Friday, June 17, 2011

From free to fab

About 3 months ago, Jeff and I were running near our house. As we rounded a corner I saw a man putting things out under the tree in his front yard.

My quick to find free and cheap things brain zeroed in on a free sign sitting next to this pile.

Included in this pile was one rough looking, in need of a makeover, wood chest. Or a hope chest as I have called them.

It was calling to me. Begging me to take it home.

I practically begged the man to let me have it AND to set it aside for me so that we could finish our run and come back with the van.

Even though it was free, he was quite chagrined at the shape it was in and kept telling me all the things wrong with it. The missing foot, the piece of laminate missing, the much damage finish.

I was like,"Buddy, it's free. I'm good with the shape it's in!"

So he cheerfully set it aside (probably so happy to be getting rid of it) and we came back later and picked it up.

Admittedly, it did not smell awesome. It smelled exactly like a piece of furniture that had been sitting in a garage for quite some years. But, it was a Lane Cedar Chest. If you don't know Lane, you should. They ARE cedar chests. So I felt I could work with it.

When I got it, it looked like this:

And this:

But the inside was perfect! Absolutely perfect. It looked like this:

My first job was to figure out how to replace the lost foot. Where do you find an extra foot for a 1960's Lane Cedar Chest?

Well, you don't. So I just knocked off the other three feet and called it good. And rather than figure out how to replace the missing piece of panel, I just left it.

I then proceeded to give the whole thing a slight sanding with my mouse sander. It didn't need much. And I loved the dings and little dents in it. It gave it a well used, which to me means loved, look.

Then I gave it 1 coat of oil based primer. Let it dry for 24 hours (just to be sure it bonded really well).

And of course I didn't take any pictures of the during process. It takes way too much time to go get the camera! How could I slow down my fevered pitch long enough? Sheesh. I have issues.

So after priming it, I lightly sanded it by hand, just to catch any drips or mistakes and to give the paint even more to cling to.

I picked a Caribbean Blue because it just spoke to me. It really did. In Home Depot. It was weird.

I slapped two coats of that lovely shade on, sanding between coats, and it came out like this:

I added a little white to some of the blue so that I could paint the section missing some wood a lighter color. Then I distressed the whole thing so that it would continue to look like the well loved piece of furniture it is.

I didn't have any antiquing gel, but I did have a little sample of brown paint. So I dabbed the paint on an old towel and rubbed it over the distressed parts.

When I was all done, I put a water based poly-urethane on it, and then stepped back to admire my work.

All in all, it may be my favorite thing I've ever done. The blue color, the distressed corners, the strip of lighter blue, and the fact that the inside was so pristine that I actually have my belongings in it.

It's the one pop of color in a pretty white room. Which I will show you when I'm all done. A hint at something else I did, those ruffly white curtains-probably my second favorite thing I've ever attempted.

Not all of my attempts work out. Or sometimes they just work out ok. And then sometimes, they work out so good that I brag about it on my blog. Can you forgive my self indulgence? With it sitting in my bedroom, the only way I can show people is by dragging them upstairs, or by putting it on my blog. So thanks for your understanding and support.

I love it, I loved doing it, and I love all of you!!!


  1. okay, so i like the chest and all, but once i got down to the last picture, all i could see was the ruffled curtains! where ever did you get those? target? i saw some like that i had to have there, but they had zero...anywhere. i'm dying here. you MUST tell me, or i'll camp outside your house until you do.

    i know where you live! ;-)

  2. I love the chest and the curtains, but I've got to ask about the suitcase... did you paint it? I've got a couple of vintage suitcases I'm wanting to paint but I'm not sure how it will work and what kind of paint to use. I'd love to hear a success story!

  3. When I have a moment I'll come back to this awesome post! Just wanted to tell you to check out this book selling website
    "" it's an AMAZING site!

  4. Once again (and not surprisingly) you have succeeded in being amazing! I LOVE it!!

  5. score! that is so beautiful, i love it!

  6. Good job!! Those must be the curtains you made!! I LOVE IT!! Can't wait to see your whole room when you are ready to unveil it!!

  7. I will second all these comments. The chest looks awesome! Who throws away a Lane Cedar Chest?!! but the curtains - do tell soon.

    I need you to come visit OKC, I need am lost in my new house and don't know where to start adding retro vintage to the 70s contemporary house - thoughts appreciated. :)

  8. That chest really is super cool!

  9. What a lovely chest. Great colour you chose for it, looks great. And the ruffled curtains are fab too. Thanks for stopping by Beach Cottage Good Life Wednesdays and joining the party.

  10. Love the way your chest turned out! I wonder why people didn't take those tags out of the inside? Maybe I'll start leaving all the tags on my furniture just so people can get super excited about it 40 years from now :o) Thanks for visiting my blog (even though it distracted you from your dishes!) I'll be back to look at yours later when I don't have kids screaming at me :o) AND... just have to know, did you make those curtains?


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