Before & After Dresser to Buffet Transformation

Before & After Dresser to Buffet Transformation

Today I’ve got a big ole project to share with you!  It involved a little luck with timing, and a lot of guesswork and prayers on matching stains. 

I received a Facebook message with a picture of this Stanley dresser, asking if I would be interested in purchasing it. 

Dresser to Buffet Transformation Before

She offered it at a great deal, and I couldn’t resist.  It was vintage, solid wood, had great details.  I didn’t even know the manufacturer was Stanley at that point, but if I had, that would have been even more incentive to buy it. 

I had been working with a potential new client to locate a buffet for a few days at that point.  I forwarded the Stanley dresser picture to her, thinking she might think I was crazy.  It was in pretty rough shape, and some people can’t get past how a piece looks to how it could look.  But my client had the vision, and decided this was her new buffet.  Yay! 

She selected this piece from my portfolio as the inspiration for colors and finishes. 

Farmhouse China Cabinet furniture upcycle

Stripping & Staining the Top

I had some concerns over stripping the top, thinking it might be too dinged up to come out well.  But that actually wasn’t the problem.  The problem was the top turned out to be a slab of pine with maple veneer over it. 

But let me back up a second, and tell you that I used Citristrip to remove the old stain.  I brush it on in a thick layer with a chip brush, and cover it with plastic wrap.  The next day or a few hours later, I scrape off the old goo. Mineral spirits remove any residue, and then some sanding.

The maple top had gorgeous grain and took stain really well.  The pine edges, not so much.  I posted this picture on my Facebook page, and put out a cry for help to fellow furniture refinishers.

Before & after dresser to buffet transformation edge issue

I got some good suggestions along the lines of trying gel stain, and using lots of layers of stain.  Which is exactly what I ended up doing.  The solution was a traditional oil stain in red oak, layered with Dixie Belle No Pain Gel Stain in walnut.  I allowed it to dry between coats, and just kept alternating and adding stain until it was pretty similar to the maple.  Problem solved!

The top was sealed with 2 coats of Clear Coat in Satin for durability.

buffet top

Painting the Base

For the base, I first applied Dixie Belle BOSS.  This stands for Blocks Odors, Stains and Stops Bleed through.  I used it for its stain blocking properties, since I was painting a pure white color called Cotton over it. 

The industry standard product for this purpose is shellac.  While that works great, the problem with shellac is it is pretty toxic and smells terrible.  BOSS has very little smell, and its more natural.  And after this first time using it, I can also report it blocks stains just as well as shellac too.  You brush it on just like paint, and clean up with mild soap and water.  It also dries a little cloudy, so you can see if you’ve missed any spots.

Since the drawer pulls were being replaced with ring pulls, I filled the existing holes with wood filler, let them dry and sanded smooth with 220 grit sand paper. 

Then I brushed on two coats of Cotton white paint to the base, drawers and door.  It only takes about an hour for the first coat of this chalk mineral paint to dry, so you can move through projects pretty quickly.


The next step is where I went a little off-course.  I assumed my client would like a bit of distressing around the edges of this piece.  The inspiration piece had some, and that’s my usual aesthetic, so I figured she was on board.  I distressed, and then staged and photographed this piece which is what you see here. 

buffet transformation

However, when I sent her this picture she was pretty hesitant about the distressing.  She was just as sweet as pie about it, and I think she felt awful for saying anything.  But she was totally right to speak up.  I want her to love the finished product!  Not be reminded every time she looks at it that she doesn’t love distressing. 

I don’t have a photo of how it looked when I un-distressed it, because I truly loved it distressed and that was the photo I wanted in my portfolio.  But it was still beautiful her way, and customized to her taste. 

Before & after dresser to buffet transformation

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6 thoughts on “Before & After Dresser to Buffet Transformation”

  1. I have an old coffee table I want to redo. It will be my first piece. I want a distressed look in cream. Do I first paint the cream color, distress then put a stain all over it?

    • Hi Amy,
      Usually for a distressed look, you start with whatever dark stain or paint color you want showing through your cream. So you paint/stain that first, then paint cream over it and then sand back around the edges so you can see the dark paint/stain. Hope that helps! xo, Shannon

  2. Hi, I was wondering if I could use buff for the paint and then do a stained wash over it, I guess it’s called antiquing? What would that look like? This would be my first project. Also, how much paint would I need for a piece the size of this buffet? Thanks.

    • Hi Diane,
      If you check out some recent posts on Tracey’s Fancy’s Facebook page, she did a really ornate bed in Drop Cloth and did a darker wash over it. One 16 oz container of your main color, and an 8 oz container of the “wash” color should be plenty. Thanks for your question!

  3. With this buffet did you use wax over the white to seal and the clear coat of satin over the stained area? Also do you prefer easy peasy spray wax over best dang wax? I have an entire bedroom set I will be doing n Cotton white.

    • Hi Robin, I didn’t seal the paint at all. Dixie Belle paint is self-sealing and cures hard in 30 days. As long as you use the furniture lightly until then, you will be fine. I used the satin clear coat on the stained top. I would recommend a clear coat over stain if you are staining at all. If you prefer to use a top coat over paint, the Easy Peasy wax is a great option. It’s quick and requires less elbow grease. Best Dang wax is also beautiful and durable, but be sure to buff it after 15 minutes so it doesn’t stay tacky. Let me know if you have more questions. I’d love to see your progress if you want to share!


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