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Art Deco Chest with a French Twist

Do you ever make a vow or promise to yourself and then for some reason decide to break it? sigh… I just did and I always ask myself…”Why did I do that??” Enter in this Art Deco chest…

My vow was this: to never, EVER, under any circumstances will I buy another piece of furniture to work on THAT IS PAINTED.

Look at what I bought (yes, actually paid for) off of Craigslist.

Blue Art Deco Chest Before Makeover by Prodigal Pieces |

Isn’t it cute? You know I’m a sucker for these waterfall pieces, especially since the first vanity I did had me hooked. I only spent a bit for this Art Deco chest. However, keep in mind, free and cheap mean work. nuff said.

Many on Instagram saw this and said, “I like the blue!” So do I (cause you know I’m all about blue), but someone else painted this and there are flaws. For instance, the top of the chest has cracked veneer underneath, the paint job was so-so, and more was wrong like the broken casters, etc.

Damaged Veneer on Vintage Art Deco Chest | Prodigal Pieces |

Otherwise though, this is a solid piece with not only dove-tailed drawer face joints, but also those dove tails at the back.

Antique Drawer Dove Tails on Chest | Prodigal Pieces |

*affiliate links are included in this post so you can find the products I love too! (see full disclosure)

They just don’t make them like this anymore – which is why I had a regression in my vow. Do you blame me? These are the sort of things that make my heart go pitter-pat.

Sooo…I started out using my sander to see how those veneer cracks would hold up. Low and behold what I figured would happen did. The veneer lifted and begin to flake. Part of me said, “Just patch it”, but kinda like a kid who starts picking at a sticker…it kinda sucks you in. I went with it and decided to take it all off since those cracks were the all along the back edge of the top.

Now for those of you who don’t know my tricks, I use my towel-soak method that has worked wonders for me in my VW BEEP chest, my Dumpster Diva, and this antique desk. I will be honest, there is one time that the towel-soak method didn’t pay off. ahem. Like on my Rustic Chic set, so be sure if you use it that the wood is in a good state.


Before I could use the towel-soak method, I had to get the paint off so that the veneer could soak up the water. Ladies and gents, there were FOUR, count ’em, FOUR layers of paint! We’ve got silver metallic, gray, white, then blue. whew! You can bet my sander got a good workout.

Once down to bare veneer, I gave it a good soak overnight…

Towel-Soak Method to Remove Veneer by Prodigal Pieces |

…and off came the veneer.

Removing Veneer from Vintage Art Deco Chest | Prodigal Pieces |

There were several spots where it was stubborn and this is the point that I say to myself, “Never again”. Not because it’s that bad to do, it’s because I’ve done it so many times. There’s still the drawers and rest of the cabinet to deal with. sigh…

I was highly tempted to take the drawer fronts down to the inlaid veneer I could see peeking through the paint, and then paint the cabinet white like I did to this other Art Deco chest.

Paint and Stain Combo Vintage Art Deco Dresser by Prodigal Pieces |

However, that is a very touchy project because if you go ever so slightly into that veneer, it will ruin the finish and I didn’t feel like spending hours to get those four layers of paint off. So, paint it is.Using Kilz to Prime the Vintage Art Deco Chest | Prodigal Pieces |

I started with a base primer coat of Kilz because there were chemical stains here and there. I even replaced those broken pulls with a set from my stash that was gifted to me (it pays to have a stash, ya know…hee hee hee).

Replacement Vintage Casters for Furniture | Prodigal Pieces |

After that, I used two coats of a basic flat white paint. I just kept thinking this piece was so cute and needed some ooh, la, la. The first thing that popped into my brain was a grain sack effect. I used my Frog Tape to lay out the lines (notice the sweet dandelion my little girl brought to me while taking the picture. She wanted it in there). Then painted the lines in with a charcoal gray paint.

Using Frog Tape for French Grain Sack Effect | Prodigal Pieces |

If you want to know how to do this yourself, my teenage son shows you how in his coffee table makeover HERE.

