Sunday, December 16, 2012

First Glimpse: Campaign Dresser Makeover

It's been 10 months since I came across a brand new vintage campaign chest in Value Village and I still can't get over my luck!! When I saw this furniture piece sporting the original hang tag and with brass handles neatly wrapped in brown tissue paper, I ran to find a Village assistant and told them not to let anyone else look at it, touch it, or even attempt to purchase it - that baby was Sold!!!


"Fast" forward 9 months to November and it was time to get started on this little makeover. Originally I wanted to spray paint this piece, since I love the smooth, glossy finish that comes easily with the spray, but colours were limited and I wasn't finding anything that would tie in with the living room rug (still to be revealed). That meant that I would have to use regular paint and roll it on, but that reality check came with a huge bonus:  the world was my oyster in terms of colour choices. I opted for Sarah Richardson's Blue Box (SR26) from Para Paints, and it's a shade which I'm absolutely crazy about:


The painting process was not so difficult as it was time consuming. It was business as usual: Sand, Tape, Prime, Paint, Paint, Paint. Below are some "in progress" shots from the warehouse space at my office where I do all of my dirty work. Each day I would arrive at work early or stay a bit late to complete a step of the project. Big shout out to my employers for allowing me to use the space for this project!

As often happens in my DIY world, things got a bit tricky on the last step of the process, and I ran into a  bit of a SNAFU. I wanted that smooth glossy finish - for both the look as well as for the protection factor, and so I decided to spray a clear top coat over the Blue Box. Unfortunately, the spray gloss did not turn out well - not well at all. Since the drawer fronts offered a small surface area, they were fine, but the top of the dresser was an uneven mess. Imagine a swamp with alternating pools of gloss and untouched dry patches. Crap. A Twitter friend recommended that I try Minwax Polycrylic Gloss in lieu of the spray gloss, so off I went to Lowe's and picked up a quart to try the next morning. Armed with a small sponge roller, I applied a coat of Minwax to the top of the dresser. It was bad. Apparently a roller is the last thing to use when applying a coat of lacquer - one million bubbles in the finish can't be wrong. Long story short I sanded off the layer of bubbles along with one layer of paint, repainted, and applied the gloss with a sponge brush. (Trust me on this one, folks, always use a brush when applying a clear topcoat). Five coats of gloss later, and the finish was perfect. Finally!! 

The freshly painted campaign dresser now acts as entertainment unit in my living room with plenty of space for electronic components and storage. I love the way it looks!! What do you think?

From this angle you can see the pattern of the wood grain in the drawer fronts. I had briefly considered applying a heavy grain filler but then decided against it, and I'm happy that I opted to leave the wood surface alone. I like the texture it gives to the piece.

This is where the five coats of gloss topcoat really shine (literally). The surface is so smooth that it's reflective:

This shot includes a sneak peek of the living room rug. When I matched the paint swatches to the colours in the corner of the rug, it was easy to make a decision, Blue Box was clearly the winner!

I would like to thank Para Paints for supplying the paint for this project. The colour really makes this piece special, and it's definitely the focal point of the living room in the new condo.



    love the color and the gloss finish. did you use an oil based paint or is all that from the minwax?
    you also solved a problem i am having; using oil paint on a dresser brought back from england, the drawers are fine but the top has been making me crazy. one more sanding and a sponge brush!
    many thanks

  2. What a great job you (ultimately) did. The dresser looks gorgeous!

  3. Hi 5th and State,

    I used a latex paint in a gloss finish from Para Paints. Almost no smell and easy cleanup. The gloss coat went right on top of that. Easy, peasy - ha!


  4. No other word but stunning. I absolutely love it!

  5. Wow! It looks incredible Pam! A ton of work but worth it in the end!

  6. lots of work!! only you can manage to pull this off! You know what I would have done .. me lazy downtown boy!

    congrats on your new home. .. looks like the dresser feels right at home!

  7. Awsome work. Looks beautiful. Can't wait to see the full picture of the rug.

  8. I'm jealous that you found a campaign dresser at VV! It looks so beautiful, what a great choice of colors!

  9. Same color as my thrifted and refinished campaign dresser!

  10. Gorgeous and I love how you pulled out the bit of blue in the rug. Your condo certainly is coming together beautifully.

  11. Ohmigosh Pam, all the trouble was worth it! That turned out so fabulously. Can't believe how glossy it is!

  12. It looks so gorgeous Pam! It was totally worth all of your effort!

  13. Oh my gosh Pam, it is GORGEOUS. That sheen on the top is incredible - and holy amount of work! Sarah is right - completely worth it.

  14. GORGEOUS!!!! That colour is perfect!

  15. Your choice of colour pulled out of the rug is amazing, worth all the trouble for sure.
    Works so well as a tv stand, loving the look.


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