Stunning Ideas for Using a Welsh Dresser in the Home

Traditional Welsh dressers were traditionally built of wood with a “sideboard” type bottom and storage and/or cabinets on top, but nowadays anything goes, and these much-loved, utilitarian pieces of furniture are available in a wide range of designs, forms, and colors, as well as sizes and shapes.

Pre-loved or second-hand dressers, on the other hand, stand out from the crowd, mostly because they have a plethora of unique traits and a wealth of history, which we find particularly intriguing…. Perfect for an upcycling project — typically a labor of love, but well worth every ounce of sweat equity invested.

Of course, a kitchen dresser naturally doubles as a location to keep and display your finest China and glasses, or, conversely, as a place to display and store carefully picked stacks of day-to-day mealtime essentials and kitchenalia. An enormous dresser in our kitchen, ornamented with exquisite China and handcrafted ceramics, drawers stuffed with layers of folded linen napkins and carefully organized silverware, and everything we need to set the dinner table at the touch of a button.

Creating a Look for Your Welsh Dresser

While a Welsh dresser is often associated with country living, this is not always the case; take your time in selecting the ideal one for your house and it will blend in seamlessly. The interior of our home, which has been converted from a barn, is decorated and accessorized in a blend of Scandinavian design with Swedish elements, as well as my long-standing passion of rustic decorating — in other words, an eclectic mix.

1. Add Some Color to Your Life

If you decide to paint your dresser, a chalky finish, eggshell, or satinwood are the finest options for you if you want to make it look more modern. There is little to no preparation required, and absolutely no undercoating is required; nevertheless, depending on the color of your dresser to begin with, you may need up to three coats to provide enough coverage; again, this is dependent on the beginning color of your dresser.

Using chalk paint to create a distressed or shabby chic look is simple; the paint may be sanded by hand to a smooth surface, with a little extra sanding along the edges to give the illusion of being well-worn. Finish with a coat of clear furniture wax, applied with an old cloth or a waxing brush, and buff to a soft shine to complete the look.

When you wax your painted finish, you not only create a “finished” look, but you also assist to protect and extend the life of the painted finish by ensuring that water stains and knocks are minimized.

2. Books

When arranged in a row, books are excellent style decorations for your house, but when stacked together, they may become a jumble of mismatched colors and appear to be cluttered. If you’d want to experiment with designing your dresser with books, placing a very basic cover to your reading material will instantly give your dresser shelf a purposeful and “put-together” appearance without any effort. Don’t go overboard with the matching or coordinating books; two or three stacks are sufficient for a “less is more” look.

Covering your books is a simple and straightforward process that requires no adhesive or adhering. All you need is a piece of paper and a pair of scissors to do this project. Wrapping paper, whether plain or patterned, or parcel wrap, as well as wallpaper samples, are ideal; you could even use linen for a more artisanal look. For a country or shabby chic look, I like to wrap twine or linen ribbon around a small stack of books and embellish with a couple of sprigs of dried lavender or other dried flowers to give it a country or shabby chic look.

3. Change the Handles and Add Moldings

Unless the drawer knobs and/or handles on your dresser are really appealing to you, you may easily replace them with something more appropriate. Handles and knobs are easily accessible in hardware stores such as B&Q, as well as on the internet at sites such as eBay and Amazon.

Simply attach the new hardware if you are able to use the old holes; otherwise, drill pilot holes or, if the wood isn’t too hard, screw straight through it with little difficulty. Grab handles were used on the two top drawers, and knobs were used on the bigger drawers beneath them for a more traditional look. Adding a small finishing touch by hanging something appropriate on one of the handles is a lovely little finishing touch.

Upcycling can be further enhanced by the addition of little wooden or plaster moldings such as I’ve done in the image below. These are easily attached with wood glue and then painted over to make them appear as if they have always been there.

4. Add a bit of Flowers and Greenery

Flowers and foliage, it goes without saying, are a wonderful way to bring life and interest to your dresser, no matter where you place it. Rural residents can cut some sprigs of greenery with a pair of secateurs or flower scissors on their next walk (or when strolling around their own garden). It makes no difference the sort you choose; simply go with whatever tickles your fancy.

The Bottom Line

Whatever you decide to do with your Welsh dresser, remember that dressing it should be enjoyable and that you should incorporate seasonal touches wherever possible. Easter is always a festive time to “decorate” your dresser with ice cream colors, hand-painted eggs, and bunting, among other decorations. Let your creativity go wild and make the most of your magnificent Welsh dresser by decorating it with fairy lights throughout the fall and Christmas seasons.