How to Update a Hand Me Down Dresser

I love gift-wrap and I also love anything and everything having to do with typefaces. So it is no surprise to me that I have had my eye on this vintage typographer gift-wrap ever since Emily over at Jones Design Company posted about it as well as many other pretty papers she uses.

Furniture Makeover Ideas

I wanted to find a way I could use this gift-wrap where I could enjoy the pattern in my daily life instead of only wrapping gifts with it and giving it away.  When I started to update my guest room I got an idea on how I could incorporate it into the room.   The gift-wrap comes in 20” x 28” sheets that cost $4.00 each.  I needed 3 to cover the top of my dresser and the drawer pulls.  You can find it here at


This piece of hand me down furniture looks nice in this photo, but the top and left side have cracks in them. It would need too much work and expense to fix , so I am going to add my own style to it using the gift-wrap and paint.


supplies needed:

Kilz Stain Blocking Primer – Original Formula
Glass Beads –  I got mine at The Dollar Tree
Mod Podge – Matte finish
2″ -angled Purdy brush
Paint roller
Clear Glue – I used Aleene’s Platinum Bond Glass and Bead

My color scheme for the room: white, beige, tan, black, and purple.

I painted the dresser white first. The paint is a mix of whites that I had a bit of each– Sherwin Williams Creamy and Alabaster. I added them together so I would have enough to cover the dresser.    I roughed up the wood just a tiny bit with sandpaper.  Cleaned it up with a tack cloth and then rolled on two coats of Original Kilz stain blocking primer. Kilz comes in a few different formulas, but the Original one is the best in my opinion.   Let that dry and then I applied two light coats of the white paint I mixed together.  I used the best roller I could afford and an angled 2″  Purdy brush to paint the edges of each drawer and the trim on the bottom.

I didn’t like the drawer pulls, but it was not in my budget to buy new ones, so I had to come up with a way to make them more interesting.  I removed them from the dresser, washed and then spray painted them white.


Since the gift-wrap has a tan background, I wanted to add a bit of it into the pulls. They also needed a bit of contrast and I was inspired to add the flat glass beads after seeing glass number knobs at Anthropologie.

1. Cut letters out to the shape of flat glass beads.
2. Use clear glue to attach the cut-outs to the back of flat glass beads.
3.  Glue beads on to center of drawer pulls and let dry.  Rough up edges of pulls with a small piece of sandpaper.
4. Attach to the dresser.


Adhering the Gift wrap:

1.  Use Mod Podge to attach the sheets of gift-wrap to the top of the dresser. I figured out the placement of the gift-wrap first and then spread a thick coat of Mod Podge on the top of the dresser where the first sheet would go.

2.   Line up the paper and leave enough to turn over to the underside of the top.  Lay the sheet on and then use your brush and spread more Mod Podge on top of the paper.

3.  Make sure you press out all the air bubbles.  If you get an air bubble and you can’t remove it. Carefully cut the paper with a mat knife and then use the tip of the knife to hold the paper up so you can get some Mod Podge under the section.  Press it back down and smooth it over. Once it is dry you won’t notice. When using Mod Podge – especially on large pieces you are going to get a few wrinkles, but in this case – they look good  – like leather.   Use your brush or fingers to make sure that the gift-wrap is adhered to the underside of top.

4.  Repeat the process for each sheet of gift-wrap. I had to piece the back section as the sheets were not as deep as my dresser.  On the corners I left the excess hang over and then cut a diagonal line to the corner then turned the excess under and used more Mod Podge to make sure it adhered.


5.  After the first coat of Mod Podge was dry, I added a second coat.






I am thrilled with the way it came out. The most expensive part was the gift-wrap that cost me just under $15 with the shipping.

The glass beads were $1.00 for a pouch filled with them that I found at The Dollar Tree.



