Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Impenetrable Parisian Inspired Hope Chest

I should have known this was going to be a somewhat difficult project from the very beginning.  When you show up at the seller's house, and immediately face plant in their front yard it sets a precedence for how things will go.  Luckily the sellers didn't witness my disgrace.  Señor Hotness and the next door neighbors, however, were not spared.

I found this gem on craigslist for $60, and immediately thought of my two oldest girls.  In our house no one gets their own room, but my two oldest girls, Miss E and Miss H, do get to share a room free of the truly smaller of our horde.  We have been working on trying to make it a more grown-up room to reflect their tweeness.

Now the bigger girls are in love with anything Parisian, or more precisely anything that has to do with the Eiffel Tower.  So that was our inspiration moving forward on this project.

When I acquire a new piece I bring it home, and look at it for a while before I finalize how I'm going to finish it.  This piece was no different.  So it sat in my front room for months.

Classy looking right?

Mmm, faux drawers.  With real drawer pulls!

Now that tapestry covered top is the envy of great-grandmothers everywhere!

Before we left the sellers house the seller locked this hope chest to make it easier to move.   I watched her, and she gave me the key that she used.  I kept it in a special place, and for once I didn't loose it.  I will admit that what she used didn't seem to look how I thought it would, but I had watched her use it so it worked right?  I have since come to believe that we bought this from a magician because when I went to unlock this with the key provided it didn't work.  It didn't work to the point that I almost broke the key off in the lock.  I needed this open so I could remove those awful drawer pulls.  I really hate fake drawers so those were going to be done away with in its reincarnation.   So I looked up how to pick a lock.

I present to you, the unpick-able lock!

The small key in the right of the picture is the key the seller provided to me for the lock.  All the other things were items I used to try to pick the lock.

 When picking it seemed like it wasn't going to work I looked up how to drill a lock out.

I absolutely destroyed this lock, and still it didn't come undone.

Two days later I was still super stumped when a friend came over.  Took one look at it, and asked me why I didn't just unscrew the hinge on the back.  At this time I will just go ahead, and admit that my problem solving skills are not always stellar.

Finally being smart and unlocking this the smart way.

Look what I found stapled on the lid...inside the chest...where it can't help me.
 At this point it was time to start painting it.  I was doing this project with my two oldest girls, and the painting portion of this project was the perfect thing for them to do.  So I used some paint we had left over from our family room (Benjamin Moore Wythe Blue.)  I used it to make chalk paint, and guess what peeps.  I actually measured it out this time just for you all.  So here goes.

Backwoods Babies DIY Chalk Recipe:
2 tsp Plaster of Paris
1 tsp water
1 cup paint

Mix the plaster of paris and water until a paste has been formed, and then stir into the paint.

After you get a hang of this, measuring won't be necessary, but until then this one works fine.  Also be aware that mixing in the plaster of paris will sometimes lighten the color of your paint.  

They decided that their pajamas would make good painting clothes.

Here it is all painted out.  They left it slightly streaky in spots, but I think that makes distressing it better.  You don't want it super streaky, but a little bit will add depth to the overall finished product.

Starting to put the glaze on.

After I finished up all the glazing I put one coat of polycrylic on to dry.

Then I started taping out our feature.  We were wanting to put a mirrored harlequin pattern on the front.  After I got it completely taped out I brushed polycrylic on the tape edges to help eliminate bleeding under the tape.

My partner for taping was Miss P, and she was so kind that when I went to take a bathroom break she removed most of it.  Apparently it was slightly skewed, and she was just doing me a favor.  That what I told myself anyway. 

I added a bit more tape so that the only area left open was the area that required paint.

I used this pewter grey acrylic paint to paint in the diamonds.

I used scrap paper to shield the finished painted area.

I was going to be using Looking Glass by Krylon to make the harlequin have a mirrored look.

Before I spray painted it I sprinkled water onto the diamond areas.  I wanted the diamonds to look like aged mirrors.  When I was reading about this type of spray paint I came across how to do DIY mercury glass.  So I was trying to simulate that on this chest.

Here is the splotchiness of it as it is drying.

Be warned sometimes no matter how carefully you remove the tape you might accidentally remove some of the paint.  So if you look at this picture closely enough you will see where I had to repaint one of the wedges. Also be warned that the Looking Glass Spray only really looks like a mirror when it is sprayed on the backside of glass.  So the affect I was going for didn't pan out.  Total bummer.

I helped Miss H staple our Eifel Tower fabric over the great-grandma tapestry fabric, while Miss E took our picture.  She was beyond hyped to get to use the electric stapler.

Okay moms do any of you ever try to strike a balance between being the crazy Aunt, whose furniture crinkles when you sit on it because everything is covered in a plastic slipcover, and feeling like you are constantly having to remove stains from your cushions.  I present to you, lamented fabric!  This is a water resistant fabric, but doesn't crinkle when you sit on it.  I found it at Hobby Lobby, and almost did a happy dance when I realized it was 40% off.  When I was looking at it I did all I could to tear the fabric.  I pulled on it with all my might, and even tried to shove a key from my keychain through this stuff.  It didn't so much a scratch or stretch it.  I knew then that this was what I needed.  While my older girls aren't mess makers they do have three little sisters that love to playing their room that are.

