Oak dresser from the screened in porch – before and after!

Mar 31 2023
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Our fifth blog post from September 2015. This dresser takes me a lot farther back than my moving into this old farm house and starting this blog. For as long as I can remember it was always out in the screened in porch. Who knew one day I would be taking it home with me, my heart full of grief, after my Grandma passed? It was one of my very first projects. I don’t know what compelled me to tackle all of the furniture from the house (maybe too much HGTV?) but I wasn’t willing to give up any of it and it turned out that I absolutely loved the work.

That furniture refinishing adventure was actually the beginning of my turning my attention to this beautiful old home and starting the remodel of Grandma’s house. Of course all of the furniture came back here.

(Three dressers in our master bedroom, two dressers on our main floor, a radio stand and two dressers that became our bathroom vanities just to name a few!)

This old beauty is currently residing in our guest bedroom!

Bedroom Reveal - Completing my New Guest Bedroom Unisex Redesign! Adding a power grommet to the desk and redesigning the shelves and adding storage

Bedroom Reveal - Completing my New Guest Bedroom Unisex Redesign! Adding a power grommet to the desk and redesigning the shelves and adding storage

Its pretty amazing to read back and realize how much has changed here at Grandma’s house! Here is the original post:

This to me is my very best before and after when it comes to a save I made from the farm house. I would give anything to go back and get a good before picture of this beast.

Why don’t I have one you ask?

Because I’m a bull and I couldn’t wait to strip it so I just threw myself into the job the first chance I got and boom I had forgotten to take a before.

Seriously, the before picture should have been taken even before we cleared out the screened in porch because this beast was not even recognizable as a piece of furniture at that point.

No one knows where this oak dresser came from, nor does anyone know exactly how long it sat out on the screened in porch. Both my mother and aunt would agree that it had been there for as long as they could remember.

There is a rather good chance that this oak dresser may have even been in the house when my Grandparents moved in in the ’50s.

We just don’t know.

What I do know is that before it was moved to the screened in porch to experience all of the degrees of Minnesota weather, it had been painted white and a mirror (not its mirror) had been added to the back of it.

(Check out the jewelry hanger I made out of that old mirror’s frame!)

It may have had its own mirror once I only know that the mirror that had been added had fallen off at some point and was sitting behind it. The entire thing was so utterly covered in dirt that no one wanted to even touch it.

This is the kind of filth that’s hard to explain, dirt that is so old and so dense its like skin. But, I thought, what the hell, what have I got to lose? It wasn’t terribly heavy and, amazingly, the drawers worked and it seemed sturdy.

So, I took it home to see what I could do.

I started out by hosing this puppy off as I had no intention of touching that second skin of filth any more then I needed to. I mean, seriously, I don’t mind getting dirty but this thing was FILTHY.

Underneath the paint was what someone who likes shabby chic would probably have paid a fortune to achieve. It was utterly cracked, jagged, rather amazing actually. (This is when I should have taken the before picture.)

It came off in one quick stripping and became what you see in the picture below.

Underneath revealed solid oak.

With a couple of passes with my sander it looked brand new. I consider this old beast my greatest save/transformation but, amazingly, it was also one of my easiest.

It had seen so much weather that it sanded up really quickly and took stain in text book style. At first I had planned this for the third bathroom vanity in the house but it became so dear to my heart that I decided to keep it as a dresser.

I used this red oak stain by minwax and two coats of minwax polycrylic.

The hardware is off of amazon and its an absolutely awesome deal click here to check it out.

The knobs are heavy, really high quality and so little in cost compared to other hardware that I’ve seen that you’ll be seeing these pretty little knobs on just about everything in my house! We love how this oak dresser turned out!

Before and after of an oak dresser @GrandmasHousDIY

Before and after of an oak dresser @GrandmasHousDIY

Before and after of an oak dresser @GrandmasHousDIY

Before and after of an antique ancient oak dresser that I found out on my grandma's screened in porch refinished with red oak stain by minwax sanded sand diy do it yourself wood working


  1. February 24, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Wow, what a transformation! Thanks for adding your flair to the Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop! This post has been pinned to our group board.


