This is what it looked like when I bought it. It has good bones, just needed some TLC.
It had quite a few scratches and would have required a lot of sanding to get the wood looking like it did originally. Sanding is my least favorite part of re-finishing a wood piece. That's why I like painting and distressing. It's so much easier and faster! And you don't need to worry about more scratches from use. You won't be able to tell.
You won't notice the damage on the legs once the piece is complete.
This was my inspiration picture. This is a Habersham Kitchen. I like the french gray color of the cabinets, but I didn't want to go as heavy on the distressing.
DAY 1/STEP 1: Take off all the hardware. Number the drawers and the hardware with a piece of painters tape and a sharpie. Some of these old pieces where made by hand. The drawers are not universal to each slot and it's a guessing game getting them back in the right one. I have learned this trick the hard way.
I love this handy little battery operated Ryobi drill my parents gave me for Christmas last year. Perfect for small jobs like this one. It packs a lot of power, it's light weight, and fits perfectly in a woman's hand.
DAY 1/STEP 2: Lightly sand the whole piece. I used 150 grit (because that's what I had) just to get the sheen off. I hate sanding so I don't do a great job at it. Saw dust makes me cough. You don't need to be meticulous with this painting technique.
See what I mean? I didn't do a very thorough sanding job.
DAY 1/STEP 3: Combine priming and painting into one step by tinting your primer the desired color. If you don't feel you can do this step, have the paint store tint the primer for you. My favorite primer is made by Zinsser. I paint a lot. Over the years I have purchased Universal Paint Tints. I often mix my own colors for a project like this because it saves me a trip to the store and I am able to use up left over paint. Other than the cost of the dresser, I had everything else in my garage. This can of primer was half way full so I decided to mix the color in the can.
(Apply two coats and let the piece dry over night before the next sanding.)
DAY 2/STEP 5: I added another thin coat of glaze at this point to add depth. The glaze is a little lighter than the french gray base coat. It's optional. I made the glaze with 1 part glaze, 1 part water, one part tinted primer left over from the first day, and a little extra white paint. I did a dry brush technique and went back and wiped some of the glaze off.
DAY 2/STEP 6: You are almost done! I borrowed one of my husbands shoe polishes in brown and a soft brush to apply the polish to all the detailed areas of the wood. I used an old tooth brush to get the polish into the recessed areas. Sand off most of the polish residue with steel wool. You can use a brown glaze or furniture wax instead of shoe polish. It's just what I had on hand and I ran out of glazing liquid. The wax gives the top a light protective coat. Wear gloves or your cuticles will turn brown.
DAY 2/STEP 7: Put the pulls and hinges back on and you are done!