Laurel Street Blog

Request for Proposal – WWYD?

Posted on: January 29, 2010

WWYD = What Would You Do?

This Cherry wood dresser was part of my childhood bedroom furniture set. It came out of my Grandmother’s attic when I old enough to have my own room. It’s from the 1930’s or 40’s and it wonderfully made – dovetail drawer joints – and it has seen me through many moves, many different apartments.

I stripped off the old beat up varnish from the whole set during early high school years, but I never put stain or polyurethane back on it after it was stripped. I liked the natural wood back back then, but it’s not doing anything for me now.

I thought an easy update would be new hardware to replace the old wooden knobs, remove the little bumpy decorative details from the corners, then I would paint it. But something funny always happens when I take a picture of something, as I did this morning for this post. I see things completely differently than I do in ‘real life.’

The knobs will go for new hardware but my question is: What would you do? Paint it or stain and varnish it?

Check these wondrous painted creations… first up a WONDERFUL and stylish Norwegian/English blog you may not know about B-Living (Beautiful Living).

Loving the stripes

Or this little number from the fabulous Jamie at I Suwannee blog fame (second image after Rowdy #2  & Pizza):

Cheek pinching is in order

So I need your opinions PLEASE! Stain and a finish or a fun paint treatment?

22 Responses to "Request for Proposal – WWYD?"

Hi! I always admire fine paint jobs, particularly if a piece is in horrible disrepair. BUT yours is in perfect condition so my vote would be to stain and finish it! I think some great new hardware (which can offer a whole new look) and a nice new finish would be absolutely stunning. PLUS, it goes beautifully with that elegant wood mirror above it. AND…since it’s a family piece, I think you’ll never regret preserving the wood finish as it’s so classic and timeless. So that’s my vote!! ; ) xoxoTrina

I agree with Trina. And the only wood I would paint is junky pine, but that will probably get you no where in the decorating world… Your set of drawers is a classic piece of furniture which when refinished will look amazing.

Another one that agrees with Tina and don’t cut off the knobby things either. It’s a beautiful piece.

I’d stain it, for sure. I’m looking forward to seeing your finished product!

I agree, although if you are really feeling the itch to paint, maybe lime it, which is gaining popularity again. Then if in ten years you are over it, so can strip it so much more easily than paint! It’s a beautiful piece AND a family heirloom, so lucky!

I’m all for painted furniture (I have 2 paint jobs waiting to be done, as suggested by Jamie), but with this piece, I wouldn’t. I think a dark stain with new hardware would be lovely.

I have the same piece! Well, okay, not the same, same, piece, but a sweet little dresser that my husband’s grandmother gave him many years ago. Of course I knew it desperately needed paint, but then like you, I saw it in a photo over Christmas and had an epiphany. (In an effort toward full disclosure, I’ll confess that this was not all self-revelation; my mom actually saw the photo and called to ask when I had bought the pretty piece. Hunh.) Now, seeing it with new eyes, I love it!

These are the knobs I have in mind to replace the existing wooden ones on our dresser, (I think they’d look good on yours, too!):,43520,43521,43559

Good luck!

Thanks Melissa! Funny how that works – I’ll check out the new knobs!

New nobs…and MAYBE stain it. But with new hardware, it may surprise you and give new life to the existing color! : )

I agree with staining it as opposed to painting, unless it is really damaged. It’s a beautiful, and probably very well made piece of furniture and if you can keep it in its original color, that would be fantastic.

New hardware for sure. Maybe if you do that it’ll lead you in the right direction. I’m leaning toward staining/refinishing and I rather like the bumpies on the side!

I say do a combo of both!

I would leave the top as is and stain it. Any shade you want.

Then for the bottom I would paint the stripes. I prefer the thinner/closer together stripes like in B-living.

If you don’t want to paint then do the stripes in stain! I would go for an espresso type stripe and then another stain closer to the actual color of the wood or leave that wood as is.

Hope that helps!

As much as I like painted finshes, I’m afraid it will be something you may regret later on a family piece. None of them were good pieces, but when I think of the stuff I slathered white paint on during the Shabby Chic days, I shudder. But, if you want a different look than just staining, how about bleaching the wood and then maybe liming it or applying a grey stain for a vaguely swedish look?

I agree with the non painting. I love the little beaded detail at the corner, so I hope you don’t get rid of them….and I like the knobs, but that would be the easiest thing to change up if you really wanted to.

Honey, I KNOW. Photos are new eyes sometimes! Check out what my friend does to her pieces, you might get some ideas:


If it weren’t a family heirloom, I’d say paint it up. But, it’s from the family, so I wouldn’t paint it. I’d instead stain it a dark brown and get some very simple crystal knobs to go along with it. Just my two cents. :)

Stain it. And I’m a paint girl saying this. I lacquered a beautiful dresser my parents passed down to me and I adore the look but truth be told, I didn’t have much of a choice as it was so badly damaged. And if that is a pic of your home (I suspect it is though I’m new to your blog and not even sure how I found you but I will be back!), a very dark stain will look fantastic. I am voting for keeping the knobs as well. Changing them with a dark stain could actually date the look. One girl’s opinion.

BTW, great wordpress blog. I know firsthand their templates aren’t very flexible so I’m impressed!


If you paint it, I will slap you into next week.

Dark stain and fabulous knobs.

I love painted furniture, but I wouldn’t do it here. I’d stain it and change the hardware. It is a beautiful piece.

Since I’m not a designer by any means, my vote won’t count, but that piece is so charming that I would stain it and change the knobs. I like the knobs Melissa suggested, too. Are you swaying towards painting it with stripes? That would look fab, too! I just know, whatever you do will be beautiful!

Nathan, I would work on the varnish and just change the knobs. (Just because the lines of your piece are simple. You don’t need to hide it – it can fit in anywhere. (Plus you have some great nostalgia going on there)!. I am in the same kind of dilemma with a chest that has a lot more ornamentations. My great antique restorer will have it painted in a black glossy sheen and the hardware will be replaced with round, elegant pulls (maybe lion rings). Every room needs something black and this will now be my black bedside table. I will share pics with you when I am done. xx Monika

I’m a hardcore furniture painter, but this piece, I’m not sure. I like Mitchell’s gray stain suggestion a lot if that would work somewhere for you. I also like the idea of staining the top and painting everything else.

I could also see just restaining it dark and adding some shiny hardware. Simple and pretty.

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Laurel Street Blog

Nate and Louis

Well, hey there. I'm Nathan and this is the Laurel Street Blog. It's a place for talking about design, decor and DIY (with small amounts of snarkery snuck in). I'm a pretty restless guy who loves house projects and lives in a 150+ year old cottage on Laurel Street in New Orleans. Since the house always has something going on with it (or falling off of it) I'm subsequently blessed with a never-ending supply of Web content to share. Oh - and you can drop me a line anytime Enjoy!

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