Antique Empire Dresser with a Rich Weathered Black Leather Finish

A blast from the Past ~ August, 2011

My sister Cathy and I have spent the past few months doing intensive research on how to paint furniture as we prepare for Holland’s 42nd Art in the Park on, August 6th, 2011 and I have to tell you… this piece is one of my favorites.  I love empire dressers!

It would look really cool as a buffet in my dining room but I have to be strong and let it go.  I created the finish to resemble that of a well worn piece of leather using Annie Sloan’s Graphite and Dark Wax but it took forever because the dark wax was a major nightmare to work with.  I spent weeks trying to get the wax right on this piece, pulling my hair out in frustration.

UPDATE 2016 – If I were to replicate this finish today, I’d paint it with Frenchic’s Panther and seal it with their Rustic Wax.  Not only is Frenchic Furniture Paint® a much more superior product line, it’s 95 times easier to use!   There truly is no comparison.

This dresser rests on wooden wheels making this solid built wooden chest easy for anyone to maneuver (the wheels can be removed if you prefer to use it without them).  Just imagine how awesome it would work as a bathroom vanity with one of those gorgeous vessel sinks atop!  Hmmm… it would really look cool in our main floor bathroom…   No, no… I have to focus….  I’m just starting out in this furniture adventure ~ I’m sure it’ll get easier to let go, right?

This Empire Chest measures 43″ wide, 22″ deep and 36″ high and features the original keyholes, wooden drawer pulls and hand cut dovetailed drawer construction.  I switched out two of the drawer pulls to a spice it up a bit then painted and aged them along with the other original wooden knobs.

I love all the different sizes of drawers.  There are two shallow drawers perfect for pens, paper… two small but deep drawers for all those clunky odd-shaped objects and two large drawers for clothes, linens, games… whatever!  Cathy created custom fabric drawer liners out of the most beautiful vintage looking fabric ever.  I just love ‘em!
This piece is truly versatile.  It demands attention and is sure to be the focal point in any room!  What do you think?

UPDATE 2016 – If I were to replicate this finish today, I’d paint it with Frenchic’s Panther and seal it with their Rustic Wax.  Not only is Frenchic Furniture Paint® a much more superior product line, it’s 95 times easier to use!   There’s truly no comparison!  

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  • Did you know…

    • Shizzle Design is a small family owned business in Jenison, Michigan.  My sister Cathy and I work, paint, ship and teach our chalk and clay paint workshops out of the same space where we paint all our furniture.  We are truly humbled to be known as a leader in the world of chalk and clay paints.
    • Instead of hoarding our knowledge, we empower DIY’ers by sharing our years of experience.  Stop in for paint and we’ll offer you honest and knowledgeable answers for all your chalk and clay paint needs.
    • We are so blessed to have taught people from all over the United States and Canada.  Join us for one of our super fun hands-on chalk and clay paint workshops.  Learn in our casual & relaxed environment.  Click Paint Workshops to see a list of current classes offered.
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    • We sell our painted furniture in our Shizzle Design Paint Studio at 2018 Chicago Drive, Jenison, MI 49428 and at Not So Shabby Antiques and Fine Furniture at 2975 West Shore Drive in Holland, Michigan
    • Shizzle Design is a U.S. distributor for Frenchic Furniture Paint®, an Authorized Retailer for American Paint Company Paints and Old Town Paints.  We offer a large inventory of chalk and clay paint and supplies at our Shizzle Design Paint Shop /Studio,  2018 Chicago Drive, Jenison, MI  49428.  We also stock other shops in the greater Grand Rapid’s area, to find out where, click LOCATIONS.  Not from Michigan?  No worries, we ship paint and paint supplies nationwide through our Online Shizzle Shop.

    Click here to see Shizzle Design Painted Furniture Makeovers


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    Linking up to these GREAT Parties!

    Domestically Speaking – The Power of Paint Party
    The Shabby Creek Cottage – Transformation Thursday
    Miss Mustardseed – Furniture Feature Friday
    Redoux – Friday Link Up Party
    Homespun Happenings – Rustic Restorations Weekend
    Funky Junk Interiors – Saturday Night Special
    Silver Pennies – Silver Pennies Sundays
    Knick of Time Interiors – Knick of Time Tuesday

    a hui hou ~ Shelly

A hui hou!


10 Replies to “Antique Empire Dresser with a Rich Weathered Black Leather Finish”

  1. Cool! I’m sure you’ll do amazing things with it! I just picked up another one too. I’ve noticed the varnish on these pieces is REALLY flaky so I Ended up stripping it to be on the safe side. I might try something more shabby, using a couple colors, on the 2nd.

    Thanx for following; I’m going bonkers trying to figure out all this linking, following, feeds…

    Take care – shelly

    1. Thanx! Oh my gosh, lets see. I mixed Old White, Simply White?, Graphite, French Linen, Paris Grey along with both light and dark waxes. Sorry… I paint like I cook – lol!

  2. I think you’re a genius!! I also do layered finishes. Your work is the closest to my work that I’ve ever seen. I love, love, love your work. You have an amazing gift for picking colors and coordinating them! You’re my inspiration. Thank you, thank you for being so good.

    Your newest fan,
    Dianna Lindquist

  3. Hi, Shelly, I’m the gal who ‘just missed you ‘ near Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota a couple years ago. I’ve prayed for you for healing and that you’d be well again. So glad to see you ‘back in action.’
    I haven’t been painting furniture for a while; the house is filled. But the piece that began my sojourn was a hundred year old antique French empire buffet from Terry’s grandmother… a French teacher, it touched my soul. I did mine also in grey, with several wooden appliques for whimsy. Then located a second one, only this was in dresser form….I lined it with beautiful cotton print table runners, used Paris Grey and Coco from Annie Sloan, added some stencil bird motifs and crystal knobs. So elegant despite its rickety age.
    I just had to respond to the beauty of your repost. Be well. Saundra

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