Tag Archives: DIY

Crash Course DIY: Furniture Refresh

Background: This cedar chest was made in 1950. I’m not sure why my grandparents bought it originally, but I remember it from the family cabin at Donner Lake, California where it held extra blankets or snow clothes. About 17 years ago, long after the cabin was sold, my grandmother gave me the cedar chest. It was an awesome gift because that cabin has so many sweet childhood memories and my Grandmother, Ireta was one of my favorite people in the whole world and it reminds me of both.

The bad part of the story: it has been in my garage for at least 7 years. The wood didn’t really match any of our other furniture and it was chipped in a few areas and had some damage to the finish. I always thought I would have someone refinish it, but it never happened. Finally I decided to try to do something with it myself.

I had heard about “chalk paint” and supposedly it’s really hard to mess anything up… so I gave it a try. I thought the chalk paint would make it look less like a damaged piece and more like an antique. I found a blog with a recipe and someone who seemed awesome at this sort of thing. You can look at her site for the recipe. It’s super easy and inexpensive!
And you can use any color you want.


The first images are the before. You don’t need to sand or prep the furniture. Just make sure it’s clean and dusted. The second image is after one quick coat with the chalk paint. It dries really fast. I added a second coat and lightly sanded the edges and details to create a natural, distressed look. You can really distress the piece to your liking depending on how worn or rustic you want it. I like it very subtle. Wipe down any paint dust. Then add a coat of furniture wax. The Elizabeth & Co. blog recommended Johnson’s Paste Wax, found at Home Depot. And…. here is the finished look! My cedar chest finally has a home at the foot of my bed where I filled it with extra sheets and blankets. I love it.