To learn how I attached the mirrors above the dresser in a 3D effect. you   You will find it:

How to Create a 3D Mirror Gallery Wall


More Furniture Makeovers:

Before and After Round Table with Woven Strips of Gift wrap

Trash to Dollar Store Treasure Dresser

Or see my Furniture Makeover Project Gallery




  1. Coastal Femme says

    Hi Diane ,
    The dresser is gorgeous, What a great way to use a unique wrapping paper and the drawer pulls are the “icing on the cake” I like the black and white theme and can’t wait to see the whole room. What a difference painting the bed made too!

  2. Sarah says

    LOVE it! What a cute giftwrap. And I’m so glad I saw this post because I want to try using the tooth picks. Painting the hardware is always a pain. Thanks for the tips! And love the frames you hung.

  3. tammy says

    the dresser is perfect. and i love the mirrors hung over it! how did you layer them like that? it looks great. thanks for sharing this at my party!

  4. says

    A. That is great paper… what fabulous inspiration.
    B. Love the dresser! The details you added are perfect.
    C. I need to find out more about that gallery wall. (off to read more!)

    Wonderful job! I love it.

  5. says

    Diane-That looks fantastic. I love the way it came out…..very, very clever..and it matches everything beautifully. Thanks for the tip on spray painting the pulls. I have usually tried to hang them from something~ Hugs- Diana

  6. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co. says

    What a fun update! I love that wrapping paper. Great hardware. And I am totally going to use your toothpick trick – thank you!

  7. says

    Oh wow. I am so totally in love with the finished project. Very nice!

    Going to have to book-mark your blog :) LOVE your ideas!

    ps Popping over from Philly Social Media Moms.

  8. says

    I love how you went beyond just painting the dresser and really put your creative energy into making it look totally different! Well done!

    {found you through PSMM, welcome to the group!}

  9. says

    Oh wow, I love the dresser so much! And thank you for the tip to wedge the toothpick in the drawer pulls. I tried to repaint some without doing that and it was a disaster. I can’t wait to redo them now!!

  10. says

    Hi, I’m a new follower! Coming over from Philly Social Media Moms! I’m a new-ish member myself…I mostly lurk since that’s all I seem to have time to do! Skim the posts, no time to comment! :)

    I wanted to say, I love your dresser makeover! I have a small end table that resembles your before photo (freebie from side of the road!) that is in desperate need of a make over. Any suggestions for a first time furniture painter (painting some old chairs this month)?

  11. Courtney says

    Awesome, love it! Think that my favorite feature is the glass beads w/letters on it, inspired!!

  12. says

    WOW WOW WOW…I am SOOOOO in love with this dresser. i just painted and distressed a white dresser in my bedroom, but it needs a little umph…I think I am stealing your idea! THANKS!!!!

  13. Nicole W. says

    Your dresser turned out beautifully! I love, love, love it! Thanks for sharing your great tutorial, visiting from Tatertots & Jello

  14. says

    Oh. My. Gosh.
    A. I love Emily Jones Design Co. too!
    B. LOVE this dresser
    C. totally copying it.
    D. found you on Tatertots and Jello weekend party thingy.
    and one more…. E. GREAT idea about the toothpicks! genius.

  15. KSacavage says

    The dresser in my daughter’s room (who is off to college) is waiting for a “redo” such as this. It looks fabulous!

  16. says

    Amazing!! So so so cool!! I have an older dresser in my soon’s room.. I might try that! Her team is CARS so maybe I can get a checkered wrapping paper!!! Thanks for sharing!! I am now a stylish follower!!

  17. says

    This is a fantastic make-over! Thanks so much for the tip about the toothpicks. I refinish a lot of furniture and I have never tried this. Brilliant! I love the little glass beads on the pulls and the top is fantastic. Here from SAS

  18. Gabriella {sensiblyluxe} says

    Ohmygoodness, what a transformation! I would buy that dresser from a shop in a millisecond.

  19. says

    Wow, this looks amazing!!! I love this paper but I would NEVER use something this nice to wrap gifts in. :) Paper this pretty deserves so much more than to be trashed after a party. Thanks so much for inspiring me!! I bought some wrapping paper a few weeks ago to cover our ugly filing cabinet with. Now thanks to you I’m motivated to get started!

