MCM Dresser Graphic Paint Makeover

MCM Dresser Graphic Paint Makeover

It’s been so very hot lately which gets me thinking of the state of our environment. I try in my little ways to make a difference. Why not take a great old piece of MCM – Midcentury Modern furniture and give it a second chance. ‘Saves it going to landfill, saves the energy to make new furniture, saves your sanity as you are ‘crazy proud’ of your makeover and saves a chunk of cash, not to mention how absolutely cool this style is!

The Endless Options:

Yes, I now, there are a lot of makeover styles. I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to do. So I did what I do, turned to Photoshop and drafted some out. Think of lines that connect corners or midway marks. Triangles, chevrons, simple shapes… Draw on paper til you have one you like. I wanted a toned down accent as I didn’t want to tire of it too fast.


This piece was so cheap, and actually real wood. It is a Kroehler manufactured piece with great simple lines. No handles needed as the drawer sides have a lip for your fingers. Ok, ya, it had scratches, but mostly on the top and sides. That’s where the paint usually goes, so no ‘problemo’.


The Prep:

Just to be sure that the paint adheres I like to give it a scuff sanding where the paint will go, just to roughen a bit. A good damp cloth wipe down and clean and you are ready for paint. Drawer fronts were left original.


Drawers pulled out for outer shell painting.


The Painting:

And again, rather than investing in paint, I knew it wasn’t going to take much so I used what I had. Satin grey latex paint, a bit of extra black acrylic paint, and a trick!


Chalk painting has been the rage for a while. Instead of investing a bunch for it I make my own. I go to the winemaking store and buy CALCIUM CARBONATE. It is the ‘chalk’ (see my tutorial for painting everything white) and will help make your paint more opaque and add a harder finish. It is the mineral that makes seashells and egg shells. I added 2 tablespoons to 1 cup of paint. The key is that you mix it in very well. It will make the paint thicker, so if it’s just too globby, then add a touch of water.


I am ready with my colour choice and trusty roller sponge.


One pass and you see how much coverage it gives. (Move over Annie Sloane)


It goes on nice and quickly spreads. Don’t fret too  much if you get the odd speck of grit as you can do a small sanding between coats


No masking necessary as I used the roller for front edges only, as well as top and sides. The scratches were filled in quite nicely with this thick paint. That is the other great thing about MCM, the simple lines are easy to work with.


The Design:

I chose this design, which is using the middle points of drawers and sides. After a good clean, I masked off the lines. Check that they are straight with a long ruler, check symmetry.


As you can notice, I’ve been on a teal kick lately. So again I just mixed up some paint to my liking. Oh, you can do it, you will know when you have a colour that you like. I wanted it to be about the same darkness as the wood, but different colour. But there are no rules.


Give it a couple coats…


Carefully pull tape off at an angle to the edge, then less likely to pull off paint.


The Finish:

Voila! Good job! Now to give it the protection it needs.


I have fallen in love with the new ‘Nano’ technology in paint! The addition of aluminum oxide makes this product coat with a super hard finish. I used Nano Defence on the floors and figured why not give the dressers that extra added protection. It is also available in furniture grade.


It can be finicky as it is quite thin, dries super fast and likes to make bubbles. So go slow, smooth out the bubbles with restroking, but don’t go back once it’s too tacky. It will looky patchier wet than when it is dry. I prefer the satin finish, less shine shows less imperfection.


Being about as thick as milk, it likes to bubble. Just slowly stroke and keep vigorous brush work to a minimum. Thin coats are best.


Those white milky areas will dry clear. Also coat the grey latex areas as well. It will give it a great surface for the top and minimize chipping. Nano Defence can withstand dog claws when used on stairs, so it IS strong.


I bet you sweat a bit during the clear coat. But it was worth it! Awesome Job! Simple but unique.


Dress it up a bit… with a great concrete bowl, (hint hint) and you have a sleek modern design. No rocket science here. Bravo!


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  1. Another cool project. I envy how you always manage to find good quality project pieces. This morning I purchased a sample pot of turquoise for a project, but I think I like your turquoise tint better. May need to visit for a little re-tint HAHA.

    Thanks for sharing all your tips and tricks.

  2. Hi Barb.
    You’re a woman after my own heart. I did a piece last year with masking tape and home made chalk paint. You would find it on my website if you were interested. I like the simplicity of the geometric shapes, and I absolutely applaud the “no rules” approach you take. It is way too easy to be frightened off trying something. Just go for it.
    Keep up the good work. I’m bookmarking your page and will pop back from time to time.

    Love to all the re-freshers, re-users and re-purposers. Toby.

    1. Very nice work! I love the graphic lines! I teach ‘adults’ and the biggest hurdle is always their own voice in their head! I love the ‘grassie’ cans too! Yes, check back or subscribe, I don’t over post…