  2. February 26, 2016 at 7:32 pm

    Marvelous! With the current trend to paint furniture I feared that was what I’d find here, but I’m so glad to see the beautiful finish! It’s just lovely.
    Blessings, Leigh

    • February 26, 2016 at 7:36 pm

      Leigh, thank you so much! When its solid wood like that I just have to stain ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. February 27, 2016 at 7:36 pm

    Wood beauty at its best!! Love how you upcycle that gorgeous dresser!
    Thank for sharing with us at #2usestuesday

  4. February 28, 2016 at 5:44 am

    This is gorgeous. I appreciate your courage in tackling such an icky job but you reign supreme. You did a terrific job. I saw your link at the Vintage Charm party.

    • February 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm

      Thank you Ann for stopping by and having a look!

  5. February 29, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    What a big undertaking! It turned out lovely! Your hard work really paid off! If you are interested in joining in one more party each week I host Making Broken Beautiful every Thursday thru Sunday and would be happy to host you. You do lovely work! I hope you have a great week!
    Making Broken Beautiful

    • February 29, 2016 at 5:09 pm

      Thank you Terry I will definitely do that!!

  6. March 2, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Oh my, Tarah–what an INCREDIBLE transformation! You sure are working your way through your grandmas’ treasures. You did a terrific job transforming this piece. I’m sure it has real pride of place in your home. Thanks so much for sharing it with us all at Vintage Charm ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. March 5, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Your painstaking work on the dresser paid off. Well done!

    • March 7, 2016 at 3:21 pm

      Thank you very much! ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. March 6, 2016 at 2:29 am

    Nothing is more beautiful than restored wood. This chest proves it. Lovely job!! Thanks so much for linking to Friday’s Furniture Fix. We love having you!!

  9. March 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm

    What a beautiful job. I love painted furniture but this piece is not meant for that. It looks lovely.

    • March 11, 2016 at 4:37 pm

      Yeah when I saw those stripes on the drawers I got so excited to see it stained! Thank you!

  10. Monique
    March 25, 2016 at 5:29 pm

    Visiting from Lost and Found Decor and saw this AMAZING transformation! I’m not sure I would have seen the beauty in this dresser.

    Beautifully done!

  11. April 21, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Wow, the transformation is gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing at Friday Favorites! I hope that you will join us again this week! Christine – Must Love Home

    • April 21, 2016 at 4:50 pm

      Thank you Christine! I’ll be there!

  12. April 29, 2016 at 5:59 pm

    Gorgeous!! Your work and vision TOTALLY paid off. Nicely done! ๐Ÿ™‚

    Found you via Sweet Inspirations!

  13. May 2, 2016 at 2:59 am

    What an amazing transformation!!! I love that you uncovered the beauty of this dresser and was able to restore it to its wonderful self!! You truly got a treasure in this dresser. Thanks for sharing at Sweet Inspiration!

  14. May 3, 2016 at 12:46 am

    I really love this dresser! Thanks for sharing at Meet up Mondays.

  15. May 4, 2016 at 1:00 am

    I love the transformation. I never paint good old oak furniture and I was a little scared to see if you had done that. Great job on bringing this piece back to life!

  16. May 6, 2016 at 3:30 pm

    Thank goodness you didn’t paint it. It came out too beautiful to cover with paint. Great Job!

  17. May 14, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    Hi Tarah,

    thanks so much for sharing your lovely chest of drawers on Wonderful Wednesday’s Link Party this week. I will be sharing it on next week’s link party as a feature!!
    Just beautiful….great job!

    Maxine @studiopaintdesign.com

    • May 16, 2016 at 3:20 pm

      Oh that’s awesome!! Thank you so much!

  18. May 17, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Amazing transformation!! So happy you restored this piece to its former glory! Thank you for linking up to #OMHGWW and so glad to have you as my feature this week! Pop by and grab your button! ๐Ÿ™‚ http://fromevijawithlove.com/2016/05/17/wonderful-wednesday-link-party-3-may/

  19. May 18, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    You have done such a great job indeed. The dresser is so beautiful. Classic, yet elegant. Thanks for joinin us on #OMHGWW ๐Ÿ™‚

  20. May 22, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    What a beautiful end result! Thanks for sharing at You’re Gonna Love it!

  21. May 24, 2016 at 2:32 pm

    Nice job!! Thanks for sharing at the DIY party on Pleasures of the NW

  22. May 31, 2016 at 1:44 am

    What a great makeover! Thank you for sharing. You are one of the features at the Make it Pretty Monday party at The Dedicated House. Her is the link to this week’s bash. http://www.thededicatedhouse.com/2016/05/make-pretty-monday-week-178.html Hope you have a lovely week!! Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse

  23. June 7, 2016 at 8:37 pm

    What a bonus to find that amazing dresser underneath all the filth! It’s gorgeous! xx

  24. June 9, 2016 at 6:58 pm

    I bet all that lovely dirt protected it! ๐Ÿ™‚ gwingal

    • June 10, 2016 at 3:43 pm

      lol Nikki I think you’re right!

