How to Create a Driftwood Dresser with Paint and Stain

Hello, friends. I hope you’re having a nice long Easter weekend. We have some big news- we’re moving! Yep, Richard was offered a job and accepted it last week. I’m panicking a bit thinking about all the stuff I have hoarded for project makeovers. In order to help me begin clearing out some treasures, a couple of friends came over and “picked” my basement.

I am also trying to work quickly on some bigger items in order to get them out of the living room basement dining room office house and into my booth. For this next project, I decided to experiment with how to create a driftwood dresser with paint and stain. No glaze this time.


How to Create a Driftwood Finish-


I found this Early American dresser a couple of weeks ago. The drawer isn’t missing- I had started to remove the hardware before remembering to take pics.


Create a Driftwood Dresser from Early American-


I cleaned and sanded lightly. Richard repaired a few drawer guides that had come loose. I have always used spray primer, but it gets expensive at almost $5 a can. I decided to buy a gallon of primer this time and rolled it on with a sponge roller.

The roller leaves a bit of texture, which I don’t really care for, but fortunately, brushing on the paint levels out most of the texture. I was pleasantly surprised at how well the brush on (roll on) primer covers. I barely made a dent in the can of primer- definitely a lot cheaper than using a can {or two} of spray primer.

After priming, I used my favorite General Finishes milk paint in snow white. I distressed very lightly in just a few areas.

Now, this is where I usually apply a glaze to add depth and highlight details. This time, I used a light gray Varathane stain called Sunbleached. I applied it much the same way as glaze: brush on, wipe off.

Since I didn’t know how much working time I would have, or if I would even like the look, I started with a drawer. I wiped the stain off in such a way as to create the illusion of grain in the driftwood finish. I left a heavy line of stain around the raised edge of the drawer fronts to highlight that tiny bit of detail.


Driftwood Dresser Drawer-


Big breath, then on to the dresser top. I had to work very quickly on this large surface area- the stain started getting sticky within a very short time.


How to Create a Driftwood Dresser with Paint and Stain-


Ironically, after the frantic pace to wipe off the stain before it set up, I had to leave it overnight to completely dry. I then finished up with General Finishes High Performance Top Coat in satin. It’s a bit shinier than I care for, but I don’t think they carry a matte finish.


Driftwood Dresser stain detail-


Driftwood Dresser top-


I spray painted the drawer pulls before reattaching them.


Driftwood dresser-


The driftwood finish would be fun at a beach house, but is neutral enough to work in any casual space. I kept the look light and subtle, but you could achieve a darker, more weathered driftwood look simply by leaving on more stain.

One project finished; too many to think about still waiting. Speaking of beach houses, I may need a trip to the beach when this move is all over. Do you like seashells-and-fish themed beach houses or something more subtle?

For more driftwood projects, check out this beachy end table and watercolor desk– both using different products to get a driftwood look.



Partying here:

Shabby Art Boutique, Tip Junkie, Savvy Southern Style, Southern Hospitality



  1. Christine says:

    Shelia, congrats on the move! Now you can cull, produce, and scheme as to how to organize your new space to fit … MORE!
    I have a case of Sunbleached from the H4H. It does a gorgeous job creating a cerise finish on oak, or any large grained wood. Interestingly enough, not quartersawn oak. 🙁

    I have discovered an excellent (inexpensive) totally matte, completely durable finish. It goes on white (causing a freak out) and dries so invisible I had to put it on in sections, so I knew where I’d painted. What is it, you ask? LOL.
    I used Behr (and Olympic) FLAT, exterior latex DARK (#4 or 5) paint base. Yup! Just the base used for the darkest paints. All the good stuff is in the base. UV protection, durability, sealer, etc. I chose exterior base simply because my logic says exterior is more durable than interior. Pigment is what obviously colors it, but also dictates the sheen. I wanted none on 2 of my antique doors I’d stripped to bare, raw wood. (No sanding, BTW. Just Citristrip.)

    Anyway, I know you’re always up for experimenting, so I thought you might enjoy this last idea. Well, Iv’e gone on as usual. I didn’t get — or missed — to where you’re moving? What an exciting PIA!

    • Wow, Christine, that sounds very intriguing. I will definitely have to experiment with those dark bases! Thanks for the heads up. By the way, I also got my sunbleached stain from H4H. 😉
      (We’ll be moving to SC once our house sells.)

  2. That is a really neat piece. I love the way it turned out Sheila!

  3. That’s beautiful, I really like that style! Congrats to Richard and good luck with the move.

  4. I didn’t get my feed for this post. I just happened to see this on Facebook-just an FYI. I’m always stopping by to see what you’ve been up to anyway.
    I love the dresser. These are such great solid pieces that will last forever! You updated this one fabulously! The driftwood finish is great- very versatile.
    Selfishly, I’m sad about your move, but I know it will be a good one. You are so kind and thoughtful! I’ll miss you! I’m thankful for phones though! God speed, my friend!
    To answer your question, I love shells at a beach house.
    Happy Easter!

  5. What a very nice result!! ha HOlding your breath..yup! So WHEN does this move take place? ohhh I hope it is somewhere nice and different! We need these kind of challenges to keep us young. really! I am ready for a move..ya betcha!
    Your piece made me look at a little table today, saying hmmmm..then hubs steps in, no , we have our hands full right now. Nothing more to do til we can catch our breath. So you are holding your breath and we are trying to catch it!
    Love that you painted the handles! Do you do any computer painting type thing? I would love to see this piece done in different way and colors. Nicely done Sheila!

  6. Darlene Piche says:

    Looks lovely, Sheila! You encourage me to do the same thing to a headboard I’ve got in the garage! Thanks!

  7. Something to look forward to with the move, Sheila! A new home to decorate! : ) The dresser came out great. Such a nice update for a piece like this.

  8. oh, it came out beautifully, super nice job!!

    Sad to learn you are moving, yet obviously happy for you and your husband.
    How about we get together sometime at the beginning of May at Woodstock. Maybe I can be of some help with either your move or your booth.


Speak Your Mind