August 18, 2011

Reverse Stencil Dresser

I did it!!

Remember that craaaaaZZy pants idea I had about reverse stenciling a ship onto a Craigslist-dresser-find?  Well…I did it…so I have now gone from this:

to THIS!!

Now…you can stop reading here and just admire the pretty reverse stenciling (pardon my complete lack of modesty…I’m ridiculously proud of this dresser)  OR you can read on for the step-by-step process…


Step one – take out the drawers and tape out the inside of the dresser

Step 2 – remove hardware and tape out the edges of the drawers themselves

Step 3 – Insert drawers back into dresser without drawer pulls and pray you will be able to get them back out again (if you weren’t painting the area between drawers, than you could easily just take the drawers out, stack them together, apply the stencil and paint them…but since I wanted the ‘gap’ area included in the painting, I had to paint everything while fully assembled)

Step 4 – apply decal according to directions (in this case it was to tape half of the decal down, separate the two layers, remove the backing and then press the decal into place.)


(smoothing out the decal)

(apply the bottom of the decal in the same way as the top)

Step 5 – use a knife to cut where the drawers edges are

Step 6 – remove top layer of decal, leaving decal in place

Step 7 – repeat process for second side of decal – note: since this decal was applied on a non-even surface, it was especially difficult to line up the decal and there may or may not have been some tears and cussing during this stage)

Step 8  -  lightly sand dresser, try to avoid sanding over the decal

Step 9 – apply coat of primer to dresser, I used Kilz with the hope that it would truly keep the dresser from bleeding through the paint in the future

(after one coat of primer)

Step 10 – Apply two coats of white paint allowing to dry between coats

(after one coat of white paint)

Step 11 – IMMEDIATELY after last coat of paint, while paint is still tacky, start removing the decal

Step 12 – step back to enjoy handiwork :)

Step 13 – because of ridged, non-flat surface inbetween drawers, I ended up with some bleeding.  To remedy this, I got a stain pen from Minwax and used it like a magic marker to clean up the bleeding a bit – below you can see where the bleeding occurred; I unfortunately do not have any pictures of the ‘fix’

Step 14 – AFTER stain marker has fully dried, apply Polycrylic topcoat.  Polycrylic is the way to go for a top coat that will go over both paint and stained surfaces, polyurethane will yellow any white paint you go over it with

Step 15 – remove painters tape and re-install hardware – project FINISHED!!

Custom decal was purchased from Dali Decals based on a design created using images purchased from (ship artwork by Seamartini and Cloud images by Sunrise).  All images by Miriam Bradford.

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45 Responses to “Reverse Stencil Dresser”

  1. Karen Says:
    August 18th, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    GREAT job!!! I hope the little guy appreciates the hard work his mama put in!

  2. E @ Oh! Apostrophe Says:
    August 18th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Love this SO much!

  3. Geek in Heels Says:
    August 18th, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    I can’t believe how great it looks, and you make the project seem so simple!

  4. A Long Far View Says:
    August 18th, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    I LOVE this! What a beautiful dresser (and I agree – this looks so easy now that you’ve done it, but I can’t imagine I would get it to turn out half as well as you did!)

  5. amy @ parkerhausroles Says:
    August 18th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    I am so in love with this! Totally do-able too!

  6. Amy Says:
    August 19th, 2011 at 8:08 am

    Fantastic! such a cool merger of contemporary and classic. I am inspired!

  7. Sarah@circle and sprout Says:
    August 19th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    looks amazing!!

  8. Morgan Says:
    August 20th, 2011 at 4:12 pm

    So gorgeous! The end result is so completely worth all your hard work!

  9. Melissa Says:
    August 22nd, 2011 at 8:11 am

    This is seriously the best furniture renovation I’ve ever seen. It’s amazing!

  10. Decor Arts Now Says:
    August 23rd, 2011 at 2:44 pm

    I am speechless (well almost) this is totally amazing. I hope to open a little vintage/antique store in Montauk and this is just the type of makeover I would like to attempt on a bargain dresser. It is truly fabulous and thanks for the detailed instructions. You should be very proud.

  11. Tonya Ricucci Says:
    August 31st, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    wonderful! great piece of furniture and well written tutorial!~

  12. Erin Says:
    September 6th, 2011 at 11:18 am

    Oh My!! Did you just use one of those vinyl decals? I’ve been wanting to do something for my daughter’s room with either surfing or dolphins, whales and this might be an option. Wow!! Great job. Where did you get the decal?

  13. Sheri Says:
    September 6th, 2011 at 11:52 am

    I love it! Amazing job. Thanks so much for sharing

  14. Miriam Says:
    September 6th, 2011 at 1:12 pm

    Hey Erin – the decal came from Dali Decals. The artwork was pieced together by a couple of different images from Links to the decal supplier and the specific artwork are at the bottom of the post.

    Glad you like it.


  15. Danielle Says:
    September 6th, 2011 at 5:16 pm

    Amazing! I would have never thought to do that!

