How To Train Your Dragon Dresser Makeover

This antique dresser had seen it’s better days and was in serious need of a makeover. In this tutorial I’m going to show you how this dresser got a How to Train Your Dragon Makeover flair to fit right into my teenage son’s bedroom.

How to train your dragon dresser makeover full front view staged with books
As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.

This story starts like many others have before in my home. I walked into a thrift store and saw this dresser standing there needing to come home with me.

I think the real deciding factor was the point that it was only $30. That’s usually when I quickly walk up to the check out and pay before someone else discovers that under that interesting paint job, is beautiful antique wood.

Before picture of a painted antique dresser front view

The original knobs were long gone unfortunately. The previous owner had replaced them with some hobby lobby knobs. They weren’t terrible, but slightly too small for the stature of this piece. But I saved them for a possible future project since there’s nothing wrong with them.

The dresser also had it’s original wooden caster wheels, which is always cool to discover. This is a well made dresser and is close to 100 years old.. And 100 years later it’s still standing solid. That’s a testament to the workmanship of the creator and the mastery of skills that went into it.

When I find a piece of furniture like this I always ask myself How can I leave this piece better than when I found it? How can I honor it’s origin? And if it’s lasted 100 years, what can I do to ensure it’s around for another 100?

The side view of the drawers before the paint has been stripped
As An Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This post contains *affiliate links.

Phase Number One – The First Coat of Paint Stripper

There were two coats of paints on the sides of the drawers. I have discovered through the years that I have a thing about ensuring a clean paint job. So I prefer even the insides and sides of drawers to be a clean wood surface. Also, it helps it continue to open and close without sticking.

So, to start the makeover I took my old friend *Citristrip and began my first coat of paint stripper.

Side View of the dresser after the first coat of paint stripper

You can see the paint start to bubble up. This is where I start to get excited. Until I realized it had 3 coast of paint to take off. Which meant multiple rounds of paint stripper.

And days worth of dirty, sticky, messy work. All in my living room, mind you. But it’s like a good book you just can’t put down and you keep chugging along.

Second coat of stripper having been applied and scraped off of antique dresser, side view

Finally, I got off the first coat of paint and stripper with my *Metal Scraper. It wasn’t looking very well at this point. In many ways at this point you may look at your piece and start to panic thinking to yourself What have I done? As I have asked myself many many times before.

I find all furniture projects have their definite ugly phase.

Phase Two – Second Coat of Paint Stripper & Sanding Bare

Overall I did two full coats of *Citristrip. I let it sit for 30 minutes, watch the color change from an orange to a very light pink. Then scrape everything I can get off with my *metal scraper. In the tight spaces, I did use a razor blade to gently persuade paint out of the cracks.

In the end, however, paint does sometimes get in the grain of the wood. There was a lot of white paint stuck in the grain of the drawers. And because it was veneer I could only sand so much before compromising it.

Phase Three how to train your dragon dresser paint stripped mostly off the right side

I managed to completely clean the entire piece down to bare wood. This was such an exciting day when I finally finished sanding it. The beautiful curves and character of the piece were finally in full view. And of course I forgot to get pictures of that part of the project. Maybe I was rushed because I was so excited? We’ll go with that explanation.

There are plenty of times however, when I was not exactly sure what I was going to do with it. And a great deal of that decision depends on how a piece takes stain. In this case the drawers were a completely different wood than the rest of the piece.

Choosing how to move forward in the makeover with the differences in wood

Also, at this point the edges of the drawers were a hazy color. The drawer fronts have a curvature before they go flat and it was a completely different wood color that the faces because of the veneer vs the base, which was likely ash. It had a green tint to it and that was definitely not what I was looking for. So, in the end I chose to paint the side of the faces of the drawers black.

I chose to let the chips fall where they may and stain the entire piece, drawer faces and all, *Early American by Minwax. It is my absolute favorite stain color because of its warmth. This is where I realized the drawers were possibly a mahogany, so the stain gave them a redder tint. And the rest of the piece stayed more true to the stain color. I chose to just run with it. After all, this is the piece, isn’t it? I simply applied with a *lint-free rag (use *gloves unless you want brown hands).

Phase Three of antique dresser front view drawers splotchy painted black

Phase Three – Attempt at Masking the Paint in the Grain

I did somewhat of an experiment. I painted the parts of the drawers with the paint in the grain a dark grey or black color called Little Black Dress by Behr (it has a hint of blue in it). My hope was that instead of white showing, it would be black. Which would hide so much better when stained.

