I’ve Got The Refurb Bug!

About a year ago my parents gave me an old toy chest and whilst it served the purpose of concealing the endless pile of toys in the play room, I have to say – it wasn’t particularly nice to look at! Finally, I have got round to transforming the dated box from the 80’s into a current piece of furniture I am proud to have in my new home. I was surprised at how easy and inexpensive it is to achieve and wanted to share with you how I did it so that you can give it a go yourself!

The tools and products I used are as follows:

  • Electric hand sander
  • Dulux Wood Primer
  • Dulux Wood Paint
  • Foam Sheet
  • Fabric
  • Staple Gun


As any craftsman will tell you, it’s all in the preparation. The first thing I did was to disassemble the box by removing the lid. Once my parts were laid out, I thoroughly cleaned the box inside and out with Cif cleaner to ensure all grease and dirt residues were removed.


I had a little helper for this job (Scarlett suddenly loves cleaning which is a real bonus!)

Next, I sanded all of the external sides on the box with the electric sander – this took all of 5 minutes yet was the part I was most dreading! The sander I have is the Bosch Palm Sander – I totally recommend getting this, it saved me so much time.

I gave the base 2 coats of Dulux primer as recommended and even painted over the tarnished brass lock on the front to give a textured detail to the chest.


After 2 hours, when the primer had dried – I painted the box inside and out with the white wood paint in satin. As I said, this was my first attempt and I have to say, the paint was glossier than I had expected so I would suggest testing the paint or getting advise from someone in the store to recommend the best paint for this type of job.


I left this to dry over night and in the mean time I focused on upholstering the lid. I wanted this chest to work as an extra seat in my study as well as be useful for extra storage so I decided to add a foam sheet 1″ thick to make it cushioned for comfort. I would suggest using a soft foam – they recommend firm for upholstery but if you are beginner like me, it is far easier to work with! Cut the foam so it is slightly bigger than the surface you are covering so that it gives a rounded edge when covered.


Now this was the tricky bit… Start at the back and using a staple gun, staple the fabric across the inside edge of the lid. I bought my fabric in the sale at Laura Ashley – it was only £3 so I didn’t really care if it went wrong at this time! (I wouldn’t recommend spending much on your first refurb job!).

Pull the fabric as tight as you can and weight the lid down so that the sponge is a flat as it can be whilst you staple around the other edges.


Finally reassemble to the base and Et Voilà! Your first piece of furniture is complete!


I am so happy with my new wooden chest, it isn’t perfect but with experience will come better craftsmanship. The main point is, it saved me a fortune and I had a great time doing it! So next time you are in an expensive interior shop and see something that you think “I could make that” well just do it, this has taken me a year to get round to but I already can’t wait to get started on reupholstering my nursing chair for Savannah’s bedroom!


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