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DREXEL VINTAGE DRESSER: I NEED YOUR VOTE

July 21, 2014

Remember this dresser in our bedroom?  I’ve always like the Ikea Hemnes dresser shape and the ring pulls were a perfect, inexpensive update that spruced it up a bit.  I never intended to hang on to it long term, but it was getting the job done.  However Ruby decided it was time for something new…. by sneaking a bobby-pin out of the bathroom drawer while I was in the shower and giving it a little makeover of her own.

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All but three drawers got the scratch treatment.  She was pretty proud of herself until she saw the horror on my face.  First victim of toddlerdom, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.  I filled in the scratches with the handy Minwax wood pen I used on the ottoman in the family room.  It mostly did the trick, but in sunlight, the sheen is different.  It sort of looks like I took a marker and drew all over my dresser.

I’m not completely heartbroken over it, after all, it is a really inexpensive dresser.  Could have been much worse, and it was just the nudge I needed to finally find a piece I loved.

I’ve been hunting for quite awhile for a great vintage dresser and just couldn’t find one I a) loved and b) wasn’t a fortune.  If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw my thrift store good fortune on Friday:

IMG_7081

A gorgeous Drexel vintage dresser.

Ruby obviously looked as thrilled as I at our fantastic find (more like she was ripe for a nap).

Right off, I loved the shape.  Clean, straight, mid-century lines.  Inside a drawer, you can usually find the furniture maker if it’s good quality.  Sure enough, there was a Drexel brand stamp on the inside of one of the drawers.  It also said the wood: mahogany.  Now my pulse had quickened.

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I started inspecting it very closely. If a vintage dresser finds its way to a thrift store, it’s usually in pretty rough shape.  I once found a Lane chest at a thrift store and was heartbroken at a giant gauge in the side.  It’s not worth the money if it can’t be restored, in my opinion.

I opened every drawer.  All were great.  One sticks just a little and it looks like a child took a marker to the inside of a couple, but nothing major.  I walked all the way around it and checked out all of the corners.  It’s in excellent condition.  A few quick phone internet searches revealed similar Drexel dressers going for as much as $1500+.  Those that need a little work I found on a couple classified sites for around $600.  This beauty I snagged for $150.

Now, what to do with it.  I’m not the biggest fan of the blonde wood stain.  I looooooove the hardware.  It’s original and just needs a little attention.  I plan to keep it and make it more of a brushed brass.

The mirror will be removed and saved for another project.  I actually like the shape and detailing a lot, but I don’t want it to remain attached.

For the dresser itself, I have a few ideas but I’m not set on anything and want you all to weigh in.

One of my first instincts is always white.  I just love white furniture!  It’s so versatile and I use color a lot when decorating so white is a nice neutral base that goes with everything.  The brass hardware would really pop against a white base.  Here are a few inspiration photos.

 Screenshot 2014-07-21 00.45.31

Clementine and Olive

Another option would be white with wood drawers, or a contrasting color trim… something like this:

 Screenshot 2014-07-21 00.44.54

West Elm

I could also do a bold color.  I love the idea of a deep blue lacquer.  Other options are black, gray, or another bright color.

Screenshot 2014-07-21 00.32.55

Unknown, Pinterest

 red dresser

Little Green Notebook

Screenshot 2014-07-21 00.36.57

Danish Modernia

So what do you think?  I just can’t seem to commit.  Leave your vote comment below and save me from my indecision!

On a side note, you may have noticed a few little changes around here.  The tabs along the top of the page have been switched up a bit.  I’ve added a place for some of my favorite DIY’s and videos and spruced up my bio, contact page, and press page.  Along the top you’ll see a menu including a link to the home page and portfolio, which I created for design clients (I’m starting to fill up my schedule for the rest of the summer– email me at jen@withheart.com for more info!)

Also, a fresh new sidebar photo (as well as new photos throughout withHEART and the new Home Page), compliments of the lovely and talented Veronica Reeve.

Along the sidebar, you can find the “Shop My Favorites” button where I post some of my current favorite decor, home, and clothing items.  I’ll update that frequently.

I’ve got some fun things coming up this week– including, drum roll please, the big kitchen reveal with a starring role by Ruby Sue!  She just makes everything cuter, don’t you think?

It feels good to get back into the groove after some big projects, shoots, and travel.  Hope your weekend was grand!

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  1. Oooooh pretty colored dressers!! I love them all. Clearly im of no help at all:( love all the blog changes. Im considering a design overhaul myself. Any recommendations on a designer? And yes, Ruby makes everything cuter.

  2. Elisa says:

    Great find! you really can’t go wrong with white. I like the two-toned idea of dark feet with a white body, reminiscent of the last dresser pic you showed.

  3. Janet says:

    Great find! Go for the BOLD color.

  4. Tammy says:

    Go bold!! It’s such a gorgeous piece it would look fantastic in a bright color.

  5. Nikky says:

    I vote for a color in the blue family. Right now, my favorite shades for painted furniture are navy and slate blue. I think that dresser would look gorgeous in either color. I have included links to a couple examples of the color on the Weathered Door and Emily Henderson blogs. I think the shades shown in the links would be perfect for the dresser and I think the shade would look especially beautiful with brass.

    http://theweathereddoor.blogspot.com/2012/12/navy-campaign-dresser.html

    http://stylebyemilyhenderson.com/blog/time-to-get-organized-folks/

  6. Maggie says:

    I vote color! 🙂

  7. Stephanie says:

    Gorgeous dresser! I vote white, but I’m sure whatever you choose will be great.

    The picture of the red credenza that you posted above is from Jenny at Little Green Notebook if that helps: http://littlegreennotebook.blogspot.com/2009/10/office.html I love that piece, too!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks Stephanie! And thanks for the source! It’s so difficult sometimes to track down sources of images on Pinterest. Sometimes they just lead to a cached image!

  8. jan says:

    I vote BIG Bold Color! Can’ t wait to see how it turns out!

  9. Lindsay says:

    Color! Not only am I a sucker for color, but I go all weak in the knees for anything royal blue. Since that’s not happening with my bedroom scheme, I’d love to live vicariously through you!

  10. Melissa says:

    Oh Jen , I knew I liked you! You have fabulous taste! I do love white! But you should go blue with the dresser. Blue is a bold and chic color. I’m on the edge of turning my room blue. I love your “favorites”. I guess great minds think alike 😉 I have a few of those things listed on your favorites!

  11. Bea says:

    It’s Mahogany, would be a shame to paint it at all, is it possible to sand down and restain a depper color?

    • Jen says:

      Hi Bea, thank you so much for reading! A lot of people share your opinion that quality wood should be stained, but I really love painted wood. I think we would use and enjoy it more painted than stained. Sometimes I think stain can make it feel more dated, depending on the color and style of dresser. Thanks for your thoughts!

  12. […] of projects, I think I’ve settled on a color choice for the Drexel dresser. Time to get […]

  13. What a GREAT find!! That hardware is the cat’s meow!! We searched high and low for a mid-century dresser for the longest time and ended up finally finding Drex (our beloved vintage Drexel) via Craigslist. They just aren’t made like that anymore. So. Awesome. In any case, not sure if it’s too late, but I vote for white paint! I’m sure that beauty would look great in anything, though. 🙂

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We're a full-service design firm and home furnishings shop built around the philosophy that a well-designed home should be beautiful, personal, cohesive, and complete. We think home is the most important place on the planet and when you live in a home that is perfectly you, it changes your life. Don't believe us? Stick around. We're confident we'll change your mind.

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