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  • Melissa Geskie

Whimsical Cedar Chest ~ Furniture Makeover with Dixie Belle Paint!

There are a couple of pieces of furniture that most people tend to have handed down through generations of family. A beautiful cedar chest is one of them. Almost every girl I know has had a "HOPE CHEST" or a cedar chest at one point in their life. I have one that my grandmother would fill with goodies to be gifted to me once I was a married woman. Seems a bit old fashioned, and the chest that are handed down are usually out of date. This chest was in need of a make over. So many people keep vintage furniture because of sentimental value but don't display or use them. Today I'm going to show you how I gave a sad little waterfall chest a mad hatter makeover. She now is a conversation piece, adored and shining in her light.

Before Photo - Sanded and Prepped


First things first, always take the extra time to prep your piece of furniture for paint. Inspect the veneer for any damages, use your wood filler and glue to repair where needed. This piece had minimal damages and was in great condition. Nothing better than the smell of cedar inside the chest.

After the repairs have been done it's time to sand the wood. I like to scuff up the surface to provide the paint something to grab onto. It was then cleaned with Dixie Belle's WHITE LIGHTENING cleaner.


A Mad Hatter design takes a bit of an artists eye. You need to look at a piece of furniture and decide the placement of the stripes and gold leaf. I like to look at it like a piece of art. The sides and top and how you view it from any angle. To keep your eye travelling around the furniture it's a good idea to place a stiped section on each side and top.

Striped colors and product used for this project:


After deciding placement for your whimsical stripes paint a section of the chest in Fluff. Wait for it to dry and apply a second coat. You will begin to work around these areas in color while this dries.

Colors used for this project:


Begin to add your first coats of a ombre finish paint to the chest. I decided to blend my color scheme up from the left side base to the right. Beginning with Mermaid Tail. Using a damp wet brush paint your base colors onto the chest. Mermaid tail to Bunker Hill Blue, Blue to Aubergine, Aubergine to Plum. When you have decided the placement and painted on the colors you then need to wait for them to dry to do second coats. You can paint each color to touch the edge of each other but blending does not happen until the second coat.


Ready to blend? This is where the magic happens for a whimsical piece. Apply your second coat of Mermaid Tail, and stop when you get to the Bunker Hill Blue. With a fresh brush use the Bunker Hill Blue and apply your second coat. Using a fine mist spray bottle with water and separate brushes begin the blend with the two colors. This should be east because of the fresh damp paint and pulling them to one ombre blend. Continue this pattern until you have covered all the areas base coats. Separate brushes for each color!

Remember to keep your brushes damp and the spray bottle handy, blending takes patience and is easier on a flat surface.


It's time to tape off the striped areas over the Fluff white patches. Using painters tape, line up your area for stripes and lay it down in the pattern you choose. After the tape is on, make sure to then coat the edges in Fluff to stop any bleed through on the stripes. When the white Fluff has dried, you are ready to fill in with black Caviar paint. Two coats will be necessary to cover the Fluff.


After the Caviar has dried on the stripes its time to remove the tape. Peel back gently, and see the reveal! Check your stripes for any bleed through paint and correct with a small brush if necessary.


Using your Mod Podge and a Satin Sealer mix, I like a even 50/50 mix. Apply the glue to the surrounding stripe areas. Overlap the color and stripes to provide a barrier between the two. Work in small sections and apply the gold leaf.

Wait for the glue to dry, and after this has happened remove with a clean paint brush. See this video from my Facebook page on how to remove gold leaf.


At this point you have removed your gold leaf and you are ready to seal and highlight with wax. I use Dixie Belle Clear wax to cover the whole chest. After this has been done I go in with a small brush to apply Black Wax in areas where I would like some shading. Apply with the brush and wipe back. Always do the black wax after the clear wax.

I like to use Warm Gold gilding wax to highlight and bounce light off of curvy details and corners. Using a small brush I apply the gold wax and build until I am happy with the shine.


Stage and photograph your masterpiece! A whimsical faux finish to update and restore the beauty to a old worn out chest. I hope you have enjoyed this makeover, and are super happy with the results. If you would like to see other Mad Hatter inspired items, please visit my FB page to view a gallery.

Shop your DIXIE BELLE paint and paint products HERE!

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