Refreshing A Family Heirloom

White milkglass doorknob on old wood.

Where is the rule written that says that if you inherit a family heirloom, it needs to stay in exactly the same condition that it always has? If you are sentimental about the piece and like its style and size, why not give it a refresh so it can be enjoyed in your home another 50 years? Who wants a piece from Aunt Bessie taking up space in their home if they don’t really love what it’s wearing? I say switch it up…and you’ll love it even more!

A family heirloom piece came our way that was calling out for such a makeover. Mr. Fix-it’s Grandpa had recreated this piece to have a flip top for storage and had shortened the legs to resemble a cedar chest or hope chest. It had a very shiny, drippy lacquer finish that needed to go, so I got out my palm sander to take off the finish and smooth out all the rough edges around the drawers and body. I like to say my furniture should be “as soft as a baby’s bottom”!

Vintage furniture piece.

Empire details on vintage furniture.

A flip top furniture piece.

The combination of masculine and feminine details of this piece are very similar to my My Masterpiece Buffet {Here}, I did for our dining room. I still love walking by this piece everyday, so figured this new piece could be a mini version for our bedroom. And when you don’t have great closets in old houses, every bit of storage is helpful.

I wanted this piece to have both paint and stain, because I love the combo…best of both worlds. And I also wanted to add some sweet hand-painting to the top. The question was what I should do first. I decided to start with the stain and poly on the top, drawers, and the fake drawers on the front. Then those parts would be slippery, so if I got a little paint on them, it would easily wipe off. First I gave it two coats of gel stain, wiping it on with an old rag. Then I did the hand-painting and finished it all off with a water-based poly.

Thank goodness we’ve had some warmer days, so I could work outside!

Stained piece of furniture with handpainted details.

Hand painted details on a vintage piece of furniture.

The beautifully grained wood looked so much richer with it’s newly refinished wardrobe, and I loved how the simple, white scallops added to the piece.

Then I mixed up some Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Farmhouse White as a beautiful contrast to the warm wood. I brushed two coats on, and sanded and distressed lightly after it had dried. I usually seal it with a coat of General Finishes Wax, but skipped that step this time since it’s only going to be in a bedroom.

White/wood combination on a vintage furniture piece.

White paint contrasts nicely with refinished wood.

Mr. Fix-it added a few nails here and there and put a new chain on the flip top before I brought it inside.

Then for the jewelry…I wanted a mixture of silver and brass, along with milkglass white. I had some milkglass knobs left from my childhood home that I hoped to use, but one of them broke (the first pic) when the rod wouldn’t come out. Bummer. So, I switched gears and used the emerald green knobs, which had been on the other side of the door. Now this piece has a bit of sentimentality from my side of the family…the kitchen door knobs from my childhood home:)

Vintage hardware.

Emerald green glass doorknob on vintage furniture.

Vintage Hope Chest

Using hardware from a variety of eras in unusual ways creates an eclectic piece that transcends styles. I brushed a couple coats of poly on the inside to seal any old smells. I think I might dig up some vintage wallpaper for a pretty lining also.

And maybe you remember from my post, Vintage Ceiling Tin Ideas {Here}, I love to add a little tin for some extra special patina on furniture pieces. I sanded it a little and then gave it a coat of poly once Mr. Fix-it nailed it in place.

Vintage Hope Chest refreshed with antique hardware.

Yes…I can hear the oohs and aahs;) Waking up to this piece on my side of the bed will put a smile on my face!

And I had so much fun styling it:

Vintage Hope chest refreshed with paint and stain.

I was already planning on placing this piece on this wall when I first hung some of my “R.A. Fox Prints” {Here}, because of the pretty aqua sky depicted. A couple months ago, I explained how to use an accent color, like aqua, in “Styling Tip: Using an Accent Color” {Here}. I’ve already switched accents colors to feature green for the springtime, so the green knobs fit right in;) If you’re curious as to what to do with an old print like the one on the left, above, when the glass has gotten broken, check out my post on “Custom Framing” {Here}.

I know refreshing a piece of furniture can be daunting, but if you take it in steps, it’s really not that hard. Here are the five basic parts in order:

5 steps to refresh a family heirloom

This family heirloom can be appreciated so much more now that it is refreshed to fit my style and my home! So, go for it…turn Aunt Bessie’s piece into something you will love for the next 50 years!

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5 steps to refresh a family heirloom

Linking up with these lovely parties:

Saavy Southern Style

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