The Ripley, Revealed! And a simple brass polishing tutorial.

I have been dying to get this baby set up and photographed.  It has been done for a week; I just didn’t have the time or the proper weather/lighting conditions to photograph it.

If you are here for the brass polishing tutorial, it’s at the bottom!

This lovely dresser was a custom order for someone who bought our mint green coffee table, The Greenwich, a while back.  They wanted a bold and rich color, but didn’t know what would look best in their living room by the coffee table.  They were really drawn to the emerald color that I used on The Eire and were hoping that would work.  They were a bit sad when I explained to them that the emerald would clash with the mint green, but they cheered up when I started showing them some inspiration photos of navy/royal blue pieces of furniture.

I have always wanted to work with a rich and bold blue.  For some reason, though, I’ve been scared of it because I wasn’t sure of the marketability for it.  No more!  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this color.  And I’m tempted to overhaul my living room in order to make a similar piece to use as my entertainment center.

And now let’s get to what you are really here for, the dresser!  Here is what she looked like before…lots of medium brown stain, severely tarnished, solid brass hardware, and water marks and other damage to the surfaces:

Before it was just a mid-century dresser that had water marks on the top and had seen better days

Before it was just a mid-century dresser that had water marks on the top and had seen better days

Annnnnnd here is what the dresser looks like now!

This is the most accurate picture as far as showing the color.  The color changes in different lighting

This is the most accurate picture as far as showing the color. The color changes in different lighting

What do you think?  I think it is absolutely beautiful!

I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Napoleonic blue, mixed with a bit of black in order to make it slightly deeper.  This was my first time using ASCP and while I do love the way this dresser turned out, I have mixed feelings regarding the paint.  To start with, it is VERY thick.  Much thicker than the latex paint I am used to working with.  The benefit to this is that it covers extremely well and, true to their marketing, no sanding is required.  In retrospect, I will still lightly sand any future piece I use ASCP on because, while it does stick, it comes off way too easily when distressing and that makes me nervous regarding its longevity and durability.

Another aspect of using the ASCP that bothered me is that it changes color drastically when sanding between coats and distressing.  It is my understanding that waxing prior to distressing helps minimize the color change, but waxing first is not an option when sanding between coats (this is a step I always do because I prefer my finishes to be smoooooooth, like it is baked on enamel.  I understand that many ASCP lovers LIKE the brush marks and texture that hand-painting creates.  To each their own.)

But enough about the paint…I’ll be writing a post comparing different types of paint someday soon and will go into far more detail on my ASCP experiences.

Here are the rest of the beautiful pictures…

The walnut stain and royal blue play so well together

The walnut stain and royal blue play so well together

The Ripley

Lovely details and lines

Lovely details and lines

Deep royal blue, dark wax, medium walnut stain, and original brass hardware

Deep royal blue, dark wax, medium walnut stain, and original brass hardware

I loved the oak veneer top and knew I was going to stain it.  Normally, I would immediately reach for my can of Jacobean Minwax stain.  I love the rich, dark tones of the Jacobean and I’m sure this dresser would have looked great with it.  But, I wanted something a little lighter, in order to bring out the brighter tones of the deep blue.  So, I used Special Walnut instead.  It’s a great medium brown that allows the oak grain to shine through and it complements this blue wonderfully!  Here’s a closer look at the oak grain…

Beautiful oak top

Beautiful oak top

Now, as most people already know, Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint is very chalky/velvety once it is dry.  It is also very absorbent and can easily get marked up.  Because of that, it is imperative to seal this paint with a top coat.  Top coat options are plentiful and it really boils down to preference.  For high traffic areas, like the top of this dresser or children’s furniture, etc, I like to use polyurethane.  It is nearly indestructible and does not need to be re-applied every 6 months to a year like waxes do.  For areas that see less action, I think it’s hard to beat the beauty and lustre of a hand-buffed furniture wax.

