Cedar Chest Makeover DIY

I can’t believe I let my precious cedar chest get so neglected.  My mom had saved all my old dance and Halloween costumes inside as a future dress up trunk for my children one day.  Dress up was my favorite game and this chest is seriously pure treasure.  “A hope chest, also called dowry chest, cedar chest, trousseau chest or glory box is a piece of furniture traditionally used to collect items such as clothing and household linen, by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life.”  I didn’t exactly use it for that but I think in preparation for children counts.

This cedar chest is from the 40’s or 50’s and has been with me through many moves, which is what caused all those nasty scratches.  My “Aunt Tootsie” passed it on to me when I was a child and I later learned that my dad had originally used it to store his record collection.  My dad was quite the character and it makes me laugh that he pulled this stunt.

I always had it hidden in the back of a closet or in some corner of the house where it couldn’t be seen.  I am not a fan of the warm yellow brown wood which is why I could never picture it as a nice piece to be displayed.  Now I absolutely love it and I am proud to have it featured.

I was very intimidated of all those deep scratches and first thought about using chalk paint to provide the most coverage.  It was my husband who convinced me not to because of the gorgeous wood pattern detail along the front.  I decided to stain it instead and keep it closer to the original look.


I found this sandpaper in the garage and hand sander and gave it a go.  I know there are all kinds of different grits, but I’m a firm believer in making do with what you already have.


In order to get those deep scratches mostly out I had to sand down ALOT in those areas.  Its very time consuming and hard on your hands, so I didn’t do an even job all across the top.  I actually think by doing this that you will gain alot more color contrast and a more interesting and older look.

After wiping all the dust off with a soft cloth, I used Miniwax Wood Finish stain in Dark Walnut and applied three coats to achieve a nice dark color.  I love extremes so super dark or super light are my preferred choices.  I used a soft cloth for the application and then threw the rag away when I was finished.


After a few days of letting each coat of stain dry I was ready to add my sealant.  I used Miniwax Polyurethane in clear satin.  I applied it with a 3″ brush I got from the 99 cent store.  I also used mineral spirits to remove any stain that escaped the newspaper on the tile.

Now my cedar chest looks so beautiful and I am loving the new makeover.  This is a quality piece of furniture that others may have just tossed, but with a little TLC it looks as good as new.


Now that’s a serious Before and After DIY Makeover!




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