dresser makeover: whitewashed weathered look

If you follow me over on Instagram, you know that I’ve been on a journey with a beautiful maple dresser I bought off of Facebook marketplace a few weeks back.


Obviously this piece is GORGEOUS but I wasn’t in love with the finish. It really brought out all the oranges in my floor and in the wood. Since the rest of my home is more craftsman + cottage + coastal, I kept feeling like it just didn’t quite fit in the way I wanted. I took a poll on Instagram about what I should do and it was a hands down vote to "NOT TOUCH IT.”

But I let it sit a few weeks and really pondered over what to do. I knew I didn’t love it, so despite the vote I decided to try something new. I didn’t want to necessarily paint it, (although FRIENDS, it would have been so much easier and faster!) but I wanted the warmth of wood without the orange.

So I decided to try giving it a whitewashed, weathered look.

A friend recommended I follow The Coastal Oak and watch some of her tutorials and it really got my brain spinning with ideas. She beached and stained her bedroom suite and it really turned out nice. I also pinned a lot of ideas over on my Furniture Facelift board.


The good news was that my dresser didn’t have a varnish so I wouldn’t need to use a stripper to remove the first layer. So one Saturday I took a drawer out into the carport and sanded it down to the original wood.


Already so much better, am I right?! The game was on!

I sanded all the drawers and then took the dresser frame on the front porch to start sanding it down too.


I used a round orbiter sander for the bulk of it and then a small detail sander to get in the nooks and cracks.

I also bought a sanding block for the detail areas too. I used 150 grit on everything.


Next it was time to bleach the wood.


I used straight up household bleach (undiluted), poured it into a bowl and used a rag to wipe a good coat of bleach over the wood being careful not to let any pool up in one spot.

Then you let it completely dry before applying the next coat. I let the wood dry for about 45 minutes between coats. I did two coats of bleach on everything.


Then I sanded everything back down again the next day. Once I was confident I didn’t need another coat of bleach and I liked how the wood was bleaching, I used a solution of 25% white distilled vinegar and 75% water in a cup and wiped it over everything once just to neutralize the bleach action happening on the wood. Bleach is super strong so it would have continued to eat away at the wood unless you use this vinegar solution.


Now it was decision time.

Some people would stain the wood at this point, but I wanted more of a whitewashed look so I researched other ways to seal it and keep it light colored. I didn’t want the orange coming back.


I love all of Miss Mustard Seed’s products so when I remembered she had a white wax, I quickly purchased some and checked my mailbox every day until it came today!


Alright — honest moment with you guys — even though I was convinced this was the look I wanted, when I started applying the wax I started to panic! It was something new and I didn’t know if I was gonna love the result or not. I’ve learned that whenever I feel this way during a project, I am letting perfection and my intolerance for mistakes control my heart.

So I took a deep breath and decided that even if I hated it, I could always sand it back down and start over. This is all about the journey and learning more with every project. As Nesting With Grace says, “It’s not about perfection, it’s about better than before!”

Here is the coat of White Wax on the piece.


The main thing that was tripping me up about the wax finish was the blotchy-ness and almost lavender-y color. I literally sat in the floor staring at this piece like “what am I gonna do now?”

Then I had an idea. I grabbed my sanding block again and lightly went over the whole piece again to help distribute the wax. And I was in LOVE!

I added the new knobs I bought at Hobby Lobby and…


What. A. Labor. Of. Love.

I told my husband multiple times during this process that I am always painting furniture from here on out because it is so much easier — but this was such a good challenge for me. It took me out of my comfort zone, I got to wrestle with some insecurities, and I have this lovely piece to look at for the rest of my life! Ha!

It feels like a breath of fresh air for me and I’m really proud of the result. Let me know what you think!