The Story of K and How She Turned Me into a Stripper – Part 2 (of 2)

You’ll have to forgive me for the original “Story of K” post. We watch a lot of old movies and the whole “noir” thing was stuck in my head. I kept narrating all of my household chores. “Em slowly carried the bundle up the stairs, marking her travels like Hansel and Gretel…but it wasn’t breadcrumbs strewn behind her…it was socks and underwear that fell from the too-large pile of laundry in the basket…”

Bad fiction…but I digress.

I finally finished old K…or REfinished I suppose. And, yes! It HAS been 16 days since the last post, when hundreds of people gave me suggestions for K’s makeover. Okay, zero people…but I went ahead and decided on my own 🙂

“Kay was not entirely resistant to change. I set her path on the road to redemption, but tripped along the way. There were lessons to be learned….”

So, I have NEVER (ever) stripped a piece of furniture before. Painted plenty, but never stripped anything. And actually, it wasn’t so scary after all! In fact, stripping the old finish away was mostly the easy part.

Furniture Stripping

Then, ideally, there’s sanding. Then conditioning (optional). Then staining….which takes us to lesson learned #1: Stain is applied, then WIPED OFF!!!

If you apply a heavy coat of stain and let it dry because you want it darker in an area, well, stain doesn’t work that way. It soaks into the wood until the wood is sated and then the rest just sits there and gets goopy. Picture a gallon of soda. If you drink it until you’re full, anything else will just pool on your face and should be wiped away (lest you appear slobbery and sticky). Pooled stain will not evaporate…it will be tacky (like a rabbit fur coat).

If you make this mistake (the stain, not the coat), you can actually fix the problem by adding another coat of stain. A new layer of stain will rehydrate the first coat, allowing you to wipe off the excess after a few minutes.

After that, I gave the stained wood surfaces a coat of quick-drying polyurethane. This is a good place to note Lesson #2: If you decide to go with a satin poly, don’t let a fellow shopper talk you into a semi-gloss.

All I had to do next was attach the new hardware I found…which leads me to Lesson #3: Curvy drawers do not mix well with off-the-shelf hardware.

When I went to attach the first handle, I didn’t like how it rested on the drawers. The lovely curves that are the defining feature of a serpentine dresser present a couple of hardware obstacles. They don’t accept flat accents.


In addition, the original placement of the hardware on K’s top two, smaller drawers did not align nicely with the holes of the lower two. I had toyed with filling them and going with a lovely glass knob, but I wasn’t sure how noticeable the fills would look.

This is the part where I stalled a little.. I’m not only frugal, I’m impatient. I couldn’t see spending double digits for drawer hardware…having to order it, wait for it, and hope there wasn’t another lesson I would be stuck having to learn.

Then I remembered a blog post I read a few weeks ago. This blogger made her own drawer pulls from beads after being inspired by this blogger, who had done the same.

I made mine a little differently than theirs, but was grateful for the inspiration that let me  have a little blingy fun with my once-flashy K.  She needed jewelry, so I headed to the craft store, picked up a couple of pearl and sparkle bracelets, six strands of mixed prestrung beads and 18 gauge wire.

ddbling  A little experimenting and I came up with these:

beaded drawer pulls
I put the wire through the existing holes and tied/twisted it securely inside the drawer.  I may also staple them to the inside wood for extra strength if they start to loosen (it has to be functional, of course).

DIY Beaded Drawer Pulls

The last detail was painting the key escutcheon plates with silver Liquid Leaf to match the mostly silver accents in the room where K will eventually reside.

K is now finished and, by the way, her name (and it’s grammatically incorrect origin “Que Horrible”) no longer applies.

I’ve decided to I’ll call her “Norma Desmond” …because she is TOTALLY ready for that close up…   And here it is!

