Like Childbirth, Eventually You Forget The Pain.

The pain of refinishing twin 80 year old Simmons pressed metal dressers.  I mentioned in a previous post that this summer my mother in law moved into assisted living and the home she built and lived in for 60 years was sold.  There was a lot of sorting and deciding what artifacts we wanted to become a part of our hoard and what was going to have to find its own new path.  My husband and I have never invested much in furniture and my now 14 year old daughter was still using the dresser we got at Target to house her baby clothes; so we brought home two Simmons pressed metal dressers.  These dressers had been living in her basement holding her linens and gift wrap for fifty years.

simmons pressed metal furniture
1930’s catalog insert for Simmons furniture collection.

The dressers had been painted multiple times so I naively set out to strip them and paint at least one for my daughter.  During my research I stumbled across what hipsters are doing with these dressers and found this:

Similar pressed metal dresser advertised on

So with too much time on my hands I got started.

IT WAS HELL.  It took MONTHS to strip all the paint meanwhile I was parking in the driveway (while the dressers lived it up in the garage), I sustained chemical burns (yes I did try CitriStrip and it was too cute to get the job done) and ruined quiet a few outfits and one pair of shoes.  I started in March before it got too hot but that discouraged the CitriStrip from working; and when it got hot my rubber chemical resistant gloves filled with sweat that would pour out every time I lifted my hands.  Hell I say!

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As you can see both dressers were stripped, one is finished and has become part of the family however the other one continues to sit in the garage rusting.  Here is why: I read Michelle Hinckley’s blog (of course only after I was deep into the project) and I was not sure if it was providing me an  inspiration or warning?

Her blog post was hilarious, and I felt so much better after seeing what she went through but I had no idea how to achieve that finish!  It was heavenly and magical and I want it.    My husband did a test area with steel wool and it became a mirror finish. OH-HELL-NO. So what do I do?

Perhaps I should take my childbirth analogy to heart; polish the dresser, accept it’s flaws, and seal it with furniture wax and bring it into the guest bedroom for the winter.  When the pain of labor from this past summer fades I can continue to try to get that smooth even finish Michelle Hinckley wisely paid someone else to deliver.


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