Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Empire (Dresser) Strikes Back

Look at this very sad, poor, neglected Empire dresser.

It's so dirty, scratched and the finish has some kind of problem that it looked and felt like it was cracked, but not in a good way--in a need to sand it completely off way.
Did I mention it has some mold?

Don't forget the scratches.

[I always wonder what kind of life these beat up pieces had because it certainly wasn't in some one's bedroom storing their unmentionables!]

I decided to paint it black.  I went to Home Depot and I was going to use Stealth Jet, but felt that was not black enough. The paint mixologist said they knew what color to do for a pure black and mixed it for me--but didn't tell me the name. The label just says black.  I named it Darth Vader (insert that crazy oohh-paa breathing sound he makes here).

I sanded the entire piece to get that weird texture off.  I used a palm sander with a few different type grits.  And it was easier to sand than I thought.  It took me longer to get the sand paper on the sander than it did to get the hang of it. 

(Keep in mind that I have the choice to sand because my husband already has a palm sander.  I would not have bought one for this dresser and maybe would not have sanded at all if we didn't already have one.  Also, I didn't sand the entire piece to a perfectly new smooth surface.  I do not refinish furniture, I paint furniture to give it a new life. So I only spent maybe a half hour sanding until I felt it was good enough to paint.)

I painted it with two coats of homemade chalk paint in the black.  I then sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge to make the paint smooth and also distress it.  

When I was done the color had a navy blue hue to it--yikes!  Not really knowing what that was about, I just moved on to the dark wax glaze technique.  I applied the wax directly to the paint and the color returned to a pure black.  It added so much dimension to the black and to the distressed parts.  I buffed the wax once it was dry with a piece of scrap drop cloth.

I have since read on Picked & Painted blog that when she sands the homemade chalk paint the color looks completely different, but if you wipe it down with wet rag (or in my case, apply the dark wax) the color will come back. 

Here it is in all its glory!
One of the wood knobs was broken so I replaced the two top ones with green glass knobs.  I chose green because honestly they were the only glass knobs I had that matched.  It took me out of my comfort zone but I am very happy with the way it came out.  Also, the sanding revealed the key holes and they really pop against the black.
Even though this piece required the extra work of sanding it before I painted, I really loved the way it came out.  It made me happy to bring it back to life.  Now it can go back to inside a house to hold unmentionables :)!

Linking to:

I was featured!


  1. GORGEOUS!! I love empire dressers! You did the color on this one perfectly!

    Jenna @

  2. Gorgeous dresser! I love the green knobs!

    Navy Wifey Peters @ Submarine Sunday Link Party

  3. It looks great! Good color pick. :)

  4. I love it and the black paint was exactly what it needed. I have a similar dresser out in my garage with similar problems. Good tip about using the dark wax to bring the color back.

  5. Fabulous Re-do! I know what you mean about putting the sandpaper on the sander. It can be aggravating!

  6. You've given that dresser a whole new life!

  7. It had already really nice curves, but it's now lovely in black!

  8. You did a wonderful job on this makeover. Thanks so much for sharing it at my party this week.


  9. Love your refinish!!! The green drawer pulls are a neat touch:) Stop by

  10. It's really beautiful, it had great lines to begin with, but the "Darth Vader" paint was the ticket! I love it!

  11. Absolutely gorgeous!! You did a fabulous job! I love the green pulls. It was the perfect touch. Thank you so much for sharing with us at A Bouquet of Talent this week. Have a wonderful week. :)


  12. I love how this turned out! It looks great! Thanks for sharing at the All Star Block Party.


  13. The black was a great choice! Looks fabulous!

  14. Oh wow!! What a difference!! You did a fantastic job!!!

  15. Love it!! What a great transformation!

  16. How funny, I have an empire dresser on FFF too! Love yours.

  17. WOW! This came out great and those green glass knobs are stunning. You did a great job on this piece.

  18. Great choice for the paint color, you definitely brought it back to life!

    Katie @ The Inveterate Homemaker

  19. It has to be happier with it's new coat - of paint that is. Such a stunning piece you created here!

  20. I just found your blog today and love what I'm seeing! I would love to join your blog but I don't see the gadget to join on your site! Looks like you've been much more successful than me; I started a blog around the same time you did but my following is no where near what your's is. Great job! Maybe I will have to switch to furniture instead of small stuff! lol Come check out my blog; especially if you don't know what I mean about "joining" your blog. Keep up the good work!

  21. Beautiful! I love how it turned out. I love empire dressers too. They are hard to find. Where did you find it?

  22. Hello!
    Show and Tell Saturday at Sassy Little Lady is LIVE! I’d love to have you share your post!


  23. Yay!Thanks for added the join button! I will let you know if I can figure out how to change the no-reply blogger thingie! lol

  24. Popped over from MMM. You certainly bought a diamond in the rough. And you certainly polished up!! Great job.

    Small House / Big Sky Donna / White Oak Studio Designs / SW Michigan
    Hand-Painted Vintage Furniture Transformations
    Facebook: (for portfolio of chalk painted work)

  25. This is a stunning piece and you recreated it perfectly!
    Thanks for sharing with us!
    Stacey of Embracing Change

  26. Your piece was in a flood. You can see the water line on the side. It looks beautiful now. Judy M.

  27. Swoon!!!!! Where do you find these pieces? I love this. You have amazing projects.

  28. Very, very nice job. It has that Pottery Barn black look to it with the wood showing around the edges. Thanks so much for linking up to Throwback Thursday!

  29. Great job! Love the addition of the green glass knobs, stunning!


I appreciate and read all your comments. I now reply to all comments on the blog post, so please check back if you asked questions for my response.
Thank you!