Diamond in the Rough ~ Creating an Old World Look

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A couple of weeks ago, we took our family out for a fun day of hiking, picnics, and all around quality time in honor of one of our daughter’s birthdays. Before we set out on our jaunt, we decided to stop into Goodwill to see if we could find the birthday girl a camera case since she had lost hers at the zoo the week prior.

We were able to find a hot pink case, perfect for a little girl, then after that I decided to quickly make my normal rounds.  I say quickly because although my kids are used to shopping with me, my hubby doesn’t care to treasure hunt, and because I had promised myself no new pieces until I emptied my stash and built the work table I’ve been craving. And that’s when I spied this…

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

I literally gasped and said, “Oh no.” I gave a silent point to my husband and I could see his face say, “Here we go again.” Hoping the price tag was too much so that I couldn’t buy it, I crept over that jungle of weight equipment to find it was marked $100. Sigh…thankfully I had a 35% off coupon burning a hole in my pocket. tsk. Guess my work table would have to wait. My hubby agreed this piece was coming home with us.

Because we were off for a day of adventure, we couldn’t take it with us that day (I mean, who can fit a large dresser and a family of 8 in a suburban? I would if I had to!!) We picked up this diamond in the rough the next day and gave it a look-over. Here’s a better look at what I was up against.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Structurally sound and beautiful design, but missing a few wood carvings, which I sometimes affectionately call “jewelry”. If you look close at this next photo, you’ll see where the carvings are missing and I’m sure you can’t miss the damaged veneer.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

The side panels were pretty chipped up and looking like snaggle teeth, much like the drawer fronts and face. Thankfully, the previous owner stuck the leg carving piece that had popped off into the top jewelry drawer which makes things a little easier.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

And the top was worn with water rings and it looked like someone took a drill bit to make some not-so-pretty decorations to the top on both sides.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

This piece totally reminded me of my first rebuild of another empire dresser a couple of years ago (see below), so my pulse happily quickened at the challenge. GAME ON!

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

So, you may be asking, “What do you do with all that damage and missing parts?” You roll up your sleeves and get ready to work.

When you have a piece that has damaged and missing veneer, you can do one of two things: remove it or repair it. There have been several instances where I’ve used my method to remove all of the veneer and work with the surface below. You can also buy veneer in rolls and repair it that way as well. For this particular situation, I decided to patch the empty spots with wood filler since I was after a time-worn look. (You can also use auto-body filler too)

With my handy-dandy putty knife and filler in hand, I went crazy on that snaggle mess.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

I even use filler like clay and form it to match the missing details as well. it’s a pretty versatile medium. I’ve also used actual polymer clay for repairs using my clay method in other projects.

One particular drawer, the bottom, had me baffled for a bit on how to replicate the missing trim. I couldn’t just yank it off the opposing side because it ran down the faces of all the drawers, I’ll show it to you again…

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

See how the upright braided piece is missing on the right? That’s when I called over my hubby and asked his thoughts. He said to take off the trim on the left, cut it, and add something to both bottoms. I love that guy. I had been leaning towards replacing the trim with these two wood carvings I scored from Goodwill for 75¢ a couple weeks earlier, but I like his idea better.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Funny how all of these goodies are from the same store.  So…off goes the trim piece I do have, and out comes my hack saw. {{wicked giggling ensues}}

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

I cut off an end of the new wood pieces, then cut the salvaged piece to length. With both laying on my work surface, they’re looking good to me!

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Notice how I used wood filler to complete the missing design on the scalloped edge. Much better.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Since nothing goes to waste, I decided to add the remnant new carved pieces to the drawer front of the top jewelry box to tie in the detailing below.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Now those other missing carved pieces can make things interesting, but that’s when I get out my Dremel and cut the intact opposing design to match the side that has missing details.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Once all repairs are made and patches put on, I do a light sanding just to give the surface some “teeth” (something for my paint to grip onto).

My inspiration for this piece is to create an old world look and a story, as if this beauty resided in a story-book home from the 18th century. Imagine a home that is decked from floor to ceiling with ornate intricate designs, gilded accents, and a true appreciation for artisans of another time. I can just picture this piece originally up against a wall decorated with damask wallpaper, flanked with brass candle sconces and a divine crystal chandelier above, and inside the drawsers are filled with slips and underclothing for a lady of stature. Just dreamy, isn’t it?

To create the look I’m after, I chose to work with a new product to me, Americana Decor Chalky Finish Paint and Clear Créme Wax by DecoArt. The blue is called, Serene and the off-white is named, Lace, both of which I believe are aptly named for such a lady as this, don’t you think? I purchased these from Home Depot, but they’re also carried in most craft stores and online as well.

*affiliate links are included in this post so you can find the goodies I use too!

