Curbside Cedar Chest Becomes Multi-functional Furniture

Valerie Burge
by Valerie Burge
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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3 of 7 questions
  • Laura Cross Laura Cross on Dec 31, 2019

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

  • Kelly J. Tinney Kelly J. Tinney on Jan 05, 2022

    Can we just talk about Charlie? 😘🥰😉 I mean,

    isn’t he what’s really important here? ☺️🌟

    why not make your pup some little doggy stairs?

    Speaking of waking you at 3am, our blind Pitbull sleeps in a bed at the foot of ours BUT every single night, he comes into our bed. He USED TO sit and whine (he was asking for permission) until he woke me and I said “come on” but now he just does what he wants. It’s ok too cause it’s a dogs world and we’re lucky to live in it.

  • Carole White Carole White on Jan 09, 2022

    Crud, Valerie, so sorry to hear this! What are his symptoms? Is he eating and eliminating OK? I've had 11 rescue dogs in the last 25 years and have gone thru the gamut of health issues. Not sure if I could share any "words of wisdom" but wanted to ask, just in case!

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4 of 141 comments
  • Carole White Carole White on Jan 09, 2022

    Nice freebie!!! And such a thoughtful transformation for wee Charlie! He may one day find the jump from the floor to the chest too much as well, so you may need to go back to picking him up. The things we do for our beloved pets!!!

    • Valerie Burge Valerie Burge on Jan 09, 2022

      Sadly my poor boy is not doing well lately. I've spent a small fortune at the vet over the past 2 months and they can't figure out what's wrong. 😢

  • Cindy Moore Cindy Moore on Feb 05, 2022

    It turned out great. The sheet you used looks great with your drapes and bedding. Charlie is a sweetheart. I hope the Vet can find out what’s wrong with him. 🥰