Several years ago my grandmother gave me her old high boy.  She was running out of space but didn’t want to get rid of it & knew that I would keep it & take care of it. She’s had this with a full bedroom set for at least 50 years – AND she bought it 2nd hand back in the 1960’s!

It’s a mahogany veneer dresser that needed a makeover to fit in with my style.  I have wanted to give it a little face lift for a while, but didn’t want Grandmother upset with any changes I might make.

Finally, when we moved into our current home & I gave our master bedroom a makeover this piece was 1 of the 1st things I knew I needed to tackle.

Antique Mahogany Veneer Dresser – Before

The dresser is not my style at all, but it is very solid and well built. Old school for real, with dovetail joints and mahogany veneer on the drawer fronts.

I’m not sure which is worse to refinish, veneer or laminate – especially if the veneer is loose and starting to peel like some is on my dresser. Luckily, only the bottom drawer was peeling.

I used a putty knife to completely strip the veneer from that drawer only. You have to be gentle & use the putty knife to pull up the edges of the veneer just enough to get a grip on it. Then pull it up by hand or hold the free edge with pliers for better grip.

For pieces that don’t peel off easily, I very slowly & gently scraped it with the putty knife.  The key is to not gouge the wood underneath.

The last thing I needed to do to prep the dresser for painting was to remove the skirt from the bottom. I had my jigsaw ready for this step – you know… because I just love using power tools any chance I get – but it came off pretty easily by hand.

After that, I sanded the whole piece down with my mouse detail sander & sandpaper for the grooves on the front legs.

Primer, 2 coats of paint, & 1 coat of polyurethane later I had this beautifully smooth finish!

I used spray paint for this project. I hand paint some furniture projects but for most projects with flat surfaces, I prefer to use spray paint for a smoother finish. This is a perfect example of why.

This is a visual of what the dresser looked like when I started & again after 2 coats of paint.

And here is the re-finished high boy! I really love how it turned out.  It makes me happy every single day. The hardest part was finding odd sized knobs that fit the new style.

Refinished High Boy Dresser

Best part is… Grandmother loves it too!  WIN!  I love giving old things new life, keeping them in the family, & saving them from the landfill.  Let me know what you think & if you like this makeover PIN IT below!

Here’s a old-fashioned quick tip – if you have old furniture with wooden drawer slides that stick, rub a bar of dry soap on the tracks & on the slides. It’ll glide like butter after that.

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  1. Nikki! This looks wonderful! I usually shy away from painting good wood but you kept the integrity of the piece.. you chose the perfect knobs to accent it. Now you have a timeless piece and made your grandmother pleased.. that’s a win win! And thanks for the tidbit advice.. never knew that (wink wink) enjoy your day and thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks Jamala! Agreed, painting great wood furniture makes me nervous sometimes, especially when it’s a treasured piece that’s been in the family a long time. Since the veneer had seen better days on this one, I had to make a choice – I’m just happy Grandmother loves it!

  2. That piece is beautiful. You did an amazing job . Old furniture fixed up just makes me so happy . It’s a thrill to find a piece that needs some TLC. Others see it as old and throw away , like u I see the beauty just waiting for a set of hands to show off again !

    1. Thanks Sina! It really does make you smile. It’s fun plus it’s a great sense of accomplishment to makeover furniture like this! It hurts my heart to see people throw out beautiful nostalgic pieces.

  3. Thank you for sharing the amazing redo of your dresser. I especially appreciate your clear directions, tips, and the visuals you post. You simply make it very easy for me to have confidence to go forward with a similar project.

    1. Hi Ethel! I’m so glad you found my post helpful & I hope you’ll stick around for more. If there’s anything specific you’d like to see me tackle or have a question about, let me know.

      Until then… 😉