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How To Restore a Campaign Dresser

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A refinished dresser can transform your space and can save you money. Learn how to restore an old wooden dresser with paint, wrapping paper and DIY updated hardware.

Restored white dresser flanked by two bookcases and with a black mirror hanging above it.

Spring is finally here and I have sprung into action trying to finish up the girl’s bedroom. Scroll to the bottom to check out the rest of the bedroom. My girls need as much storage as possible because the house doesn’t have much in general.

So when I spotted this lovely (shhh…my dad is a wealthy source of old neglected furniture) I instantly grabbed it and took it up to their room.  You might even remember it when I shared the mirror makeover with you. I’ll show you how I restored this campaign dresser, just like Cinderella for her ball.

Yellowing dresser flanked between two book cases and with a black mirror hanging above it.

Disclosure: I was compensated for doing this post with product.  However, all the opinions stated here are my own. I only use products I love and would recommend to my viewers.

This dresser fit in perfectly between the two Ikea bookcases, but the color left much to be desired. The exterior was laminate and had turned yellow and looked even worse next to the bookcases.  There were scratches everywhere and it looked like it had been kicked around a bit. In fact, my daughter complained that it was difficult to open and close the drawers and it made squeaky noises.

Well, how could I leave it looking like a sad Cinderella?  I was going to be its fairy godmother and give it a new outfit. 

Inside of the dresser after taking out the dresser drawers.

​Materials Used to Refinish a Dresser:

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How to Refinish a Dresser:

I started off by giving it two coats of my favorite paint in white. Since the dresser was laminate this was the perfect way to do it.  As long as you let the paint cure for a few days, you will have no problems. 

Painting the side of the dresser white.

Here you can see that it was giving me trouble so I just went over some spots with a third coat.  I also did the top with a third coat because I wanted a nice hard finish.

And just so you know I did not use a sander at all, firstly because I’m lazy and secondly because it was not an option in this room.  Unlike Cinderella’s hearth I could not afford to have soot, er, sand all over this room.

Close up of the painted dresser.

The hardware was made of brass.  I took out the handles and drenched them in vinegar for ten minutes.  Then I just scrubbed them with some steel wool and this was the result. I put them back on the refinished dresser.

This method did not totally remove all the patina but that is fine with me.  I wanted this piece to be eclectic. A bit of new and old – just like Cinderella herself!

Close up of brass handles.

​The rest of the hardware that was on the edges of the dresser was painted using the metallic black pearl that I had also used on the night stand. I used both looks for the hardware because I wanted to keep it interesting.  Also, a bit of black is echoed in the handles.

See how when the light hits it looks more like a deep gray than a black.

Close up of brass handles and painted hardware on sides of dresser.

Of course, to add even more interest, because our Cinderella cannot go to the ball with just her glass slippers, I added this damask black and white wrapping paper to the sides of the refinished dresser using Mod Podge. I have previously used this paper on pretty boxes that are on a shelf near the corner of the room

It is super easy to do. Just brush Mod Podge onto the wood, place the paper over it and smooth it out.  Once it dries add a top coat of Mod Podge to the paper to seal it.

Toile wrapping paper on sides of drawer.

​And let’s not forget my girl’s complaint about the drawers.  It was an easy fix, I just rubbed a bar of soap on the frame where the bottom of the drawer slides into the wood. Easy peasy!

I think adding all those different elements to the refinished dresser keeps just enough interest. Cinderella is ready for the ball!

Finished dresser after being painted white and updating the hardware.

She may not look like a classical Cinderella dresser with scrolls and pastel colors,  but she is a makeover beauty to me!

Angled view of the painted dresser.

​And now you are probably asking why not use the toile that is all over the bookcases?  Well the idea was to have a bit of surprise and I didn’t want the room be too matchy-matchy.

Side view of the upcylced dresser with Damask paper on the sides of drawers.

And that is the last piece of furniture in the room that has to be made over.  I am thinking of adding a chair but that can be done later on  … or not!

Restored white dresser flanked by two bookcases and with a black mirror hanging above it.

Sometimes all it takes is just a bit of paint to make something look new.  When I showed this piece to my dad his jaw dropped. You have to remember that in person it looked a lot worse.  He told me that he had always meant to paint it but had never gotten around to it.

​Well at least I know where I get my DIY genes from!

Finished dresser after being painted white and updating the hardware placed in between 2 book cases.

This is how I restored my laminate campaign dresser just like Cinderella. She is now ready for the ball. Now tell me was I worthy of being a godmother to this lovely dresser? ​

Restored white dresser flanked by two bookcases with text overlay saying "how to restore a campaign dresser."

The Black and White Bedroom:

Blue painted wall.
Decorating Girls Bedroom Plans
Black and white painted lamps
Lamp Makeover
Black Bed Frame
A Bed Frame Refresh and Room Progress
Black painted wood mirror
Wooden Mirror Makeover
Top of a white dresser.
A Tour of the Black and White Bedroom

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Sunday 19th of May 2019

Paint is the great transformer, right? Love your hardware too! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!


Friday 24th of May 2019

Cecilia this was all about getting rid of that yellow discoloration and yes paint did all the work!

Kari Wagner Hoban

Monday 16th of April 2018

I love this so much. Will you come make over my bedroom furniture?


Monday 16th of April 2018

Sure let me find my glass slippers first! ;)


Monday 16th of April 2018

Mary, you have been hard at work getting the girls room looking so up to date and stylish. I love how the dresser fits right in. And how it looks like a built in. They really have a lot of storage.


Monday 16th of April 2018

Debra you have no idea how much stuff girls have. Boys are so much more simple. Anyway I think it was really smart to buy those two bookcases because they really helped with the storage situation and of course this dresser was the icing on the cake.

Michelle Leslie

Monday 16th of April 2018

With all the work you've done in the girls bedroom they must be feeling so much more at home now. Isn't it awesome that the dresser fits so perfectly between the bookcases. Thank goodness for Dad's that see the potential of hoarding and for a Mom, like you, that takes the time and effort to make something beautiful for their bedroom. And then they have the added special touch that when they open it up there's this beautiful damask pattern to show you went the extra mile too. So lovely


Monday 16th of April 2018

Thank you Michelle, It is the least I can do since this is such a huge change for them and they deserve to have a space all their own the way they want it.


Monday 16th of April 2018

Fabulous makeover!! Love this newook.


Monday 16th of April 2018

Jackie I was so glad to see that yellow disappear once and for all!

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