  25. June 10, 2016 at 12:53 am

    My goodness – what a transformation!!!! Looks great and you know it will last forever! It already has!

  26. June 10, 2016 at 1:41 am

    Wonderful job. You have knack for these DIY projects.

    • June 10, 2016 at 3:44 pm

      Thanks Michelle for commenting and stopping by!

  27. June 10, 2016 at 4:13 pm

    The dresser looks brand new! You did an awesome job ๐Ÿ™‚


  28. June 11, 2016 at 10:48 pm

    What an amazing transformation. I love renewing old things. Please join us on Sunday’s Best Linkup, I would love for you to share your posts.

  29. June 12, 2016 at 4:47 pm

    Tarah, your dresser transformation is beautiful. What’s a little dirt to a girl with a hose, a sander and some mini wax ? How special to have this piece in your home. Thank you for sharing at Your Inspired Design Link Party.

    • June 13, 2016 at 5:42 pm

      Isn’t that the truth!? I do recall exclaiming last weekend to my husband though, “Why is it that everything I do is so dirty and gross?!” Thanks for coming by ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. June 14, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    This dresser is absolutely gorgeous1 And now it can be used for generations to come! Great job!

  31. June 14, 2016 at 6:37 pm

    Wow, what a transformation. I love the finished product. We don’t always need to paint furniture and it is true in this case.

    • June 14, 2016 at 7:00 pm

      Thank you Bev ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad I went to all the work of stripping this one instead of painting it!

  32. June 14, 2016 at 9:05 pm

    It is absolutely gorgeous! I am so glad you stained it! You did a beautiful job! Stopping by after seeing your post on “Tutorial Tuesday”! Thanks!

  33. June 15, 2016 at 4:00 pm

    Wow! This turned out so pretty! ๐Ÿ™‚

    I would love for you to share this with my Facebook Group for Recipes and Crafts: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pluckyrecipescraftstips/

    Thanks for joining Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

    • June 15, 2016 at 6:36 pm

      I will Jess! Thank you very much!

  34. June 17, 2016 at 12:32 am

    Great rehab on a classic piece! They just don’t make them like that anymore. Good stuff!
    Also, I’ve chosen to feature this post on the next Peace, love, link up! Thanks for linking with us! Be sure to grab a button and check out the post which goes live tomorrow at 6! : )

    • June 18, 2016 at 9:55 pm

      Ashleigh my gosh thank you so much!! Glad you liked it ๐Ÿ™‚ I was so excited when it turned out good lol sometimes you just never know!

  35. June 18, 2016 at 12:41 am

    Looks great!

  36. June 19, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    I think it’s either a generational or a midwest thing to have dressers and old furniture on the porch. One sat on my grandparents back porch right next to the chest freezer for years to store my grandma’s canning supplies.
    You did a wonderful job at restoring this treasure!
    Thank you so much for sharing it at the Monday Mish Mash Link Party!!

    • June 20, 2016 at 3:13 pm

      lol so true! Yup my Grandma had a chest freezer out there for years along with this dresser! Thank you!

  37. June 22, 2016 at 6:14 am

    Boy that is a treasure you’ve uncovered!! Thanks for sharing with us at Throwback Thursday!


  38. June 22, 2016 at 6:50 am

    What a great transformation.

    Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  39. June 22, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    That looks amazing! Well done! I would take an old all wood piece of furniture any day over the things that are now not made of wood. Thank you for sharing at Home Sweet Home!

  40. June 22, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    That looks amazing!! Great DIY and before and after…lol!! Thanks for sharing on My 2 Favorite Things on Thursday! Hope to see you again tomorrow! Pinned!

    • June 22, 2016 at 7:48 pm

      Elaine thank you so much for coming by!!

  41. June 30, 2016 at 6:57 pm

    Thanks for sharing! I love a good “before and after”!

