Campaign Dresser and Hutch Rehab

Last February I found my second piece of vintage campaign furniture.  We already owned a vintage campaign nightstand (you can read about it here), but I had been on the hunt for any type of campaign dresser for months and months.  One day I finally found a dresser and hutch at Salvation Army for about $100.  That’s a bit more than I normally spend on thrift store furniture, but it was made by Dixie and was in great condition, so I was sold.  

This is what it looked like when I bought it.

Tom jokes that most of his weekends are ruined by the renting of U-Hauls and the painting of furniture…and I admit that I do hijack weekends more often than I should.  Thank goodness he’s a good sport!  This project ate up about 3 of those sacred weekends over the course of 7 months, but I’m completely unapologetic about it because it looks so good in Jackson’s nursery now.

The piece sat in the garage of our old apartment from February to August and we finally got around to tackling it right before we moved.  Tom gave it a good sanding with the electric sander (course grit first to get the finish off, followed by fine grit to even it all out), and then we primed and painted it with Sherwin Williams paint and a roller.  Unfortunately, I was not happy with how it looked.  Campaign furniture is supposed to be lacquered looking and very shiny, and it was not living up to the gorgeous image I had in mind.  This lead to us calling it quits on this piece for the weekend because I wasn’t quite sure how to get the shiny finish I wanted.  We were working on the Chinese chippendale chairs at the same time so those became our priority for the weekend.  I ended up so happy with the final result of the chairs (as seen here) that I decided to use the same paint on the dresser.  I was hesitant to spray paint a dresser, but figured we should give it a shot.  

The next weekend we tackled the dresser again…re-sanding it with the electric sander so that it was really really smooth, and then we got to painting.  (The rods and detailing on the hutch were sanded by hand, and we removed the backing to make it look more open.)  We used two coats of Rustoleum Universal Satin Paint and Primer In One, and then finished it off with two coats of Rustoleum Crystal Clear Enamel.  Despite my hesitancy to spray paint a dresser, it turned out PERFECTLY and I’m so happy with the result.  It’s nice and shiny and perfect for a baby boy’s room.  Land of Nod sells a similar dresser for $699, so I’d call this a campaign victory!

As for the hardware, Bar Keeper’s Friend did the job yet again.  Initially the hardware was really dull, but with Bar Keeper’s Friend and a little elbow grease it shined right up. 

Removing campaign hardware can be tedious!  This is what it looked like before I polished them up.


Before and After.  What a difference, right?

After all of the hard work, we finally put it all back together and now it’s the baby’s dresser and a place to put decorative knickknacks and books.  I just love that this piece has a story and isn’t some cookie cutter dresser bought at a big box store.

This bobble head in the middle is of a Bomb Tech.  Tom wore this kind of suit when he took rendered safe IEDs in Iraq in 2008 and 2009.

Note:  All of the really pretty “after” photos are courtesy of USAA and were taken for the article I wrote entitled “Designing a Baby Room on a Budget” (go check it out because it has lots of great tips!).  All of these photos were taking by the amazing Sarah Bradshaw.

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Katie Vail
Katie Vail

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Leave a comment

  1. January 6, 2016 / 2:53 pm

    You are so talented, Katie! Always enjoy seeing what furniture you've turned around, and hope to watch you do this kind of transformation in-person some day 🙂 Jackson is a lucky guy…he's going to have the greatest childhood room!

  2. January 6, 2016 / 9:52 pm

    You have made me fall in love with campaign furniture. My eyes are always on the hunt for some good pieces for our home!!

  3. January 7, 2016 / 1:25 pm

    Wow! The expensive look alike doesn't even come with a hutch. What an awesome find and rehab! I love it. Also, I had no idea about campaign furniture. I'll have to keep my eyes open 🙂

  4. January 7, 2016 / 3:26 pm

    Your patience and persistence totally paid off! Beautiful!

  5. January 8, 2016 / 3:52 am

    It looks beautiful! I love that it has a story too!

  6. January 8, 2016 / 3:24 pm

    Thank you so much Monica! Furniture projects are my favorite because the transformation is so drastic! They're a pain to work on sometimes, but totally worth it 🙂

  7. January 8, 2016 / 3:25 pm

    Wow, thank you so much Ashleigh! So glad you like the space!

  8. January 8, 2016 / 3:27 pm

    Yay, I'm so glad to hear that! Good luck on your hunt!

  9. January 8, 2016 / 3:29 pm

    Thanks Karen! Yeah that expensive one is really pretty but I'd never pay that much for furniture! Plus the hutch is nice for extra storage in a small room. Thanks for reading and happy belated birthday 🙂

  10. January 20, 2016 / 12:57 pm

    Thanks 🙂

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