Once the painting is done, I use my handmade furniture wax to give it a topcoat to give added protection. Nothing like knowing your own products are made from all-natural ingredients.

All Natural Handmade Furniture Wax by Prodigal Pieces |

As for those pulls, they were not original, and whoever replaced them didn’t cover the original holes. So I used my wood filler to hide those gaps, and then painted the pulls with a Flat White by Rustoleum. I also waxed those as well.

Spraying Chest Drawer Pulls with Flat White by Rustoleum | Prodigal Pieces |

After too many hours to count were put into this classic piece, I give you my grain sack Art Deco chest.

Vintage Art Deco Chest of Drawers with French Grain Sack Stripe by Prodigal Pieces |

Grain Sack Stripe on Vintage Waterfall Chest of Drawers by Prodigal Pieces |

It looks like a French sweetie, oui? The drawers are lined with the gorgeous wallpaper from Walls Republic that was leftover from my china cabinet makeover. I love the extra touch it adds, don’t you?

Wall Republic Wallpaper for French Drawer Lining by Prodigal Pieces |
Walls Republic Residential Wallpaper

And I had to add a little special something that only has meaning to me. I’ve done that in all of my grain sack projects.

No. 8 French Grain Sack Effect on Vintage Chest of Drawers by Prodigal Pieces |

I had fun staging this piece with some of my architectural salvage pieces, including my latest addition. That gorgeous arched window that my friend gave me, my chippy door turned decor, and those barn roof tiles that will become our family room ceiling when our kitchen remodel is complete.

Architectural Salvage for Home Decor by Prodigal Pieces |

As with most of my work, this Art Deco chest is now available in my shop (SOLD!)

Shop Prodigal Pieces |

Pinning and sharing my work not only inspires others to do the same, but shows me some love. ♥ Thank you!

French Grain Sack Chest of DrawersBefore and After Makeover by Prodigal Pieces |

French Grain Sack Chest of Drawers by Prodigal Pieces |

Oh, and just for the record…my vow is reinstated.

Next week, I’ve got a woodworking DIY for you and a crafty makeover, so stay tuned! To get these DIY tips & tricks in your inbox, be sure to sign up for my newsletter. PLUS, you will get your FREE Furniture Buying Checklist and special discount to my shop. Until next time!

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More makeover projects for you like this Art Deco chest:

Acme Cedar Chest Gets Makeover with Vintage Typography by Prodigal Pieces | www.prodigalpieces.comHow to Emboss Furniture with Stencils by Prodigal Pieces |

21 replies on “Art Deco Chest with a French Twist”

Well, I want to thank you for making me smile. Sometimes it’s hard to work on something when you’re worried about what others may think, but in this case, I was doing because I wanted to.

Marie, sometimes I just work on something because it should be loved on and I don’t reap much monetary benefit. But, that’s half of the joy of why we do what we do, right? Thank you for the love. 🙂

Larissa you do such beautiful work and what you have done for this little chest is just remarkable, it is the equivalent of CPR to a human (almost), but you have given her life and with reasonable care she is good for a hundred years.
I hope whom ever buys her will give her the love she deserves and she will become their family heirloom, and be passed down through the family and hopefully when she needs painting again there will be someone like you that loves furniture and painting and is a true artist.
Can you tell I love furniture especially these old abused pieces. I just wish I had your talent and energy to do them justice the way you do.
I hope you win the contest, you certainly deserve it.

I forgot to mention with family names like on my moms side of the family is LaRavia and on dads side of the family it is DuPee (pronounced DuPay) well I just can’t help but love your french touches. Keep it up and I just might have to show up at your shop with a box truck and a blank check from the bank, haha.

Voted on Bob Villa! As long as you keep reminding, I will keep voting! This turned out so cute – I just did a grain sack paint job on a little cabinet, but I don’t think my stripes were proportioned correctly…..although I looked at quite a few on Pinterest. Oh well……better luck next time!

Yep, I think I just got the inspiration for my bedroom dresser! As always, your work is so beautiful & so we’ll done.

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