Dresser to Desk…my new scrap table!

(NOTE: If you’re here to enter the Washi Workshop Giveaway, click to the next post down.) 

It only took us 12 years to get a new bedroom set.  When we got married we just decided to use the set I had gotten in high school since we had no money and were just happy to have a “set” of anything rather than the normal hodgepodge starting out furniture.  But for the past few years I’ve been dying to get a new set.  Something that was more our current taste.  So, finally, a few weeks ago… our new set arrived…and I love it!  That just left the question of what to do with the old stuff.  I was going to give it to goodwill or something, but then I started thinking about how I could convert to something I need/want with a little help from a can of paint.  You know how surfing Pinterest makes you think you can make anything look amazing with just a little paint?  😉  So I started measuring, planning, reading online…and finally came up with a plan.  My husband was skeptical and thought…it’s a dresser!  It’ll never look like a desk!  It’ll be too high!  Where will you sit?  But I had it figured out in my head and I always thought I would like to stand to scrapbook and guess what…the dresser is exactly counter height (after I added the top…) and I convinced him to just work with me.  So after getting some guy friends to help wrestle this puppy downstairs to the play room (where my scrap area is), this is what we started with…..(sorry for the grainy phone pics!)

It had a mirror that we’d already taken off and obviously I’d already removed the drawers to prep it.  I knew the top of the dresser would not be big enough for what I needed, so I decided to add a new, bigger top on top.  If that makes sense.  :)  We got a sheet of MDF from Home Depot and had them cut it to 32″ x 96″.  That’s a big desktop!  The dresser top itself is only 18″ x 68″, so there was going to be some overhand on the back and two sides.  I didn’t want to overhand too much in the front b/c I wanted to be able to easily access the drawers.  So the next step was adding some supports… L-brackets in the back (where they won’t be seen, so they didn’t need to be pretty) and corbels on the sides (they will be seen and I wanted something that would look nice once all painted out).

We had to cut a notch into the top to get them to fit correctly.  Next, we added the MDF top and screwed it down in a few spots until it felt really solid. An finally (not shown in the pic below) we added some trim to the edges of the MDF so they weren’t so sharp.

Now, I’ve painted furniture before using spray paint or whatever…but never really took the time to investigate how to do it properly.  This time, I read a LOT on blogs and websites and took their advice to heart.  I did NOT sand much.  I don’t have a power sander or anything.  But I went over the top lightly with a sanding block to make it really smooth.  Then I put on two coats of primer…I used Zinsser Cover Stain with a cheapie 4 inch roller that I tossed afterwards (since it requires paint thinner to clean).  In between each coat I sanded the top a little.  Then I started with the actual paint. I used Benjamin Moore Advance Semi-Gloss in Cloud White.  This paint dries with a harder, enamel like finish, but cleans up with water like normal latex paint.  It was awesome!  But they say to wait a day between coats and then several days before using it so it can fully cure or harden.  That was the worst part!  :)  Here’s the paint almost done…

Looking better, right?  :)  Finally once it was all cured I put the drawers back in and added some new hardware.  I painted the cupboard door that goes in the middle and planned to use it originally, but like it without it…so I may just leave it off and sand down the hinge holes. Wish I had done that before I painted!  Anyways.. I AM  IN LOVE with it and so happy with how it all turned out.  Amazing what some white paint can do!!!

I love that the kids can use the computer on one end and I can scrap on the other!

And that’s it…the big reveal!  :)  I still need to add some shelves above the desk.  But that’s for another day!  I’ll have more info about how I organize my stash, keep my tools, etc (and more pics) on the SC blog in another month or so.  Thanks for taking the time to read this far! If you have any questions, let me know!


  1. KarenP (kphike) says

    That is gorgeous!!!! Love Benjamin Moore paint ! You did a great job and hopefully your husband thinks you are a genius now!!

  2. kim smart says

    omg! that turned out gorgeous!! you ought to be extremely proud of yourself! great job indeed!!! now, i’m off to thrift shops to find my own second hand dresser and get busy, lol!!

  3. Diana says

    I am so impressed! I absolutely love it. I middle looks great without the door. Honestly, I wouldn’t have known it was a dresser if you hadn’t told us. It really looks amazing.

  4. ann marie says

    Wow! I mean, seriously wow! It looks gorgeous, you guys did an amazing job. I’ll bet your dh will never doubt you again. 😉 And the best part is that dresser didn’t end up in as landfill somewhere. What an awesome example to show that with some imagination, paint and elbow grease we can use what we have instead of throwing away and buying new.

  5. debbi mckelvy says

    I am so excited for this class! Fell in love with washi tape almost the minute I saw it – when I realized what it was!

