Shall I Paint This Antique Chest?

Shall I paint my antique chest or not? I am thinking yes! My husband says no and that I will regret it. What’s to regret? We are talking about a piece of furniture from the mid or latter 1800-hundreds in Sweden that you see in droves and that most people in Sweden wouldn’t give a second look.

So, this is my inspiration piece. A family room designed by Mr. Handsome Nate Berkus himself, and featured in Elle Decor not a long time ago. (Most of you have probably seen it). That same dark, royal blue color on the walls can also be found on a lovely, contemporary painting in my master bedroom. (I will show it to you in an upcoming post).

And here is my chest – looking all sad and lonely as it has been in hiding. I have now moved into the light for further inspection. I think it is “not-so-handsome” right now and only changing the hardware doesn’t do the job for me. And trust me we are not exactly talking high quality either (otherwise the thought would never have crossed my mind). But the carved details are quite lovely and in my book, the chest has potential.

What do you think about the idea of having it professionally painted in a high-gloss royal blue color, very much like the door in the living room above? I personally think that the carved lion heads would be even more stately and visible.

I would also have all the  hardware replaced (and some even removed) with some lovely Lion Pull Heads like this from Paxton Hardware.

Now that, to me, would be a lovely statement piece that I would want as my new bedside table. I would welcome that added drama and glamor! I would proudly show it off.

Since I am at it, I am also thinking of painting this lovely vintage mirror (actually of very good quality) that I found at a consignment store for – hold on to your hats! -$ 27!!! (I ran out of the store with it carefully protected in my arms). I am thinking perhaps white or light gray? I so adore the lines. Both classic and modern. (The mirror is larger than it looks in the photo).

Yes, no, maybe? Bring it on! I can take it! If I don’t get too many no’s I will get to it right away. I am not exactly famous for being a procrastinator(!). And my husband, you say? Well, I will just have to blame the verdict on you! Haha! (He is a usually a very good sport my wonderful husband!)

Thank you all for being in my life. You are the best!

Written by Splendid Willow in: DIY,My Home |


  • FLAVIANA says:

    Hi Monika!
    That chest does have potential and you should definitely paint it !It’ll be a statement piece and your hubby will love it (and thank you for it!).
    I love it!
    xx Flaviana

  • Greet says:

    My dear friend!
    I would say don’t hesitate! Paint it in that royal blue! I am sure it will look gorgeous!
    And even the mirror I would paint maybe in a black! As the old 17th century mirrors! He will be matching so well in your hall (as I think I see it on your pictures above), on the white background!

  • Well, Mon, there you go…Greet gives you the go-ahead; would one NEED anything more that that? I think not!

    But I do agree. Paint away. I think you will be so pleased with the results. Especially with the color you have chosen. Can’t wait for the ‘afters.’

    Love to you, donna

  • The Zhush says:

    Yes to the paint! HIGH SHINY GLOSS! go!

  • oh yes, Monika, go for it! I would definitely paint it, without any doubt! it will look great!
    hope you have a beautiful day, darling! xo

  • I say paint! Love the mirror.

  • Barb says:

    Go for it, it will be beautiful! I say this in spite of the little voice in my head reminding me of the weeks my father spent stripping my mother’s nightstand . . . and all of his utterings of what possessed someone to cover such a work of art with paint! XO

  • Maria K. says:

    It’s a great shaped piece of furniture but has such a dull finish. Paint, paint, paint! Love the shiny gloss idea.

  • Delishhh says:

    NOOOOO, don’t paint the chest, mirror is ok but the chest I vote no. Blue chest?? Yuck! But then what do I know. That is why I cook and not decorate :)

  • My 83 yr old woodworker father ( and many other men for that matter ) would kill me for saying this, BUT, I think you would be doing it a huge favor if you did ! Please post pictures if you decide to go for it ! It’s a beautiful piece ! xoxo, lisa

    Splendid Willow Reply:

    ALL your comments are so valuable! You are the best! (And you crack me up!) But I have a feeling I am going to start looking at paint colors pretty soon! (: Monika.

  • Katrine says:

    I would normally say ABSOLUTELY NO to painting over a piece that has obviously taken a lot of work and craftsmanship to make just as is, BUT, it will look fantastic in a high gloss blue. Mirror, grey or perhaps a silver leaf? I have a painting frame I will show you in silver leaf.

