the top surface of the paint, especially depending on your local humidity levels.

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pullsluxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

Complete the Look (Affiliate Links)

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

I love how this looks with just a few of my favorite things (including a $6 dollar goodwill lamp!) What are some of your favorite thrifted finds?

luxe purple dresser with tassel and brass pulls

This rad velvet chair, coral, ink print and jute rug are both from an auction. Pillow and geometric artwork is on Lindsey Crafter.

Complete the Look (Affiliate Links)

Have a piece of furniture just begging for a coat of color? Tag me on instagram @LindseyCrafter and I'll give you some ideas!

xo Lindsey Crafter


  1. Hi Lindsey - did you paint the inside and sides of the drawers in addition to lining with contact paper?

    1. Hey Melynda! I didn't on this project but depending on how the drawers are constructed I would avoid certain materials to avoid scraping or tearing as you open and close the drawer, especially if the sides of the drawers come into contact with the side of the unit every time you slide open and shut.

      If you're assembling a piece from ikea I would recommend painting, papering or decoupaging the sides and insides of the drawer prior to assembly!

      Let me know if you have any additional questions! Happy crafting!


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