Painted dresser ideas – including the latest DIY looks

16 easy ways to revamp this furniture classic; all the inspiration you need for your next painting project to give your kitchen a style boost
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  • Ah, the dresser… one of the most practical and desirable pieces of furniture. Spruce up a preloved chest with these painted dresser ideas. This piece of classic furniture offers invaluable Kitchen storage ideas, displaying and storing in style.

    A full dresser will give you the luxury of several display shelves – perfect for displaying collections of china and other kitchenalia. Alternatively, opt for just the chest or cabinet for handy storage.

    Painted dresser ideas

    With the trend for upcycling furniture ideas giving many of us cause to scour eBay and Gumtree in hope of finding a bargain dresser. Perfect for personalising to suit our taste.

    ‘If you have always wanted to refresh a kitchen dresser with a colourful twist, now is the perfect time to reinvent items and transform them into bespoke pieces,’ says Ruth Mottershead, creative director at Little Greene. ‘Upcycling or simply painting a piece of furniture is one of the easiest ways to create a focal point. Whether you’re painting a stand-out piece or a complementary item, it will blend with the rest of your scheme.’

    Looking for some inspiration on how to paint and style your dresser? Look no further. Whether your design is tall and grand or slim and neat, we’ve got a range of ideas for you – and we’ve even included a few cabinets, as well as dressers, to mix things up a bit.

    1. Go tonal

    neutral painted dresser and dining table with wood bench seating

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Your dresser can be super stylish without necessarily becoming the star attraction in a room, simply by painting it in the same shade as your walls and furniture – or even just slightly lighter or darker. In fact, by keeping it the same colour as a dining table or living room furniture, the dresser immediately looks as though it’s part of the set, even if it’s different in style or material.

    That’s not the only trick it has up it’s sleeve, either. If you’re looking to create the illusion of a longer, more spacious room, then paint your dresser the same colour as your walls and it will blend right in, without causing any ‘breaks’ in the decor.

    2. Team paint with wallpaper

    painted dresser with wallpaper inside and tableware storage

    Image credit: Future PLC

    We love decorating at Ideal Home, and painting your dresser is the perfect opportunity to try out a new wallpaper-paint combo. If you’re not brave enough to have a bold print all over. your wall, try it at the back of your dresser or inside your cabinet instead for a more subtle, but fun approach.

    Don’t forget to paint inside your doors just as smartly as you would the rest of your dresser, since you’ll be more inclined to show the inside off if it’s wallpapered. A welcome way to add the wow factor to kitchen pantry ideas – to create chic food storage and larders to love.

    3. Replace glass panels

    dining room with dresser featuring chicken wire doors

    Image credit: Future PLC

    While you’re painting your dresser, why not consider changing your door or drawer panels? If you’re happy with your existing glass doors, you could try covering them in a ribbed vinyl for a fluted look or, alternatively, remove the glass or wood panels and replace them with fabric or chicken wire, as shown here.

    You can also see that the edges of the display shelves inside this cabinet have been painted in a pastel pink and blue for interest – a great way to add some colour without painting the entire furniture piece.

    4. Take the dresser apart

    walls shelves storage with wallpaper and bathroom products

    Image credit: Future PLC

    No room for a dresser? Take it apart and use the top piece as some wall shelves and the bottom half as a small sideboard!

    Here, the ornate upper half of a dresser has been painted and hung on the wall in a bathroom to display lotions, potions and pretty trinket boxes. Even the back of the shelves have been wallpapered to add to the overall effect.

    5. Give it an ombre look

    blue ombre painted dresser shelves with accessories

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Can’t decide which colour to go for? Choose a few! Paint your dresser in one colour, then the back of each shelf area in a slightly lighter or darker shade of the one before for a funky ombre look. Alternatively, why not go for rainbow colours for a bright stand-out touch?

    Keep paint costs down by using tester pots – you should have enough in each one to paint at least one shelf area, if not more.

    6. Keep it classic

    grey living room with beige dresser and leather chair

    Image credit: Future PLC

    If you want to paint your dresser in a colour that won’t date quickly and that you’re unlikely to grow tired of, then your best bet is to keep it classic. Opt for a timeless shade that will go with your room decor, even if you decide to change the wallpaper or your sofa further down the line.

    Here, the cabinet is painted in a stone-coloured finish, which works as beautifully with this dark blue and earthy brown scheme as it would with neutrals or brights.