  20. Janine says

    Outstanding!! I love this dresser and also the rest of the guest room—what a tremendous job you did!! Wow!! The colors you chose for the room and the dresser itself are just stunning. (came here from Mod Podge Rocks)

  21. says

    Oh, my goodness!! I love that! I never would have thought to do anything like that. Very clever!!
    Hope you have a great day.

  22. says

    wow! this is AMAZING!!!! when i saw it my jaw literally dropped! i love how it became so light opposed to a dark clump of furniture. i love how you did the pulls with the glass letters and i LOVE how you put a design on the top of the dresser! everything flows together sooo well i wish i had this in my house :) i also really like the way you layered your mirrors on the wall, it looks really nice. p.s. im your newest follower!!

  23. says

    Gasping! LOVE this makeover!! The dressertop is just amazing. Nice work, and a great tutorial!

    Thanks for joining my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. :) Hope you’ll visit me at Serenity Now again soon! :)

  24. Donna says

    It is absolutely beautiful. I have a spare bedroom that is in desperate need of updating with the same kind of dresser as yours. I just love it. Thank you for sharing.

    • says

      Hi Kristina-

      I think my dresser is from the 50’s from Ethan Allen. I loved the Typography gift wrap and knew I had to find a way to use it. I just saw it used inside the firebox in a mantel on Design Sponge.

  25. yup yuppers says

    I thought the dresser was beautiful the way it was. The wood was a gorgeous color. I could understand maybe redoing the hardware, and I like the mirrors above it. I do not get the letter theme and the point of painting over such a natural beauty.

    • says

      Hi Yup Yuppers-
      The wood looks ok in the photo, but it was badly faded and the top had a crack on one side that goes down on an angle along one side. There were also few water rings and damage when perfume was spilled on it years ago. I could have refinished it but that is too hard of a job with too many chemicals.
      Since it was a hand me down that I never truly liked and was not worth much on the resale market – I decided to put some of my own style into it. I am a lover of typography and the letter giftwrap lets me enjoy seeing type in unexpected places. Painting it makes the room look much more coordinated and brighter. I do like the simplicity of a nice piece of wood furniture against a white wall. I have another dresser like this one and a highboy in another bedroom that has a much nicer patina that I love and will never paint.

  26. Sadie Lascelles says

    seeing this DIY project actually inspired me to refurbish my dresser i’ve had my whole life. Thanks for the idea ! It’s a really fun and exciting project (:

    • says

      HI Sadie-

      Thanks. It will be nice to give new life to something that you have had for so long. Being able to add your own personality to it will make it extra special to you now.

  27. says

    I love this dresser. You did a fantastic job and it is so creative. We’ve been trying to come up with an inexpensive way to dress-up our dresser and this may be perfect! Thanks so much.

  28. jessie jacques says

    As soon as I saw this, I ran out and bought a can of paint. I have the same dresser/buffet, and just had to re-do mine. Thank you so much for your inspiration.


  29. JT says

    Love this dresser, but I would advise against using Mod-Podge as a finish on any kind of functional furniture.

    It looks good right after you finish your project, but it doesn’t stand up to heat, moisture or scuffing.

    Unfortunately, I don’t have a suggestion of a better product to use, but I just wanted to share my own experience with Mod-Podge on furniture. Just doesn’t last.

  30. says

    Beautiful!!! How did you get the wrapping paper not to bubble? That’s what happened to me when I modpodged a kids table with wrapping paper.

    • says

      Hi Yvette-

      The gift wrap I used was a higher quality than most. It is a tad bit thicker or in paper terms it has more weight. It is the kind you can buy in sheets, not rolls. Thin giftwrap from say the dollar store is very thin and will wrinkle. Even with the thicker wrap – I use very light coats of Mod Podge instead of one or two thick coats, but the real key is using heavier weight gift wrap or paper. I have used thinner and it does wrinkle, but if you put on light coats of Mod Podge and let it dry between coats the wrinkling goes away as it dries. Another thing to remember is to glue the back side of the paper down first and make sure there are no air bubbles in it. Then go over the top. I have also had success with brown kraft paper, old book pages, and the double sided gift wrap that kids sell as fund raisers – all of these are heavier weight paper – that is the key.

