Painting a Knock Off

August 25, 2009

I had a little problem.  In my recent attempt to spruce up the guest bedroom space, I realized I had a small closet for my guests, but no dresser.  And the end table next to the bed was a bit small.  So when I spied a small three drawer chest at the local thrift for $13 dollars, my brain clicked into gear. 

Now most people would walk past this piece, and for good reason.  It had a spotty black paint job with gold trim and gold hardware.  It’s a Dorothy Draper knock off, but I’m just not a fan of this paint job.  Funny, because I typically adore classics.  I really loved the lines and the design, just not the traditional black and gold paint – this color combination was simply unsuitable for my blue and white space.

I’m all about freshening a classic piece with great lines in a new and modern way, and I am not alone. 

black dresser before

I loved the detail of this chest, just not the paint job, so I decided to make it my own.  As much as I long to paint everything white, I like to mix it up with dark wood tones or pieces painted something other than white.  

Instead, I chose a fresher, less traditional, more casual style – a slate blue front trimmed in white to enhance the routed detail.  

dresser after

First, I gave the edges a good sanding.  Then since I was going for a medium tone blue, I used two coats of gray primer instead of white primer to cover the old paint job. 

gray primer

Next, I gave the dresser three light coats of Rustoleum’s Slate Blue spray paint.  

slate blue

Finally, I hand painted the ridges with three coats of my own mixture of white primer and cream acrylic paint.  Then I spray painted the hardware and reused it.   

white hand paint

One thing about older dressers:  often, the drawer guides aren’t as sophisticated as modern pieces, so your drawers can scratch up your paint job as they slide back and forth and rub up against one another.  Here’s a little trick.  Apply a thin line of hot glue to the bottom of your drawers and let it completely solidify.  The dried glue will act as a small buffer between your drawers and help protect your paint. 

hotglue as dresser guide

I also sewed a custom pleated table runner to protect the top of the freshly painted dresser.  To the runner, I added some beading and velvet ribbon for another layer of texture. 

runner with flowers 

A chest made new for my guests. 

ready for guests

I am certainly enjoying every last one of my garden’s latest blooms of the summer season.  Sigh.  Simple pleasures. 

late blooms of season

Even though many would have passed it by, or kept the paint job because “it looks like a classic Dorothy Draper”, I chose instead to paint it blue.  I don’t regret the color choice, or the fact that I rescued it from a spotty paint job. 

double duty endtable

After I painted my own find, I was emboldened when I found how some other designers are painting the classic Dorothy Draper style in a fresh new way. 

draper custom designs Century Design Ltd on 1st Dibs

pink dorothy on 1st dibs Coral version from Antique Center on 1st Dibs

dorothy draper aqua Ellen Ward Scarborough Antiques

Dorothy draper tangerine Modern One

kindel blue dorothyCarleton Varney for Kindel Furniture

Gorgeous lines. Fresh color. Classic design with a modern twist.  Just my style.

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