The restoration is done in three steps—with a new coat of paint, leather fronts, and luxe hardware.

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vintage dresser before and after
Credit: Lennart Weibull

Lorna Aragon, home editor at Martha Stewart Living, has a singular superpower: spotting vintage-furniture gems under peeling paint and dated hardware. She instantly saw this piece's clean lines and eight roomy drawers and swooped in to save it with a fresh coat of semigloss, a few yards of leather (cut to cover the drawer fronts), and lustrous hardware. But any mortal can get these stunning, modern results—just follow her steps.

Repaint it.

Set up in a well-ventilated area. Remove hardware and scrub inside and out with all-purpose cleaner; let dry. Sand exterior surfaces (including drawer exteriors) with 120-grit sand-paper; vacuum and wipe down. Brush it with primer; let dry overnight. Add two coats of semigloss, sanding and wiping down in between; let dry. (We used Benjamin Moore Advance paint, in Maritime White; benjaminmoore.com.)

Apply leather.

Place leather face-downours is from Edelman (starting from $32 a sq. ft., edelmanleather.com). Trace the drawer fronts onto it with a pencil. Move to a cutting mat or plywood; lay a straight edge along the lines, and cut out with a utility knife. Cover the back of one piece with spray adhesive; let stand until tacky, five minutes. Smooth it onto the corresponding drawer front. Repeat for remaining drawers; let dry overnight.

Attach handles.

Gently poke an awl through leather from the inside of the drawers to make a small hole. Cut a small X at holes with utility knife. Slip screws through X's from inside to secure pulls—these are from CB2 (starting from $13 each, cb2.com.)

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