Vintage Chest Of Drawers Refurbishment Project

Another day, another grungy item of pre-loved furniture to get involved with. I won this Edwardian solid-mahogany-with-fruitwood-inlay beauty after a tense eBay auction in which I was the only bidder.

I had purchased the chest of drawers for Natalia's bedroom and wanted to do something fun and colourful with it, like the painted versions in her inspiration board. But I couldn't bring myself to paint over it - even though the wood didn't exactly have a beautiful patina, it was around 100 years old and I knew it could be restored to look gorgeous.

First of all I sanded it down (it sanded super-easily and immediately looked dreadful and patchy, but there was no turning back now!).

Fortunately after a coat of my favourite Osmo polyx oil the wood cheered up significantly. Now I need to apply the coats of satin-matt Osmo oil to seal the tinted layer and make it nice and shiny again.

It was at this stage that I realised I still really wanted to do something colourful with the chest of drawers - it's intended for a child's bedroom, after all, and a solid wood piece just didn't feel creative or whimsical enough. Ah ha! I thought - what if I were to paint some kind of design on the front or top only that allowed some of the wood to show through?

After weeks of mulling the idea over in between visits to soft play, the library, the park etc (ah, maternity leave, how do I love thee) I finally decided to go with a large floral pattern based on the fabric I used for Eva's floor cushions. The blue part perfectly co-ordinates with the two turquoise shades of Natalia's bedroom walls, so I'm intending to cut the leftover fabric from Eva's floor cushions in half and use the blue flowers for Natalia's beanbags, and the remaining pink flowers for some extra cushions for Eva. And breathe.

Anyway, today I sanded down the chest of drawer fronts, oiled them (after first of all testing to make sure I can paint successfully on top of oil - yes, I can), and then sat down at the PC to work out the design in PhotoShop.

First of all I used a straight-on photograph of the chest of drawers.

Then I took a photograph of the leftover fabric, turned two of the flowers into separate PhotoShop files with transparent backgrounds, and layered them onto the chest of drawers until I had a pattern that I liked the look of.

I used the eraser tool to mark where I wanted to wood to show through (as per the picture below, my plan is to keep the front frame wooden, and only paint on the drawers), and also enlarged and rotated some of the flowers until I had a final design*.

Once the oil on the drawers has dried (it takes 24 hours), I'm going to lightly draw on some chalk lines so I can more or less keep to scale, and then get to work hand painting the petals. Even more ambitiously :-) I'm going to do a gradient - deep turquoise for the bottom drawer (Natalia's mural wall), light turquoise for the top drawers (the other three walls in Natalia's room) and a custom-made mix of the two for the middle drawer that I'm planning to make by thoroughly mixing up a dollop of each. I have no idea whether I'll be able to oil over the top of the paint to seal it - I suspect not, so have some Ronseal in my back pocket just in case.

And of course if it doesn't work out, or at a later stage I want to transform the chest of drawers into something more grown-up, I can just sand the paint off and start again. Hopefully the Edwardians would approve.

*By final I mean subject to change. It took me weeks to come up with the idea so I suspect it will take me weeks to get around to painting it, by which time I'll undoubtedly have mentally tinkered with the design.