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Furniture Makeovers: 1 Chest, 3 Ways

Three designers work their magic on a little unfinished Bombay chest. The pretty results will inspire your own creations.

An unfinished Bombay chest of drawers becomes a focal point when painted with a sage green base coat and adorned with cream initials in French script.

We inverted a leaf-and-fan stencil to frame the letters from above and below. Be sure to consider the hardware when painting furniture to make sure the knobs or pulls don't cover or compete with your design.

For a custom-design monogram, order a stencil from a company that offers this service. For this project we used Stencil Planet ( Look under custom lettering to create your own font styles and message layout.

Other stencil sites to visit include:

These sites can make a stencil of letters or words. Simply follow the step-by-step instructions on the Web site, and you'll receive custom-cut stencils within days. Several companies let you choose from any font you want.

Furniture Sources

The Bombay chest from John Greenleaf, Whittier Wood Products, offers a perfect canvas for creativity. Its classic shape and flat panels adapt to almost any finish. For other options, check out our favorite pieces on these sites.

  • Shaker huntboard at It's made for the dining room, but you can decorate it for use as a media center.
  • Drawers on casters at Pick the size you like, and label each drawer for the gear you need to store.
  • Montecito computer armoire at Personalize this classic piece, inside and out. It's an office in a box.
  • 20-inch side table at Start and finish in a day.

A pretty bird wallpaper creates the look of an artist-painted chest without all the muss and fuss. A coordinating striped wallpaper gives the top a custom finish.

Stop at your local paint and wallpaper store to start your search for the perfect patterns to use. We used coordinating prints from Pierre Deux ( The prints include Oiseaux de paradis (bird print) in stone and Eclair (stripe) in stone.

Other papers also can work for this project. Consider using gift-wrap paper, fine-art paper, old prints, artwork, and greeting cards. The paper you use depends on the style you want to achieve and the size of the piece you want to cover. Smaller paper pieces can be pieced for a fun effect. Just make sure to seal any paper surfaces to prevent damage from use.

The trick is to plan the patterns for the prettiest effect. Test the placement of a paper pattern by using a repositionable adhesive on the back. The paper you use should also provide the color cues for the paint used on the rest of the chest.

Paint the chest first, sanding between coats for a smooth finish. Apply the wallpaper. Seal the wallpaper and paint all surfaces using an acrylic sealer.

Classic carvings pair with simple paint techniques to give this Bombay chest a third one-of-kind look.

Carved wooden trims, like these circle rosettes, call attention to new crystal knobs. Leaf-and-flower pieces add another classic element.

To start the project, sand and prime the piece before adding the top coats: white for the framework, green for the top, and blue for the drawers and sides. A cross-hatching paint technique in green adds pattern to the sides and drawer fronts.

Next, use painter's tape to mark off a wide stripe on the front and diamonds on the sides. After painting the wood carvings and brushing them lightly with white paint to highlight their curves, attach them using wood glue.

Premade wood carvings are plentiful and affordable. Look for them at your local home centers, or try these online sources.

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