Asked on Apr 28, 2015

Would you paint this antique sewing box? Help me!

Ana illausky
by Ana illausky
This antique sewing box was a gift. I'm not sure of its value? I want to do more of a shabby chic look in a new shed that is being built for me. This will be one of the items I want to incorporate in the space.
This is the logo to help identify.
It has many compartments and also the previous owner left behind vintage and newer sewing materials.
The contents are so unique, I do not want to remove them!
So, I am torn between chalk painting or will that take away from its value? Please help!
  33 answers
  • Elizabeth Nance Elizabeth Nance on Apr 28, 2015
    Myself, I would not paint it....
    • See 1 previous
    • Heather Heather on Jul 03, 2023

      I have seen the Strommen Bruk Hamar sewing box selling as high as $1800.00 on Chairish and antique stores. This particular type & style is considered one of the finest made. Removal of hardware and refinishing the box with minwax stain would be a great option.

  • Cecelia Mavis Cecelia Mavis on Apr 28, 2015
    I have the same box and have wondered myself about painting and repurposing it. It has lost some of the original screws so I am debating on turning it into a wall shelf set??
  • Anna Ibarra Anna Ibarra on Apr 28, 2015
    I have two, both I got when we were overseas. I often wandered about this also. Haven't done it but I go back and forth.
  • Drprof Drprof on Apr 28, 2015
    Hi Ana, I have one just like it that I got at an estate sale. Yours looks in great condition like mine. All I did was clean it well with Murphys oil soap and then used Method Furniture Cleaner from Target, It smells like almond oil, delicious. I think that it would lose it's value as the one you have is worth about 200.00 dollars here in California, or more. Maybe try to find one that is NOT in good shape and chalk paint it. Although, I have never seen one in bad condition, I think women of the past really took care of them! Good luck. Mary
  • Shari Shari on Apr 28, 2015
    Programs like Antique Roadshow have conditioned many people into believing IF IT'S OLD, IT MUST BE VALUABLE. Old does not automatically equal priceless. Whenever there is a question of whether something has the potential to be valuable, I generally turn to eBay and search prices of similar items. Professional eBay sellers usually have a good understanding of what things are truly worth, as well as what most people are willing to pay. This style sewing chest is not unique (nor is the contents). My mother, who was an avid sewer (and garage sale shopper) her whole life, had two of these chests which I'm sure she bought at garage sales and I, in turn, re-sold them at a garage sale after her death. In addition, eBay currently has quite a few of them listed for sale and the asking prices run the gamut with the most expensive ones topping out at around $250.00. However, when you look at the completed/past eBay listings, the sewing chests that sold typically went for $150 or much less. Prices in black means the item was not sold. Prices in green indicate a sale at that price (or less if "Best Offer" was accepted) If you would prefer to paint the sewing chest so it fits your decor better, I say DO it! More than likely it will never be considered a "priceless antique," at least not in our lifetime, and you can't really ruin the value of something that has minimal value to start with.
    • Ana illausky Ana illausky on Apr 28, 2015
      @Shari Thanks Shari! My gift was a deal for $20.00 from my daughter! Feeling good about the great find!!
  • Swan Road Designs Swan Road Designs on Apr 28, 2015
    I wouldn't exactly call it an "antique." Old, yes, but not an antique. As for the contents, I don't see anything particularly unique. I've been sewing for about 50 years and recognize everything in your photo. As for what to do with the sewing box, it appears to be in quite nice shape. I think the only thing that should be done with it is to give it a good cleaning, a nice waxing with a good-quality paste furniture wax and...enjoy it.
  • Pam Park Pam Park on Apr 28, 2015
    I have one of these- same exact thing. It is about 40 years old. It isn't even vintage yet [50 years + ]
  • Becky Becky on Apr 28, 2015
    If you know you can do it justice, go for it. If not, wait until it hits you.
  • Cathy Cathy on Apr 29, 2015
    They appear to sell for about $150 as is. If you paint you may hurt the value. Maybe use some scrapbook paper and removable tape?
  • Susan Bishop Susan Bishop on Apr 29, 2015
    Just by asking the question, you've revealed what you really want to do. If you liked it brown, you wouldn't have asked the question. Make yourself happy -- paint it. There was a time when every home had one of these. They're not rare by any means. People have conditioned themselves to worry about value, whether it exists or not. Are you going to preserve something for some nameless stranger who may or may not someday want to buy your item, or are you going to do what you want and enjoy it yourself?
    • Ana illausky Ana illausky on Apr 29, 2015
      @Susan Bishop Now that I know its currant worth, I may find other decorative ways to change the look without changing its value.Going to get more ideas! Thanks!!!!!
  • Shelia Harry-Netherton Shelia Harry-Netherton on Apr 29, 2015
    please don't paint its beautiful t way it isThey don't make them like that anymore
  • Beth N Beth N on Apr 29, 2015
    It is a lovely piece as is and in such great condition, I would not paint it if it were mine. But it is not mine. Unless you are concerned about the current or future value if you re-do it, I always say, it belongs to YOU, do what makes YOU happy with it!
  • Gerald Skipper Gerald Skipper on Apr 30, 2015
    NO, I would not paint.If it has any value it would be lost. Wipe it down with a good furniture oil,rub it in real good and keep it dusted!!
  • Diane Wickham Diane Wickham on May 01, 2015
    No! Too beautiful a piece! I agree it's worth out ways trying to "improve" it's looks.
  • Esther Esther on Aug 17, 2015
    Yes, me if I had this I would. It's not like a valueable antique that painting will reduce the value of it, I also like the idea of stencil it . Did you paint it by now ? Would you post the transformation ?
  • Jacalyn Jacalyn on Aug 17, 2015
    I would leave it as is. But the. I'm an old Norwegian. :)
  • Eva Eva on Nov 29, 2016

