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Amazing Furniture Transformation – Before & After

Y’all, I found a great deal on this thrifted chest last year. I wasn’t sure how to refinish it, so I quickly painted it with Chalk Paint and began using it as a night stand. Recently inspiration struck and here’s what I did.

I’m sharing my inspiration idea with step by step instructions for this Amazing Furniture Transformation – Before & After. The best news is, you will learn what supplies and tools are needed to complete a fun and inexpensive project of your own.

The Thrift Store – Before

Here is the chest I purchased for $40.00 at a thrift store last spring. It is a traditional small chest, solid wood and in great shape. Although I wasn’t sure what I’d do with it, home with me it came.

After Painting

Here is what the chest looked like after a coat of Old White Chalk Paint. I have been using the chest as a night stand but wasn’t really happy with it’s appearance. Then I saw a photo of chippy card catalog cabinet and I was finally inspired to transform this piece.

Materials & Tools needed for Transformation

Determine the Design of your Transformaton

In order to make the chest to look like a vintage card catalog cabinet, I used wood trim and thin plywood for form faux drawers on the front of the actual drawers.

To determine the size of each piece, I used craft paper to cut patterns for the designs. This allowed me to attach the patterns to the drawer fronts as a trial run. Therefore, I knew the pieces would fit before actually cutting the wood.

Once you have your pattern determined, you want to order or purchase your hardware. D. Lawless Hardware is my go to for unique card catalog or apothecary hardware and they are so inexpensive.

Cut each piece according to the patterns and then sand all ruff edges until smooth.

Stain New Wood

You will need to stain the new wood so that it appears to match the original stained chest. If you use a gel stain, you can rub on quickly with a rag.

Paint and Wax

Next, you will want to paint the wood pieces and then apply wax to seal and distress the them. You can see How to Use Chalk Paint here.

Note: I used a heavy amount of Mineral Spirits mixed with the clear wax to achieve a heavy distressed appearance. In addition, I applied a small amount of dark wax over the buffed clear wax to darken the appearance further.

Amazing Furniture Transformation – Prepare Drawer Fronts

Now, you need to remove the old hardware from the drawer fronts and fill the existing holes with wood filler putty.

Once the putty is dry, sand until smooth. Then paint the chest or cabinet with two coats of Chalk Paint and seal with wax. Again, you can see all the details on How to Use Chalk Paint here.

My chest was already painted so I just touched up the drawer fronts where the holes had been filled.

Attach Faux Wooden Drawers to Drawer Fronts

In order to attach the faux drawers to the actual drawer fronts, begin by arranging the wooden pieces evenly. You can mark the exact location with a pencil to assure proper alignment.

Next, you will attach the new hardware to the wooden pieces while attaching to the drawer front, all at the same time.

Drill Pilot Holes

To avoid splitting the wood, you will want to drill pilot holes for all the screws.

Begin with the smaller pieces. Here I used D. Lawless Hardware Card File Label Holder w/Finger Pulls.

Next, carefully place the hardware in the desired position, drill the pilot hole and then screw the hardware to the drawers. This will work best with two people working together.

For the larger areas, I used Bronze Cup Pulls, also from D. Lawless Hardware. These are attached by drilling a hole for the cup attachments to fit into and using the screws provided to attach from inside the drawer.

Amazing Furniture Transformation – Reveal

When thrift store shopping, you always want to look beyond the piece. Ask yourself, can it be transformed, painted, or repaired?

A true vintage card catalog piece would be so expensive, if you are lucky enough to find one. I was able to transform this $40.00 find into a fun, interesting piece for an additional $40.00.

You might like to read 10 Tips for Successful Thrift Store Shopping also.

The chest now has a more industrial feel and works better within our industrial style farmhouse. If you like this idea but prefer a Simple Makeover for Vintage Furniture, see this post.

If you’d like to see more furniture transformations such as this, read DIY Faux Apothecary Cabinet and The Real Truth About Deconstructing a Chair.

Sidney McLaughlin

Sunday 24th of April 2022

I was completely in love with the chest when I saw the first picture! The fact that you altered a simple one into a library drawer look is amazing!


Monday 25th of April 2022

Sidney, I'm so glad you like this transformation. I appreciate you for stopping by.


Wednesday 20th of April 2022

I have been wanting to try this and hope to still. Yours looks amazing :)


Wednesday 20th of April 2022

Sue, I'm so glad you liked this. Best of luck.


Monday 7th of February 2022

Hand down one of my favorite pieces, Rachel! It doesn't even look like the same dresser. Love how creative you are and how you have a vision that is so true to your farmhouse style. Everything about it is amazing. Loving and pinning as always, CoCo


Tuesday 8th of February 2022

CoCo, You are so kind. I appreciate your comments so much.


Friday 31st of December 2021

I love this idea and am thinking about trying it. Thank you for sharing. I have to say, I have NEVER seen a man bite his fingernails that badly!


Sunday 2nd of January 2022

Cate, I'm so glad you like this idea.


Saturday 24th of July 2021

Wow! This IS an amazing furniture transformation. What a great idea for an old chest. When I saw your IG I thought it was a card catalog! You did an awesome job 😊

Sunday 25th of July 2021

Phyllis, I appreciate you for stopping by and commenting. I'm so glad you thought it was authentic. Thanks for your support.