Industrial Rustic Dresser

by Chris on August 20, 2013

If you’ll remember, I redid my son’s tween bedroom last year. I loved it, and Better Homes and Gardens was all, “We love it too!” However, my dirty little secret is that I never quite finished it. His dresser was left in its golden-honey state, and we just pretended it wasn’t there. I knew exactly what I wanted to do to it, but I never wanted to actually do it. Make sense? So here’s a little before for ya.

Dresser before

And the ga-gorgeous after!Diy rustic dresser

I partnered up with 3MDIY.comas one of their experts to show how I did this project. I’m a big proponent of “safety first”, so using their gear is something that comes natural to me. Fumes, dust particles, and noise can really take its toll if you’re not protected.


I think sanding is one of the messiest DIY jobs, so I went in fully prepared! Two things you might notice about this picture. 1. Apparently, my thumb is double-jointed. I did not know this, but it was quickly pointed out to me by my friend Cassie. 2. I’m smiling. Behind a mask.

Safety first

Step 1: S-A-N-D for what feels like years. I used the following materials:

3M Tekk Protection Work Tunes Hearing Protectors
3M Tekk Protection Holmes Premium Safety Glasses
3M Tekk Protection Valved Respirator
3M Advanced Abrasives Sanding sheets starting out with 80 for stripping down to 220 for smoothing.

Sanded dresser CR2Step 2: Age the wood. 

    • Tea bags (any kind)
    • Vinegar (I used regular, but you can use apple vinegar as well)
    • 000 Steel wool pads
    • bucket
    • brush 

did some research online and found a little science experiment turned finishing method. I boiled some tea (three cups, but it was over-kill). When it cooled, I just brushed it on the wood. It won’t do anything to the wood. Once it dries, you won’t even notice you did anything. The night before, I had torn up some of the wool pads and poured the vinegar in a bucket with them. The next day, the mixture looks disgusting, but it works. After applying the tea, I brushed on the vinegar/wool pad mixture. It will start to change the wood right in front of your eyes.Tea stain

How to age wood

It will immediately start turning gray! The only problem with this is that it was just too gray. I wanted some brown tones to it to match the pallet wall I had done in my son’s room.

Aging wood

I used some Rustoleum American Walnut stain, and it was exactly the look I was going for. I didn’t let it soak on at all. I brushed it on and wiped it off immediately so the gray tones would seep through just a bit. Staining dresser

And now for the easy part! Whew! Never thought I’d love painting so much! Using some ScotchBlue™™ Painter’s Tape, I taped off the drawer fronts. Scotchblue tape CR2

I had some leftover paint from my son’s headboard, so I used it on the drawer fronts to match. It’s Benjamin Moore’s Black Beauty. I love it because it has a bit of a chalky look to it.

Painting dresser drawers

When the paint was applied, I used Miss Mustard Seed’s furniture wax. It’s my absolute favorite ’cause it gives it a gorgeous muted sheen, and it smells wonderful.

Miss mustard seed wax

Rustic dresser

I found the knobs at Hobby Lobby, and they were the entire reason I stained the outside and painted the drawers instead of vice versa. It was much more pain-staking, but MUCH more worth it.

Aged wood dresser

Aged wood dresser1

Visit 3MDIY.comfor some other incredible projects, and you’ll soon see me in their “Experts Corner”! Connect with3M DIY Twitter Page3M DIY Facebook Page3M DIY YouTube Page

This post is a collaboration with 3M DIY. To keep up-to-date on projects, products and sampling visit



Yvonne August 20, 2013 at 10:41 pm

This is truly gorgeous. I love the stain you achieved and the Black Beauty. Is that flat paint? It gives off a beautiful effect and reminds me of my current favorite tinted black, Napoleon.

Rhonda August 20, 2013 at 11:11 pm

Gorgeous! I love the wood stain you applied – I bet it’ll match that pallet wall perfectly!

Courtney {a thoughtful place} August 20, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Gasp. You rock. I never would have thought of doing it that way. It looks awesome. It’s hard to believe it’s the same dresser. The hardwork paid off. And the IG thread that is spurred was pretty epic as well.

Cindy August 20, 2013 at 11:51 pm

Oh my…gorgeous!!

Jenny@EvolutionofStyle August 21, 2013 at 6:46 am

Oh my goodness Chris – I love this so much! It is so classic and cool all at the same time. What a gorgeous look! I would never guess it was the same dresser (or that I could transform it into something so industrial chic!) Great job!

Sarah August 21, 2013 at 10:02 am

This is such a transformation!! I love it…every detail is amazing. Thanks for the DIY steps as well. I might just need to copy this one:)

Beckie August 21, 2013 at 11:30 am

I had to come back and stare at it again. And I have a golden honey dresser that is begging for this treatment. And guess where it is…in my son’s room.

Mary August 21, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I love the look. So, the tea treatment is a necessary step? Thanks!

kim August 21, 2013 at 2:20 pm

WOW! I love this and will be trying it the next time I get my hands on a dresser that needs a redo! Just wondering what the tea does to it? Thanks

Stacy Risenmay August 21, 2013 at 2:51 pm

It turned out AMAZING!!! Totally worth all the time you put into it. Stunning!