  6. Asa Lara says

    ohh I love it!! the colour is beautiful and you obviously thinked of all the details, like having space for the cords behind the desk :-) this is so inspirational
    thanks for sharing , now I just wanna go and paint something

  7. Shirley says

    Hi Nicole, I’m totally blown away by the transformation! It’s amazing!! I’m curious what is the brand of that caddy next to the glass jar? I’ve been wanting to get one. Thanks!

  8. says

    Nicole this is really neat, and beautiful! I went to Target and bought the small white bookcases and cupboards in the organizational section and then Menards and bought a BIG white shelving board 36″ X 118″ and screwed it on top of all the cabinets and bookcases (through the cabinet/bookcase top and up underneath the table top) and it works great…love to stand and scrap as well. But where mine is functional and not bad to look at, yours is gorgeous as well! I will never look at an old piece of furniture the same again! Thanks for sharing!

  9. says

    This was a brilliant idea and it’s stunning! If you had to go buy this piece, you’d have to break the bank. I am DYING over those center drawers with the little cut out dip in the top. LOVE! You did a beautiful job!

  10. says

    Wow, you did an amazing job. Your painting came out gorgeous. And too funny! I have the armoire and the chest of drawers to this dresser. Obviously, I’ve had them for a while :)

    Lesley @ Trendy Twine

  11. Gabby says

    Found your link on Stef’s Ingenious Inkling blog. LOVE your re-purposed dresser! You did a great job on refinishing it and how wonderful to have all that awesome storage! TFS :)

  12. Suzanne Hue says

    How inspiring! I love it. And there’s a place where I can buy a dresser like that for $30! Here in Florida. Thank goodness you used your creativity to make something truly unique, functional and gorgeous. And most of all…thanks for sharing!

  13. says

    I have just found your blog via a link through one of my followers and I have to say how wonderful your recycling project is. I also love to upcycle and recycle this way. You can often make a piece of furniture look better than it did before with care and you have definitely done that. How beautiful and inspirational. Thank you for sharing this.
    Hugs Linda x

    • Robin Nikkel says

      I had this exact dresser! I can’t believe I gave it away now. It looks great. I may use your idea in my sewing room redo and put a cutting mat over the top. Thanks for the inspiration.

  14. says

    I LOVE IT! Because of you I’m attempting my own :) I hope it I can make it look this good… It’ll be my 1st time making-over a piece of furniture!! I can’t wait to get started!!!

  15. Katherine Morris says

    I think you should put a shelf behind it at the top for some more storage. Just add a few more L brackets. If it was mine I have wheels on it so I could more it out and work around it when needed. You did a fabulos job, and it had great bones to start glad to new new life given to it, your daughter going to want to take it to college when she goes!

  16. Bonnie Jo Taylor says

    I have this same dresser and have prepared it according to your instructions. Please describe the trim that you added to the raw edges of the melamine/MDF sheet. I am using mine as a cutting table and need the edges to be very smooth. The iron-on banding snags the material as it passes over the edge. Thanks.

    • nicolesamuels says

      Hi Bonnie! I’m not sure of the exact name. But it’s a thin, rather flimsy long strip…flat on one side, curved on the other. 1/2 round? Definitely not 1/4 round. It’s wider than the mdf piece, so I had attached it’s flush with the top. Then after the liquid nails set, I used wood filler to fill in the seam between the edge and the mdf. There was some roughness at this point. I sanded like crazy to get the edges all smooth all the way around. Hope that helps!

  17. says

    lol i have the exact same dresser it was mine growing up and now is in my sons room his close are getting to big for it and im going to be getting him a new one thanks to you I now know what to do with the old one awesome post!!!!

  18. Peggy B says

    You are the refurbishing queen..in my eyes. This is the most useful, and beautiful re-do I have seen! Kudos! And forgive me, but I am going to try to do something similar….this piece is a great inspiration!

  19. Jennifer says

    WOW! I remember seeing this on Pinterest last year! That’s an amazing transformation!! BTW I had to let you know that I took your Bright Ideas class thru SC. While I must confess I have not read all the PDFs – the ones I have read are amazing, so detailed and descriptive. I can’t even imagine how much time you put into this class. Thank you so much!!

    • nicolesamuels says

      Thanks so much, Jennifer! I had a blast putting together that class. It was definitely a labor of love! Hope you get time to delve into the challenges at some point. :)

  20. pj says

    Very impressive! You got a lot of bang for your buck. I bet hubby was surprised and impressed with your idea.

  21. says

    Love how you purposed the dresser into a functionable work table. We did something similar to a dresser and really like how I use it. Can’t wait to see your shelves. Would love to see your scrap space.

  22. Sarah smile says

    This looks amazing and is something I am seriously considering trying. Can you please tell me what tool you used to make the notch for the corbels? And were your corbels stock from a home improvement store or did you do them custom? Thanks

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