A French Provincial Transformation

What can I say about this dresser? I know this style won’t appeal to everyone, so please be kind. Also, I’ve only refinished one other piece of furniture, so I’m still learning. Mostly, I learned that I have no idea what I’m doing. But let’s start at the beginning.

We’ve all seen those old 70’s reproduction French Provincial pieces floating around.

I didn’t pay a lot for this one. I don’t even remember now how much, because I bought it last summer with four other pieces of furniture. Thankfully, only two of them were from the same collection. I’m not sure how many more times I could deal with this.

Or this.

Or this.

Nasty doesn’t begin to describe it. Besides all the dirt and grime, this piece wasn’t in very good shape structurally either. But that’s a newbie for you. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, except that my middle daughter wanted some French Provincial pieces in her bedroom.

So we started getting ideas online for how she wanted it finished. And right away, she picked this as the look she wanted mom to recreate. I think the image originally came from an eBay auction, but I found it here.

French Provincial

What would you call that look? Somehow “distressed” doesn’t seem to cover it. Rustic? Shabby? Weathered? Worn? I don’t know what you call it, but that’s the look she wanted. Do you think she could have picked anything more difficult for someone with almost no experience? Talk about jumping in with both feet…with no tutorials to be found, I was in over my head before I even started!

One thing we both agreed on was that we wanted the top to be dark, and look like real wood. Kind of the opposite of this.

Did I mention how nasty this piece was? Anyway, I had seen the most amazing tutorial over at Redoux Interiors, on how to make anything look like real wood. You can find it here. Karen Berg is not only talented, but she’s a sweetheart, and took the time to answer all of my questions. So I gave it a shot, and here’s a look at how it turned out.

I told you it was an amazing tutorial, didn’t I? I couldn’t be happier.

After my success with the top, I had to figure out how to recreate that rustic-shabby-distressed-whatever look on the rest of the piece.

And you know how I like to give you tutorials, right? Well, I’m sorry to say, I don’t have one this time.

But it’s certainly not for lack of trying. I took so many pictures of this piece in varying stages.

Carefully documenting every step, every paint color, every method. So I could show you how I did it.

Then starting all over again because it wasn’t turning out like our inspiration piece.

Taking more pictures, writing down more steps. And then starting all over again. Again. :(

Until I finally gave up trying to document everything.


And just kept trying different things, not knowing whether it would ever turn out the way we wanted it to.


After all that, I’m happy to say that while it may not be perfect…wait, wasn’t that the point? Well, we ended up with something we can both live with.


As for Shawn and Wynetta….

Well, I’m not sure whatever became of them, but at least their names are no longer in the drawers. Instead, there are now sweet birds, flowers, trees, and bird nests.

And lots of words in french. Which I thought was appropriate for this piece, n’est-ce pas?

So I’m sorry I don’t have a detailed tutorial for you, like I had originally planned. But if you have any questions, I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can. UPDATE: You can catch the tutorial here.

And now I’m wondering, is this a piece you would have in your home? Or is it a little too…distressed? Remember, please be kind. :)

Thanks for stopping by, as always.

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