Wednesday, September 11, 2013

French Bohemian Jewelry Chest Makeover

And now for another episode of “Just because it's small doesn’t mean it’s easier to paint”…….
Oh this was a labor of love. It was yet another poor ol’ drab wooden jewelry chest, with an oh-so-dated interior.
It had the required good bones, but the attribute that sent me over the moon was the song it played….La Vie en Rose! I knew in an instant that this piece needed special treatment, and with a nostalgic French theme.Before:
Now it would be easy and obvious to have slipped in some fleur de lis and Eiffel towers, but I didn’t want it to look commercial, like a tourist souvenir. I wanted it to feel like French Bohemian, and since I’ve never been to Paris, I had to rely on my instincts, and let the paint guide me. I think I accomplished that, and I love how it turned out! Before:
I’ve made over lots of jewelry chests, but this one truly was the most work. Not only did I have a lid with a mirror and lining that also served as a mat around it, but I also had a movable tray to work on.
But by far the greatest challenge for me (after conjuring the French feel), was painting roses. I am not a flower painter, and no matter how many designs I created for the top, it kept coming back to roses, due to my need to pay homage to the song.
Then my next challenge was what style of the graphics. I Googled a lot of rose painting, but the one-stroke style wasn’t cutting it for me, and looked too delicate and wispy. I wanted them to look more like the rich graphics of those old Meyercord decals. I am rather satisfied with my first attempt, and I’m sure with more practice, I could do it again if I choose to.
Restraint in the flower painting was very important, because too many flowers can quickly become tacky overkill. I saved the real burst of roses for the interior paper lining. I swear, I think I found the last 2 sheets of this paper design on the web. It’s from an older scrapbook collection that isn’t in print anymore. At least that’s how it seemed in my search for just the right look. (Word to the wise: Never pick out the paper lining After you’ve painted. It’s far easier to color match a paint to paper, than the other way around.) I was really really fortunate that after buying this paper off the internet, the colors were Perfect for the paint.
I also had some 2-tone striped paper in rosy pinks, from years ago, and it was another perfect match for the rose patterned paper. The striped paper with gold accents made me think of wallpaper in an old French parlor, so I thought it would be a fun addition to line the sides different than the bottom surfaces. After lightly tinting both papers with alcohol ink to give them some age, I sealed them with satin varnish.
As for the exterior, I chalk-painted with multiple layers of color. A deep Rose pink, Spring green, Leaf green, Tiffany blue, Olive, and Red.
I painted all the drawers and sides with 2 borders of high luster gold paint, and filled in the spaces with light and darker Spring green, to subtly mimic the look of dimensional panels. I say subtly, because true trompe l’oeil would’ve looked a great deal better, with more contrast and depth.
I continued the gold accents on the drawer pulls and all the leaves. As usual, after a lot of distressing, I sealed all the paint with clear and dark wax.
The musical mechanism is enclosed under the moving tray, and I have papered its cover, but kept it removable, in the event the future owner would wish to remove the chime (Gasp!) and use the space for hidden “secret” storage.
I absolutely adore how this turned out, but I’m also a girl who loves color drama. I definitely can’t be boxed in the neutral category…..:)
I have 2 more projects in the queue waiting for chalk paint, but after this labor of love, I think I’ll wait 5 minutes before I get out the paint brushes again.Linking To:


  1. #1. You have the patience of a saint to paper and paint all those tiny spaces. I once painted the inside of kitchen cabinet and deemed it 'too small.' #2. I think of you every time I see one of these (pre-Maria-ing) jewel chests at a thrift store. Well done! Il fait du vent! (that's all the French I know)

  2. absolutely gorgeous........what a true treasure you now have! Not to mention your talent. Sigh Wish Wish :)

  3. So pretty! I'm featuring it in this week's PoPP Spotlight. Thanks for sharing!


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