  • Janell Beals says:

    The mirror, what a find! Paint away. The chest…well, I would dive in and paint it, ignoring all the gasps. But then I would ask myself, what was it worth before I started painting? Do you know? Do you care? It would be very striking painted, especially in a rich dark navy as you’ve shown. Anything too light toned will look silly, I think.

    Can’t wait to see what you do! Janell

  • Helen says:

    It will look charming painted, but I vote not to. It is so much more versatile in its natural wood for when you decide to move it or redo the room. Change the hardware and refinish the top coat in its existing form. Gorgeous chest, I wish it was mine.

  • Elizabeth says:

    My advice is absolutely paint the chest. I don’t think you’ll ever like it in its natural state. On the mirror, I’m not so sure. I can’t tell from the picture, but if it’s a nice gold leaf finish, I’d keep it as is. If it’s just sprayed or painted gold, go for it! I’ve just recently discovered your blog and enjoy your style. Can’t wait to see what you do!

  • sherry says:

    YES….I definitely say paint!

  • Purple Area says:

    Paint an antique chest from the 1800th century, you must be joking? Please tell me that you just are temporary confused or drunk or taken to many pills or… I don’t know but… please dont paint!!!

    Splendid Willow Reply:

    Susann/Purple Area, I laughed so hard, tears came down my cheeks! You are too funny! Your comment comes from Ms. Modern/Minimalistic herself. And now you are defending a brown, unloved Swedish chest?! Good for you! I know you come with a good, Swedish heart (:

    Trust me dear, I would not do this to a one-of-a kind antique or anything with sentimental value. This one I am however willing to sacrifice! (: I will keep you posted!

  • Talia says:

    Love the idea of painting it. Something lighter than the blue you’re considering would actually make the details pop a bit more but the blue would be amazing. What color are the walls that the chest would sit up against? Think that would make a big difference. Anything you end up doing will make an already beautiful piece even more outstanding:) Have fun!

  • paula says:

    I think the chest would look lovely painted, but be sure. Husbands normally know what we will regret since they have seen our flings before. I love the mirror as is.

  • Charlotta says:

    Ooooh I am torn darling.. but like Donna says. Greet has spoken and her word weighs a lot! x

    I know you have thought this through though and that you have made up your mind already. :)

    Can’t wait to see the after pics and the rest of the bedroom.


    xx C

  • I say paint – especially a glossy, striking blue. It’ll become an absolute center-piece. I can’t wait to see the finished projects – for of course, I’m advocating for painting the mirror, too!

    Have fun!!


  • Cindy says:

    I don’t quite believe I’m typing this, but yes, paint them both. The mirror I wouldn’t bat an eye at, the chest however, brings up memories of so many afternoons spent stripping paint off old wood furniture. However, it is obvious you don’t like the dresser much in its current finish, and it seems like you will LOVE it painted blue, so go ahead and love it. Paint the sucker!

  • Courtney says:

    I think that a deep and royal blue would be perfect! The chest really is lovely and the color would make its details pop. I’m envisioning your dramatic and elegant bedside table right now and I’m loving what I’m seeing. Go for it!

  • liza says:

    I say paint especially if it’s really glossy (like lacquer)! Definitely paint that amazing mirror. It’s going to be fantastic!

  • Sara Barroso says:

    Yes. I know the chest will be loved so much more in deep shiny blue. Men get all upset about the history of an item that they forget to look at loving present day pieces in your home. My hubby won’t let me paint our 1910 wood paneling because of history. Meanwhile it’s dark and opressive! And yes the mirror in gray would be fab!

  • kiki says:

    Måla på, Mon!!!
    Dark Marine blue,(not royal blue) glossy will look just smashing!!!
    Then vision it with perhaps a white stone head sculpture(that you so badly want), a lion…big conchshell and antique books sculpture on it will make a dramatic break. However having it in the bedroom….? Our beddings, it will show dust like crazy in seconds and that might drive you nuts, it would me!!! What about your office library room?

