When Better Homes & Gardens gave us our assignment for the final round of the Makeover Madness competition, I was excited and SUPER nervous all at the same time. Excited because this dresser is totally my style. It’s something I would buy in a heartbeat because it’s simple, the lines are clean, and the possibilities of what you can do with it are endless. But nervous because I knew that to compete with the other three talented ladies, it would have to be something outside the box, and a little more epic than a simple dresser (I think there are two of these in my future painted white with simple brass knobs). Then it hit me: bar cart!

Bar carts have been making a comeback in a major way, and I’m not immune to their awesomeness–it probably also had something to do with my recent Mad Men binge. I’ve been wanting one at my house for a while, so I thought of my project in terms of something I would use in my own house, which meant, of course, it also had to fit my style. The problem with the bar cart at my house, is that I need pieces that do double or even triple duty due to limited space, and a dresser, which provides tons of extra storage, seemed ideal for a bar cart. I can totally picture this in a corner of my living room, providing the perfect place for serving at parties, but also, two extra drawers for all of those table linens, glassware, and dishes that we only use for special occasions and never seem to have a permanent home.

So, here’s how I turned an expensive dresser into a high-end looking bar:

We started here…

…and then with a coat of stain (Jacobean by Minwax). We were lucky enough to have had the dressers assembled and painted for us before we got to Iowa, but you can see my whole rundown on how to stain here.

Next remove the top drawer. If you’re the one putting this together, just don’t attach the front panel of the drawer, but assemble the rest according to the directions.

The bottom panel of the drawer needs to be flush with the sides in order to attach the hinges, so you’ll need to cut off the excess. I just used a simple handsaw. Since this wood is thin, you’ll want something with a fine(ish) blade so that it doesn’t just rip it to shreds.

And now this is the part where apparently I got really into my project and forgot to take any more pictures, so I’ll explain the rest with really high tech diagrams.
Lay the front of the drawer on so that it sits in the original position. The hinges will be attached to the underneath side of the bottom drawer panel, and the bottom, inside overhang of the drawer front. Since the bottom drawer panel is so thin, it probably wouldn’t hurt to glue and screw them on.

To keep the drawer closed, attach a magnetic closure–you can find them in the cabinet section of the hardware store. (Please excuse the blurry picture, this one is from my phone.)

I lined the inside of the drawer with some wrapping paper from Target, and attached the hardware (from Anthropologie here & here).

You can head over and check out the tutorials for the other ladies’ projects too!

And now the REALLY fun part! We want to see your favorite makeover projects that you’ve done! We’ll be pinning some of them throughout the week (until it closes on April 20th), and next week, the winners will be featured over on Better Homes & Gardens Style Spotters blog!


  1. Allison says

    Hey, love this hack! I’m planning to bravely attempt my first hack and first stain projct, but…Can you advise about the stain technique used here specifically? Your stain tutorial, as well as others I’ve found on the web, show a more consistently dark result. What’s the best way to achieve this gorgeous stripe-y stain look?


    • says

      Thanks so much! There are a few things that I’d recommend:
      1. The stain and type of wood matter. The more porous the wood, the darker your stain will be. Also, of course, darker stains will be deeper and richer. This one is Jacobean by Minwax. My kitchen table is Early American by Minwax, and dark walnut is another good dark one.
      2. I always wipe my stain on as opposed to painting it on. Dip the rag into the stain and just rub it on in circles. Make sure your keeping it somewhat even, but you can soak the wood pretty good, leave it sitting there, and just let it soak in for a while. The longer it sits, the more that will seep into the wood. Then wipe off the excess, and if you still want it darker, do another coat (sanding with really fine grit sandpaper between coats).
      3. Also make sure you give everything a light sanding before you stain. It opens up the pores of the wood.

      Hope that helps!! Feel free to e-mail me if you have any other questions. Good luck!!

  2. Britt says

    Hi! I love this hack and the color stain! I was thinking of doing it to the larger dresser of Ikeas in this collection. Do you see a problem with staining the furniture before its put together? I would like to do it before I move into an apartment and it would be nice to be able to transport all the pieces when they aren’t built. Thank you!

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