Reimagining a Vintage Mid-Century Dresser

Vintage dresser refinished in custom ebony wood stain | Revitaliste San Francisco & Los Angeles

As one of our favorite design and lifestyle blogs, Apartment 34 presents a sophisticated aesthetic and wonderful inspiration for intentional modern living. So, when Apartment 34 founder, Erin Hiemstra, and her interior designer, Lauren Nelson, approached us to discuss revitalizing a fabulous vintage dresser for Erin’s own master bedroom makeover, we were delighted. They had found an affordable vintage dresser with beautiful, architectural lines but the wrong finish for the aesthetic they were envisioning for Erin’s bedroom. Providing us with inspiration images of the desired finish, they entrusted Revitaliste to bring their vision to life and create a one-of-a-kind showstopper to anchor a corner of her master bedroom. Our skilled artisans got to work to create a custom finish for this special wood refinishing project, and soon the unique dresser befitting a classic San Francisco Victorian home was reborn.

BEFORE: a basic stain begs for the special treatment

Vintage furniture restoration San Francisco Bay Area & Los Angeles


Taking the finish from basic to exceptional was the key to makeover this vintage dresser.

  1. The wood was stripped, bleached (to remove the orange-y hues of the wood) and thoroughly sanded — preparation is of the utmost importance to prepare the surface to accept a new finish

  2. The custom wood finish is comprised of an ebony stain with a custom glaze, and sealed with a matte clear coat

  3. We polished the brass drawer pulls, removing the patina to achieve a chic and sexier look

  4. Finally, the drawer glides were waxed to improve slide function


AFTER: a standout dresser is revealed through revitalization

Vintage furniture restoration San Francisco Bay Area & Los Angeles

We chatted with Erin Hiemstra to learn more about her revitalization experience and inspiration:


Why did you decide to revitalize this vintage dresser?

EH: I am putting the final touches on a five-year renovation of a historic Victorian in San Francisco's Bayview neighborhood. Sadly, my master bedroom has been the most neglected room of the project, but it was finally time for that to change. I worked with Lauren Nelson of Lauren Nelson Design to create an elevated, yet comfortable, master bedroom design to create the grownup space I've always longed for. Lauren's team found a stunning dresser that was very architectural, but sadly very out of my budget. We thought all hope was lost until we found a vintage dresser with very similar details and thought why don't we just refinish the dresser to fit our original design vision? Enter Revitaliste. We were able to get the look we wanted much more affordably.


Tell us the dresser's backstory...

EH: We had seen a dresser in a very dark stain on the site Decaso, a great resource for beautifully curated vintage furniture. Sadly the dark dresser was drastically out of my budget. But then we discovered the the manufacturer of the dresser, John Stuart, had also made a walnut version that was substantially less expensive. Rather than sacrifice the original vision, I bought the walnut version with the hope we could still get the look we were after.


What inspired you, and your designer, to create the vision for the end result?

EH: I think one of the things that really makes a room stand out is unique furniture pieces. Sure something purchased from CB2 or Ikea will look just fine, but it won't look exceptional. We really wanted to create a room that felt one of a kind, and you need standout pieces to achieve that. This dresser serves as one of those pieces for our master bedroom — but you'll have to wait to see the whole room for awhile.


What was it like working with Revitaliste?

EH: Working with Revitaliste was great as they took the headache out of managing the logistics of getting a piece refinished. From managing the shipping and delivery from the seller, to working with expert refinishers to get the job done, Revitaliste offers a turnkey process. Communication through the online portal made it seamless, and I'm very happy with the end result! Now to finish the rest of the room!

Vintage furniture refinishing in San Francisco Bay Area & Los Angels

Thank you to Erin Hiemstra, Apartment 34, and Lauren Nelson Design for the opportunity to collaborate on this beautiful revitalization project!


Wondering how to refinish your vintage dresser? Start by requesting a refinishing quote here.


“after” photos courtesy of Erin Hiemstra