For the guest bedroom, we wanted a short and long dresser to fill up the section of the wall by the door. The current Ikea Malm Dresser was great for storage but was a bit chunky in this space. Finding a long dresser was key to maintaining some much needed storage and also allowed for a large surface guest could use for whatever knick knacks they brought with them.
Finding a Dresser
I scouted some of my favorite stores for inspiration and kept coming back to the West Elm Alexa Dresser (#1 in the picture below). The black and brass finish is perfection and I knew it would add a touch of moodiness to the room.
1. West Elm Alexa 7-Drawer Dresser | 2. Urban Outfitters Amelia 6-Drawer Dresser | 3. McGee and Co Christopher 6-Drawer Dresser | 4. Double Bay Ritter Dresser | 5. CB2 Oberlin Low Dresser | 6. Room and Board Copenhagen Dresser
Unsure how much the sliding closet door would cost us, I wasn’t loving the price tag of any of these options. This was during our first one room challenge so there was no time to wait for a sale. I turned to the trusty facebook marketplace. Lets be honest, I would have checked facebook marketplace any ways #reduce #reuse #recycle. I found this bad boy for $100 and the seller was willing to take $80, done and done.
Refinish The Dresser
I spent the next several days deciding just how I wanted to refinish this piece of furniture. I had this beautiful black dresser in mind, but mid-century modern is also beautiful and part of my felt guilty covering the natural wood. This particular dresser was wood veneer, meaning it would be difficult to sand it down and preserve the wood grain so re-staining was out.
I read about General Finishes oil based gel stain. It is a product that sits on top of the wood instead of penetrating it, and it allows for some of the wood grain to still peak through (unlike paint). After wasting a trip to both Lowes and Home Depot, I realized this is a limited distribution product. Check their website for where to buy. I ended up at W.C. Winks Hardware in Portland which I had been wanting to check out anyways! If it is not available near you, Minwax Polyshades is a similar product.
Screw driver | Ziploc Bag | Chemical resistant gloves | Orbit sander | 120 grit sandpaper | Dust mask | General Finishes Gel Stain | Foam Brush | Clean rag or old t-shirt | Gold Spray Paint (for the hardware)
To refinish furniture, start by disassembling everything. Remove the hardware and place it all in a Ziploc baggy so you don’t lose it. Remove all of the drawers and place upright for future staining.
The gel stain sits on top of the wood, but a quick sanding will help the gel stain adhere and give you the opportunity to work on any scratches or imperfections. I recommend the Dewalt Orbit Sander and medium grade sandpaper for this project. If you are new to sanding, the randomness of the orbit sander is a great because it helps prevent scratches or marks from the sanding process. When it comes to sandpaper, the larger the number, the finer the sandpaper. A grit less than 100 will shape wood, which is more useful when building something that has imperfect edges, or if you want to round an edge. A grit greater than 200 is for finishing when you need a really smooth surface. For this project I used 120 grit sandpaper – the best of both worlds. Where a mask for this step, your lungs will thank you.
Applying the Gel Stain
Using a foam brush, liberally apply the gel stain to the dresser. I worked in rather large sections. However, this stuff dries pretty fast, so keep it manageable. At first, I let the stain sit for a minute and then wiped it all off with a rag. Below is what one coat looked like after this process. Unfortunately, this is also what it looked like after the second coat using this process. It was not the rich black that I was going for so I started applying the gel stain without wiping it off.
I did a light hand sand in between coats to remove any streak marks from the foam brush. I also did a light hand sand after the final coat for the same reason.
The General Finishes Gel Stain product label recommends applying a top coat of the General Finishes Arm-R-Seal. I bought it with the intention of doing this. However, I liked the matte look of just the gel stain and ended up omitting this step. If you are using the gel stain on a project that might require more protection from things like water, I would not omit this step.
Lastly, I gave the hardware a fresh coat of gold spray paint. One coat was enough to freshen it up. Once everything dried, we reassembled it all and brought the dresser into the Guest Bedroom.
Rey Rey Monster approved.