Charming Arles Dresser

This antique dresser is quite unique. Not only does it have beautiful lines, details and incredible workmanship, it has three drawers full of dividers to separate your “delicates” and linens. Everything is original, including the hardware. The only brainstorming I had to do prior to starting this project was to figure out what to do about some of the missing trim pieces.

What I ended up doing was taking off what was left of the trim that made a square on the three bottom drawers. I took the sides, bottom and top trim off (the little that remained) and left the corners. I was really lucky to have four complete corners! This detail adds so much to the look of the dresser.

I had to prime this piece first before I could start using chalk paint (otherwise the stain will come right through the paint). Usually I use Zinsser primer with the gold label, but this time I wanted to use something else.  My only problem with the primer is that it’s white. When you prime, chalk paint and distress a piece, it’s very hard to get the primer off in order to have some of the wood show through.  You will also have white showing as a base layer under the chalk paint. If you want two colors, then it works out beautifully.  Since I didn’t, I had to ask for advice. My buddy Christie from Carter’s Cottage recommended Zinsser transparent Shellac.  The shellac seals the stain but doesn’t add any color. So now when I distress the chalk paint, you will only see the wood and not white primer.  I’m so glad there was a solution!

Stir the shellac well. It goes on fast and is quite drippy. It’s almost like painting with water. Less is better. It dried quickly, faster than the primer, and left a soft sheen. It didn’t even leave brush strokes.  The next time I use it I’m going to use a cheap foam brush. It would have been nice to just throw away the foam brush and not worry about clean up! My paint brush is still stiff because I didn’t clean my brush soon enough. Bummer.

I did not sand before I painted.  I had to use 3 coats of Arles. I leave about an hour in between each coat of paint. I also painted the corner details and the center piece Country Grey.  When I distressed these pieces, the natural wood and the color Country Grey came through nicely. I finished with a coat of clear wax.

I love the circle pattern running through the middle of the dresser. Arles really made a statement. The color also changes in the light. The less light, the more orange-yellow the dresser becomes. In bright light, it’s a perfect shade of golden yellow. This old dresser went from drab to fab with just a few coats of paint. Awesome!

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  • Christie Carter

    I LOVE this!  So happy you found the Shellac!

  • Anonymous

    Oooh. Such an usual color. Fantasic. Thanks for sharing on Motivated Monday at BeColorful

  • Miriam Padilla

    Oh my gosh, LOVE. I wish I could show you how big my eyes got when I saw the reveal. GORGEOUS!!!! What a fantastic color! I wouldn’t have ever thought of it, but I love it even more because of that. Well done!!

  • Rachel Polly

    Thanks Miriam. This was the first time I used Arles and I’m happy to say that I will glady use it again!

  • amy kontir

    love the way this piece turned out.  you certainly highlighted the its beautiful details!

  • Angela Mahoney

    wow! amazing transformation and that yellow is yummy. gorgeous!

  • Jen Lossing

    This looks great. It’s amazing how a little paint can bring a piece back to life! Great job!

  • Katie @ Wildwood Creek

    Beautiful!  I just found you through  Whimsical Perspective.  I’d like to follow your blog, but I don’t see the follow button.

  • buildbetterbodies

    Very pretty!  So, you shellaced because the original finish was off?  I haven’t used real chalk paint, just made some of my own to get it to stick to a glossy piece that I didn’t sand.  But, I haven’t seen or heard of stain coming through the paint.