It never seems to fail that when I enter a thrift store searching for item A, I come out with items B, C, D E, F….you get the idea. So, is the solution to just not look for item A? Nah. Too much fun to run through the alphabet. hee hee. Does that happen to you? I went in looking for a chair and this is what I came out with, amongst other items. Can you blame me? I had a 35% off coupon burning a hole in my pocket. eep! Yes, this antique empire chest was meant to be mine.
However, knowing my past experiences with chests like this, I did look inside and around before purchasing. Why? Because a deal isn’t always a deal when it ends up to be a hot mess and takes more work than it’s worth. Here’s my summation:
- no mirror, but harp is present
- cabinet is sturdy, but has chipping veneer and large gouges out of the top
- drawers and pulls are present, but four of the drawers will need rebuilt
- casters all there and it doesn’t stink (BONUS)
The drawers kinda threw me and made me second guess because I have no need for another project piece. See what I mean? The side of the drawers were broken so that the bottom was running over the metal drawer stops and gouged out huge pieces. So not only did the bottoms need replaced, but all the sides needed rebuilt. See the tape holding it on the side? ugh.
Then there’s the top and the other damage to deal with.
I promised myself no more pieces that would involve JC (aka. husband) because he needs to work in our kitchen remodel. However, the price and style stole my heart, so home it came.
If you didn’t know, I’m an absolute sucker for adore empire pieces with those curvy accents. Here are a few of my recent ones (some are replicas and some are legit):
Then there’s also this table (see the before in this post) and another dresser I have had the pleasure of restoring and finishing.
Each piece was fun and unique and I tell all about why they got the look they did in each post linked above. Fun reads!
My goal with this particular chest was to keep those gorgeous drawers in original since the faces were in great shape. However, because I used a half container of wood filler on it, paint was going to happen. First, I used my sander to knock down all the filled spots.
Next up was to use my Kilz primer to seal in the stains and give it a fresh surface to work with. My favorite Zibra brushes are always to the rescue! If you haven’t tried any of these 7 different brushes yet, I kid you not when I say you will fall in love. See my brush snob post here where I became hooked.
Once the primer cured, I used two coats of my favorite Dove White paint. While each coat was curing, I turned my attention to that orphan mirror harp. It had no use on the dresser any longer, so I counted it fair game for a repurposed life.
First, I took it apart and used wood glue and bar clamps to make it all sturdy. Added a more wood filler and to be sanded as well. Once all was set, I used my Ryobi drill and spade bit to make the mirror key holes bigger to accept a dowel.
Here it is with dowel and just needs a top. Do you see where I’m going with this?
I found a piece of old wood that matched this wood grain perfectly, then counter-sunk a few holes to attached it to the top for a shelf. I’ll show you the after in a sec.
Back to this antique empire chest makeover… Like I said, the drawers needed rebuilt, so JC cut some new bottoms from ¼” ply on our table saw and I attached them with my Ryobi nailer. Notice there are no sides to the bottom. So that meant we had to rip some strips to attach to keep the drawers sitting square in the openings.
Okay, y’all have been patient and I’m happy to say this antique empire chest makeover is DONE. Wahoo!!
I so adore a paint/stain combo on a piece of furniture. In this instance those gorgeous drawers with striking grain are showcased.
You can imagine my delight when I found the exact number of glass knobs in my stash to replace the old.
A secret surprise is that I lined the drawers with my favorite $1 garage sale find…my Waverly ticking stripe wall paper. I ration this stuff like crazy! Do you blame me?
Even better was that the repurposed mirror harp came out just as I had hoped it would. It now serves as a shelf, with cup hooks, and a towel bar below.
Enamelware is one of my addictions, so when I see a fun cup, I add it to my stash. They remind me of simpler days gone by…and how maybe I should use them daily since they don’t break. hee hee hee.
This antique empire chest was refreshed, the mirror harp was given new life, and my goal was to inspire you to give DIY a try. I hope I achieved it!
Do pin and share so that you can inspire others to do the same. You never know who needs that boost to get started.
Up next, this sad looking pair of thrifted footstools are getting a makeover. Stay tuned to see because this is a super-easy way to learn basic upholstery. Yay!