Drab to Fab ~ $5 Dresser Makeover!


There are two types of people at the Main Street Auction – people who are willing to revamp what they buy, and people who aren’t. (Then there’s the people who get dragged along by a friend for the use of their truck – they tend to hang out by the food cart). Ultimately, when you are willing to give something a makeover, you’ll get it cheaper. I have a fairly good eye for thrifty finds, and the Main Street Auction is one of the best places to find old junk that you can turn into something useful and cute for your home!

Today on the agenda, we have a dresser I bought for only $2, and the cost of the makeover is only $5! This can be cut down to as little as only $1 if you have everything but the paint on hand. As you can see (excuse the bad photo – this was an older project from a year ago!), it’s fairly beat up – clearly home to a teenager who was fond of snowboarding stickers as decoration! Not my style.


Everyone I went to the auction with looked at me like I was crazy for wanting to buy this dresser. “Yeah, it’s only two bucks but you couldn’t pay me to put that in my home” – general response. Oh friends – you underestimate me. I had a vision – nobody could hold me back at this point!

Here’s what you’ll need:

– Cheap dresser from the auction or thrift store (Mine was $2)
– Two contrasting paint colors ($1 total from Home Depot)
– Sandpaper ( $1 from Dollar Store)
– Paint roller and brushes (Had these in home on hand)
– Spray paint for handles (optional, $3 Home Depot)

I visited my local Home Depot and had a look in the ‘Ooops Paint’ section – a small shelf of paint that wasn’t mixed correctly into the right color. This is a dangerous shelf for me. I bought way more than the required two pots of paint for $0.50 each, all full to the brim and all in different colors. Make sure to buy paint that has primer in so you don’t have to paint your dresser with primer first.


I picked out a cream color for the frame and this blue for the drawers from my now rather large paint selection.

Time to begin! I began by taking all of the drawers out, and sanding every surface I intended to paint. Don’t forget the drawers! I used an electric sander for this that I had on hand. If you are trying to be thrifty and don’t have one, go to your local dollar store and buy a 100-sheet pack of sand paper. Wrap the sand paper around a brick (or any other block that has a straight side) and sand in nice big strokes. (This is a great video demonstration if you are unsure). Always sand along with the grain, and always wear protection over your eyes, mouth and nose to ensure you aren’t breathing in any of the power the sanding produces.

IMG_7171     IMG_7178

If you are painting a dark color, you only have to sand enough to take the varnish off. If you are painting with a lighter color, make sure you sand down a little further so that darker splodges won’t be visible. Once you finish sanding, wipe all the loose sanded wood on top. Dampen a cloth and wipe every surface that you sanded. Wait for it to dry, then you can start to paint.

The top and the sides were to be white, for which I used a roller. This is because I am impatient. (And perhaps because I forgot to buy a big enough paintbrush…but shh, don’t tell! I am definitely organized). Like with the sandpaper, go along with the grain until the top surface has a nice thin layer. Make sure not to layer on the paint too thick. You will be doing multiple coats, so scrimp on the paint if you can. This will result in a far more professional look. Wait at the very least 2 hours between paint coats, or until dry to the touch.


While you wait for each coat on the frame to dry, you can begin on the drawers. Remove the handles and begin painting. I used a paintbrush on mine as they had many ridges. However, you can use a roller if your drawers are flatter. A quick reminder – be sure not to apply your paint too thick. You can always apply another layer if you need to get a richer color.

Once all parts of the dresser is drying, you can decide what you want to do with the handles. I spray painted mine with a brassy brown color, but they were in good enough shape to leave them if I had wanted to. I contemplated buying some fancy new handles from Anthropologie, but each handle would have been three times the cost of the dresser – a definite no! If you find that you are missing any of the handles and they are unique to the dresser, definitely take a look at this awesome post about recreating hardware. She makes it look so classy!

Here is the finished product!


If you have any questions or suggestions, leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!


2 thoughts on “Drab to Fab ~ $5 Dresser Makeover!

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