Updating a Piece of Furniture Without Paint

You know by now that I love painting furniture.  It is a way to give a tired piece an updated look.  While I usually don’t pause one little bit when it comes to painting furniture, but I paused big time with this piece.


Ethan Allen Dresser

This Ethan Allen dresser was in my bedroom when I was growing up in Kentucky.  When Yankee and I moved to upstate New York to our first house, my parents brought a truck load of furniture that they were ready to pass on since they were downsizing.  I got my whole bedroom set which included this dresser, an Ethan Allen desk and an Ethan Allen bed.  They are all beautiful but just not my style at this time.


This dresser and a desk were in our bedroom and I was using the desk as a vanity.  I have not been happy with our bedroom for some time, and I think it was because everything was matchy, matchy.  I moved the desk to a guest room and moved the dresser to the the wall where the desk used to be. Now we have a blank wall for a sitting area. This has yet to happen as I am deciding what will work best for the area.


This dresser was still not my cup of tea and I wanted to update it.


Pulls Martha Stewart- Home Depot

To update the dresser, I put into play these great pulls.  I ordered them from Home Depot and couldn’t wait for their arrival.



Ethan Allen Dresser

The first thing I did was to start to remove the old handles.  You can see they left a little bit of the pattern.   Some were not as bad as others, but once I put the new handles on the dresser, I could not tell it was not the original pull.



New Pulls

One pull down and I was shocked at the difference.



New Pulls for dresser

This is a good way to see the difference.


Updating a dresser with new pulls

There you go.  This is how it looks after the new pulls were all put on.  I love it.  It is so much better.

Update furniture without paint

 Next up, I want to get rid of this mirror and hang a more modern mirror on the wall. It will be much less matchy, matchy. Stay tuned.

Update:  Want to see the dresser with a new mirror?  Click here for the post, it is amazing how the look changes even more.


linking to Between Naps on the Porch


  1. says

    Awesome Change! I have matchy matchy furniture in my bedroom too. I was just lying in bed this morning despising it! But there is no way my husband would let me replace it. I am currently trying to think of a solution to my dilemma!

  2. says

    I like the new look. This is a great alternative for updating a piece of furniture without painting. You’ve inspired me. I just tweaked my guest room and was thinking I could never paint the furniture but want a change to it. Changing out the hardware just might work!

    • says


      It is a great way to change furniture without paint. Be sure to look online for hardware the options are amazing and even though I bought mine at Home Depot it was their online store that had many more options. Good luck.


  3. says

    I love this idea. We purchased a Ethan Allen bed room set after we had our first son. I thought at the time we can have this forever and give it to our children. Well forever thats a long time. I have already taken my mirror down and replaced it with a more modern mirror. This idea is next. Thanks
    Maybe my husband won’t notice..

  4. Michele in IL. says

    It looks great! I have that mirror hanging over my guest bathroom sink. I did not refinish it, only had a new mirror and a hanger put on it.

  5. Susan says

    I’m looking at your project very close because I have a dresser very similar to yours. The center drawers has a decorative piece. What did you do to conceal the holes?

    • says


      At this time I have not done anything to the center holes. They are very hard to see unless you are right at eye level in front of them. I thought I would notice them every time I walk by the dresser but I can hardly see them so I have yet to do something. I am debating painting the center pieces the same color as the new hardware.


  6. Sharon says

    I have Ethan Allen furniture from the 80’s in our master which is similar to this. It was very EXPENSIVE. This furniture is non-negotiable as far as painting goes (hubby say’s “no”). So you have given me an idea as to how to bring it into the new millenium without a paintbrush touching its surface! I live in FL, so humidity has taken its toll on the brass fixtures. I’m looking for new handles today!

    • says


      I am so quick to paint furniture from Goodwill etc but I know the feeling on not painting this piece. Check online for Hardware there are so many more options. Have fun shopping!


  7. says

    Like some others, I will paint GoodWill or thrift store furniture in a heartbeat. Same goes for a little accent pieces that I picked up at TJMaxx that I want to change up. But things that have been in my family, I just have a hard time painting them. I NEVER dreamed the 1950’s furniture would ever come back in style but it has. Everything that’s old is new again, and one day we may all say, “Why on earth did we paint our beautiful wood furniture?” So I am quick to paint if I pick up a used piece that is already a little worn-looking b/c that is an upcycle. But things that have been in my fam and well taken care of—I just can’t paint them. Funny thing is that as I was reading and scrolling down, I was thinking, “That new hardware looks great, maybe taking off the dark/matchey mirror would really give a nice update”…….and then I read on and found that you had already thought of that! A mirror with a different shape, maybe a metallic of some kind, will really update it. And then if that style ever comes back, you have it in its original stained condition, and hopefully you have the original hardware in a ziplock bag in one of the drawers so you can just reach in & grab them if you ever want to put them back on!!

  8. says

    I love the transformation! I have almost that exact same dresser. I removed the mirror and am still thinking about what to do with it. You gave me great inspiration! So happy you found me and e-mailed. Off to check out the rest of your blog. 🙂

  9. says

    We were getting nervous you were going to paint it…..just so you know, my uncle used to be a foreman at Ethan Allen and my dad got his start there too. It used to be in my hometown. I have a dresser that Wyatt is using that is a close match.

  10. says

    There are certain pieces that I, too, find hard to paint (such as our buffet that my recent post shows). I just can’t do it! So I’m glad you kept yours “in the dark”–it looks wonderful with the new pulls, and you’re headed exactly where I was headed–a new mirror, floating, not resting, on the dresser. Who knows, you might be able to use the mirror somehwere else, especially if the bottom trim could be removed. I like it!! ~Zuni

  11. says

    I’m coming over through ‘Delightful Eclectic Abode’, and I am noticing your beautiful dresser on here. I have the exact same dresser, but mine has a door in the middle with three drawers inside. I have always loved this piece of furniture, and I think I’ll keep it forever. I would love to see yours after you’re finished working on it.

    Have a nice Autumn day.

    ~Sheri at Red Rose Alley