Curbside Cedar Chest Becomes Multi-functional Furniture

12 Materials
2 Hours

A friend of mine showed up one day with a cedar chest he picked up on the curb. He knew that being the DIY junkie I am, I would put it to good use.

The finish was in bad shape, as it had been taped up at some point with lots of sticky residue left behind, as well as water marks. But structurally it was still in great shape! It even had the nice cedar smell inside! So I decided to give it a make-over for my bedroom.


I used a glass scraper to get off as much of the tape as possible. Then I cleaned it thoroughly inside and out with TSP.

There was a wobbly leg, so I removed it and added carpenter’s glue and a new screw to tighten it back up.

After switching to a much higher bed last year, my pooch was having a hard time jumping into bed. I made the mistake of lifting him in one night and that was it, he never even tried to jump up again! He simply barked for assistance. Which would have been fine, except he started doing it at 3am! This situation needed a resolution, fast! So I temporarily placed two little storage totes at the end of the bed to use as make-shift stairs. Which served the purpose, but I was worried if they worked apart he might get a leg wedged in the gap mid-jump and hurt himself.  

Temporary solution

The height of the boxes and the cedar chest was the same, so I decided the chest could function as a more stable doggy stair.

In order to give the top some traction I wanted to add padding. I really wanted to do something cushiony and splurge on a beautiful fabric…but since this was going to get a lot of (dog related) use, I didn’t think it made sense to spend the money right now. So I found stuff around the house to use.

For the padding I used a yoga mat. It was ridiculously easy to cut to size, using an exacto knife! The anti-slip nature of the yoga mat made it an ideal choice for this project! I then used a small bead of hot glue around the edges to keep it in place.  

Then I removed the top from the chest using a screwdriver. I found a bed sheet to use as the cover. I attached it to the lid with a staple gun. I thought this was a good solution for now, as I wouldn’t be able to remove this for washing. I can occasionally cut out a new replacement piece from the remaining sheet set when it requires a freshening up.


I just decided to have fun with it and layered colours, with barely any paint on the brush. I started with Liberty blue. Then I did a layer of liberty blue mixed with white. Then another layer with teal added to the blue/white mixture.  

Basically I just kept layering colours until I liked the look.  

I found the overall tone a tad dark, so I did one final dry brush with white. I love how that turned out! It really gave it a rustic vibe and helped the base gel better with the top. It also made all the knots and scratches in the wood show through.  

Then I re-attached the lid and brought it to its new home, at the foot of my bed. It’s great storage. I also use it as a bench. And most importantly, Charlie now has a safer step-up to bed. :)

I didn’t spend any money on this make-over, but accounting for the glue, staples and a few TBSP of paint I used roughly $5 worth of product.

My sweet sweet Charlie boy :)
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Have a question about this project?

3 of 5 questions
  • Jennifer
    on Apr 5, 2019

    Can u do this to s wrought iron patio set? &

  • Sharon
    on May 13, 2019

    What prep work was done to the sides before painting?

    • Valerie Burge
      Valerie Burge
      on May 15, 2019

      Hi Sharon, When I paint furniture that has a glossy finish, I give it a light sanding to rough up the surface, so the paint has something to grab onto. I don't go down to the original wood - just enough to scuff up the surface. I use an electric (orbital) sander, because I have one. But it can absolutely be done by hand too.

      TSP is a cleaner/degreaser. And one of my fav products! I use the powdered version (they have sprays too I think) that I mix with a little warm water. I think I paid somewhere around $5 for it...and I've used it on literally dozens of projects! Even after the powder clumps up in the container I just chop off a piece with a screwdriver and dissolve it in warm water. And it works just as well!

      Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any other questions. :)

  • Laura Cross
    Laura Cross
    on Dec 31, 2019

    Guess who would rather be lifted up , your dogs wee face . LOL XXX

Join the conversation

4 of 103 comments
  • Maureen
    on Apr 14, 2019

    Beautiful makeover!! I love doing makeovers with items that I have on hand!!

    • Valerie Burge
      Valerie Burge
      on Apr 14, 2019

      Thank you, Maureen! And I agree, I hang on to things I don't really need, so when I find a good use for them it's a double bonus! :)

  • Sue Blackman
    Sue Blackman
    on Oct 11, 2020

    Where did you get those black & white storage totes? (Great cedar chest upgrade, by the way!)

    • Valerie Burge
      Valerie Burge
      on Oct 12, 2020

      I can't remember the store, maybe it was Home sense. They're the fold up type.

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