    Stylist’s tip: If you’re storing things inside your drawers and doors that mean they’ll be in constant use, give them an extra coat of a hardy paint, to keep it chip-free for longer.

    7. Evoke an industrial feel

    black painted dresser with industrial vintage look

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Looking to refresh your dresser to have it fit in with your industrial vibe? Then you can’t go wrong with a dark-coloured paint to start. Try jet black, dark brown-black, or a dramatic lead-grey like Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe.

    For extra authenticity, why not paint or stencil some old-fashioned factory-look numbers or lettering onto the doors or shelves?

    8. Show off a standout colour

    dining room with floral print and pink painted dresser and bunting

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Whatever size your dresser, you can give it some clout by painting it in a really eye-catching colour or pattern. Here, a bright candy pink has been used for a feminine look, and the same colour has been used on a few dining chairs to tie it all together.

    Paint the whole dresser for a full-on statement-making piece or, if you’re not that brave, you could just paint a couple of drawers, the frame of the dresser, or even just the shelves.

    9. Create a vintage vibe

    vintage look dresser with shabby chic feel and plants in dining room

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Perhaps a clean, sleek look isn’t your style, in which case, why not give your dresser a good paint and rub down for that distressed look that’s oh-so popular? A

    Paint has to be one of the easiest ways to take it from drab to fab, whether you choose a sharp modern look in an on-trend colour, or something more subtle and timeless. All you need is the best paint for furniture, to keep it in tip-top condition.

    Annie Sloan does a great range of paints, wax, lacquer and glazes, as well as brushes and tools designed specifically for this type of project, – well worth looking at if you fancy experimenting.

    10. Be inspired by nature

    blue painted dresser in kitchen storing crockery

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Wondering what colour to paint your dresser? Take inspiration from nature, which has been one of the biggest colour trends that’s come out of the last year. From forest greens and earthy browns to desert sands and sea blues, there’s so much choice available and these colours help to enhance our connection with the outside world.

    Colours that are popular for upcycling tend to be restorative tones, giving new energy to a piece of furniture,’ says Charlotte Radford, senior product manager at Valspar. ‘Pastel blues such as Valspar’s Wings of Pegasus are popular for wooden furniture, alongside deep greys such as Galaxy Grey. Lighter and rustic finishes such as a frosted oak stain are popular for more vintage impressions, as well as pink-toned beiges for cosy and warm renovations.’

    11. Go for a vintage-inspired chalky finish

    Blue painted upcycled Welsh dresser with blue china plates and cups on grey background

    Image credit: Rust-Oleum

    Chalky finish paints aren’t going anywhere due to their beautiful flat, matt finish and availability in a humongous range of colours. This china blue shade perfectly complements this vintage Welsh dresser and we love that the top has been left as bare wood. Just the thing for showing off a collection of blue and white ceramics as an alternative kitchen shelving idea.

    12. Stencil a geometric pattern

    Grey upcycled chest of drawers with geometric stencil in white living room with house plant

    Image credit: Rust-Oleum

    Upcycle a chest of drawers by stencilling a geometric pattern. Paint the outside in a chic grey then make a triangle stencil to cover the drawers. Pink and grey is a relaxing combo in a bedroom. Try mixing paint finishes such as satin, matt and gloss to add dimension to your piece.

    13. Distress to impress

    Blue shabby chic distressed upcycled dresser in grey kitchen with toile wallpaper and white brick wall

    Image credit: Future PLC/James French

    Turn your dresser from drab to fab by giving it a shabby chic distressed finish. Once you’ve painted your piece but before you varnish/wax it, use fine sandpaper to lightly remove paint where it would natural receive ware and tear.

    Why not decorate your dresser further by introducing pattern with a wallpaper backing? Cut your chosen design to the size of the backing board (or each backing section) and use glue or paste to stick down. Use a credit card or a squeegee to make sure any air bubbles are removed.

    14. Fake Mother of Pearl inlay

    Close up of painted mother of pearl effect monochrome chest of drawers with silver table lamp and vases

    Image credit: Annie Sloan

    There’s no doubt that Mother of Pearl inlay is exquisite, but furniture boasting such intricate designs often come with a hefty price tag to match.