  42. July 6, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Tarahlynn, this is such a beautiful piece. You did such a great job saving it! They just don’t make furniture like they use to so when you can bring a piece back to life it begins to hold a special value. You have inspired me so much that I’ve been plundering the local thrift stores in search of something to repurpose as a TV stand as well as something I can repurpose as a unique bathroom cabinet for our bathroom remodel. Thank you so much for sharing your inspiration with us at #SimplifyWednesdays !

    • July 6, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      Carla, thank you so much for commenting, that’s wonderful to hear! We used an old buffet for our bathroom vanity and we just love it, SOOOO much storage! Good luck on your plundering!

  43. July 19, 2016 at 4:41 pm

    Oh, I love taking it back to the dark oak color! I really don’t like to see solid oak painted white. This is beautiful ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for sharing your post with us at Together on Tuesdays!!!

  44. July 20, 2016 at 6:48 pm

    Just lovely! What a wonderful transformation.

  45. July 24, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    Seems like they don’t make furniture this strudy any more do they? What a gorgeous transformation. So amazing I pinned it. Stopped by from Share the Wealth, where my post, Tomato Sauce with a Secret Source of Veg Protein appears. Enjoy the rest of the weekend. Nancy Andres @ http://www.nancyandreswriter.com

    • July 25, 2016 at 2:09 pm

      Nancy, thank you! No, honestly they really just don’t make furniture like they used to!

  46. August 1, 2016 at 12:52 am

    Beautiful! It almost looks like a brand new piece of furniture! What a transformation!

    Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).

    Wishing you a lovely week.

  47. August 3, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    This is absolutely gorgeous now! It looks elegant. What a terrific transformation! Pinning. Thanks for sharing at Snickerdoodle Sunday.

  48. August 9, 2016 at 6:01 pm

    Amazing transformation! I can’t believe the end result. Thanks for joining the Family Joy Link Party!

  49. August 18, 2016 at 3:34 pm

    such a gorgeous piece!!! Thanks for sharing at #FTAF

  50. August 30, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    What a beautiful piece! You did a fabulous job. Thanks for sharing with us.


  51. September 2, 2016 at 9:53 am

    I am so glad you didn’t paint it. That wood grain is amazing, great job

    • September 2, 2016 at 2:48 pm

      Hey Patty, I’m really glad I didn’t paint it too! Solid wood that is that old… I just couldn’t paint it! Thanks! ๐Ÿ™‚

  52. September 6, 2016 at 12:29 pm

    Wow, Tarah! Definitely a labor of love… and the results are stunning. I’m in the midst of painting furniture and distressing but you just showed us how beautiful the older antique furniture really is. Thanks so much for linking up!

    • September 6, 2016 at 3:04 pm

      Jill, thank you so much, I was glad (in the end, it was a lot of work!) that I decided not to paint this one ๐Ÿ™‚

  53. November 8, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    What a lovely way to remember your Grandmas and what a labour of love! Your have done a beautiful job of this oak dresser – what a transformation!! Thank you for sharing with us at Hearth and Soul.

  54. Sue
    November 16, 2016 at 3:43 pm

    Beautiful job, As Usual~! You just amaze me! Thanks for treasuring this old piece enough to put in the work needed to restore it and not just slap some paint on it. I like painted furniture, if it is inferior wood or veneer or something less than solid beautiful wood. BUT when you have a gorgeous piece like this, REFINISH, let the natural beauty be seen. GOOD WORK, and a beautiful end result…

    • November 16, 2016 at 3:48 pm

      I totally agree! This old dresser was stunning before I started, I couldn’t wait to refinish it and let that wood shine!

  55. December 9, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    Oh my goodness…that is absolutely gorgeous! What a treasure!

  56. February 4, 2017 at 11:18 am

    It is such a classic piece I am glad you got it back to it’s former glory !

    • February 6, 2017 at 4:11 pm

      Thank you Amber, I was really glad to be able to keep and restore this piece!

  57. February 5, 2017 at 7:48 am

    This is a lovely restoration. You can see its beautiful oak with all the grains. Imagine what this piece of furniture is worth in wood cost alone. It is an absolute treasure anyone would love now. Awesome job.

    • February 6, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      Thank you so much Leanna, they really don’t make them like they used to ๐Ÿ™‚ I was so glad to be able to restore it!

  58. February 27, 2017 at 5:28 pm

    What a beautiful dresser now that you have “rescued” it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  59. March 22, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    This is so beautiful! I’m glad you were able to make it useful again. It is such a pretty piece. Thanks for sharing at My Busy Beehives #beeparty this week!