Serpentine Dresser with DIY Beaded Drawer Pulls


Serpentine Dresser redo



refinished serpentine dresser with diy drawer pulls


  • Hi EmDirr, new to you and just have to say “I love the name of your blog “. I can so relate. You did such a professional job on Miss K, i think you changed her from an Ugly Duckling to a Beauty Queen. I will be pinning for sure and signing up for your “sense of humor “, i know it’s probably a lot of hard work but i could use you to start my day ! Thanks !

    • EmDirr

      Oh, Diena, you just made MY day! Thank you!!! I’d been thinking maybe the blog name wasn’t such a good idea…thought people might think…”eewww!” But it IS my biggest housekeeping obstacle, so I think it’s staying. (Was very nervous to bring a “tacky” textured dresser into my back hallway where the lab likes to patrol the windows.)

      Thanks for your kind support!

  • jan

    Awesome job. What stain did you use and what color for the legs of the dresser?

    • EmDirr

      Hi, Jan… thank you for the comment and the excellent question. Again, my apologies for the absent details..Minwax Red Mahogany for the stain, and Rustoleum American Accents Canyon Black in satin finish for the paint. I finished the stained surfaces with Minwax Poly in a semi gloss.

  • Laura Skorczewski

    Lovely! Good job. I’ve been refinishing furniture since 1974 and I love it. A tip for next time. After spreading the stripper place Saran (any plastic wrap) wrap directly on it. It will hold in the heat and speed up the process . It will also help if you need to step away briefly. The plastic wrap keeps the stripper from drying out. You forgot to tell us what brand of stain and the name of the shade. Also, the brand and name of paint color. I have a table to do and I want to do it the same as your dresser.

    • EmDirr

      Excellent suggestions, Laura! And you’re right…how could I forget to note the products!?!?! Lol! I used Klean Strip for the stripper, Minwax Red Mahogany for the stain, and Rustoleum American Accents Canyon Black in satin finish for the paint (it was in the garage cabinet, lol). I finished the stained surfaces with Minwax Poly in a semi gloss…thought it was a little too shiny at first, but it’s definitely grown on me.

      Loved the saran tip!!! I’m all over that next time 🙂 Thanks so much for the helpful comments!!

  • It’s stunning. Would you happen to know how to strip just old stain off a beautiful table with doors that I’ve had but hidden under a tablecloth. It’s in excellent condition as far as the solid wood goes.But the finish is dull and a orange tone. Doesn’t match anything I have. I was going to paint it but seeing as it’s such nice heavy real wood I’d like to bring out the beauty of it. Any suggestions. I’ve never stripped anything that wasn’t painted.
    Thank you.
    I doubt I could match the beautiful job that you did. ..

    • Cheryl

      There are strippers made to remove stain and varnish. I like to use Formby’s Furniture Refinisher, it does not strip the wood, and preserves the patina.

    • EmDirr

      Thank you, Michele! This was my first strip project ever…but Cheryl kindly suggests Formby’s. I’ve heard of the name, but am not really qualified to recommend as yet.

      I used Klean Strip (and was very happy with it). It says it removes “paint, epoxy and polyurethane”. It took me right down to bare wood. Not sure what was under the paint, but I suspect the stain was still there. Great luck with your table!

  • Lorna wilson

    It is stunning! Beautiful wood. Well done to you!

  • You did a really nice job considering it’s your first time! Amazing! That wood is beautiful. I’ve done many a stripping and staining so I know what it entails. (btw, if you want a non-toxic stripper for the next time, try Soy Gel. I’ve used it for years) I’ve always love black with natural oak and it looks fab on this guy. I’m still on the fence regarding the handles, but it’s a cute idea! Just wondering how they will hold up with all the pulling.

    • EmDirr

      Thanks for the great tip, Beth! I’ll be checking your blog out after the afternoon sports runs 🙂 You’re right about securing the pulls! If this were for my “dailies” I’d absolutely secure with staples…or go back to bails and posts. The drawers don’t stick and glide pretty well, so this was a handy quick fix for me.

      Thanks for stopping by!