Heika’s DIY stenciled dresser

Green stenciled dresser, photo

Our newest guest nester Heika DeHart shared photos of her daughter’s bedroom, which was full of decor that Heika handmade herself, including this beautifully stenciled dresser. Now she’s sharing her step-by-step instructions for how she transformed the lackluster chest of drawers.

Heika bought the dresser at a university auction for $15. It was structurally sound but in serious need of a face-lift. Two colors of paint, a handmade stencil, and new glass knobs did the trick. Click here to see the rest of her daughter’s bedroom.

Heika's little girl's bedroom decor, photo

How to: stenciled dresser

  • sand paper or steel wool

  • paint roller and tray (if latex paint is used)

  • interior latex paint or spray paint

  • polyurethane clear finish (optional)

  • stencil adhesive spray

  • sponge paint brush

  • butcher paper

  • craft knife (such as an X-Acto knife)

  • overhead projector

  • glass drawer pulls


1. Prep
Remove all hardware, and take the drawers out of the dresser. Lightly sand all the surfaces that are going to be painted with low grit sandpaper or steel wool, which will help the new paint adhere better.

2. Paint
Two options for painting furniture that work well:

Latex interior paint: I recommend rolling it on rather than using a paintbrush where possible because the result is smoother. Use a foam brush to get in any tight corners or hard to reach places (dabbing paint on with a foam brush will give the same appearance as the rolled-on paint). For the dresser, place it on 2x4s or anything that will raise it off the ground so that you can easily paint all the way to the bottom. Coat everything twice or until it looks completely covered.

Spray paint: This is my preferred method of painting furniture. The only drawback is a limited color palette to choose from. After sanding, prep the dresser by taping over any surface you don’t want painted. The trick with spray paint is to stand back and try to achieve a light, consistent coat, which will minimize drips. It dries to a tacky phase in about 15 minutes and can be given multiple coats in a short period of time.

3. Make a stencil
Find a picture with simple lines, then transfer the image onto a clear overhead projection page. Tape a big piece of butcher paper onto the wall and project the image onto the paper. After measuring to make sure the image is the desired size, trace the outlines of the picture onto the paper. Then cut out the positive spaces of the stencil with a craft knife. You can also use a pre-made stencil. The Stencil Library has a huge selection.

4. Paint the stencil
When the paint on the dresser is completely dry, paint the stencil on. Lay the dresser on its back and replace the drawers, so the drawers face up. Spray stencil adhesive to the back of the stencil and place the stencil on the drawers. Tape off any exposed parts of the dresser front that you don’t want to be painted, then spray paint over the stencil. (Spray paint makes a much cleaner line than dabbing paint on, which inevitably bleeds under the stencil.)

5. Optional top coat
To give the paint a tougher kid-proof finish, paint a layer of polyurethane clear coat onto the dresser. It will keep the paint from getting scratched easily and will make cleaning  children’s messy fingerprints easier.

6. New hardware
The finishing touch for the makeover was new glass drawer pulls. Replacing hardware is a quick and easy way to update any piece of furniture.

Crafty Nest Heika's stenciled dresser Pinterest image

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Made this project? Email your photo(s) to monica (at) craftynest (dot) com, and I’ll share your version here!