Have you found a great new-to-you dresser at the thrift store or flea market near your Hillsborough apartment, but think it needs a little upcycling to make it work? There are some excellent tricks and DIY tips out there to help you!

First of all, the standard upcycling to-dos apply here: clean your dresser thoroughly. Replace any wood that has deteriorated beyond the point of no return. Inspect the piece thoroughly for insects that may have made their home in your new furniture, and take care of any inhabitants in the way you see fit.  Once your dresser is clean, structurally solid, and bug-free, you’re ready to start the project.

The Triple S: Strip/Sand/Stain

If you love the look of richly grained wood, this is the DIY for you. Especially if you’ve lucked out and found a quality piece — or even a valuable antique — that you’d like to restore to its former glory. This process does require a lot of elbow grease, but usually turns into something beautiful in the end. And it is a simple process:

  1. Strip off old finish. Using a stripping solution with a rag is a great way to handle areas of intricate detail where sandpaper can’t reach.
  2. Sand off what’s left of the stain (be careful with wood veneers — you can sand too much! But the big box hardware stores do sell rolls of wood veneer you can attach to large areas if you get over-enthusiastic with sanding)
  3. Stain piece in your choice of finish

This entire process will need to be done outside your Hillsborough apartment for proper ventilation!

Chalk Paint

What is the absolute best part of using chalk paint to upcycle a dresser (or any other piece of furniture, for that matter)? You don’t have to sand a thing. Seriously. Even the glossiest of finishes won’t deter chalk paint from sticking. So, head to your favorite paint retailer and choose your colors. You can use chalk paint in different colored layers, if you want the distressed look (the color you’d want peeking out goes on first). Or you could go with something sleek, modern, and monochromatic. Whatever your paint choices, be sure to seal the piece with either some kind of polyurethane or sealing wax.

Vinyl Peel & Stick Flooring

What happens if you find a dresser that you’d love to highlight with wood, but it’s painted and you don’t know what the underlying material is made of? Staining isn’t a good option in that case. For these situations, you have two options: plywood, which will require power saws and other tools; or peel & stick vinyl flooring that’s made to look like wood. If you’re really keen on the wood and have the power tools to make that happen, go for it. But if you’re looking for an easier route – go with vinyl. Measure the drawer fronts, cut the tiles to fit, stick in place, and add or replace drawer hardware.

Upcycling or refinishing a piece of furniture is a great way to give your room a fresh new look. Explore all the great DIY techniques to bring this trend to life in your Hillsborough apartment.