  31. Elizabeth says

    The pattern of the gift wrap is too repetitive and boxy… The idea is great, but the execution is horrible. You destroyed a beautiful piece of furniture. I’m sure will see this ten years from now in “How to get ugly wrapping paper off a hand-me-down dresser.”

    • Jane says

      I have a dresser just like this one. They are a dime a dozen. You can pick them up for nothing on Craig’s List. I don’t think Diane will ever be sorry she did this. It is absolutely lovely & unique. And if she tires of it, I think its evident she has the creative talent to transform it once again!

  32. says

    Wow, elizabeth, that was mean! Didnt your mother teach you “if you dont have anything nice to say, dont say anything at all”? I think the dresser looks great. You did a nice job. You can tell you took your time.

  33. Jennifer says

    Just beautiful, I have a similar dresser to redo so i just may have to “steal” this idea. Love it!

  34. Roadster says

    Tell me – will the the top be waterproof after the two coats of Mod Podge? I am thinking of using this for classroom furniture. Thanks

    • says

      It won’t be waterproof, but wipe-able with out the paper getting damaged. I have a little table in my living room that I have done the same way. I have placed hot tea cups and have spilled drinks on it. At first – I see a ring or a buckle in the paper, but once it dries – they are gone.

      If you would like to make the furniture truly waterproof you could use a water-based polyurethane over it. 2-3 coats would do the trick. It may darken the paper just a bit, but it will give you a waterproof finish.

  35. Renee says

    Oh my goodness….I am so very hooked to your site & ideas thank you so much for sharing not only what you do but how you do it! Loving what I am seeing today & loving that I found your site!

  36. says

    Like first,the name of a blog is a famous. Collection of this pictures are very interesting.I need one thing in my room like on pics.

  37. says

    First of all, that paper choice is amazing. Secondly, great idea to spruce up the drawer handles. Lastly, overall great job! I can’t wait until garage sale season is here to be able to refurbish some furniture using gift wrap!

  38. Michelle says

    I love the way the dresser came out. I love the mirrors you arranged above it. How did you do the different layers?

  39. Melodie @ thReaDs~n~StUFf says

    This is amazing! I love it, and am SO inspired, I am getting ready to place an order for the paper and am doing the top of a coffee table….can’t wait! Thanks for sharing!!

  40. Samantha says

    I have some questions. First, you put a layer of the mod podge on top of the wrapping paper as well? Does that prevent the paper from tearing? I have been looking for something to make a kitchen island, and can’t find any laminate that I actually like, would this be capable of holding up against daily kitchen uses? I think this is an amazing design, and would love to use something similar!

    • says

      Hi Samantha-

      Mod Podge on a kitchen counter would not hold up in the long run. I would not do it. I only use it on furniture that just needs dusting or a damp rag to wipe clean. If you would like to use the gift wrap you would have to seal it with a few coats of polyurethane. This will protect it, but it also will darken the paper. It will end up looking a brown-orange color and ruin the look. There are water based polyurethanes that don’t yellow, but a kitchen counter takes lots of abuse and I think that there are better options to re-doing a counter. Have you looked into the Rustoleum brand kitchen counter paints. There are 16 colors and comes in a kit. There are a few colors to choose. Here is a link describing what it is and does:

  41. Samantha says

    Thank you so much, that is super helpful. I was originally just going to do laminate, but I haven’t found any laminate I enjoy. With the paint, I could do an interesting design

  42. says

    This is such a gorgeous dresser. I used your tips and did one in my bedroom. It turned out so pretty. Thanks for such a great post!

  43. says

    It’s beautiful. What a cool idea, and completely doable. It’s like a completely new piece! I’m also quite fond of the mirror arrangement. :)

  44. Brittany says

    Wow! I’m very impressed with the way this turned out, and for only $15.00! That is awesome. It looks fantastic, and I love the decor on and around it, it’s all so perfect. Good job!! ;)

  45. JewSunStar says

    Hello Diane, I love the new look and your creation. I think i’m falling in love with your blog. lol :)

  46. says

    Really inspirational – I have an ugly white Ikea dresser in my bedroom and am trying to think of some way to brighten it up – something along the lines of this is perfect! And the glass beads with letters idea is just so unique

  47. Becky says

    Hi there, Inspired by your dresser, I am working on a book shelf for my daughter’s room. i just have one question: How much mod podge did you need for this?

