Family-Friendly Furniture Revitalization

Mid century modern dresser refinished with red lacquer


While historic homes can be charming and full of character, they often lack amenities now considered essential—for example, closet space (ugh...the many curses of consumerism). Faced with this design dilemma, one of our clients decided against renovating in favor of a case piece that could provide the functionality of a hall closet and make a bold statement at the entrance to their stylish home. A dresser with several drawers would be the perfect place to store the objects they habitually needed when running out—keys, sunglasses, hats, kids shoes, light layers, reusable grocery bags, etc.  With a clear idea of the style and scale of the piece they wanted, they turned to Chairish to find this classic mid-century modern dresser from a local seller (using the site's fantastic pushed search functionality).

mid century modern dresser before restoration

Revitalization Checklist

  • Sand to remove existing protective finish
  • Wax drawer glides to improve open/close function
  • Structural integrity: very solid, well-built piece

Prior to making an offer on this piece, our client asked the seller for additional details on its condition. Many vintage pieces have “sticky” drawers that make them hard to open/close. In well-built furniture, the drawer glides are often made of wood, which expands, contracts and warps over time—all it takes is a simple waxing of the glides or placement of an adhesive waxed strip. 

Design Decisions

Eager to emphasize the modern lines of the piece while doing away with its stale wood exterior, our client opted for a fresh twist on a classic style: painting the dresser a bright color. Because of the high use (by young “spirited” children, no less) the finish on this piece needed to be extra durable. Automotive paint was an excellent solution. Yes, the same paint that is used on our cars and trucks. While traditional lacquer is indeed durable, automotive paint takes the cake for withstanding the bangs and bumps that frequent use can inflict. With a budding car aficionado in the family, our client chose a high gloss, red finish—Rosso Corsa, to be exact, the classic Ferrari red.

mid century modern dresser after restoration | red lacquered dresser

And the best part of the process? Because our client had already decided on the design for this dresser, they avoided one leg of delivery. Revitaliste picked up the dresser directly from the Chairish seller and transported it to our workroom. A few weeks later the beautifully revitalized piece was delivered to their home. Now that's seamless revitalization!

Restored mid century modern dresser with wallpaper lined drawers

Things To Consider

  • Lining drawers with fabric or wallpaper adds a fun and unexpected element of style to a piece.
  • Nothing is indestructible - even automotive paint can be chipped or scratched.
  • The higher the sheen of the finish, the more visible the irregularities of the furniture surface. Likewise, fingerprints from little hands are more noticeable. The best way to clean automotive finished pieces is with a non-abrasive cloth—similar to the way you’d polish a car. 
  • It's important to start a furniture painting project with a “stable” foundation—cutting corners (e.g. not removing the undercoat) might save you money in the short term but can impact the quality of your piece in the long term. Heed the advice of an artisan about removing an existing finish.

Timeless lines reimagined in a vibrant color make a great first impression when entering the home. In this project, practicality and design mix for a winning combination.

Interested in collaborating to create your dream dresser? Get in touch for a design consultation or an estimate