  • Go for it Monika! I actually have a dresser and a few frames that I’m planning on painting in the summer. Like your husband, my spouse has reservations too. So, I always say “what do you know about colour and design?” It’s a female thing.

    I can’t wait to see the results!

    Good luck!

  • KMD Atelier says:

    Hi Monika,

    How exciting! Dark lacquer paint will be so chic! Can’t wait to see it. I like the idea of black for the mirror too! Looking forward to seeing the finished result!


  • thank you so much for your comment on my blog! i love the idea of painting it a deep saturated blue and i adore the hardware you found! do not even get me started on that mirror — $27 for that cool shape? so jealous!

  • I say Paint Away!! What a great inspiration image as well. The shape of the mirror is stunning and I’m oober jealous of the $27 find! I can’t wait to see the transformation because my guess is that you already have the paint brush in hand 😉

  • tinajo says:

    I think you should – and I´m looking forward of seeing the result! :-)

    Take care!

  • Jen W. says:


    Can you do a light sanding and white/taupe wash it & clear wax rub, leaving the lions head , centers of the drawers (which look like veneer from photos) and columns as is? You can always go back and finish piece, if not to your liking. If I had to choose, I vote with husband but since you said its not great quality (yet I love the muffin feet) and if the leaf swirls at top are bugging you, go for it. How deep are the leaf carvings?, can you sand them out, or fill them and applique over it with a piece of mill work you like.? What about light washing it after a sand and gilding the vertical fluting in the columns. The only thing I wouldn’t touch is the veneer, (if in fact that is what it appears to be in the photo.) Very thin, and you’ll end with a mess if you destroy it. Hope this helps or sparks other ideas.


  • It’s such a tough call, Monika!

    On one side, the original wood should be kept in its original state to retain worth…on the other hand, right now, you’re not enjoying it in the least! A blue would certainly be powerful and fun. Of course, there is always a deep, right and powerful grey? :) I adore Pratt & Lambert’s Ribidux. (I think that’s how you spell it!)

    I can’t wait to see how the project goes!


  • Isn’t it funny how men think it is a mortal sin to paint wood? We have a red mahogany dresser in our bedroom that I wanted to paint black and my husband said to give it away rather than paint it. I said the next people will just paint it. He said he didn’t care as long as he didn’t have to watch.


  • P.S. I have never, ever seen a beautiful mirror at a consignment shop. What a great shape and find!

  • I wanted to comment yesterday but didn’t have the time. Looks like you already have all the advice you need but I’ll go ahead and add my vote.

    DEFINITELY PAINT! They will both be fabulous! The details on the chest are wonderful and will only get better. The mirror also has great lines and will look oh so modern. What a great find.

  • Alysia says:

    Paint it! :)
    I think it would be very striking….either that, if you decide to keep the wood…..perhaps darken it a nice deep, glossy mahogany with the new pulls…

    And I vote for light gray for the mirror! Love consignment stores :)

    – Alysia

  • Piper says:

    Seriously – what a cool dresser!! And I say go for it – it would look gorgeous painted. I always say that you should fully enjoy what you have! You have to see it everyday – might as well enjoy looking at it, right? :)

  • Colleen Martin says:

    I vote NO on painting the chest and YES on painting the mirror. Chest appears to be Victorian Eastlake. If you don’t like it sell it to an Eastlake collector. Painting it would ruin it. The mirror doesn’t look valuable or old so go for it on that one.

  • jenna says:

    I too would have ran fast out of that store with that gorgeous mirror! I say go for it, and the chest to while you are at it. If it’s not working currently make it work. I think that chest would so chic!


  • What would David Hicks do?

    The chest is going to not only look fantastic but
    give you tons of bedside storage

  • Hi, Mon! If you haven’t already made up your mind, I say, yes, paint it!!! I think a high gloss would make it really special. As for the mirror, I’m loving gold right now so I think I would leave it alone. I think the fairly clean lines looks great as is. Can’t wait to see what you decide! :)

  • pve says:

    Yes. I am loving navy blue which is a classic and then top with a collection of blue – blue lamp, blue boxes, blue glass, books….I would help you paint it if I lived next door! :)

  • […] you remember my little chest dilemma, a while back (read here)? My question to myself (and to you!) was if I should paint my antique chest navy blue? And perhaps […]

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