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Updated Art Deco Chest of Drawers by a Teen

Nothing makes me happier that to share a new project with you. However, when it’s a project that is done by one of my kids, I get beyond excited, even giddy. My proud mama heart takes over and I it amazes me how hard they work to get the job done. Take my oldest daughter’s latest project, an ugly painted beast in the before. Miss C is going to tame this brown beast and show you how it became an updated Art Deco chest of drawers. You go girl!

Art Deco Chest of Drawers Before |

Many of you know that I have sworn off bringing home awfully painted furniture. I have had my fun messing with them, but apparently my husband keeps forgetting my promise to self, so when I send him out to retrieve project pieces he brings these things home. Bless his heart. Being the good mother I am I pawn these items off on my children. bwahahaha!!

Honestly though, in the storage unit lot I purchased and have mentioned in my last two furniture makeovers seen HERE and OVER HERE, my daughter wanted a piece to work on. This one was one of the cheaper ones and now we know why. ahem. This poor thing was done wrong.

Art Deco Chest Side |

If you also know me, then you know I have a heart for these vintage waterfall chests, and waterfall furniture in any form. However, Miss C decided to tackle it and give it her all. You have to check out her past work here.


First, we wanted to see what was under that paint, so she applied CitriStrip to the drawers and covered it with plastic wrap until it had eaten away at a few layers. These Art Deco pieces are known for their intricate veneer designs and we were hoping to strike gold.

Using CitriStrip Stripping Gel to Remove Old Paint |

Upon first count, we found FOUR layers of paint – white, blue, green, and the awful brown. We were hopeful as we saw a veneer pattern showing up and she continued to scrape. See that lighter strip just under her arms?

Scarping Paint Off of Drawers |

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Well, what we had hoped to find was a cool veneer, but instead we found a cheapo adhered veneer look-a-like. Basically a sticker. meh. I’ve encountered this before when I did this empire set. It’s basically a hack of a quality piece.

What to do? Break out my sander and see if we can score some wood. Things were looking so much better at this point.

Sanding Art Deco Chest Drawers |

Do you know what she found? Cherry!! We looked at each other dumbfounded. Not only did this beautiful wood have FOUR layers of paint, but they stuck that awful faux sticker on it! Things that make you go hmmm…??


Since Miss C had planned to paint the cabinet, she gave it a good sanding. Not only did that allow her to get rid of all the awful brush strokes, but also give the surface tooth to work with. Nothing like working out in the snow, eh? hahaha. It was actually kinda warm that day for us northerners.

Sanding Paint off of a vintage Art Deco Chest |

Once all was prepped, Miss C decided to get this updated Art Deco chest started and stain the drawer fronts with one of my favorite stains, Early American (as seen in these posts). After that, she topcoated with a poly using a Stubby Brush.

That looks much better…sigh…

Topcoat of Gator Hide on Drawer Fronts |

For the cabinet, she applied the same Griper Primer I’ve used on my Broyhill desk. It creates such an awesome bond between surface and paint. Works wonders on laminate or previously painted surfaces. Buh-bye cow brown!

Priming Art Deco Chest with Gripper Primer |

For the actual paint, Miss C chose to use a creamy white linen color. She applied two coats letting it cure in between. Next, she used a soft pink to paint the drawer insides and sides. They were still pretty ugly with traces of four layers of paint too.


Now for the finishing touches. She wanted to add some sort of pep to the drawer fronts, so I helped her create an image that we could project using my thrifted overhead projector. She used…get this…a pencil eraser to apply her dots in this filigree pattern. I used this technique all the time and it works wonderfully. (notice Teddy manning the overhead projector for us. What a cutie.)

Projecting Filigree Graphic onto Chest of Drawers with School Projector |

Using a Pencil Eraser to Create Faux Nail Head Trim Design |


Once done, she did another coat of poly to the drawer fronts and applied a coat of white wax to seal it all together. Here’s the new and updated Art Deco chest of drawers,  if I do say as my proud mama self.

Vintage Art Deco Chest Revived and Renewed by a Teen Girl. See more at Prodigal Pieces |

Art Deco Chest of Drawers with Rose Drawer Knobs by Prodigal Pieces |

Doesn’t it look soooo much better? The soft, creamy white against the stained fronts makes a beautiful contrast. The Rose Drawer Pulls add that delicate touch that Miss C carried over into the inside of the drawers as well with the soft pink paint and Rose Drawer Liner.

Rose Lined Drawers on this Updated Art Deco Chest of Drawers | Prodigal Pieces |

And her added filigree art to the front makes it have a new twist to this updated Art Deco Chest. Fun what you can do with a pencil and paint…and a thrifted overhead projector. hee hee.

Filigree Drawer Detail Done with a Pencil and Paint by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comBeautiful Vintage Waterfall Chest of Drawers Made New by Teen Girl | Prodigal Pieces |

Happily, Miss C donated this chest to our Finding Home program. Read more HERE.Shop Prodigal Pieces |

Hand-Painted Art Deco Double Waterfall Chest of Drawers by Teen Girl | See more at Prodigal Pieces |

In addition, we invite you to pin and share this updated Art Deco chest of drawers to inspire others (including kids!!) to see past the ugly and see potential.

Oh, how beautiful! A teen girl takes an ugly dated piece and turns it into a fantastic updated Art Deco chest of drawers. See how she did it at Prodigal Pieces |

Up next, is Furniture Fixer Uppers and I’m showing you how the last piece in my storage unit stash is getting new life. See the after HERE.

Antique Chest Before Makeover by Prodigal Pieces |

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Also, more projects like this updated Art Deco chest of drawers:

French Grain Sack Chest of DrawersBefore and After Makeover by Prodigal Pieces | prodigalpieces.comCheck out how this vintage Art Deco buffet was given a modern feel. Makeover at Prodigal Pieces |

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