I admit, I didn’t give much thought to building a collection of dowry items or trousseau when I began dating my husband. We met while I was in high school and, more because it was a useful piece of furniture, my parents gave me a ceder hope chest as a graduation gift.
I just refinished this vintage chest with chalk paint and I am really pleased with the results.
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During the mid-seventies, dark pine furniture was popular and I remember picking out my favorite chest, mainly for the needlepoint on the top. We probably stored homemade crocheted blankets in it but it’s primary function was used for seating. Aside from the scratches and dings common in soft pine, I think it has held up pretty well for 43 years of use.
The inside is still almost like new. But, I eventually grew tired of the dark wood. I thought for ages about painting the hope chest and maybe because I knew of the horror it would have caused my parents, it remained dark and less than attractive.
Refinished Cedar Chest with Chalk Paint
All my hesitation and fears were relieved with the outcome and I am totally happy with my new hope chest.
Choosing Paint to finish cedar chest
My kids are champs of curbside and hand-me-down furniture remakes and they most often use chalk paint. So this was my chance to set aside my go-to latex paint that always required multiple coats and a a good sanding before painting. Chalk paint requires little prep and the paint goes a long way.
- remove the knobs and screws
- wipe down the surface using window cleaner and a lint-free cloth making sure dust and particles are wiped away.
- place a drop cloth or cardboard beneath the piece to protect flooring
- 8fl oz. jar of Waverly Inspirations Chalk Acrylic paint with a matte finish. (best price is to purchase at Walmart)
- paint brush
- Jar for paint because I didn’t want to paint from the container
- rag to wipe drips or splatters
- Kilz Sealing Clear Wax (I purchased this at Walmart)
- paint brush
- Clean lint-free cloth
- Super fine steel wool
- Staple gun if you are planning to recover a seat cushion
Painting Process of Refinished Cedar Chest
I didn’t get photos of the painting process mainly because I worked on my bedroom floor in the dim of the early morning, running up and down the steps between coats. I really wanted to splash on the first coat before I could change my mind.
Here is the painting process recommended by the company:
- Apply 2 coats of paint in thin, smooth layers. I applied three coats because I didn’t want to distress the piece and instead go for a good coverage.
- Wait two hours between coats.
- After final coat of paint, distress, if desired, using sand paper and a light hand until you get what you like.
Protecting with Sealing wax
Be sure the paint is completely dry and free of dust and particles before waxing. I waited overnight but I’m sure this step could have been done sooner.
- Rub a thin layer of wax on with a clean, lint-free cloth or brush. THIN is the important word. If you tilt your head you should be able to see where you have applied the wax. Get it as even as possible.
- Allow the wax to thoroughly dry. After the first coat of wax dried, I, very lightly went over the surface with steal wood with the goal of making the surface extra smooth. Thoroughly wipe the surface to remove all the pieces left behind from the steal wool. I then applied a second coat of wax in the same manner.
- Finally, buff the surface for a subtle, velvety finish
Recovering the seat cushion
I really wanted to cover the seat cushion with the same fabric as the curtains. But since the curtains were on clearance I just could not find another pair anywhere. I called store after store and searched the internet to no avail.
The fabric I used is actually another curtain panel and it was perfect covering the dark embroidered fabric original to the cedar chest. The curtain panel had a room-darkening piece making it sturdy and strong.
Replacing the old or adding New knobs
The knobs we removed from the cedar chest are in fine condition but they didn’t add the sparkle and bling I was looking for. These purchased, crystal glass knobs with a gold metal do the trick.
Refinished DIY vintage Lane cedar hope chest using chalk paint and sealing wax brought new life to a dark and dated piece of furniture. An easy makeover that looks beautiful in my Shabby chic, French Country room.
Lane chests manufactured up to 1987 include a lock that catches and locks shut automatically when the lid closes. This led to the deaths of a brother and sister in 2014, who got locked inside the chest and suffocated. Six other children suffered the same fate, resulting in the company’s recall on the locks in 1996, and a seventh child died just prior to the company stopping manufacture of the chests. Many people have removed the locks from the chests, but the company estimates there are still about 6 million chests of the 12 million manufactured during this period that do not have the safety locks installed. Chests with the original locks may have a different value from those without them. If the lock hasn’t been replaced, do so immediately or remove the lock for safety’s sake.
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