Shayna @ The Wood Grain Cottage August 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Absolutely terrific! Such a fabulous makeover! :)

Libby Boyle August 21, 2013 at 6:07 pm

The dresser looks fantastic. I love the contrast between the drawers and the body. You must be so happy.

Mindy August 21, 2013 at 7:44 pm

I LOVE this! After I saw yours, I immediately thought it would be fun to do the same with my 4 year old’s dresser, but use chalk paint on the drawers. And then I came to my senses and realized what a terrible idea it is to allow a 4 year old to put chalk all over something that is supposed to contain clean clothes!

jessica @fourgenerationsoneroof August 21, 2013 at 8:25 pm

Very nice Miss Chris! Love the color :)

Jen August 21, 2013 at 11:31 pm

Love it like crazy! That two tone effect is amazing, and I am totally crushing on the pretty wood tone paired with the chalky colored paint. Way to go girl!


Michelle @ Ten June August 23, 2013 at 8:49 am

I can’t even handle how good this. Bravo!

cassie {hi sugarplum} August 23, 2013 at 9:17 am

Wow oh wow!! You are dang good, girl!! That is a s@$t-ton of work!!! Glad you and your thumb worked it out, and I’m thrilled I could be the one to enlighten you on ‘your situation’ :)

Seriously, that looks amazing!

Kayla @KRDixonDesigns August 23, 2013 at 11:58 am

What an AMAZING transformation!!! I am just loving the grey effect the will and vinegar made into the wood! Just discovered your blog through Instagram!!! Love all your projects!!!


Carmel August 23, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Totally worth all the work! What a great combo and I love those knobs!

Chris August 26, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thank you, friend! The knobs are my favorite too.

Serena @ Thrift Diving August 23, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Chris, what a beautiful job! You know, I did a staining project on a chair recently (my first STRIPPING job–ugh!), and I loved the stained wood so much that I’m dying to do another project like it soon. Seeing your dresser inspires me :) Great job! :)

Thrift Diving

Chris August 26, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thank you, Serena! I sure love the look of natural wood, but it’s a pain to remove the paint! Just glad it turned out. :)

Cindy August 23, 2013 at 1:19 pm

I love this, Chris. I think I need some of those Work Tunes Hearing Protectors! You what’s funny? I just posted today about using apple cider vinegar and steel wool. :) xo

Cindy August 23, 2013 at 1:20 pm

You *know what’s funny
Can’t disappoint the English teacher.

Chris August 26, 2013 at 6:56 pm

Ha! Love the correction…but you wouldn’t disappoint. :)

DesignedByBH August 23, 2013 at 1:35 pm

I love this! I like the drawers being painted and the rest “stained”–I actually don’t think it would look right the other way around. (For the record, I also love the safety glasses!)

Chris August 26, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Well thank you for the vote of confidence. I certainly went back and forth on it. :)

Sarah August 23, 2013 at 2:37 pm

Found you via the Haven FB page. Love this! That black paint is fantastic with the stain.

Chris August 26, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Thank you, Sarah! I’m so glad you stopped by! :)

Jena @ Involving Color and Home August 23, 2013 at 9:35 pm

Oh wow, Chris, what a difference! I love the two toned look. You did a great job!

Chris August 26, 2013 at 6:55 pm

Thank you, Jena!! I’m so glad it turned out. :)

Dria August 23, 2013 at 11:54 pm

This came out fantastic! I love the two tone! This looks like something you would see in a high end magazine, you did a beautiful job!

Chris August 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Thank you so much, Dria! What a compliment!

Kate August 26, 2013 at 6:27 pm


I can’t wait to try this! A couple of quick questions — How many steel wool pads did you use? And how much vinegar?

Thank you for an amazing blog!

Chris August 26, 2013 at 6:54 pm

Kate, I used way too many! I tore up a couple of pads and poured enough vinegar to cover them. I had a ton of solution left over. I would bet one pad and enough vinegar to soak it? Thank you for your kind words and good luck!

Christine August 26, 2013 at 9:22 pm

I don’t think people understand the purpose of tea. It’s not like fabric, where it colors. Tea adds tannins to the wood, to which vinegar or baking soda/water reacts. It creates the gray tones so desired in the finish! Pine and cedar are highly tannic woods, so they don’t need it. Maple, mahogany, oak, etc., are not.

The steel wool in vinegar creates an ebonizing stain. The longer you leave the steel wool in the vinegar, the blacker the wood will turn. Say, oh, 3 months? Immediately BLACK. Ask me how I know…

I’ve given up the extra steps with all this hoo-ha. :) I use Rustoleum’s Sunbleached with the same dark walnut you used on top. It makes the most gorgeous color, very similar to what you’ve done here on this gorgeous dresser.

Beautiful job.

west furniture revival September 1, 2013 at 10:26 pm

I would love to feature your dresser, I love the way it turned out, please let me know if this would be ok,

Kim @ Plumberry Pie September 6, 2013 at 9:15 am

WOW, WOW, WOW! Don’t know how I missed this post. I’m a bit behind in everything these days. Anyhow, glad I caught it over at Perfectly Imperfect. Shoot, dog, this is awesome! I love that stain effect, tucking that in my brain for later…but I’m totally the “I want this look, but don’t feel like doing gal” :) Have a great weekend!

karen@somewhatquirky September 6, 2013 at 8:11 pm

My thumbs turn backwards too. And my fingers. Love the way this dresser turned out.

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