Back when I was a little girl, hope chests were a thing.
The only company I was aware of that built them was Lane-they made cedar hope chests in different furniture styles as the trends changed, but the interiors remained the same. They were deep, cedar-lined chests where a girl could store her “betrothed” collection.
After all, hope chests were used to gather and store a young woman’s wedding dowry- you know, that whole love and marriage thing. The definition of a hope chest, according to Wikipedia: “A hope chest, dowry chest, cedar chest, or glory box is a chest used to collect items such as clothing and household linen, by unmarried young women in anticipation of married life” As a high school graduation gift, each girl in my school received a miniature hope chest-apparently our goal was to find a prince charming and get married.
The heck with that college stuff! How times have changed, fortunately. Fast forward a few decades, when I discovered this now un-used and un-loved, divorced-from-its-owner, Lane Mid-Century-Modern Style Hope Chest at our local Salvation Army.
It had definitely seen better days, and reeked of stale cigarette smoke. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, everyone smoked, so pretty much any vintage pieces from that time period will likely have that lovely Eau Du Lucky Strike Scent. “It’s Toasted” is an understatement…
This piece took quite awhile to transform, as I pretty much had to prep every surface, both inside and out. Here is the how-I-did-it:
1.Removed top from base. The top was in the worst shape and needed a complete stripping and refinishing job.
The plan was to paint and glaze the base, but to refurbish the top back to its original glowing cherry finish. I used this Motsenbocker’s Gel Stripper (yet another water-based, green product for us DIY’ers : )According to the directions, you paint it on, wait 5-10 minutes then scrape off the old paint or varnish. Repeat if necessary.
For the finish, I used General Finishes Water-Based Brown Mahogany Wood Stain
Two coats for the proper depth of color. Look at the richness of the color!
For the top coat, I used General Finishes Satin Poly-Acrylic Blend.. Three coats, with a light sanding with steel wool in between. The more I use them, the more I love these General Finishes Water-Based products. Easy application, much less odor, gorgeous durable finishes, dries fast, super easy to clean up and safer for the environment. Win,win! I also used this to paint any unsealed exterior wood to make sure the stale smoke scent was gone.
2. The base required a good cleaning and light sanding just to remove any loose particles and dust. I painted it with two coats of paint: Behr Ashwood
This is a very pale greenish taupe color, in keeping with the 50’s when avocado green was all the rage. I then added second, lighter coat of the Ashwood mixed with some Glidden Antique Beige. This is another “go-to” neutral I keep on hand to use as a base color or to mix with other colors. It is a soft, creamy beige with a hint of pink. Pretty.
To define the insides of the trim squares, I added a glaze of the slightly darker Behr Ashwood mixed with Martha Stewart Glaze Effect. You mix them together in a bowl, using a 5 to 1 ratio of glaze to paint. The more paint, the darker the glaze, so you can adjust it according to your needs.
Then the entire base was finished with Fiddes & Son Superior Wax.
I find the simplest way to use this product is to brush or wipe it on, allow to dry for a few minutes. Then I take my little Black and Decker Mouse Sander (without the sand-paper!) and then buff it using a pad of folded soft fabric.
Quick and easy on the elbows and leaves a perfectly smooth finish.
3. The lining inside the drawer was some old rotted, smelly green felt. I just wet it down, then scraped it out.
I affixed with Americana Deco-Page Matte Finish Gel.
4. The drawer pulls were dark and tarnished, but they were solid brass. I just didn’t have the heart to paint them, as I had originally intended! So I soaked them in acetone (that’s nail polish remover, folks)
to remove the lacquer coating, scrubbed with some steel wool and then cleaned them with Brasso polish. Gorgeous and shiny again, they are shaped like little bows and now pop against the Ashwood paint.
5. The little brass feet on the bottom of the legs were also quite tarnished. For this I dipped the steel wool in some acetone and wiped until they were clean, then polished them as well.
(Note the heavy rubber gloves. Also note that I am not working in the basement, but in a well-ventilated dining room with the window open and the fan blowing. Which is better for my health, but let’s just say that my dining room is no longer suitable for dinner guests-takeout, anyone?)
6. Amazingly, the interior of the hope chest was in perfect condition, even down to the little key. You can see by the sign that this one was built in 1957, true Mid Century Modern style, and comes with a $500 moth damage guarantee! I wonder if that is still in play…
looks like this-not bad for 50 years old!
If you are interested, you will find it at the Vintage Thymes Monthly Market today,
awaiting some love-struck young bride-to-be to fall in love with it and bring it home to start her dowry-which nowadays is more likely to include an MBA and a 401K than a linen tablecloth and lingerie. But it would make a great storage chest or console table as well! Since this is LOVE post #7, and it is actually day 8, I will be sharing another project later on today. In the meantime, have a hopefully fun-filled weekend, everyone! Susan