Child's Toy Chest Gets Makeover

3 Materials
This wood/laminate toy chest has resided in our house for years. Our oldest son, Ryan, had it in his room. He stuck stickers on it, and beat it up pretty good. As he got older it left his room and became a chest for anything we had that we didn't know where else to store it. I was determined to make it useful again. It was still a solid chest, but it was ugly.
just boring
I first washed the entire chest to get rid of the dust, cobwebs, and other sticky stuff that had somehow managed to make the chest its home.
Next, I sanded the stickers off and sanded the lid smooth. The lid and frame is the only wood on the piece. The sides, bottom, back, and front are all laminate/corkboard of some sort.
I knew I would have to paint the whole piece. So, off to make some trusty chalk paint. I chose gray because it is what I had on hand. I had just enough of this shade to do two coats. My English Mastiff, Weston, was guarding me as I worked.
I wanted to put a sunflower on the piece but I didn't just want it to be the front view only, and I wanted it to be a bit off center. Since the toy chest was going to go in the "Sunflower Room" I thought it would be a perfect way to update the chest. I penciled in a draping sunflower that started on the side of the chest lid and draped over the front of the chest.
Using UnicornSpit I proceeded to paint the sunflower design that I had drawn on the piece. I wanted it to seem like the sunflower was close to being done blooming and so it had started to droop and the colors were deepening from the original bright yellow.
The great thing about UnicornSpit is if you don't like it you can wipe it off and try something else. I used UnicornSpit full strength for the yellow, but the other colors were mixes and blends and I thinned with water as I worked.
You have to let the UnicornSpit dry a little as you are working, but it dries fast when it is hot, and it was hot the day I was working on it. Sometimes I would spray some water on my paintbrush and then work on the dried Spit to get it to move and blend as I wanted. I then stepped back and considered what I should do next. My husband wanted a background, but I was worried that it would detract from the sunflower. We agreed to sleep on it and make a decision the next morning. He still thought it needed the background, and so the next morning I started putting one in.
As I was working I had to admit that he was right. The background didn't detract from the sunflower, but just made the whole thing more beautiful.
After I was done with the background I decided I really didn't like the gray. I felt it was too light, and so using some black stain I wiped it on the gray and then, immediately, wiped it off. It darkened up the gray perfectly and really allowed the sunflower to pop.
With UnicornSpit you have to seal it with an oil-based sealer. The colors dry matte and chalky and when you seal it the colors become vivid and bright. I applied 4 coats of Gloss MinWax Poly, sanding lightly in between each coat with 220 sandpaper.
The last coat I just dipped fine steel wool into the poly and used it to apply.
It is gorgeous. I surprised myself with the result. I have never painted something and had it actually look like I wanted it too.
It looks like the sunflower is moving and waving in a breeze. I couldn't be happier with the results.
It is so beautiful I don't want to put anything on it.

Suggested materials:

  • Unicorn Spit   (
  • Sandpaper
  • MinWax Gloss Polyurethane

Frequently asked questions

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  2 questions
  • Elizabeth Caza-Comeau Elizabeth Caza-Comeau on Aug 12, 2016
    What is Unicorn Spit and is it available in Canada? Thanks!

  • Dl.5660408 Dl.5660408 on Aug 12, 2016
    Why did you use steel wool to apply the last gloss coat? The darker gray really made a difference, really enhanced your lovely art work


Join the conversation

3 of 125 comments
  • Penny Penny on Jan 07, 2017
    that is no fluke! i know talent when i see it! and, you are very welcome!

  • Heather Heather on Sep 16, 2017
    I just found this and oh my goodness it is absolutely gorgeous. You really did a great job on this. Enjoy :)