In the end it was mostly a failure. The only parts it covered up were the bigger gauges in the veneer on the edges of the drawers. Which, I suppose was still a win, in a way.

Drawer fronts with splotchy black paint

At this point I even considered painting the drawer fronts completely black. But then I was going to draw and then paint How to Train Your Dragon Dragon Class emblems on the drawer fronts. I wouldn’t be able to see the pencil enough to confidently paint tiny dragons.

So, I chose to keep them raw wood to start and paint the dragons in black with gold accents then stain over the drawings.

I chose to sand the drawers back down to bare wood and start on the next phase, the drawing.

To start I tried out my designs on the drawers in pencil just to get an idea for the piece. I chose to personalize this dresser and do a How to Train Your Dragon Makeover on it to suit my oldest son for his bedroom. He loves everything dragon and I knew this would be really fun for me.

How to Train Your Dragon Dresser Pencil Outlines on the Drawers
Five of the ten complete dragon outlines are on the drawers. One pattern was repeated on the top main drawer.

Phase Four – Onto the Art Project

I knew the piece needed to look masculine and even have a sort of Viking flair to it. If I was going to pull off a How to Train Your Dragon Makeover on this dresser I needed to harness subtlety because I was definitely not wanting it to look like a licensed piece. I wanted it to look like something that could have been in a bedroom of a modern-day Viking.

Dark wood, brooding black and gold accents, and we even found the perfect black cast iron hardware in Hobby Lobby for the drawers.

But first, the art. I found the pictures on google for all of the dragon classes and used Canva to make sure they were all the same size. Print them out for free here. I printed them out and then painstakingly cut them out, laminated them, and then cut them out with an exact-o-knife to create stencils.

As you can tell the pencil markings didn’t show up near clear enough for me to be comfortable trying to paint in the lines. So I chose to go back in with a *Fine Line sharpie. Now it’s ready for the detailed painting.

Raw wood with how to train your dragon classes in pencil and pen outlines on the drawers
All ten How to Train Your Dragon, dragon classes drawn in pen on the drawers

I used the *smallest detail paint brush I could find just to start around the outline. I used the paint Little Black Dress that I already had. Then used a slightly larger brush to get the insides. I painted them all black and then after they dried I came back in with an *acrylic gold paint by Folkart just to accent certain parts of the dragons and give them eyes.

How to Train Your Dragon Dresser Makeover Reveal

In the end after all of the hours hunched over stripping, sanding, staining, painting with a tiny paint brush inside the lines of little dragons I believe all my effort paid off. It was 100% worth it.

how to train your dragon side view completed project

You can see the side view where all that paint used to be gunked on, now it’s completely clean. How to Train Your Dragon (print the free file by clicking the link) emblems painted on the fronts and the frame of the drawer faces painted black. Notice the cool cast iron drawer knobs which even have some gold on them as well.

How to Train Your Dragon dragon class emblems close up front view

It isn’t a perfect dresser by any means, but it has so much character and it isn’t something you could ever find again because it is one of a kind. I hope he keeps it forever and passes it down to his kids. How to Train Your Dragon has become apart of our family in a real way. It’s apart of my son’s story and obsession with all things dragons and now there’s an heirloom piece to tell that story for years.

How to Train Your Dragon dresser makeover staged with books

This project was so fun I’ve been dreaming of a time when I can do something like this again, maybe for my other children down the line. But I wouldn’t do it for just anything. It was a lot of work and I definitely would make sure it wasn’t just a passing phase before investing that much time and effort into a piece.

But I did consider if at some point he decides he doesn’t want the dragons (over my dead body). They can be sanded off and restained.

What do you think of this How to Train Your Dragon Dresser Makeover? Did I nail it? Let me know in the comments!

How to train your dragon dresser makeover full front view staged with books

If you like this makeover you will definitely like How to Refinish A Painted Wardrobe!

Thanks so much for visiting today! There is a complete printable tutorial below with detailed instructions on this project and how you can do your own, make sure to check that out!


Tools & Supplies I used

As an Amazon Associate I earn from Qualifying Purchases. The Links below are *Affiliate Links.

