Dresser Makeover: Buttons & Poet’s Paint

I don’t think I have ever showed you one side of my bedroom, the wall directly across from the bed.  There was not much there except a big 1980’s cherry entertainment center cabinet. It was the first piece of furniture Ed and I bought on our own when we were married 30 years ago, a piece that was not handed down to us.

We used it in our family room for about 10 years and then when we moved to our current house,  we moved it to our bedroom since we had new furniture for the family room.  It held a small TV and some out-of-season clothes.  It filled the space against the wall nicely, but I was not a fan of the color. Since it had become obsolete, it wasn’t a piece I wanted to paint. I figured since my eyes were closed 80% of the time I was in the room, I could live with it.


Then one day earlier this year when we were moving furniture out of the basement, I realized that two shelving units we had there would no longer be used.  I decided then and there that I was going to bring them up from the basement to replace the outdated entertainment center. Use-what-I-had decorating was my new plan for the wall.

Dresser makeover using Poet's paint waterglass paint

That move alone made a huge difference.  It wasn’t until I added a Tarva dresser from IKEA between the two shelving units that I really liked it. I still have to accessorize the shelves – not sure yet what I want to place in them.  Probably more baskets for hidden storage.

I bought the Tarva dresser when I made it to the Final Four of the BHG March Makeover Madness Challenge.  We were told in advance that it was what we were going to make over. I decided to buy one so I could experiment at home with my idea to make sure it would work once I got to Des Moines for the challenge.  After the challenge, I didn’t have a use for it and placed it in the basement for one of my daughters to eventually use in one of their apartments.

The shelving units were white when we bought them, but with their age they had become slightly off-white.  I didn’t want to paint the them, so I looked for a color to paint the Tarva dresser to match.


I found the perfect color match in a can of Vintage White Poet’s Paint Waterglass Paint that I had recently received and planned to use on a thrift store stool for a product review.

What is Waterglass Paint


Poet’s Paint Waterglass Paint is made by adding a substance known as “sodium silicate”, which is liquid glass, into the paint.  Adding waterglass gives your paint project an excellent durable and hard finish that will last for years.  It may take a wee bit more muscle to distress the finish but you can be assured that your hard work will pay off with an outstanding chalk-like matte finish which will rival the best chalk paints on the market.

Waterglass is often added to cement and other coatings to provide a hard surface and has the ability to passively retard fires when added in large quantities. Although our Waterglass Paint is not considered fire retardant, it does provide an exceptionally durable surface.


One of the biggest misconceptions about painting with chalk-based paints is that they are only used if you want to create an aged distressed finish. The painted finish does not have to be distressed or aged. It can be left alone to look modern and new.

I am frequently asked why I use chalk-based paints instead of a just a can of latex.  One of the reasons… latex alone leaves a stickiness on painted surface even after it is dry. When you place something on it, the item sticks to the surface and you hear a “sticky”sound when you remove the item. This does not happen with chalk paint and wax.  The other reason I love using chalk-based paints on furniture… the finish and patina looks professional,  not like just a piece of painted furniture.


The other part of the dresser makeover was to add some style to the plain wood knobs that came on the dresser. After looking at knobs at Anthropologie, I decided to do a little styling of my own using my button stash.


DIY’ing the existing ones saved me about $50 since I didn’t have to buy anything new.  More of the “use-what-I-have” decorating plan.

How to Make Drawer Pulls Using Buttons

If you don’t have a stash of buttons, you can find buttons at hobby and craft stores, or cut them from clothes before you throw them away.  If you want to find a big collection, check on ebay, auctions, and retirement home thrift stores. They are where I have found most of mine.

I chose abalone buttons to coordinate with a glass lamp in the room that has an opalescent quality to it. I accented them with gold buttons

  • If the button has a shank, cut the shank off using wire cutters.
  • I used glue to attach the gold button to the flat abalone buttons and then to the drawer pulls.
  • Wait until glue dries before placing the knobs back on to the drawers


 How to Paint with Poet’s Paint


Like chalk paint, Poet’s Paint can be applied without a primer.  I used my trusty angled Purdy paint brush to paint the dresser. I did a spot paint treatment over each knot in the wood before painting the entire surface to make sure the knots were sealed well and any tannins in them would not bleed through. Once they were covered, I used 3 light coats over the dresser, letting each coat dry before applying the next coat. It dries very fast.  The paint went on very smooth and I did not need to sand the finish. I started in the morning and was done by early afternoon.

When the paint was dry I used Fiddes and Sons clear wax to protect and bring up a subtle shine so that the dresser would match the shelving units. I waited 48 hours before using it or placing anything on the top so the paint had a chance to cure.

  Furniture Painting Tips:  

The Best Dropcloth 


  • When I get lazy and don’t want to carry a piece of furniture to my garage or basement to paint, I have found the best drop cloth to use is a flattened cardboard box.
  • When you place the item on it you can easily turn it around to reach all sides of the piece you are working on from one position. You can just swirl the cardboard to view the side you need to work on. Since the cardboard slides easily on flooring it makes painting furniture in place or close to were it will go very easy.
  • If you don’t finish painting in one day, you can simply slide the cardboard with the furniture still on it out of the way until you have time to work on it again.
  • Easy clean-up. Simply fold the cardboard up and store it to use for your next project. I keep a few of the opened boxes propped up in my garage so I have them on hand when I want to paint.

The Easy Way to Paint Cabinet and or Furniture Knobs

The easy method to paint furniture knobs

  •  Use Styrofoam from packaging to create a tray of sorts.  Punch the drawer knob screws up from under the Styrofoam and then screw the knob on.  The knobs are secure, but you can move the Styrofoam all around with one hand and paint with your other hand to reach all sides of the knob.
  • If using spray paint, cover the Styrofoam with paper or foil first or use a piece of cardboard instead of Styrofoam.  Spray paint will eat the foam.

One more project done in my bedroom refreshing makeover.  I am a big fan of paint and using what I have to create “new” in my home.  By keeping an open mind, I created something much better for the wall in my bedroom.

If you would like to find out more information about Poet’s Paint, check out their website:  Poet’s Paint Waterglass Paint  It only comes in 4 colors so far, but I was told more will be added soon.


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  1. Doreen Tubbs says:

    I would love a link to the source page for the dresser above with the large french typograph. I absolutely think this blog is essential if you need information on using chalk paint and how to use it. Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Doreen – The piece of furniture you are asking about was created by the folks at Poet’s Paint. You can find out more here: http://poetspaint.com/

  2. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    What a wonderful post. Storage space is always on my list of wants, so this is perfect. I learned a while back about your painting techniques and have been using them often. I have no space to paint so the cardboard for the back of a spray station is so valuable to me. And guess what I did? I splattered my car with tiny dot’s of pale blue paint when I whitewashed my headboard that I made. I moved the car back, but paint splatters can go further than I ever though. Luckily I could scrape them off with my thumb nail. lol

    Thanks for all the wonderful advice and how to’s you post.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sheryll – I once was spray painting in the garage and paint ended up on Ed’s car. :-( Now I move the cars out and to the end of the driveway so no overspray will get on them.

  3. Hi Diane!
    I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now and I think you are simply amazing !
    I’m a 24 year old graphic designer from Argentina and I love how creative you are with all your ideas. My mother knows I’m obsessed with your blog and every now and then when we find something old at my place that is not being used she says “What would Diane do with this?”. She likes to mock me because I’m always talking about your proyects! :)
    Anyway, just wanted to say hi and thank you for all the inspiration!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Julieta –

      You just made my day!!! Thanks for taking the time to say hi and connect with me. It is so nice to hear that my posts and ideas have inspired you. It sounds like we are kindred spirits for sure. Before I had children, I had a job working as a graphic designer for a home decor store. It was before everything went digital. We used to cut and paste with X-acto knives and glue :-) Things have come a long way since then. Your mom sounds fun! I have two daughters – my youngest is your age – I kid with them when they are around and usually get eye-rolling along with some X’s + O’s Thanks again for taking the time to connect with me.

  4. The knobs updated with buttons are gorgeous and you are genius!! Love the new look an inexpensive dresser!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Merri Jo – I enjoy doing the budget friendly furniture makeover not only for saving $$$, but getting something unique in the process, too.

  5. Diane, the dresser turned out beautifully. I love the finish of the waterglass paint. I use the cardboard box method too- since I’m in a small apartment, I find it the best way to paint furniture! I think your shelves are missing a lovely bunch of silk hydrangeas in a low basket. :-)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Bettsi – I used to have hydrangeas on my night table. They are one of my fave flowers. I agree they would look nice on the shelves.

  6. Beautiful effect, Diane. Don’t think the Poet’s Waterglass paint is available yet via retailers in Canada, and would likely be very costly to ship here. :(
    Just love the lamp sitting on the Tarva dresser. The pearly/opalescent base is lovely. From where did you get this?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Janet – The Poet’s Waterglass paint is only available on Amazon. I bought the lamp earlier this year at HomeGoods.

  7. Thanks for this tutorial along with the why’s.

  8. Thank you for sharing your creativity! You are my favorite blogger and always look forward to your posts.
    What product do you use to spot treat the knots in wood?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Connie – If you are using chalk paint – it usually will take care of the knots in the wood. I always like to put a few extra coats of it over each one to make sure it seals them. If it is a very old piece you can use clear shellac If you are using regular latex- Kilz primer/sealer is the best to use. It is a shellac based primer that will stop tannin bleed into the painted finish.

