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Change The Look Of A Cedar Chest With Paint And Drawer Pulls

Update an old cedar chest with paint and new drawer pulls but keep the stained top! With just a few simple changes you can modernize any piece of furniture and this cedar chest is a good example of that. The trick to this makeover and bringing the cedar chest into the twenty first century was removing a couple of curvy wood details on the front of the chest, changing the drawer pulls, and showcasing the original stained finish.

how to change drawer pulls on a cedar chest

The drawer pulls are just for looks because there are no drawers in the cedar chest. But the drawer hardware does add pretty details to the chest.

how to change the look of an old cedar chest with paint and new drawer pulls
How to change the look of an old cedar chest with paint and new drawer pulls

I decided to save the original finish on the top of the chest because it was in good condition and I like the two tone look.

old cedar chest to paint

I bought the cedar chest at an auction. It cost me $50 by the time the buyers premium was added to my final bid. A little pricy for my budget but the chest is a great piece.

make old furniture modern

You guys might have noticed the curvy details on each end of the front. Take a look at the before picture again. Those things were driving me nuts so I took a hammer, putty knife, and screwdriver and got rid of them. Kind of a old style country look that really dated the piece.

old cedar chest to paint with white paint and leave the stained top as is

I’m not crazy about the curved bottom panel either but I left it as is. Changing that detail would have took a lot more work than I was willing to get into. I told you guys I’m lazy! I removed the original hardware (never to be seen again), puttied the holes where I removed the end pieces, and stuck painters tape around the top rim of the chest where I didn’t want yucky looking paint edges. When painting a chest like this you can either paint the top edge of the chest or not paint it. I chose to not paint it.

Glidden Gripper Primer for paint projects

I needed to prime the chest since the raw wood was such a sharp contrast to the stained finish. This way I had a solid uniform color base for the top coat. I prefer to use Glidden Gripper Primer and I have it tinted gray. Gray works well under all paint colors. White sometimes doesn’t cover well depending on the top coat paint color. Of course in this case white would have been fine. Recently Glidden Gripper has changed names to PPG Gripper (new company I guess).

Martha Stewart Paint

The topcoat/paint is a mixture of Martha Stewart Vintage Décor Paint in Wedding Cake Color and Smoke Color (Amazon) to make just the palest gray color.

mixing paint colors for furniture

In fact it looks white until you take a look at the paint in a white container. Have you guys ever tried to pick out a white color for your walls? I think there are as many shades, tones, variations, of white as there are stars in the sky. I brushed on two coats of the the pale gray color and I was finished. Next order of business was to select new drawer pulls to replace the original ones

old French Provincial drawer pulls
old French Provincial drawer pulls

I first thought I would go with a French Provincial look and I pulled out all my French Provincial hardware that would fit the screw holes. No need in drilling more holes and filling old ones unless I had to. When I held the knobs up to the chest after it was painted they looked …..not good.

The style just wasn’t working for the cedar chest. You have to admit French Provincial anything is kind of frufru or girly and that was not the look I wanted for the cedar chest. I found four more pulls and spray painted them a bronze gold….no go …..no photo either…..sorry.

stained and painted furniture

I was about to give up and head to Hobby Lobby to see what they had when I thought about the glass knobs. I bought them at my favorite junk shop a few months ago not knowing if I would ever use them. I just didn’t see them working on any furniture I would paint. Well, I was wrong. They definitely look modern. I like them! What about you guys?

how to paint an old cedar chest white (1)

I think the cedar chest looks 200% better. The top was good shape and I was able to spruce it up by applying a coat of Howard’s Feed n Wax with a lint free rag and shining it up. The feed n wax covers up minor imperfections in the wood but not major scratches. I use these stain pens to cover scratches. They come in various stain colors. After that I might use the Feed n Wax too.

paint a cedar chest white and change the drawer pulls for a modern look (1)

There was nothing difficult about this project. It was easy to remove the end pieces, change the hardware, paint the chest, and clean up the top. Anyone can do this. Did you read my tips for painting your first furniture project?

how to change the look of an old cedar chest (1)

For your first paint project I would definitely stick to a nightstand, a small chest of drawers, or a plain wood chest.

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That’s it for me. Hope you guys liked this project. Any thoughts? See you guys next week . Thanks for being here, Kathy

Author: Kathy Owen
Kathy Owen is the founder of the home decor blog Petticoat Junktion where she shares tutorials on painting furniture and upcycling thrifty finds into unique home décor. Her DIY projects have been featured on the Home Depot Blog, Plaid Crafts, Behr Designer Series, and in numerous magazines. Kathy’s newest website is HappyHomeDIY.com

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  1. I had a hope chest just like that one! Got rid of it in 2013. You definitely improved the look!

  2. Love the knobs. I did the same thing to my hope chest. Had bought French provincial handles but just didn’t like them. So I’ve done nothing. I saw your glass ones and, yes! That’s what it needs. Thanks!!!