How to upcycle wooden furniture

Black Oak Dresser

This website contains affiliate links to the products and services I use and recommend. You won’t pay any more for the products or services but I may get a small commission. Thank you

upcycling furniture

Upcycling old furniture

This was my first attempt at upcycling wooden furniture and I started with my old oak dresser. This piece of old furniture was bought second hand around 9 years ago for £100.  In this post I’ll go through the steps I took to transform the oak dresser to black and the problems I came across. Please forgive the terrible mobile photo’s I took, honestly I didn’t think the dresser would look so good but it’s like a brand new piece of furniture now. 

Remove all the handles

The first step I took was to remove all the handles. It’s up to you if you are going to re-use the old handles but I had already ordered brand new gold bar handles. 

How to upcycle wooden furniture


I wanted the original wood on top of the dresser left so I bought a cheap little sander to sand the top down. Take the furniture outside to do this. If you are going to paint all the furniture there is no need sand it down. 

Tip 1.

The dresser had been waxed over the years and trying to sand down the waxed wooden top proved to be pain. Use some rough sand paper on the sander to get it gone or else it will stick to the sand paper if it’s too fine.

Clean the furniture

Next step is cleaning. I used sugar soap to clean all the dust away inside and out and then left to dry out before painting.

How to upcycle wooden furniture

Remove the draws and doors.

If you want a really professional finish then remove the draws, any doors and the hinges from the doors. This way you won’t get paint on the side of the draws. 

Choose a colour

Decide what colour to paint your furniture and commit to it. I wanted to paint the dresser black but thought it would be too dark so I bought Navy blue furniture paint. After painting the navy blue which I didn’t like then went looking for the best black paint for furniture.  

Tip 2.

Pick a colour and stick to it.

How to upcycle wooden furniture

Black furniture paint matte

Annie Sloan chalk paint

I chose Annie Sloan black chalk paint which is £23.95 for 1 litre but goes a long way and is a really black furniture paint which is a matte finish. You need an Annie Sloan stockist if you want Annie Sloan chalk paint. 

Rust-Oleum black chalk paint.

Rust-Oleum do a huge range of furniture paints and are cheaper than Annie Sloan paints. 

Furniture transfers

I decided half way through to get some  furniture transfers from redesign by prima to break up the black paint. This resulted in having to sand down the front of the draws to remove the blue paint. So I would be able to wood stain the draw fronts and then apply the furniture transfers.

Tip 3.

This was my first time upcycling wooden furniture so learn from my mistakes. Tip 3 get your upcycled furniture ideas first then start you will save time.

How to upcycle wooden furniture

Start painting

Back to step 6, start painting. When you are redesigning and upcycling wooden furniture with good furniture paint you can start painting straight away. There is no need to prime or sand the wooden furniture down. Decide if you want to paint with a brush or roller. A roller will give you a much more even finish to the furniture paint. Apply one or two coats of the paint depending on the type of furniture paint you are using. 

Wood stain

If you are going to leave the top of the furniture and or in my case the draw fronts wooden too. Then these need to be stained with wood stain if you want a darker wood look than the wood already is. I used a mahogany wood stain and finished with a clear varnish.

How to upcycle wooden furniture

Apply a finisher

Once the furniture paint is completely dry then apply a finisher. If you are using chalk paint you may want to wax the upcycled furniture or use a clear lacquer to finish off. This will protect the paint work on the furniture, then put the draws back and the new handles on. 

Shopping Basket
Scroll to Top