  9. Diane, You are such an inspiration! I love this post. This would be a great entertainment wall too….with the flat screen where you have the art work. LOVE IT!!!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sylvia – A flat screen is on my wish list for the wall above the dresser. I would like one for my fitness room, too. Hopefully soon my wish comes true or Santa will bring me one :-)

  10. I love this, I love the simplicity of it so that the little bit of gold pop – gorgeous girl!

  11. aly britt says:

    Thank you so much for the ideas! I just fixed two items with glue. Never occurred to me to use glue. On my dresser, which is laminate, I glued on fancy fixtures – something like antique handles and on my mailbox, which I didn’t know how I was going to fix it, I glued on the red flag that broke off last winter. You are the best!

  12. I love this new paint look, although the white looks a little yellow? Would you say it has a yellow tinge? I love every make-over you do. You are so talented.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Carole – The paint color is called Vintage White. It is a match to Heirloom White and Annie Sloan’s Old White. The tint is not quite yellow, but more of a yellow/tan/greyish white. It is not Pure white white.

  13. I use cardboard, too, as a dropcloth, but never thought about using to turn the piece–you are so clever! Love your blog!

  14. I have not used chalk paint in the past. I will give it a try thanks to your article. It makes good sense.
    Regarding the knobs…it is thrilling to me to refresh something and not spend any money.

    1. Love the paint. Where do they sell it? Also, where can I get those lights on top of the bookcases?

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Mary – The Waterglass paint is sold on Amazon. As for the lights on the top of the bookcases. I bought them 15 years ago at IKEA. I am not sure they sell the exact ones anymore, but they still do carry similar fixtures.

  15. I love everything you do! I bought that same little Ikea dresser for my Bonus Room (which is my sewing/craft room). I painted it teal to go with the Teal & Lime I have in that bright, fun space. I did ombre on the drawers by stirring in a tiny bit of white for the middle drawer and adding in a little more white for the top drawer. Perfect place for a lamp between my 2 slipper chairs, and the 3 drawers hold my painting supplies.

    Another chalky paint I have discovered and love is the Americana brand, available at several chain stores, but I usually get it at Michael’s with my 40 or 50% off coupon. I also bought their wax but haven’t tried it yet. I did try their brush-on varnish as a top coat for 2 night stands I painted and it also worked great. I am so glad that other companies are coming out with products for us crafters b/c it increases the variety and the competition drives down the price for us :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks MK – The dresser is a great size to use in a sewing/craft room. It is pretty versatile. I have seen the Americana brand of chalk paint, but have not used it yet. The paint looks great along with the price. The wax is sort of a liquid, not thick and soft like butter. I need to try it out.

  16. WOW, my comment is LONG OVERDUE. I totally adore your blog for SO many reasons. This post is amazing. Please accept my thank you for all the time and effort you put into inmyownstyle. It’s my all time #1 go to place for great infro and tutorials that are perfect. Plus, you are simply adorable in every way. I vote for you whenever possible in your endeavors. Wishing you continued success and blessings.
    Warm Regards, Lesa

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lesa – Thank you for leaving me such a nice comment. You made my day. XOXO It makes me happy to know that you like what I write about. Blogging does take a lot of time and effort, but I love it…it was what I was meant to do. I truly enjoy sharing what I know to help and inspire others. Thanks for the votes.

  17. Debbie @ The Magpie's Cottage says:

    I’m in love with these knobs! I just refinished a dresser and bought very similar knobs at Hobby Lobby – had to wait for them to be on sale! I never even thought I could create the same look with buttons – YEAH!
    You are simply amazing …….how ever do you think up these things!!
    Thank you, thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Debbie – I worked in retail display for many years. We had no budget and had to be resourceful to come up with ways to decorate the store only using items we had in a prop room. We saved everything so we could take it apart and reuse it to make something new.

  18. What terrific idea Diane, I love your inspirations and interesting news about glass paint, must check it out and see if available in Oz :)

  19. Styling, painting an IKEA dresser, using buttons to great effect, brilliant drop-cloth alternative AND the best way to paint drawer knobs. Five posts in one… Now that’s what I call a great article, Diane! Duly pinned

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Suzy –

      I wanted to show all my steps and methods on how I paint to get a project done quickly. I have found the little tips and tricks that I post about – I take for granted, thinking it is how everyone does it. It is these posts that get the most pins and engagement. :-)

  20. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    I so want to try that paint. Looks so pretty! Love the knobs with buttons too.