For this dresser, I applied two coats of Annie Sloan’s clear soft wax.  For most pieces, this is where I would stop.  This dresser, especially with all that beautiful and ornate detailing, needed something more so that the details popped!  So, I used Annie Sloan’s dark soft wax and started applying it with gusto.  Now, I know a lot of people are scared of dark wax, probably because many people like to paint with lighter, softer colors and dark wax can drastically alter those.  I am not scared of the dark wax, though.  In fact, I knew from the beginning that I wanted to thickly coat this dresser with dark wax because I love the depth and dimension it adds to bold colors.  See…

The dark wax looks beautiful on the side

The dark wax looks beautiful on the side

It also serves to make detailing stand out more, like this…

Love how the antiquing dark wax makes the details stand out!

Love how the antiquing dark wax makes the details stand out!

After polishing most of the tarnish off, the original brass hardware is stunning

After polishing most of the tarnish off, the original brass hardware is stunning

I love it.  I actually find it easier to use than many of the glazes that are available and designed to achieve this same effect.

This particular client is a very playful person, and though I discussed the details of this Renewal with them throughout the entire process, I did keep one thing a surprise.  On the hidden drawers, I thought it would be fun to do reverse stenciled numbering and ombre/gradient changing stain treatment.  Do you like?  The client did 🙂

Fun ombre stained hidden drawers in the middle

Fun ombre stained hidden drawers in the middle

What do you think of this hardware?

Stunning hardware on the door

Stunning hardware on the door

Is that not amazing?  Because this wasn’t a high-end piece of furniture, I fully expected the hardware to be plastic, or at the most, brass-plated.  I was thinking it was going to get the rub n’ buff treatment or the spray can treatment.  But then I used my trusty magnet skills (solid brass is not magnetic) and learned that this hardware was, in fact, solid brass.  Yipppeeeee!

If you’ve ever polished extremely tarnished brass, you know that it is messy and time-consuming.  This hardware was no exception.  But because of the end result, the process and labor is totally worth it.  Here is a photo of a side-by-side comparison of the hardware before and after polishing:

Hardware before and after side by side

Hardware before and after side by side

So, how do you get from the before to the after, you ask?  It’s simple, just not necessarily easy.

To start with, you’ll need:

-an old toothbrush

-grade #000 steel wool (it says metal polishing on the package)


-coarse salt

-a small bowl and spoon to mix lemon juice and salt

-a towel to work on and a damp rag to wipe the hardware down afterwards

-lots of elbow grease 🙂

Depending on the level of tarnish, you may not need the salt.  I generally start by just using lemon juice and a tooth brush.  By starting here, you may be able to save yourself quite the mess!

Find a well-lit space and lay down a towel to work on.Then squeeze a lemon into a small bowl, dip your toothbrush, and start scrubbing the hardware.  If the tarnish comes off pretty easily, you can just continue using the toothbrush, remembering to frequently dip it into the lemon juice.  The acidity in the lemon juice is the active agent that helps remove the tarnish.

If your hardware is severely tarnished, like this hardware was, you will have to get messy because it won’t come off very easily.  It will save you time to do the following:

Take the small bowl of lemon juice and add 1-2 tablespoons of the salt.  Mix it together with the spoon to create a paste.  Now, use the toothbrush to spread some paste on the hardware.  Next, grab your #000 steel wool and your elbow grease and start polishing!
Make sure to keep the hardware ‘wet’ with lemon juice/paste.  It will cut down on the amount of elbow grease you need, as well as prevent over-polishing of the hardware.  Now, because salt has dehydrating power, your paste will dry out over time.  Just grab another lemon and squeeze some more juice into the paste.

When you have polished the brass to the level of shine that you prefer, take the damp rag and make sure (damn sure!) to remove all of the lemon juice and paste mix from the surface.

Now repeat the process for the other 8 pieces of hardware 😉

See, I told you it was simple.

Thanks for reading this far and feel free to tell me what you think by leaving a comment!

This dresser was featured at:

Sharing at:

Miss Mustard Seed Furniture Feature Friday

Redoux Interiors

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    1. Thanks Chrissie! I hopped over to your blog and saw a lot of the pieces you’ve used OFMP…they are all beautiful! But I really like the yellow buffet…especially that fabric you put inside, it complements the soft yellow so well.

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