Red Chest Before & After and Mud Room Solutions

furnature before and after

A few years ago, I found this big buffet. At first, I thought I could refinish it and it would be wonderful. But, when I closely looked at this piece I found it almost beyond repair. The veneer had peeled away and was missing in several spots.   And as an added bonus, the mirror and the drawers were broken. Off to a great start huh?

Buffet befpre

Well, I wasn’t sure how I was going to tackle its issues or where I would even put it if I did fix it up. So it sat in the garage for about two years, where frequently my sweetie lobbied to carry it to the curb for me. I would politely thank him for his offer and with sincere understanding he would agree we should ABSOLUTELY keep it and that one day it would greatly enhance our lives. Ok so maybe that last part isn’t true.   The real story is, I would ignore him and he would roll his eyes.   And maybe under his breath he used the words “crazy lady” and “running out of space” and some other things that I didn’t really hear because I had already tuned him out. Oh sure like that never happens in your house.

Anyway fast forward to moving into this new house. This home has a sweet little mud room off the garage.

Our Palermo

At first I thought it would be the perfect space for the popular locker like cubbies with cute coat hooks. It was a great idea but then the reality check came…I don’t have anything like that. And even if I did, my cubbies would never look like they do in the magazine. You know, all neat and tidy with one small coat hanging on a hook and one pair of shoes tucked tidily in its individual cube. My family would pile every coat and sweatshirt they own on their hook despite the fact that there is an actual coat closet in the room. Each hook would have 3-5 coats and there would be at least one laying on the floor because it fell off of the pile. The backpacks would be half in and half out of the unit and there would be one stray mitten in the mix that will never find his match. Add some keys and mail in the pile and that will pretty much be our mud room cubbies. Ok scratch the locker cubby unit idea. But I still needed something for extra storage beyond the coat closet in there. That is when I realized the big broken chest could be just the perfect fit. So while we were in our temporary apartment waiting for the house to be finished, I tackled the broken beast…

  • First I stripped it with good old fashioned furniture stripper and removed the drawers to be clamped and glued back together.
  • I also glued back all the veneer I could.  For the missing veneer patches I used Bondo All Purpose Putty.   Bondo is perfect for those big filler jobs. Its dries quick, is sandable and permanent.
redchest durring

Bondo Patch

  • Next,  I sprayed it with a red paint that I can’t tell you the color because I mixed a few different reds together that I had left over from other projects. Yeah, I’m a saver. Sorry Honey.
  • After I had it painted it, I mixed dark brown paint and clear glaze and applied it to the piece with steel wool.  I also used a dry brush to feather out the glaze to give it softer shading and depth.   I will demonstrate this technique in detail in a future post for another day


red chest painted& shaded

Chest painted and glazed

  • Lastly,  I used a wipe on poly to give it protection. It’s going in my mud room and it will need to take the abuse of boys. To solve my broken mirror problem I created a chalkboard tutorial here to fit in the frame where the mirror would have been. It is perfect for notes to the family.  I also added some hooks under the top piece to hang our keys on.
red chest makeover

It all came together and the red works perfect with the chevron wall I painted in there. I will show you how to do that too in a future post.   A buffet in the mud room is a little left of center but it works!

Palermo home

What do you think?  Do you have a space that may need some outside the box thinking? Sometimes the best solution is thinking differently about something we already have.    Good luck on your own creative adventure!


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How to make a magnetic chalkboard

magnetic title

Raising a family isn’t always rainbows and ice-cream sundaes.  At least it’s not in this house.  While our home is often full of laughter and fun, the reality is it is also full of discipline, chores, obligations, responsibilities and at times a lot of chaos.  Even though I regularly hug them and say the words I love you, I still catch myself saying in my head, “I hope they know they are loved”.  I hope they know that if nothing else goes right today, I deeply love you.   That thought inspired me to make this bold chalkboard sign that my boys & husband would see before they left the house each day.  I enjoyed making it so much that I thought I would share the process.




Here is the breakdown of what you need

  • Frame
  • Ruler
  • Sheet metal
  • Thin plywood (to back your chalkboard in the frame)
  • Tin snips (a type of heavy scissors for cutting tin)
  • Chalkboard paint
  • Your design
  • White graphite paper
  • Liquid chalk markers

chalk design

The first step was to create a chalkboard… I measured the frame I was going to use to use to hold my chalkboard and then headed to the hardware store for some sheet metal.   I am using sheet metal because I want my chalkboard to be magnetic.   You can find sheet metal easily at a Home Depo or Lowes store.  While you are at the store, you may want to pick up some tin snips, chalkboard paint and thin plywood.  The Plywood will go behind the sheet metal in your frame.  Also, keep in mind that if you don’t have a saw at home you can have them cut the plywood right there in the store.  I already had the scrap plywood and a saw in my basement. I borrowed the tin snips from Dad so I didn’t need to buy those either.  Once I was home, I took my sheet metal and marked off with my ruler the size I wanted my chalkboard so it would fit in my frame.   I then cut my sheet metal to the correct size using the tin snips.  I also cut my plywood to that size.

Next, I simply painted my sheet metal with the chalkboard paint.  You can either roll it on from a can or spray it with chalkboard spray paint.  Once that is dry you basically have your chalkboard done.

Now I moved on the creating my design.  I used Photoshop but you can do the same thing in many other programs since it is basically just laying out type.  I start by making my page size the same as my chalkboard.   I pick my font and typed my message. I fussed with it on the screen a little till I got it just the way I wanted it. Now I need to print. This project is 39.5 inches by 9.5.  My home printer is set up to print on paper that is 8.5 by 11.  Obviously my large sized design is not 8.5 by 11 so my solution is to print my design in sections.  I now have 6 printed pages.  I lay out the pages out and start to line up the design. To help with this I use the sun coming through my sliding glass window which makes for a fabulous natural light box. I tape my pages together and have one big page.

Now I need to transfer my design.  There are many techniques to do this.  I find for sign making this, I like using graphite paper to trace and transfer.  You can find it in the fine art section of the craft store and it comes in black or white.  White is perfect for chalkboards.  You could freehand your design but why spend an hour trying to get the spacing just right when you can spend 5 minutes just transferring your pattern.  So place your graphite paper under your design and trace.  You are going to want to double check that you didn’t miss any spots before you pull the paper away.  I’m a bit of a knucklehead and somehow I always manage to miss spots.  On this project, I traced the whole thing and when I pulled back the paper my chalkboard was still blank.  I realized I had the graphite paper upside down.  Doh!    Back to tracing.  Once it was traced and I actually did correctly this time, I simply used a liquid chalk marker and filled in my design.  Pretty easy huh?  You could use chalk but chalk is messy and not as vibrant.  I like the chalk markers.  They don’t smudge and wipe away with water.  They are great for temporary designs.  The downside is it is hard to layer the color.  I would much rather use paint and paintbrushes but then it wouldn’t be temporary.   So chalk marker it had to be.   I will admit when I needed to do the small letters I cheated and I dipped a paintbrush into the marker and painted on the liquid chalk with the brush for the fine parts. I don’t think it was cheating but my husband said it was.

Lastly, I put my finished chalk sign in my frame and added the plywood behind it to give it a sturdy backing.  And I was done.  I was happy with how it turned out and my sweetheart liked it too.  That made it even better.  I hope this helps someone.  Good luck with your own sign making!



Come back tomorrow and I will show you the before and after of that red chest that is holding my chalkboard sign. (here)


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