The Last (Really!) Furniture Refinish

I’m really bad at remembering to take the “before” photos. I couldn’t be bothered enough to put the drawers back in for the official “before” photo.

The last three times I have refinished a piece of furniture, I vowed to myself that it was the last time. You all are my witnesses. This IS the last time. The above dresser has been in son Mike’s room (where ever that was) for the last 21 years. Before that, it belonged to his father. So I estimate it to be 1960’s vintage. The majority of the piece is yellow pine, a soft, inexpensive wood. The rest is melamine and a bit of plastic for the drawer slides. So it is not precious. I was hoping to send it to the charity shop, but son Mike stated that “he liked it.” And I found it hideous. So it was upon me to effect the change as Mike was content with the status quo.

A close up of all I hate about the dresser.

So the proportions are okay, but I hate the pseudo-Early American handles and the shiny (and lets be real here,) dripped varnish.

I hauled all of this outside and sanded it with both a flat sander and by hand. I calculate it took about 18 hours. Plus I got a bad case of chiggers–don’t ask.

Here is what it looked like after being sanded.

Where I could not sand out the old stain, it looked grey. So that was my choice for the new stain. I thought it would blend. I spent a longish time selecting the new stain at the stain aisle at the home improvement store, and selected a stain color that the samples showed as grey, and was named “Slate.”

While I had everything apart, I glued and reattached with screws a bit of wood that had come off the bottom drawer.

Turns out that “Slate” is way more blue than grey. Not a color that I would have consciously chosen. But here we are and I do not absolutely hate it….as I did the previous finish.

And this is the absolutely last piece of furniture that I will refinish in this lifetime.


  1. The drawer pulls look like the ones that were on my parents’ mahogany dressers they bought when they were married in 1952. I like the new stain and modern pulls. Great job.

    I refinished an end table to use as a bedside table. I sanded it, put two coats of primer then two coats of white paint. Took me 5 days – never again!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There is much to hate about the before dresser. 😅. So much work and time. You are to be congratulated for persistence! The new look is an improvement. 👏


  3. Your slate color reminds me of the weathered look of seaside cottages in New England. Is that what you were aiming for, or what you accepted rather than redo it?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Actually, the dresser is beautiful. You did a great job. I know about this piece being your last…I have refinished enough furniture in my lifetime to know exactly what you mean. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Very nice job! I really like the finished product. You’ve been keeping busy. I’ve been thinking about your lifestyle a lot as the pandemic progresses, and I’d love to read a little more about how you’re handling things. I’m wondering how you approach cooking and eating with such limited kitchen storage space and your preference for fresh foods. Have you made changes in the midst of Covid-19?


    1. The biggest change in my food shopping relates to our farmer’s market not being open this year. I live 2 blocks from the grocery store that I prefer-so I just walk down there with my cloth bag (this store, Aldi, still allows them) and fill it up with fresh fruits and vegetables, organic eggs, a couple cheeses. I cook one vegan or vegetarian dish at a time and we eat that until it is gone. As food is one of my disabled son’s real joys, we supplement that with take-out 1-2 times per week. Especially during the pandemic, we have focused our restaurant purchases from business that are locally owned by persons of color. My daily menu looks something like this– breakfast: coffee, oatmeal with peanut butter and fruit lunch: big salad with peas or egg or cheese for protein dinner: something I have cooked or take-out. My son supplements with candy and soda he buys at the convenience store and canned soups. I’m not spending much time cooking these days.


  6. Thanks for responding! I’ve made both the vegan queso and the baked squash dish you featured on this blog, and both were delicious. The queso was surprising. At first I found it a bit off-putting, but as soon as I stopped thinking of it as cheese, I was able to appreciate the flavor more. It’s now become one of my favorites. Happy to know that both you and your son are finding ways to cope during these difficult times. I so look forward to reading your posts. Take care.


    1. May I ask where you found the vegan queso and baked squash recipes? I searched this website and cannot locate either and they sound delicious!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I apologize that they did not come up on a search–clearly I need to upgrade my website. The vegan queso is from and the summer squash recipe is heavily adapted from a 1970’s cookbook that I did not save….so can not credit. But my conscience is untroubled, because if you research online squash casseroles you get many variations close to the one I have used. So….it is not exactly copywritten. Happy cooking!
        Update: if you type recipe in the search engine for my blog you can find both of these recipes.


  7. What a nice transformation! I like the handles and the colours 🙂
    I always say it’s the last time when I sand a piece of furniture, but now I’m refinishing an old kid’s chair to make a plant stand. I hope it’s going to be adorable, otherwise my poor hands won’t ever forgive me.


    1. I completely understand!!! It has been 3 weeks since I finished the dresser and 1) I still have some hand muscle constriction issues and 2) I still have some skin issues from the chiggers. I hope to see a photo of the completed plant stand. Can you post a link here?


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