Even the over played with now eyeless Ariel thinks its divine.  Its okay to feel totally skeeved by this, I know I am, but every time I put Ariel in the trashcan she always gets discovered by one little girl or another.

So because I was using the Looking Glass paint wrong instead of having these awesome tarnished mirrored harlequins.  I just had a bunch of diamonds that looked like they had sustained water damage.   I wasn't happy with it.  I was ready to repaint the entire harlequin area and start again, but my girls didn't want me to do anything to it.

It is even more apparent in the front shot how awful it had turned out.  So the ladies and I struck a bargain.

What I did here was tweaked my glaze.  I only have dark dark brown (barrista) glaze.  I added some of my pewter grey, and mixed it up so that it was a grey brown.

Using my grey-brown glaze I dry brushed the diamonds again.

Miss H took these action shots of the process.  While Miss J tried her hardest to photobomb every picture.  This is the only successful one.  You can actually see her purple dress in the background.

In this picture the left side has been tweaked with the extra glaze, and the right side is still the original.  See how the more distressed look of the extra glaze makes the distressed silver diamonds work.  So this was our compromise.  I didn't refinish the entire thing, and the girls were ok with me adding some extra distressing.

I'm LOVING this finished look now.

Most importantly the ladies also LOVED it.

They loved it so much in fact that it prompted a fun sister photo shoot.

No photo shoot is complete with out the requisite funny face picture.

They have been making big plans for the things that they plan to keep in this.  I purposefully left the place where the lock had been so that we can replace it in the future so that they can have this to keep their treasures safe from little sister fingers that might try to get at them.

The total cost of this project was $66 dollars for the hope chest, and the lamented Eiffel Tower fabric for the top.  All other materials used for this project were things that I had on hand.  This was one of the most fun projects I have done so far since I got to do it with my big girls.  I had such a good time with it that I am trying to figure out what I can have them help me with on the next one.  So get out there and make something pretty.


  1. love your final product, and your little models. I would never have thought of this lovely combination of paints.

    1. We love it too. I honestly think this would have looked phenomenal in a cream base coat, buty little Tweens are all about being bold. So we compromised on this color, lol. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. Wow, what a lovely transformation, Sarah. You made me laugh so much while reading this. Don't you love it when you struggle over and over with a problem and someone solves it in 3 seconds? lol. All your hard work was clearly worth it though and bonus - two very happy daughters! Beautiful!

  3. Love the finished transformation, Sarah. So pretty and so fitting for growing tweens. Thank you for sharing at Share It One More Time - hope to see you next week. Cathy

  4. Hi Sarah--I saw your cedar chest on A Stroll Through Life's "Inspire Me Tuesday" today and like what you did with it. I have a cedar chest in dire need of refinishing and thought your idea of using harlequins on yours was fabulous! Gives me some good ideas--mine does not have an upholstered top, so that would be a great place for me to paint some harlequins, also, but in a smaller size. Thanks for inspiring me!

    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, and I would love to see your finished cedar chest so make sure to share it.

  5. Your hope chest came out beautifully. Loved the fabric, and perfect for your gals..........the harlequin design was
    perfect, and the extra tint you put on finished it off very nicely.............Know your girls must be delighted.

    Had my cedar hope chest that I got as a graduation present painted white, but my brother did it as he is awesome at that,
    but he did a transluscent finish cause he just couldn't paint the wood..........What is it with guys and wood anyway!! lol Anyway, It wasn't exactly what I wanted, but I do love it......and am kinda glad he did it that way now. I use it as a coffee table for my living room. Just thought I would mention that he removed the lock for
    fear one of my grandchildren might get locked inside at a later date. I would never have thought of that myself.
    So since you have lil ones thought it might not be a bad thing to mention, since lil ones like to hide in things.

    Take care, Blessings,

  6. Just DARLING...I think ya'll did an awesome job.
    I am olden and have a cedar chest given to me by my parents in 1953,...for my 15th birthday. It sits at the foot of my bed and everyday, I look at it and think.."I so need to paint you"....I'm going to do it since you've inspired me....maybe tomorrow....or maybe after I make that amazing fudge.....:)

    1. You should go for it BJ, and for sure make the fudge it will change your life, lol. Have an awesome weekend, and thanks for stopping by.

  7. I love how this turned out! Thanks for sharing it at the Teach Me Tuesday Linky Party:)

  8. Sarah, it turned out so cute and i love that the girls were able to help! Laughing about the key escapades!! Thanks for sharing with SYC.

  9. This was a fun story! Great makeover - I'll be featuring your post in this week's Home and Garden Thursday,

  10. great job! Love the final outcome.... and the models. Actually these chests would never be produced in modern times with that latch and the chance that a little one might get locked in an air tight chest. I would suggest not putting the latch back on. :)


  11. What a great transformation! I have one of those old Lane Legacy Love Chests. . . perhaps it has a makeover in its future. :)

    Thanks so much for joining Grace at Home. I'm featuring you this week!