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

With my brush in hand I gave a first coat to the entire piece, even over some of the details I plan to draw out later because it is sooo much easier and less time-consuming to get nice crisp edges when you apply the detail paint, than it is to try to cut in with your first coat.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

An artists’ brush makes it easier to get into those tight crevices.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

This is what the cabinet and drawers look like after the first coat. Sometimes I stop there when I’m wanting a washed effect. But for this gal, I’m going for that old work look and I’d like a good base to start with, so I apply a second coat.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

I must say, I sort of giggled when I found how easy the paint was to apply. Smooth and self-leveling makes me happy. It’s the little things.

After all the base coat is applied, I again grab my artists’ brushes and do one coat (a wash) of the intricate details I want to highlight. That wash creates texture and adds a time-worn feel.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

The original pulls are dainty and ornate, but are lacking some life. they appear to be brass, but are actually brass-plated steel. Solid brass is non-magnetic, so always check to be sure.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Using the Lace paint with a light hand, and the washed method (use a mostly dry brush and drag it over the top of the details) will add dimension and call out those details.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Now you might think I would stop there, but oh no…this lady needs some BLING! Another product by DecoArt is a metallic paint line called Elegant Finish Champagne Gold, also aptly named for this fine lady. Again, with an artists’ brush, I highlight the concave aspets and add detailing here and there to add a feminine touch.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Once everything has been painted to suit your taste, it’s time for the fun part…distressing. The time where we get to create a story of days gone by and as if this beauty has seen the world over. I typically use a 120 or 150 grit paper and it’s key to not just rub all the corners creating the same wear everywhere. Take your time and think about where the wear would occur. Drag across and downward and in opposite directions – that adds more detail to the story.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

After you’ve finished your distressing, it’s time to add the wax topcoat. For this I use a soft t-shirt type cloth and dip it into the wax and apply it in circular motions to get an even coat.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Even the painted pulls get a light coat of wax to give them longer life and a bit of sheen.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Once the wax has had a chance to dry (approx. 20 min. or less), take a soft cloth and buff the surfaces. Our old cloth diapers are perfect for this purpose and are like gold to me.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

This will give the dresser a soft lustre and extend the life of the paint as well. The cool part about this wax is that you could also add a bit of paint in the color of your choosing and create your own custom colored wax. Fun!

My lady is finished getting her makeover and I am absolutely excited to show you her reveal. {{deep breath}} Are you ready?

She’s gilded with her jewelry and her gown of blue and white is fit for a queen.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of this piece with all the ornate details getting a chance to shine.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

The repairs were well-worth the effort.There are still some waves in the veneer, but that’s fine with me because it adds to the story being told.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

The repair work I did blends in perfectly with the feel of the dresser and I love that it was able to be saved.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Isn’t it wonderful how the white-washed effect and gilding really made those details pop out?

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

You know me, I’d keep every one of my pieces, but lack the space to do so. If you would like to call it your own, this dresser is available in my shop.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

But for now, I’m having fun enjoying this stately piece in all its splendor.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Now it’s your turn. Go on and give this look a try. Feel free to ask me any questions!

Do share this technique so others can learn and create a story of their very own.

Diamond in the Rough Thrifted Dresser is damaged and missing parts, but with a little TLC, it now showcases an Old World Look by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

More transformation fun for you to enjoy:

Antique Stereo Repurposed Into Sewing Cabinet by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

Ikea Rast Dresser Done Brownie Camera Style by Prodigal Pieces www.prodigalpieces.com #prodigalpieces

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28 Comments

  • Ellen Braunberger

    The Lady is fabulous!

    June 15, 2015 at 8:50 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you! Now if I could just squeeze her in my closet. 🙂

      June 15, 2015 at 9:24 am Reply
      • Joie (Conrad) Glatt

        Hi Larissa!!

        Oh my gosh!! How beautiful your pieces are!! You are so incredible with all that you do …taking a throw away and making I into something so desirable!!!
        So proud of your accomplishments!
        Love,
        Joie

        September 9, 2015 at 12:19 pm Reply
        • Larissa

          Thank you so much, Joie. It is something I take pleasure in and am blessed I’m able to do something like this. So glad you stopped by!

          September 10, 2015 at 9:15 pm Reply
  • Sherry Fram

    Gorgeous piece! She turned out great!

    June 15, 2015 at 9:01 am Reply
    • Larissa

      I am so happy that all the woodwork came out as I’d hoped, and you know I love my blue!! Thank you, Sherry.

      June 15, 2015 at 9:24 am Reply
  • MJ

    Larissa, Lovely piece! Your vision was terrific–as usual.
    Now, will you tell us how you managed the broken front foot? Did you turn that around so the broken part is patched in the back? I don’t think so. Are these feet something you pick up from un-restorable furniture and save for later use? Do you have a secret source of replacements of the correct height?
    I ask because I’m looking at taking a tall “provincial” dresser to the dump because I can’t figure out how to fix the broken leg.
    No doubt others see pieces broken this way and wonder about the repair. Thanks for any suggestions.