    I have one very similar to it and plan on painting it with sewing decals or shabby chic style... haven't decided which one yet... but good luck with your choice, sewing cabinets are beautiful either way!

  • WendyLou WendyLou on Dec 18, 2016

    This is a very solid piece of furniture. The amount of workmanship that went into that piece then, is not generally replicated now. Most things produced today are disposable. Now, having said all that, you are the owner of this piece. Whatever you decide to do will be the right thing for you. If you are concerned about value, don't paint. If you are not concerned about value, do whatever your little heart desires!

  • Colleen Baugus Colleen Baugus on Dec 30, 2016

    If your going to keep it I would do milk paint

  • Lily Schlender Lily Schlender on Jan 07, 2017

    I would clean it and polish it like some of the previous comments mentioned. I would take some nice fabric or paper and line the boxes. the items inside I would take everything out and put your own sewing items in. old thread is old. some of the notions are just basics. If there's something special in there keep it, otherwise donate it or give it away. finally if you do paint it you will probably have to take the boxes apart to get under the hinges?? maybe make a handle cover with some nice fabric similar to Longaberger basket handles. enjoy, it's a nice sewing box.

  • Flo Flo on Jan 10, 2017

    I have one of these and toyed with the idea of painting it but decided to leave its original dark walnut color. These date back to the 1960's and 70's. They are wonderful chair side. They are of dubious value so no harm done if you want to paint it. ....Another old Norskee. Have fun.

  • Sklevorn Sklevorn on Jan 10, 2017

    No I wouldn't. Rub down with oil

  • Nancy Nancy on Jan 10, 2017

    I am an antique dealer in Michigan. In perfect condition (on a good day). $100-$150.

    If it needs work (and on a bad day) $40. I purchased the same exact maker this summer at an estate sale for $$16. I restored it and I have priced it at $60.

  • Nancy Nancy on Jan 10, 2017

    Forgot to mention, there are several styles and sizes made by Strommen.

  • Nancy Nancy on Jan 10, 2017

    Very popular in the 1950s. Some made of maple. Some have rivets. Cheaper models have screws. Some were often made with balsa wood interiors (similar to chipboard). Paint it if you love it. I restored mine to its darker stain color. They are easy to find on ebay and priced a bit higher than those sold at auctions or estate sales. Not usually priced over $200 on ebay as I mentioned in previous post. Show us your finished shed and projects. Good luck.

  • Nancy Nancy on Jan 10, 2017

    Strommen and Hamar are towns in Norway, Bruk usually means factory.

  • Jcraw Jcraw on Feb 07, 2017

    Think too about using for makeup and nail stuff or fun spice cabinet

  • Mary McDonald Mary McDonald on Mar 02, 2017

    Hi. I'm just thinking what I would do and if it were me I may paint it down the road but in the meantime I would sit on it for awhile (ha, not literally!) ,incorporate it into my existing home somewhere and use decor to accentuate and show off the style, like pieces of decor from that era that would look cute on top.

    BUT. That being do whatever your heart desires! Good luck!

  • Nancy Nancy on Mar 03, 2017

    If you paint it you lose the value of the antique

    What is more important to you it being antique or a piece you created

  • Catherine Finch Catherine Finch on Mar 25, 2017

    Instead of painting it why not stencil something fun on the top and then applying some hemp oil to it to bring out the wood

  • Janmac Janmac on Mar 26, 2017

    Hell NO!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's beautiful as is - I'm dying to find one for myself

  • SKB SKB on Apr 15, 2017

    This is likely a Strommen Bruk Hagar sewing chest. They were highly prized by seamstresses in the 1960's and 70's--probably pricey then. You can find several on Ebay and Etsy.

    If the finish is decent, I would leave the original stain and finish.

  • CD CD on Feb 21, 2021

    So what did you decide? I have one myself and find it to be perfect the way it is. I'm a naturalist though and have limited artistic ability. 😊 Share pics if you altered.