We live in a lovely housing plan with nice neighbors and a good sized annual yard sale…not thrilling, I know. But what happened during last year’s sale was kind of thrilling for me. My wonderful neighbor told me to please take the Lane cedar chest that she’d been trying to sell for a couple of sale cycles. I was shocked. It was so kind of her, but it was also very “golden oak” and I didn’t have anyplace for it, but it was in beautiful condition and I knew that when the time was right I could make it into a family treasure. Last week the time became perfect for just such a transformation.
After hefting the chest down the two flights of stairs and into the garage, I began by removing a couple of pieces of trim from the front, sanding the area, and sealing the whole thing with Zinsser Clear Shellac (with the exception of the cedar lining of course). Having decided upon the perfect location for the cedar chest – under the massive window in our master bedroom – I also decided to paint it with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Graphite because the accessorizing decor in our room is all black and white. Before I go on, I want to emphasize that ASCP Graphite IS NOT BLACK. I say this only to caution those who may be looking for a true black not to be disappointed when they purchase the closest ASCP color. There are ways to “tint” graphite to becoming true black, and many websites that will walk you through it if that’s what you are looking for.
Back to my cedar chest…once the shellac was dry, I painted the chest with one coat of ASCP in Old White. I did this because my plan was to embellish the front (where I removed the trim) and lightly distress the whole piece. The look I was going for had the old white peeking through at the distressed areas rather than the golden oak. When the old white was dry, I sanded the chest lightly with 600 grit sandpaper to smooth the finish out. Next, I painted two coats of graphite, allowing for plenty of dry time and one more sanding in between coats. After all of the paint was dry, I used old white to paint the stencil I had chosen for the front of the chest. At this point, the cedar chest looked beautiful, but a little flat to me. I also decided that I wanted to deepen the shade of the graphite ever so slightly. So, after applying ASCP clear wax to the entire chest, I immediately used a layer of dark wax. By applying the dark wax while the clear wax was still “wet,” I had a longer working time, thus giving me time to get just the look I wanted.
I did some light distressing at all of the high points on the chest and over the embellishments I’d painted on the front, giving it the look of a much-loved, older heirloom. The final thing to add was the new knobs, and I really wanted to get some vintage looking crystal knobs. However, since my wonderful hubby is not a fan of distressed furniture, and I had already distressed this piece, I decided to compromise and put on brushed nickel knobs that would match the rest of our bedroom decor. I’m a big believer in picking my battles, wink, wink. Now, in retrospect, I wish I had filled the knob holes and not put on anything at all. The front is so pretty with the aged, distressed embellishments that I think I would have preferred it without hardware. Perhaps that will be a future project. For now, I absolutely love this cedar chest and hope it will be a piece that I can pass on for generations.
Tips & Tricks:
- Be bold when it comes to altering even really nicely made pieces. I was a little afraid to remove the trim pieces from the front. But once removed I knew I had done the right thing.
- Try using 000 steel wool to buff your piece to a fabulous shine the day after your final waxing. It makes an already beautiful finish shine.