Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Cream and Gold French Dresser Tutorial

hand painted french transfer
For this post, I searched through my older photos hoping to find a picture of this dresser as she originally looked. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any. 

It would have made a great before and after, because the transformation was remarkable. That is why I love paint. Not that it can make things beautiful, but that it can bring out the beauty that is already there. Hidden, so often behind heavy layers of stain or as was the case for this piece, a dated pale and dingy yellow finish.

french script dresser

There was a lot of labor to bring out the beauty here. The finish had to be removed, there were some odd raised vine appliqués to remove as well and then lots of sanding. When she was down to her bare bones, I knew I wanted to dress her in something timeless. Something distressed, but sophisticated.  A bit aged, but clean. So, I choose one of my favorite combinations, cream layered over metallic. For me, that look is furniture’s version of jeans and pumps.


For this finish, I choose one of my old favorite products, a Modern Masters Metallic. Modern Masters Metallics are like good Chanel cosmetics, they always add a little glamour. I then paired the metallic with a pretty cream paint, Behr Swiss Coffee.

This dresser was also perfectly suited to an oversized graphic. With fitted drawers and no moldings, a beautiful image could take over, in the best way possible.


Of course, to select my image, I went to the Graphics Fairy website at www.thegraphicsfairy.com. The Graphics Fairy does this amazing job of curating vintage images and fonts and then she offers them free to use. She also presents projects and tutorials. With a little nudge and advice from her, creativity can take over. 

If you would like to recreate this look, here are the steps, with a product link below.

  • Start off by priming your piece with one coat of primer in the same tone as your metallic. I used a dark warm yellow to give the metallic some good adhesion and a good base that wouldn't fight the gold. 
  • Next, apply two coats of Modern Masters Metallic paint in your choice. I used a color called warm silver.  It is a beautiful opaque metallic and a color I have used for years. Yes, I call it gold and yes it is called silver. But it translates gold to the eye, so I call it as I see it. It is a "gold" that is not garish, but warm and rich. 


  • When your metallic is dry, cover with two coats of white paint. I used Behr Swiss Coffee in a flat finish, which is a white I love and that I always keep in stock. Cover 90 percent and leave some areas to reveal the gold. You will also distress at the end to reveal more of the metallic. 
  • Now the fun part, adding a hand painted element. I use a lot of different techniques to transfer my images and The Graphics Fairy lists all the best here. For this dresser, I selected the Grand Bazar Image, printed it on transfer paper and used an overhead projector.

using overhead projector to transfer image

What I like about using an overhead projector is you can size your image perfectly to your piece and get a real look at the image on it before you actually draw it up.


  • Once you select your image and shine it up, use your water pencil to trace. Don’t worry about mistakes! 


  • Then, color in your design with metallic paint. I did two coats to give make it really opaque. 

french transfer on dresser



  • After two coats of gold, I added lowlights with gray metallic paint, using a small round brush. 


  • Once it is all dry, sand the edges and trim, as well as, the image itself and the overall finish, to age and add depth.
  • Finally, seal your finish. I used Modern Masters Dead Flat Varnish . You can read about Dead Flat Varnish in this post here.

hand painted dresser


white and gold hand painted dresser


white and gold painted dresser


Supply links:

Primer, any good quality tinted close to your metallic color to act as a base. I used up some I had and did not record what it was.
Transfer image. from The Graphics Fairy
Accent color, I used a dark gray metallic acrylic paint, I finished off a bottle I had and do not have the specific product, but any similar would work.
Transfer sheets, I buy mine on Amazon. This brand works for both laser and jet printers.

Overhead projector, find inexpensive ones on ebay.

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