  60. April 21, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    WOW….Great furniture makeover! Glad I found your website!

  61. April 24, 2017 at 8:24 pm

    Beautiful transformation! Thanks for sharing at Sew It Cook It Craft It! ๐Ÿ™‚

  62. May 8, 2017 at 5:48 pm

    I’m sooo glad you didn’t slap a coat of paint on it! All too often, I see photos of where someone has just slapped a coat of white paint on what was probably a beautiful piece of wood (at one time) and called it “farmhouse”, or some such thing. It makes me cringe. You put in the work and the time to strip and sand the piece and then apply a stain that gives it color but also lets the beautiful grain of the natural oak to show through. Great job!

    • May 9, 2017 at 3:33 pm

      Thank you so much! When its solid wood like this old piece was I just can’t bear to paint it – just the idea of those gorgeous zebra stripes in the wood grain being covered up makes me cringe so hard!

  63. May 8, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    I love all your transformations! That red stain is gorgeous!

  64. May 10, 2017 at 6:36 pm

    You have done an amazing job of the office, and the difference in the dresser is phenomenal! I’m so impressed by how beautiful it looks. Thank you so much for sharing with us at Hearth and Soul.

  65. May 11, 2017 at 1:31 am

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful post at #OverTheMoon. I look forward to what you will share next week! Like someone in person today! We hope youโ€™ll come back again next Sunday when we open our doors at 6:00 PM EST. Pinned and tweeted!

  66. May 15, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Wow, what a treasure you have uncovered. Thank you for sharing at Ravenwould.

  67. May 16, 2017 at 10:33 pm

    What. a beautiful transformation! & thank you for linking up to Waste not Wednesday Link party!

  68. June 13, 2017 at 10:26 am

    Such an awesome transformation! It looks gorgeous now. ๐Ÿ™‚ #FridayFrivolity

  69. September 5, 2017 at 7:47 am

    Looks gorgeous! And really sturdy too. Such an amazing difference between before and after! #twinklytuesday

  70. October 18, 2017 at 5:39 am

    I love the color of the wood! #HumpDayLinky

  71. October 18, 2017 at 5:57 am

    What a beautiful transformation! Definiately worth investing the time #HumpDayLinky

  72. October 18, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Wow great work, my grandma used to renovate furniture and it was amazing to watch and see the end results. You have done a wonderful job #fortheloveofBLOG

    • October 18, 2017 at 3:47 pm

      Thank you so much for coming by, reading and commenting Sarah!

  73. October 18, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    This is lovely. So many people go straight for the shabby-chic look but this looks so elegant. #humpdaylinky

  74. October 19, 2017 at 6:12 am

    That’s kind of AMAZING! Wow! #Stayclassymama

  75. October 19, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Wow that’s quite an incredible transformation. I love the quality of older pieces of furniture and it’s great that you have a gift for restoring them to their former grandeur. Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

  76. October 20, 2017 at 8:42 am

    It’s beautiful, you did a wonderful job! Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party. Pinned!

  77. October 20, 2017 at 4:29 pm

    Hi Tarah, you’ve done an impressive job on that tatty old dresser. It has really come up a treat. I can see why you fell in love with it once you found the diamond in the dirt! The grain is beautiful and the colour, perfect!

    Thank you for linking up with the #MMBC.


  78. The Mummy Bubble
    October 21, 2017 at 8:57 pm

    Amazing what you can do with an old piece of furniture! Thanks for linking up with #fortheloveofBLOG

    • October 23, 2017 at 2:08 pm

      Thanks so much for coming by!

  79. October 31, 2017 at 11:24 pm

    I love that you can see the diamonds in the rough and that you share the experience with us. Thank you so much for sharing with us at Whisk It Wednesday link party! Pinned and shared!

    • November 1, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Thank you so much for coming by, reading and commenting and for the great link party!

  80. April 4, 2023 at 5:39 pm

    One thing I love is that you made the choice to renew the finish vs. Paint. So many pieces are being ๐ŸŽจ it makes me sick. I also discovered a couple of cleaners can also lighten the wood some. I have found the color becomes uniform. Called bleaching technique. Simple enough step to add. The dresser looks awesome!

    • April 6, 2023 at 9:53 am

      Thanks Joe! Yeah a lot of old beauties are getting painted lately, it is kind of tragic imo. Fortunately though, one day, they can be stripped back to their beautiful old wood again if someone wanted to!

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