A Little Elbow Grease

My grandfather was an amazing carpenter. During my preteen/teenage years, I watched him create masterpieces with wood. My favorite items that he built were the house they lived in and a bedroom set he constructed. I always told him how much I loved his work so when he passed away in 2002 from cancer, he left a handcrafted bedroom set to me. I was thrilled. It is made from really beautiful wood. Unfortunately 12 years and 6 moves later, the pieces really started to show their age and off course they became a little dated in appearance. Really they became an eyesore.  At one point I even thought about giving it away but couldn’t bear with the thought of parting with such a precious heirloom. So I decided when we moved that that I would give the pieces a 2014 makeover with a more modern flare on a traditional pieces. I had the moving company move the furniture into the garage straightaway instead of moving it into the house so that I would be forced to get it done quickly.  I decided to restore the nightstand and the dresser and leave the chest of drawers in its original state. The chest still looks relatively new because we keep it in a guest room so it barely gets used. I had convinced myself that it would be an easy weekend project. I was a bit delusional to say the least.  All the YouTube videos I watched could not have prepared me enough for all the hard work and elbow grease that I was going to put into stripping, hand sanding, staining, and sealing a dresser, a nightstand, and 11 drawers. Add in temperatures over 90 degrees in the Texas summer, the debates with the hubby on the perfect stain color, and numerous trips to Home Depot and Lowes, you have the perfect equation for a very daunting task. My weekend project ended up turning into a month long project but I believe the results are amazing.

Stage One: Stripping. I used a citrus based stripper because it was more respiratory friendly. It took forever for this stuff to work. I applied coat after coat after coat of this stuff to remove the old varnish. At one point I was ready to go get a bottle of the toxic stripper but it finally worked long once I started using a scouring pad to help it along.


Pictured above: The original dresser; pretty old and beat up.

Stage 2: Sanding or what I will refer to as an allergy sufferer’s nightmare. I made sure to wear a respirator to keep my allergies from going haywire but it didn’t work. I sneezed for hours and my eyes watered a ridiculous amount during this process.

wpid-20140720_123555.jpgPictured: Photo taken during the sanding process. Not in its final sanded state.

Stage 3: Staining and adding a polyurethane coat. For whatever reason I forgot to capture a photo during this process. I think I was just ready to get done. I also forgot to take photos of the nightstand. I know I know…bad blogger! After a few tests of staining, JC and I finally agreed on the color Driftwood by Minwax and a semi gloss coating.

The finished products.

Initially I ended up spray painting the original handles a polished nickel color.


It was nice but we decided to take it a step further and update the handles as well. I am happy with our decision.



So what do you think? I think it made a huge difference and I was able to keep these pieces in the family a little while longer.

Hope you all are having a fabulous Friday!



  1. Kristen D

    This is such a great makeover! I am glad you decided to keep your sentimental piece!

    1. Brittany

      Thank you Kristen! I’m happy that we decided to keep it as well.

  2. Veronica Lee

    WOW! What a huge difference! Love it!

    1. Brittany

      Thank you! It took ages but I am happy with the result 🙂


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