  48. Jenny says

    Oh my… I love this finished project more than I can say. You did a fantastic job Diane!

  49. says

    I love it I tried it with a different pattern and it came out excellent I will put it on face book for my friends and family to see. Thanks for the ideal

  50. Anomonster says

    this website has made me depressed, I find it terribly sad that someone made this in the first place, and then I scroll down expecting to see a column of comments reflecting my point of view and instead I see a whole lot of praise! What is the world coming to!? Seriously it’s 2012 and people still haven’t developed a sense of style!! I hope to god I don’t ever have to stay in a room so tacky. And srsly laughing over the mirror placement too….. what happened to intelligent design – this must be an American blog.

  51. Andrea says

    I liked your idea to use the typography gift wrap that I did the same thing! Thank you so much for sharing your project!

  52. natasha says

    Hi I was wondering what type of roller did you use I’m waiting for my primer to dry…. I hate brushes…. I need a roller
    thanks for the great posts!!!

    • says

      Hi Natasha – I like foam rollers or high quality low nap rollers. You can see a photo of the brushes and rollers I use in this post.

      They offer a smooth finish. It may take a little getting used to -as you can’t roll on with too much pressure or you will see roller edge lines and bubbles may show up with a foam roller if you press to hard. Just roll over the surface very lightly and if you do see a roller edge line show up – just roll over it gently to remove it. Most bubbles will go away on their own. If not – make sure to sand lightly and clean off the grit with a tack cloth between coats to smooth out the surface before applying the next coat of paint. If you have a nice dry 75 degree day out or are painting in an air conditioned space your paint and primer will dry fast.

  53. says

    That is so cool on the dresser top!

    I recently came across this paper at a local paper store (not giving the name because I don’t want to lose my source! lol). As a paper artist and typography lover, I had to have a sheet. I used mine for wall art, but I love this!

  54. LaRee B. says

    I’ve had this post up on my browser for about a week now, and I finally mod podged some fancy giftwrap to an old sewing table that I picked up for free from a neighbor. Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  55. Jen says

    I love this idea. Thank you so much for sharing. My dresser is on the front porch drying from my second coat of primer and my luxe paper arrived in the mail today. Im kinda stuck on what color to paint the dresser thou.
    This is the paper I chose. I was thinking an antique white. My bedroom is a light light blue. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

    • says

      Hi Jen – Love your paper! You are going to have one pretty dresser. I think I would paint it the blue color in the paper. If the piece has a lot of nice detailing on it, maybe even apply a light glaze over it with the grey brown color to bring out the details. If it is too much blue because your room is blue – antique white will look just as nice, but I think lightly glazing over it with one of the colors in the paper will add more character to the piece. Either way it will look very nice. I would ask myself – What color would create a better color balance with the rest of the elements in the room?

  56. Alanna says

    I was so inspired by this project that I found my own wrapping paper that looks like sheet music and put it over my hideous counter tops in my kitchen that I have been wanting to replace forever! I just finished the first coat and it came out great!! Thank you for the awesome idea and the “how to” instructions!!

  57. says

    Ok, this is amazing. I am in love with that dresser! What an inspiration you are! I have an old little dresser I could do this too! Thank you so much. When ever I stop by your site I am blown away each time.

  58. Lisa says

    I came across your blog today.. let me tell you. It is ‘awesome’. I love it! The details, so concise, nothing held back and easy to follow. Great job! Keep it up :)

  59. Jenn says

    I did this and I found that spray adhesive won’t bubble the paper. Thanks for the inspiration! I picked up a nice enough bureau from a junk store and turned it into an amazing piece of furniture that I’m just in LOVE with! I put a few coats of Minwax’s Polycrylic on top to seal it. It dries clear, so no yellowing :)

  60. says

    You did a great job on this! I just redid some of our cabinets and old hardware on our drawers and it made such a difference. But I think the paper top is a genius idea!

