Southwestern Inspired Dresser


Every room needs at least one eye-catching element, don’t you agree?

The exciting part of having a baby in Pennsylvania in October and moving to North Carolina in February is that I get to do two room redos! The downside is now that we are renting a home, I can’t paint the walls. I still wanted to create a really unique space for my little cowboy, so it was essential to have a few visually striking pieces to make up for the lack of color on the walls.

With the exception on the crib (which I was lucky enough to receive as a gift), all the other furniture was second hand. I opted to use the chest of drawers that had been mine as a child because it was a really solid wood piece and would hold up to the eventual havoc it would face from a toddler. I was recently inspired by Brepurposed‘s Arles and Aztec filing cabinet makeover, so I stalked Etsy to find the stencil she had used (see it here on my Pintrest board) to create my own awesome and exclusive piece.

The Process

My first order of business was to wipe down and lightly sand my old dresser to rough up the finish so that the paint would adhere better. The wood wasn’t shellacked, which made it easier.


I had decided to keep the top with the wood finish because it had such a great grain and I wanted to maintain a little bit of its rustic qualities. I also chose a bright paint for the body and did not want it to be overwhelming since this was a relatively large piece of furniture. I taped off the top to make sure I had a clean line when painting.


The color I chose was Valspar’s Golden Moon in a flat finish. It reminds me of a slightly brighter version of Annie Sloane Arles but without the price tag. Valspar even makes a chalk paint now, but it will still cost you about $10 more for a pint than the flat. And, hey, my kid is only six months old. He is not going to appreciate the subtle wonders of chalk paint on his dresser.


Here is the body of the chest of drawers after one coat of paint which I applied using a 2 inch angled brush on the sides and a 1 inch angled brush on the cross bars.

DSC00338 DSC00339

I applied a second coat…


And finally a third…


…before I was satisfied with it. I would rather have to do three thin coats of pain than one or two heavy ones as this can cause drips and doesn’t dry as quickly. It’s a good idea to make sure each layer of paint is fully dry before applying the next coat or you may not have a smooth finish. Drips never look good.

The drawers each received two coats of paint on the sides. I also painted the top edges so that pretty color would pop out when the drawers were opened. I confess, I did start to paint the front of one of the drawers before having a moment of genuine panic. The wood grain was just to great to cover up completely. Luckily, it was still wet so I was able to wipe it off with damp paper towels. Phew. Crisis averted.


The top of the dresser and the fronts of the drawers each got two applications of Watco Danish Oil in Dark Walnut, which darkened the wood slightly, gave a natural finish and brought out that great grain.


Isn’t that beautiful?!

If you are attempting something like this at home, I recommend taking a break at this point. The oil will need to dry overnight before it can be painted over. This is also an opportunity to let your paint fume high wear off.

Easy Painted Border for Drawers

As I mentioned, I had a moment of semi-crisis when I applied the yellow paint to the drawer face. I put the drawers in the dresser to see how they looked with the natural wood. I didn’t like this either because the drawers covered the crossbars so all I saw was brown when looking at the front. I wanted the yellow to break it up a little so I opted for a one-inch yellow border around the drawer faces.


Eye-catching. right? I know you may be thinking, “omg, this looks so complicated, I could never do something like that!” You can. I will break it down for you in 6 easy steps:

1. Measure in 1 inch at near each corner on long side. Make a small mark with a pencil.

2. Apply tape on long sides using marks as guides.


3. Measure in 1 inch on short sides. I made marks on the tape this time. Because I could.

4. Apply tape to short sides. You can see in the picture that I didn’t extend the tape all the way across. No need to waste good painter’s tape.


5. Using an Exacto knife, carefully and very, very lightly, cut the overhanging tape in the short edges. If you are concerned about getting a straight line, use a ruler or straightedge as a guide. Just be very careful not to press hard or you will risk scratching the wood. The excess tape can easily be removed after this. Also, don’t cut yourself.


6. Paint! I used three coats here as well, applied with my one-inch brush.. After this, the tape can carefully be removed and you will be left with a clean line. You may also want to lightly sand the border before painting.



I was eager to finish this project, but I was stalled for a couple of days waiting for my stencil to arrive in the mail. I was super excited when it finally came!

Stenciling the Pattern

If you have never stenciled anything before, I will tell you that it is very easy but you have to follow a few rules to get a clean look. I used tape to hold my stencil in place – you definitely don’t want it sliding around. I lined up my stencil where I wanted the design to appear and placed a few pieces of tape on the sides to secure it.

DSC00393I chose a simple off-white craft paint for this part and applied it using this nifty tool called a splouncer… who comes up with these names? It’s foam on a stick. The foam needs to be saturated with paint but if it is over-saturated or you press too hard, you risk having your paint bleed underneath your stencil. 

I did the center of all three drawers first and attempted to center and align it as best as possible so the drawers would have a uniform appearance. 
DSC00396A little bit of patience was now necessary. I was so eager to see the final product, but I gave the paint the appropriate time to dry. This has to be done or you will smear the freshly stenciled design, and nobody wants that!

The craft paint I was using dried pretty quickly though, at which point I was able to stencil to the left and right of the center. I lined up the stencil so the design would look continuous and taped it in place.


Then I did this on the other drawers until I had stenciled over all the bare wood on the drawer faces. Here’s a little close up for ya!

I waited overnight and finished off the piece by sealing it with a coat of SC Johnson Paste Wax. For tips on how to apply this, take a look at my DIY Grey Wash Coffee Table.

Then I finally got to put it all together!





Southwestern Inspired Dresser | Sylvan&South

So now I am obsessed and want to use this stencil on everything. What would you use it for?

In case you’re interested, here’s what I used:

If you enjoyed this project, please show me some love! Like Sylvan&South on Facebook, Follow on Pinterest, and sign up for email updates to see my latest projects. Also check out what I did with this amazing vintage paper from Instant Cottage Charm. What would you do with it?

Y’all come back now!!


P.S. If you loved this project, check out these other amazing ways to embrace Southwest style at home!



12 thoughts on “Southwestern Inspired Dresser

  1. Love the project 😊 was looking for the tutorial on how to line the inside of the drawers with paper. Could you direct me please. Thanks 👍


  2. Ahhh this seriously turned out amazing!! Love all the details and love that you left the top wood as well as most of the drawers. It really helps the stencil to pop and makes this a gorgeous statement piece! So glad I was an inspiration for you, and now you’re making me want to use my stencil again!


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