Mid Century Modern Kilgour 10-drawer Dresser

This Kilgour & Bro. walnut dresser had so much potential. I saw it from the pictures. What I didn’t see in the pictures was the smell that came with it. I noticed it the second I picked it up but at that moment, what could I do? It was literally SO SO BAD.

I drove home with all the windows down and unloaded it as soon as I got home. I took out all the drawers (and the newspaper flyers they used as drawer liners) and left everything outside…for FOUR days! Thankfully it was hot and sunny for all that time.

Over those four days, I used my tried and true method to eliminate the smell. I mixed a solution of vinegar and blue Dawn dish soap in a spray bottle and I sprayed the insides and outsides of all the drawers and the frame. I gave them all time to completely dry in the sun. I repeated this process for a total of five (5) rounds. By the end, the entire piece was free of the *very* unwelcome smell.


  • Zinsser Cover Primer
  • Annie Sloan Old White
  • Annie Sloan clear wax
  • General Finishes gel stain in Antique Walnut
  • General Finishes gel stain in Georgian Cherry
  • General Finishes gel satin top coat
  • Ginger ale (for cleaning the hardware)

For a list of basic chalk paint supplies I typically use, click here.

How I refinished this piece:

The Frame

  1. After removing the smell, I washed down the frame to remove any dirt, and grime that may have been on it.
  2. I turned the piece upside down in order to stain the underside. I find it easier to do this at the beginning before the frame is painted. I taped the areas I didn’t want stained (the brass tips, in this case) and the areas around the under frame.
  1. Using a foam brush, I stained the bottom frame.
    • For a list of basic gel stain staining supplies, click here.
    • For more instruction on how to apply gel stain over veneer/ existing finish, click here.
  1. After the stain dried (I usually wait overnight), I applied the gel top coat. After the top coat has set, I removed the tape and flipped the piece back over.
  1. I washed down the top again and once dry, I taped all edges using painter’s tape.
  2. Using a paint brush, I applied an oil based primer. While it says that it only takes an hour to dry, I let set overnight just to be sure. I always apply two coats.
    • Note: When I first started painting and used lighter colours, I never ever used primer and occasionally I would get bleed through. My local stockist has warned me that using primer potentially could cause chipping but I haven’t had that problem. I like using it because it saves me from doing 4 coats of actual paint – and that saves me money. Plus, it helps in case there is possible bleed through!
    • TIP: To clean the brush used for priming, let the bristles sit submerged for a couple of hours in mineral spirits. Remove, rinse and then wash with dish soap. I keep this brush aside to only use for primer application.
Primer coat 1
Primer coat 2
  1. After the second coat of primer has dried overnight, I started painting (this is my favourite part!). I did two coats and waited a couple of hours to dry in between coats.
  1. After the paint set overnight, I used Annie Sloan’s clear wax to seal it.
    • For more information on how to apply wax, click here.

The Drawers

  1. I started off by removing the hardware from the drawers. I put them aside to clean a little later.
  1. Using my Dewalt orbital sander, I began to remove the existing finish. To do this, I start with a 60 grit sanding disc and then follow with a 120 and 220, respectively.

Honestly, seeing the finish come off and that gorgeous walnut wood grain underneath is always the highlight of any day.

I mean, COME ON!!

  1. I used a lint free cloth to remove the sanding dust.
  2. I applied the first coat of General Finishes’ Antique Walnut gel stain. Because the drawer fronts hang over the sides and bottom of the drawer, I don’t typically tape.
    • I apologize in advance for the shadows on the pictures. So many trees that hang over my backyard make it impossible to get a shot with them!

5. I noticed that after applying this first coat of the antique walnut to the raw wood, the colour needed a little something more. I decided to try a coat of General Finishes Georgian Cherry gel stain to give it some richness.

  1. While I waited for this to dry, I worked on cleaning up the hardware. For a complete run down on how I clean up vintage hardware, click here. Essentially it involves a can of pop, steel wool and a lot of elbow grease.
  1. With the hardware done, I did one more coat of the Antique Walnut stain and when that dried, I applied the gel top coat.
  1. I waited 24 hours for the top coat and when it was set, I installed the new hardware and put the drawers back into their proper place. I love it when it all comes together!

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