    June 15, 2015 at 9:58 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you! I had mentioned in the post that the previous owner had their wits about them and put that missing foot piece in the top jewelry drawer. Email me with pictures of the broken leg and furniture piece you’re talking about and I’ll see if I can help. 🙂

      June 15, 2015 at 10:35 am Reply
  • Marie@The Interior Frugalista

    Stunning, creative missing trim fix, gorgeous colors, beautiful attention to detail. This princess won’t be listed long I’m sure!

    June 15, 2015 at 11:27 am Reply
    • Larissa

      You are a gem with your compliments as always, Marie. Thank you!

      June 16, 2015 at 5:59 am Reply
  • Frou Frugal

    Great job, Larissa. For wavy veneer fixes, I bought a hypodermic needle from Tractor Supply (the kind for horse or cows) and fill the syringe with glue and insert the needle into the wavy area. Something hard on top to hold down the veneer is all it takes and then fill the needle hole with a spot of putty. If you ever want to fix those, that is.

    June 15, 2015 at 5:28 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thanks, Susan. Yes, I use a similar method too. Some of these spots were actual bubbles that didn’t reach the edges and I typically do a thin slice to get into it an add glue in a similar fashion Thanks for the tip!

      June 16, 2015 at 5:58 am Reply
  • Amazing Furniture Transformations | From Evija with Love

    […] am a massive fan of Larissa from the Prodigal Pieces and her beautiful transformations. I saw this and instantly fell in […]

    June 17, 2015 at 6:55 am Reply
  • Crafting Marfa

    Wow. This is a stunning piece. You are so inspiring!

    June 20, 2015 at 12:30 pm Reply
  • Marilyn Gray

    This is gorgeous and you are an awesome worker on furniture. It was a pleasure to “watch your mind work” in this project! Thanks for going the whole way with this beauty for us! Looking forward to the next one!

    June 21, 2015 at 8:40 am Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you so much, Marilyn! It is very rewarding to breathe new life into pieces and that others enjoy them so. I’m happy you took a minute to bless me. 🙂

      June 21, 2015 at 2:21 pm Reply
  • Christina Marie

    i love this! Great idea with the missing trim piece! I like the old world look I went for an old French look on a bed I did a while ago. http://themarieproject.blogspot.com/2014/10/visions-of-bed-frame-dance-in-my-head.html?m=0
    Thanks for sharing I’ll be back

    July 12, 2015 at 8:40 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you, Christina! It’s fun to put together a unique piece and especially to give a tired dresser a new lease on life. I’m headed to check out your bed! 😉

      July 15, 2015 at 2:35 am Reply
  • tawni dilly

    You could always use silicon to make molds of broken trim pieces and cast the with clay, plaster or something. What a beautiful piece of furniture and you are very creative ! Great find!!

    July 21, 2015 at 6:32 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Yes, I’ve made my own molds before, as I mentioned in the post, but my originals were damaged too. It was fun to recreate and make it a new piece. Thank you! 🙂

      July 21, 2015 at 10:32 pm Reply
  • Marianne Andreazza

    Larissa….AWESOME transformation of the vintage dresser. It makes me wish I had vision enough to keep all of that type of furniture from my parents’ house. Super job! Congrats on the Honorable Mention in the DecoArt contest!

    Marianne
    Temecula, CA

    September 9, 2015 at 4:22 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      Thank you so much, Marianne! I often think of the pieces I let go too…hindsight is 20/20. 🙂

      September 10, 2015 at 9:14 pm Reply
  • Linda Magruder

    Wow just wow.. in my opinion this should have been the grand prize winner Sooooooo beautifu.l Great creativity and planning. Well thought out and great use of the products!

    September 11, 2015 at 11:01 pm Reply
    • Larissa

      You made my day! Thank you so much, Linda. I know all the contestants worked so hard, and I’m certainly pleased to included in the top bunch. Half of the fun is the challenge too, and I am greatly blessed. 🙂

      September 12, 2015 at 5:42 am Reply
  • Sue Pagels

    That is still one of my favorite pieces EVER! Wish I could have bought it!

    May 18, 2016 at 8:23 am Reply
    • Larissa

      awww…thank you, Sue!

      May 19, 2016 at 9:50 am Reply
  • cheryl B.

    What blue is that? its is very soft.I like it a lot.your pieces always amaze me.

    July 24, 2016 at 1:19 am Reply
    • Larissa

      I have the link to it in my post, but it is by DecoArt called Vintage.

      July 24, 2016 at 6:51 pm Reply

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