  1. Citristrip
  2. Rubber Gloves, Goggles, Apron
  3. Chip Brush
  4. Metal Scraper
  5. Sand Paper; 80, 120, and 220 grit
  6. Orbital Sander
  7. Early American Stain by Minwax
  8. Lint-Free Rags
  9. Black Acrylic Paint by Apple Barrel
  10. Gold Acrylic Paint by FolkArt
  11. Polycrylic, Wipe-On Poly, Waterlox, or Furniture Wax
  12. Fine Detail Brush Set
  13. 2″ Cub Brush for applying Topcoat
How to Train Your Dragon Dresser Makeover Full Front View

How To Train Your Dragon Dresser Makeover

Yield: One of a kind Dragon Dresser
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Active Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: $50.00 - $75.00

In this quick tutorial, I will teach you exactly how to create an heirloom piece unique to you and your family.


  • Citristrip
  • Metal Scraper
  • Rubber Gloves
  • Chip Brush
  • Sand paper; 80, 120, & 220 grit
  • Polycrylic, Wipe-On Poly, or Waterlox Top Coat
  • Early American Stain by Minwax
  • Lint Free Rags
  • Small Detail Paint Brush
  • Black Paint (Little Black Dress by Behr)
  • Gold Acrylic Paint by FolkArt
  • How to Train Your Dragon stencils (or other stencil of your choosing)


  • Orbital Sander
  • Metal Scraper
  • Chip Brush
  • Paint Brush


  1. Step 1. Put on your protective gear. If you don't have much experience with using paint strippers I would recommend goggles, an apron, and rubber gloves. One benefit of using Citristrip is that it is a thicker gooey consistency so it doesn't "splash" as others will. But it can still ruin clothes and burn your skin and eyes, so better safe than sorry.
  2. Step 2. You can use a cup or if you're working on a horizontal surface you can simply pour small amounts to work with straight on the project. Coat the piece liberally. Do not skimp. You want a fairly thick layer for it to work properly. A thin layer does not work well in my experience.
  3. Step 3. Let it sit on the project for 20 to 30 minutes or until it changes from a glossy orange goo to a flat light pink color. You can leave it up to 24 hours, but I wouldn't recommend that as it dries out and then becomes quite a dusty mess and you don't want to inhale any of that scraping it off. Do it when it's still semi-gooey for best results.
  4. Step 4. Scrape as much of the paint off as you can. The paint layers should effortlessly come off, don't press down too hard. If it needs a second coat repeat the process.
  5. Step 5. After the paint has been stripped now is the time to sand. I start with 80 grit and get the toughest spots gone, then switch to 120 and finally 220 for finishing. You may have to hand sand in delicate places or hard-to-reach spots. This is probably the most time-consuming part of the project. But to stain a piece you have to have all of the old paint off.
  6. Step 6. Once all the paint is off and it's smooth to the touch it's time to get out your stencils, pencil, and fine tip sharpie. Decide where you want your stencils and tape to hold in place. Carefully draw out your design using a pencil. When that's done to your satisfaction get your fine tip sharpie out and draw over the pencil. When that's dry take an eraser and take off as much of the pencil as you can. This may take up some of the black pen marks, so you can go back over touch-up places if you need to.
  7. Step 7. When your designs are drawn now it's time to get out your fine painting brush and your black paint. Patiently paint the perimeter edges and then carefully fill them in. When all of them are painted black it's time to go in with your gold and accentuate parts of the design. If there are parts that are hard to differentiate that's a good place to put the gold to separate.
  8. Step 8. You have your designs painted so now it's time to stain. Use your gloves and lint-free rags and apply your stain. Follow the directions on the can for best results.
  9. Step 9. When your stain is dark to your liking and dried it's time for your topcoat. I have used Polycrylic, Wipe-On Poly, and Waterlox all with great success. Polycrylic is a bit more temperamental than the others, however. Apply your choice of topcoat following the directions on the container for best results.
  10. Step 10. Choose your hardware and enjoy your piece!


Congratulations you've completed your project!

Meet the Author

Hi, I’m Julie! Mother to five beautiful kids, Homeschool Educator, Writer, Handicraft & DIY Enthusiast, Photographer, Thrifter, and Furniture Restorer. Follow along for fun DIY projects creating a handmade home on a budget! Read more about me here→


  1. Thank you for this post! I have several pieces of furniture that are covered I. Various paint colors and I would like to go with the natural wood look. Greta tutorial!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *