How to Distress a Dresser Pottery Barn Style

Okay well really it is the reveal of one of the dressers. The other one is not quite done as it still needs distressing. Well here it is….

What a difference! Huh?

Don’t remember? Well, here is a trip down memory lane. Here is the before:

Actually this is the before after I had painted it off white years ago. The off-white was more yellowish than white. Then a few months ago (pre-blogging) I replaced (read: my dad replaced)vthe eighties handles with these brass handles I found at Goodwill. I was  not a fan of the brass handles but was not sure how to change them. Good ol’ Lowes  and technology-they actually sell metallic spray paint! I was originally going to use chrome but decided an oil-rubbed bronze would give me the Pottery Barn look I was after. See the handles? The style is pretty similar to mine but these are longer.

Now let me show you the dresser style I was looking to copy. I love the slightly distressed finish because it makes a room feel more casual and  cozy yet, you can still have it quite crisp with the right accessories.

In selecting my paint color, I tried as hard as possible to get something similar to this. It is not a bright white nor is it an off white. I ended up buying Delicate White from Valspar at Lowes (this was my hubby’s Christmas present to me). It is an antique white, white but aged.

So these were the inspirations, let’s look at the how-to’s!

This is what the dresser looked like years ago. I never painted the left side because it sat against a wall in my previous apartment/homes. This time though I was determined to do the job right. I am glad I was lazy years ago though because now you get to see that it was an eighties veneered wood dresser. I received this dresser from an uncle when I moved to my first apartment furniture-less six years ago right after college. So for starters I removed all the hardware from the drawers and then I removed the drawers. I was left with these:

Okay this is just before I took out the last few drawers. But you get the point. Next I sanded the entire dresser with a power sander with 80 grit(thanks for letting me borrow it mom-in-law) which took only minutes! I so need to get myself one of these. It was so fast compared to the hand sanding I usually do. So I roughed it up so the next layer of paint would stick.

I knew I wanted it to be distressed-looking with brown showing through the white which would mimick wood showing through age. To achieve this I painted all the areas I wanted to be distressed a dark brown. I had to paint all the four sides of the drawers and all the edges of the dresser.  While this was drying I kept working on the other dresser. If you look closely you can see I tipped the slats between the drawers with brown paint too.

This step only took one coat of paint to cover the white. Thank God because the next step needed many many coats of paint!

It took three coats of white paint to get good coverage! And four coats of paint for the drawers!! This took forever. I can’t even explain my impatience at this part. However, this was a piece that I wanted to look amazing and last for a long time. So I was determined to do a beautiful job on it.

After letting it dry several days, I distressed it. In the above picture you will see the white is a little bumpy in areas. I didn’t care because I knew I was going to sand it out anyway. I also didn’t have a ton of experience with painting furniture  but many tutorials later and two dressers, I know now that thin paint coats are the way to go.

In order to distress it, I just kept referring back to the inspiration pieces looking where their piece was distressed. I then took my sander to it and slowly started sanding the white away allowing the brown to show through. I was so excited as I was doing this because it was looking aged! Not every project turns out the way you think it will but this one was!! I would sand a little then step back and look at my progress in order to be sure I was giving the look I wanted.

I re-installed the brass hardware because I had no idea yet how I was going to re-do them. You can see the difference the color change makes in the finished piece. Here are more pictures of the finished product to really show the difference.

Here is one last before:

And one more glorious after:

Now how long did all this take me?

Well remember in January when my husband was on break for school he gave me an entire day to work on projects. That day did not let me finish this. I barely finished all the coats of paint that day and was at least able to get my husbands’ clothes back in the drawers. I started working probably at 8am and didn’t finish until 8pm. It took me an hour or so to do the distressing the following days (remember two kids means I don’t get to work when I want but when time permits).

As for the handles-I refinished those weeks later and they took about six hours as I gave them several coats and waited between coats for drying. I will do a post on the handles sometime this week.

Well that is it. There you have it, my new Pottery Barn Dresser look-alike DIY style!

BTW…I am linked up here and a Bowl Full of Lemons, Home Stories A2Z, Home Happy Home, Savvy Southern Style, Young House Love, The Shabby Creek Cottage, Beyond the Picket Fence. French Country Cottage, Stuff and NonSense, Remodelaholic, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Not Just a Another House Wife, Thrifty Decor Chick, Funky Junk Interiors

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9 Responses to How to Distress a Dresser Pottery Barn Style

  1. amy says:

    What a beautiful makeover! I would love for you to come and share at my link party!

  2. That looks amazing! Great job.


  3. Pingback: We Made Our Dining Room Table for $24! « State of the Home

  4. Pingback: My Headboard From Blue to Vintage « State of the Home

  5. Great transformation. Thanks for sharing.
    Visiting from Sat Nite Special :)

    Greetings from Australia

  6. Courtney says:

    Looks awesome! Best tutorial I have found so far. What shade brown paint did you use? After sanding the white to let the brown show through did you coat with anything else? (I am planning to attempt the same effect on the legs of my farmhouse table..)

    • Style with Andie says:

      Hi Courtney! I sort of discontinued this blog but for an unknown time but you are too sweet. I did not use anything after but it would be best to seal it if the table will get moved alot. We move ALOT so the dresser did get a few scratches here and there. Hope I am not too late!

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