  16. Brooke @ All Things Thrifty Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I featured this amazing transformation today. I love it. It turned out beautiful. :) Thank you for sharing your talent with the rest of us. I’ll be visiting again! xoxo

  17. Melia Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    This is AMAZING!!! I saw this from Brooke at All Things Thrifty. I absolutely love what you have done with the dresser. Thanks for sharing your talent with us all.

  18. Sarah Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 1:52 pm

    Totally gorgeous. How clever!!!

  19. Korrie@RedHenHome Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    I used this technique on an Anthropologie knock-off dresser I did, but this is jaw-droppingly awesome! Terrific work…definitely pin-worthy!

  20. Linda Brown Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Absolutely Gorgeous !!!

  21. Suesan Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Fabulous. I’m working on my own reverse stencil dresser right now, too. Not as detailed but I’m excited to get it done. I love this look! You are amazing!

  22. Jorie Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 2:15 pm

    WOW!!!! Stunning!!!

  23. aimee Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    i love what you have created it looks great

  24. Marilyn Gray Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    You did a wonderful job…I love it! What a great idea! Thanks for the tut.

  25. Deirdre Says:
    September 8th, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    Totally awesome! Great detail work! I don’t know that I would have had the patience, but boy howdy it paid off!

  26. Echo Says:
    September 9th, 2011 at 12:58 am

    OMG! This is COOL!

  27. Heather Says:
    September 9th, 2011 at 6:02 am

    This is A-MAZ-ING! Fantastic job! Found you from All Things Thrifty. Keep up the great work!

  28. Saby Says:
    September 9th, 2011 at 6:10 am

    WOW!! This is seriously amazing. As soon as I saw the picture my draw dropped and the immediate thought I had was “I want it”! Very cool idea…may have to give this a shot if I can build up enough courage :) .

  29. Renee Says:
    September 9th, 2011 at 8:28 am

    WOW! I love it, what an amazing job, I am seriously impressed!

  30. Vicki Says:
    September 9th, 2011 at 9:54 am

    This is absolutely gorg. You get the prize, award, pat on the back, whoohoo for the year. No, scratch that, for the last 2 years. Great job, keep em’ coming. Vicki

  31. sarah Says:
    September 9th, 2011 at 1:06 pm

    Amazing Idea! Great Job! LOVE IT!!!!

  32. Tanya H. Says:
    September 9th, 2011 at 8:17 pm

    Wow, wow, and wow again!

  33. Elysia Says:
    September 9th, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    Wow. Just…WOW!!!

  34. Shaeleen Perreault Says:
    September 10th, 2011 at 10:59 am

    This is gorgeous thanks so much for sharing I definitely want to try this sometime!!

  35. Miriam Says:
    September 12th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Wow! Thank you all so much for the lovely comments. Truly, it means so much to me to have inspired you. It was a risk that definitely paid off and I am so honored that so many people love it as much as I do.


  36. Becca Says:
    September 14th, 2011 at 10:09 am

    This looks so cool, though I do weep for the beautiful dresser that was sacrificed.

  37. Peggy Says:
    September 14th, 2011 at 1:27 pm

    That is so amazing – thank you SO much for sharing how you did it! Because you laid it out step by step you’ve made it possible for others to try it! Thanks again!

  38. Dixie Redmond Says:
    September 14th, 2011 at 1:39 pm

    I shared this post on FB. I love how you let the wood-grain come through as the image. You took a tired dresser and made the wood really work. So different from the sea of white painted dressers out there!

  39. Angela Cardner Says:
    September 14th, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Here’s a tip for those drawers to get them out again… make a tab out of painting tape by attaching tape to the bottom of the drawer towards the front of the drawer then loop it back onto itself… giving you small or large-whatever size you want- tape tab to pull the drawer out with. You can make them very small too, so that they do not screw up your painting.

    This Dresser is AMAZING! Just Amazing.

  40. Aubrey Says:
    September 14th, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    Amazing! I would never have the patience for this kind of project! Great job!

  41. ColleenwithMurals&More Says:
    September 14th, 2011 at 7:47 pm

    Incredible! What I love the most (besides the tears & cussing part) is that you left the rest of the dresser wood rather than painting it all white. Sets off the reverse perfectly!

    Found you via Better After!

  42. Kate Says:
    September 14th, 2011 at 7:55 pm

    You should be so proud!!!

  43. Wendy Says:
    September 16th, 2011 at 4:43 am

    This is just about the most amazing thing I have seen.
    You did such a fantastic job with such a fantastic idea!

  44. ColleenwithMurals&More Says:
    September 16th, 2011 at 8:15 am

    I’m sure I’ll be the first of many, but I had to feature this on my blog today. So gorgeous!

  45. Tami Howse Says:
    September 16th, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    This is FAB! I, too, do a lot of reverse stenciling on my furniture, but I’ve done nothing quite as elaborate as you. Great job. Check out my modest craftings when you get a chance. Fondly, Tami