Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Divine French Chest

When I first started painting furniture, I was fixated with dining room tables and chairs.  Since then, I have worked on desks/vanities and buffets.  When this chest appeared on Craigslist, I knew I wanted to take a stab at making her into something special.  

She had her original hardware, lovely curves and some interesting scroll work within the top 2 drawers and between the 3rd & 4th drawer.

The chest had great bones:  a Huntley Piece – solid oak.  But the tacky, sticky drawer liner was a bit of a head-scratcher.  How am I going to get this out of here?  It must be at least 40 years old and showing no signs of giving it up!

But once again, some great bloggers helped me out with a most valuable tip:  Turn your blow dryer on high and start pulling back the contact paper.  It took some patience and muscle, but worked like a charm.  I then used Mineral Spirits and 00 steel wool to remove  the remainder of the residual glue.  A few days later (between waiting for paint or wax to dry) I put a thin coat of shellac on the interior of the drawers.  The shellac brings out the beautiful highlights of the Lauan Mahogany. 

If you follow me on Pinterest, you’ll see I create new boards for pieces I’ve acquired to paint.  I’m looking for ideas for painting each piece.  My French Chest of Drawers shows the different pictures I studied before starting this project.  I liked the picture from MissMustardseed and the technique from MaisonDecor.  They are both pros and must follows, IMHO.

Although there were enough pretty details on this chest, I added a floral applique from DoItYourself Chic at the upper corners.  They are easy to apply and add a bit of interest when highlighting the piece in another color.  

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to paint her in Old White with highlights in a shade similar to French Linen, or paint her base in French Linen with highlights in Old White.  The picture below shows me trying out the different looks on the two top drawers.  

Does anyone else experiment with different looks, shading, etc before painting the entire piece?

Once I decided to paint the base in a shade similar to French Linen, I mixed some of a leftover Graphite/Coco mixture with Old White.  As I was mixing, I kept sampling small amounts until I got the color/shade/value right.  I then mixed a batch large enough for the project. 

My stir sticks don't make a very fancy presentation, but it works for me!  How do you mix colors and capture the formulas for future reference?

After I applied two base coats, I highlighted the scroll areas and some of the trim in Old White.  After a coat of clear wax, I washed the entire piece in a mix of clear wax and Old White.  My method is to apply the mixture with my wax brush and then drag it off with steel wool.  The effect is so subtle it’s almost imperceptible.  

The dark hardware received a wash in the custom color and then a wash of a slightly diluted Old White.

Voila!  This divine chest is complete!  

And as a side note, the CL seller turned out to live only a few blocks away!  I am so glad to have made her acquaintance.  She's a great neighbor!  Hi Tamy!

And to the rest of you, thanks so much for stopping by!


  1. great color choice! Really pretty.

    1. Thanks, Teri! It took me awhile to get the combination correct, but I think it was well worth the effort. And it's so much fun mixing the paints.. :)

  2. Great job, it looks beautiful! Thanks for the tips on removing sticky residue and the shellac. :) After you wipe the wax off with steel wool do you buff?

    1. Hi Stephanie,

      After I've applied the 'sludge' (clear wax & Old White, in this case) and pulled it off with the steel wool to a point where I think it looks suitable, I let it set for 24 hours and then start the buffing process. Some folks have had good luck with watering down the paint like Old White and wiping it on and dragging it off to create a wash. I've not had much luck with that technique, but will continue to experiment with it.
      Also, have you used a buffing brush? I just got one from the Purple Painted Lady and love it. It makes the buffing so much easier.

      Thanks, again for stopping by...


  3. Divine is right! So pretty! I laughed when I read you had started with painting only dining tables and chairs. I've been painting furniture a few years now, and have yet to paint one dining table to sell!

    1. Oh Cynthia! You are a wise person to avoid dining tables and chairs. There are so many details to address! I thought I'd never finish! I have one more table and 6 chairs in inventory waiting for some RPK love...but they'll remain neglected for now! :)

      Thanks for stopping in!