You may see this as just a clunky, old-fashioned dresser that is missing a handle.

You would be right, of course.

But to me, it is something much better.

To me, this dresser is a blank canvas.

That’s the same dresser! It’s amazing what a fresh new paint color can do to modernize furniture and make it a perfect fit for your decorating style.

I found this dresser at my local Goodwill store last summer.

It met all of my criteria that I check off when choosing furniture to buy.

  •  Sturdy and structurally sound
  • Drawers open and close smoothly
  •  Interesting details
  • Affordable price

I love the simple shape of this dresser and the molding on the top three drawers. 

Sure, the dresser had issues.

  • Scratches on top
  • A few dings here and there
  • Missing handle

Cosmetic damage like scratches can easily be fixed by sanding. I fill in dings with a resin filler called Bondo. Once the surface is smooth and clean, the piece is ready to paint. I chose a soft aqua color called Sea Glass by Dixie Belle Paint Company for this dresser. 

The finishing touch is new hardware. Sometimes missing drawer handles can be found hiding inside the drawers. Unfortunately, the third handle was long gone. I liked the original handles so much that I tried to find a replacement online, but no luck. 

I ended up saving the two original handles for a future project and added new swirly clear acrylic knobs to the dresser.

Here’s the before-and-after again.

Here’s another furniture project I found at Goodwill. 

I used the same checklist to determine if they were worth buying.

  • Sturdy and structurally sound
  • Drawers open and close smoothly
  • Interesting details
  • Affordable price

Check, check, check—and check! You can find great deals on furniture at Goodwill, especially if you can see past the issues and imagine a stylish new look for the piece.

As you can see, these nightstands had issues too.

  • Scratches on top
  • A few dings here and there
  • Weird makeshift handles to replace missing ones

Again, none of these issues are deal breakers for me.

All it takes is a little fixing, a little painting and new knobs to create an entirely new look for old furniture.

I painted the bases black and chose lighter colors on top to mimic the faux mother-of-pearl insets on the new knobs.

The next time you are shopping for furniture at Goodwill, keep my checklist in mind. If it is sturdy and structurally sound, don’t worry about the cosmetic imperfections. Just think of it as a blank canvas ready for you to transform into a one-of-a-kind work of functional art for your home!


Courtney Mickalonis

Courtney Mickalonis is an artist, teacher, and treasure hunter at All Things New Again, a furniture and paint boutique in Leesburg, VA. She finds old furniture that nobody loves anymore and makes it beautiful—and useful—again. Courtney teaches a monthly Learn How to Paint Furniture class at their Leesburg studio and hosts The Furniture Painting Friday Show every Friday at 12 noon on the All Things New Again Facebook page.