  61. Kristyn says

    Again another great idea! Question…How easy would it be to change the paper on the dresser top if it became worn??

    • says

      Hi Kristyn – No harder than removing wallpaper from a wall. Wet it well and then let it sit for about 10 minutes, then you can peel it off. A large Spackle knife would be handy to get under the paper when you first start to remove it. Once that is done, it should come off easy. I would sand any residue smooth with a sanding block.

  62. Jill says

    Hi, I am refinishing an old dresser with hardware that looks similar to what’s on this dresser. Recently I was looking at the hardware and it doesn’t appear to be screwed on with regular screws. Since I can’t see the backs of yours to see how they are held in place, I’m not sure how these were held in place on your dresser. But can you tell me how you removed them and just ignore me if they were secured in place with screws.

    • says

      Hi Jill – The pulls were screwed in from the back of the drawer front. Your pulls may be inset – you would have to pry them out of the front. There could also be a backing against the back of the drawer front. See if there is a seam along the top of the drawer that you can pry off to reveal the screws.

  63. says

    Absolutly amazing job !!! I love what you did. Im in the same predicament with my dresser, same size as yours….just what i was looking for!!!! I am inspired….thank you..

  64. says

    I like the way you lightened up and transformed your dresser! I especially like the mirror collage on your wall above the dresser. That is really a great idea!

  65. says

    I love it! It is beautiful! I like how you added the glass beads to the handles that is so creative. I use and paint these same drawer pulls all the time. Thanks or the painting tip!

  66. says

    I like this idea a lot! I have a table that I want to decorate and was looking for inspiration and techniques. Thanks for sharing!!

  67. Taylor C says

    I totally want to do this to my bathroom counter… could I do this? Does anyone know? It’s an ollldddd style counter, I couldn’t tell you what it
    s made out of. But could I use wall paper? Does the Modge Podge make the paper water proof?
    Can someone let me know please? Thank you! :)

    • says

      Hi Taylor – Original Mod Podge will not hold up if the counter gets wet a lot. If it does get wet on a continuous basis, it may wrinkle and or buckle. They have a newer version that is for Outdoor use. It has a green label and is called Outdoor Mod Podge. You can buy it at the crafts store or Walmart. I have not used it on a counter, but have heard good things about it. I would still wipe up any water that gets on the counter after using the sink. It will only help keep the counter looking nice.

  68. Debbie How says

    Your home is lovely and you should have no difficulty selling it…I would buy it, but I live in Canada.

    I have pinned all your decorating ideas to try myself. Just wanted to say I think you are extremely clever. : )

    • says

      Hi Debbie – Thanks so much for taking the time to leave me such a nice comment. XO I surely hope my home sells quickly, you just never know though. I am keeping my fingers crossed. Thanks for pinning my projects. I truly appreciate it!


  1. […] Since the gift-wrap has a tan background, I wanted to add a bit of it into the pulls. They also needed a bit of contrast and I was inspired to add the flat glass beads after seeing glass number knobs at Anthropologie. Adhering the Giftwrap I didn’t like the drawer pulls, but it was not in my budget to buy new ones, so I had to come up with a way to make them more interesting. How to Update a Hand Me Down Dresser – StumbleUpon […]

  2. […] How to Update a Hand Me Down Dresser Tagged as: DIY Decorating Ideas , Dollar Store Decorationg , How to make drawer pulls , How to paint and update furniture , Thrifty Decorating Ideas I am linking this post to: Subscribe and Connect with Me […]

  3. […] Since the gift-wrap has a tan background, I wanted to add a bit of it into the pulls. They also needed a bit of contrast and I was inspired to add the flat glass beads after seeing glass number knobs at Anthropologie. How to Update a Hand Me Down Dresser […]

  4. […] I said before, I was on a budget, and I’m happy with the final product.  I then remembered a nifty idea that I saw on Pinterest and purchased a $3 dollar roll of wrapping paper from […]

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