Antique Cedar Chest Makeover

4 Materials
2 Days

I love a good antique cedar chest. They are super functional and can be used in so many ways, from a blanket chest at the end of a bed, to a coffee table, or bench with storage.

I knew this chest was special, it’s much more detailed than most with little curvy feet and trim and details. I could also see it in distressed white to really make all those details pop!

This piece needed a bit of prep work. One of the feet had been broken and needed to be re-attached. The inside was a little musty so I sanded and oiled it then removed the lock mechanism (for safety) as well. Once all that was done, it was time for the fun part.

Because the wood really was in such good shape, I finished it using an oil, urethane finish that soaks into the wood and makes the grain come to life… there's video on my blog showing this. After the first coat dries, lightly sand between coats with 400 grit sandpaper and repeat the application. This will be a long process since the finish must dry 24 hours after each coat.

I knew I needed to prime since I was painting a white base. I primed with a stain blocker to make sure I could get a nice solid color.


I painted with a mix of 50/50 containing two different white Milk Paints. The perfect combo, warm without being yellow, white without being too bright. Two coats, and the result was just right.

I love, love, love this top!

More details about click my blog link below.

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Suggested materials:

  • Arm-R-seal   (amazon)
  • General Finishes Stain Blocker   (amazon)
  • Antique White Milk Paint   (amazon)
See all materials

Jenni Ingram
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!

Frequently asked questions

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  1 question
  • Janelle Janelle on May 18, 2019

    What oil did you use inside to help with the musty smell?


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