    Why not fake your own using paint techniques? Paint your furniture in a base colour – black will make your inlay pattern really stand out. Next, use a silver paint to stencil or freehand delicate floral and leaf patterns to mirror traditional inlay designs.

    Here, Dominique Malacarne used white chalk paint to create her inlay design, then added Annie Sloan’s Pearlescent Glaze over the top to produce the pretty sheen.

    Buy now: Pearlescent Glaze, £11.95, Annie Sloan

    15.Create an ombre effect

    Blue ombre painted chest of drawers on geometric wallpaper with a white table lamp and blue vase

    Image credit: Future PLC/Jamie Mason

    Transform a shabby dresser into something chic by creating a bold ombre design. Start with the lightest colour at the top, then paint each drawer a slightly darker shade. Paint the base and legs in the darkest colour. This is a great way to use up tester pots!

    16. Have fun with stencils

    Pink and gold upcycled cabinet with pink and gold Art Deco fan stencils, grey Chesterfield sofa and pink throw with gold vase

    Image credit: Furniture and Choice

    Go for a glam Art Deco inspired design using fan-shaped stencils. Remove all hardware i.e. knobs and handles. Paint your piece of furniture in your chosen base shade and leave to dry.

    Next, use a stencil and flat stencil brush to add your motif in a neat repeat from right-to-left across the doors. Metallic gold has an opulent feel on a feminine powder pink background.

    17. Give pine a blue makeover

    Image credit: Stephanie Wroughton / Ideal Home Room Clinic

    Upcycling an old pine kitchen dresser with a lick of paint and some new on-trend handles is a smart way to salvage an unloved piece of otherwise practical furniture.

    Shared on our very own Ideal Home Room Clinic page is this on-trend transformation by group member Stephanie.

    She writes, ’wanted to show you my first furniture upcycle! This is my grandparents old Welsh dresser. I sanded it all down, primed, then painted it and changed the handles. So pleased with the result!’

    What a transformation! Stephanie tells us ‘I used a primer on the wood first then  two coats of ‘Scrooge’s nightmare’ from the Valspar Bookcase range at B&Q.’

    ‘I then painted a top coat of Ronseal Clear Satin Sealer. This was two coats too. The handles and hooks I got from Amazon.’ Estimating it cost approximately less than £30.

    18. Renew a country classic dresser

    Image credit: Ellen Stewart

    Ellen shared with us her dated dresser, bought for the bargain price of £60! She gave it a coat of paint, changed the handles and now it’s a valuable piece of furniture to add country charm to her home.

    What is the best paint to use on a dresser?

    Because your dresser may be in a humid area, such as the kitchen, and gets a lot of use, you’ll want to ensure that the paint you use keeps it in prime condition. ‘Once you have selected a colour, you will need to choose a suitable finish,’ says Ruth Mottershead at Little Greene.  ‘I recommend selecting a hard-wearing, washable finish such as Intelligent Satinwood, which will withstand the knocks of a busy home, and use our Intelligent ASP should you need a primer.’
    Top tip: If you don’t already have a piece of furniture to upcycle, keep a look out on auction sites and online market places. Or take a trip down to your local charity shop – try the British Heart Foundation for low-cost secondhand buys.

    Do I have to prep my dresser before painting it?

    In short, yes – if you want your painted finish to stand the test of time. Whether your kitchen dresser is unpainted or already has a coat or two on it, you’ll need to prepare it ready for painting. ‘Ensure the surface is clean, dry and grease-free using sugar soap to remove all loose and flaking paintwork, then rinse with clean water,’ says Ruth.

    ‘Rub the dresser down with a medium grade sandpaper, and apply one coat of Intelligent ASP (all-surface primer) to ensure the depth of colour is retained. Allow to dry for at least two hours.’

    ‘Next, stir the paint thoroughly before use, then apply the first coat of Intelligent Satinwood evenly and allow to dry for four hours. Apply a second coat of Intelligent Satinwood – two full coats are recommended to achieve full depth of colour. Your piece will be surface-dry within 1–2 hours.’

    What colour is best for painted furniture?

    This really comes down to personal choice, as while some prefer the looks of a bolder colour, others will be drawn to something more neutral. Take into account the room your dresser is going into and whether you want it to stand out or blend in. ‘Choose a colour to complement the scheme within your home or a standout shade that will create a bold, focal point in a room,’ says Ruth.

    Additional words by Stephanie Durrant

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