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★ HOW TO Revamp Vintage Wooden Chest | Fabric & Wood Panel Lining Craft Tutorial ★

Updated on February 16, 2016

How I Painted & Lined A Wooden Trunk

I was walking around a car boot one summer and saw this chest. It caught my eye and I walked past it a few times before I asked the price, thinking it would be way too much money. It turned out to be only £30, but I haggled them down to £25 ... Bargain! I was very happy indeed with that, I can tell you, because I had been looking for something similar for a while, and I haven't seen anything better since.

So I got it home and started to revamp it into a usable storage chest. It was a bit dirty and rusty so the first job was cleaning it up. I decided to paint the inside of the lid, and line the rest with fabric-covered wood panels. Below you will find a step-by-step tutorial on what I did. It was my first revamp project but I'm very pleased with how it turned out. I hope you like it too :-)

The Details


Here are a few shots to show the condition of the chest. I like the used look of it because it adds character, but I'll be cleaning it up a bit to get rid of the dirt and some of the rust.

Salvage-Style Projects

This Old House Salvage-Style Projects
This Old House Salvage-Style Projects

Rescuing old furniture and items for the home - and then breathing new life into them - is so important in the midst of the new throwaway culture that has been created by cheap mass-produced furniture providers. This fab book provides instructions for 22 repurpose projects that will definitely get your creative juices flowing!

Examples include a faucet towel rack, a chimney pot light, a kitchen sink bar and a door headboard, which all demonstrate interesting ways of using your finds from salvage yards/antique fairs etc. There is also a large amount of information in the book for how to go about finding your salvaged treasures in the first place.

Revamping is a fun way for woodworkers or craft enthusiasts to make unique home decor items for a lower cost than buying furniture new.


The Outside

The Inside

Step 1 - A Good Clean

The first thing I did when I got the chest home was to wash it inside and out to rid it of cobwebs (ew) and dirt. I left it out in the sun to dry completely.

Step 2 - Removing Wallpaper & Rust

First thing I had to do was remove the wallpaper from inside the chest. This took me a long, long time (I think the paper was stuck on with superglue, honest), and at first I just tried soaking the paper with water and using the wallpaper scraper to remove it. Then I tried water with a bit of vinegar mixed in. Then I forked out for a bottle of strong wallpaper remover and that did a much better job, but it still took a while.

I used steel wool to rub off some rust on the outside. This was just to remove the roughness, as the rust on the metal is pretty deep so there was no way I could remove all of it.

Be careful with wallpaper remover (the one I got was an irritant), and always wear tough gloves when handling steel wool (i.e. not your woolly gloves!)

Step 3 - Sanding

I wrapped a piece of No. 80 sandpaper around a cork block and sanded the wood all over until the roughness has gone. If you want a smoother finish, you can go from a rough grade sandpaper right down to a fine grade of sandpaper. I just used the one grade since the bare wood won't be on display in the end.

Step 4 - Another Wash

I gave the insides one last wash and scrub to get rid of the wallpaper residue and dust etc. I left it to dry completely in the sun before moving onto the next step.

Step 5 - Painting

I bought a Dulux paint tester in 'TImeless', which is a curiously similar colour to 'White' (and by similar I mean identical). After I had made sure that the paint was the correct choice, I bought a larger tin.

I then put masking tape around the edges of the area to be painted - in order to stop the paint going where it shouldn't.

I painted the inside of the chest lid, and also the 'ledges' in the bottom section. When the first coat had dried, I painted on a second coat. After that had dried, I removed the masking tape and cleaned up any stray paint.

Step 6 - Wood Panels

I measured the inside of the chest and worked out the sizes of wood panel I would need. I had to take into consideration how the wood panels would fit together within the chest, and I also needed to make them slightly smaller to allow for the padding and fabric which will be wrapped around them later.

I got these cut from 6mm MDF at a local home décor shop (B&Q).

I made sure they fit correctly inside the chest before I continued. I did end up having to cut one panel down to a smaller size with a hand saw, but the rest were perfect.

Step 7 - Batting/Wadding

Batting/wadding is what is used as the padding in quilts. I cut out pieces slightly smaller than the wood panels and loosely fixed them in place with a small amount of glue around the edge of the batting. The batting is really worth adding as it gives the panels a softer, comfier feel.

Step 8 - Fabric Wrapping

I cut my chosen fabric (cotton gingham) into pieces large enough to wrap around each wood panel in an 'envelope' style fold.

Step 9 - Sewing

I made sure the fabric was wrapped evenly and quite tightly around the panels whilst I sewed the fabric edges together. I did this for each panel.

The reason I chose to do panels like this was so that the fabric can easily and quickly be changed whenever I fancy in the future.

Step 10 - Inserting The Panels

Once the fabric was secured in place, I slotted each panel into the chest. They all fit neatly so they didn't have to be secured in place.


I'm rather pleased with myself at this point :-)

The Inside View

The Outside View

Furniture Finishing Videos

Best Furniture Makeover Books

Books are excellent resources to have on hand when you need expert advice and instruction. I have picked the following 5 books because they have very good reviews and are filled with creative inspiration:

Have you ever restored or revamped furniture before?

See results

Please Leave a Comment!

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    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wonderful ideas I will defiantly look forward to seeing more DIY Lenses from yourself :D

    • elliot-small profile image


      7 years ago

      Loving this page!! I do a fair few bits my self, would be great if you could stop by my page so we can share tips etc. have a look at some of my work on

      I mainly import from France right now and paint up louis XV style furniture from 50's and am loving it!!!


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