With her upcycle makeover done, this chest of drawers couldn’t believe how she looked.


“I have pretty decent legs…   as for the rest of me?”

Product of the Fifties

Carol-Anne admits to being a product of the Fifties and she felt she was getting a little tired and beginning to look her age.

“I’ve always felt like I have pretty decent legs, but as for the rest of me, especially around my middle, well, what can I say?

I’ve never used a personal re-imager before, so I was a little nervous and had some reservations. I needn’t have feared.

I found Toby online and he claimed he could get me into great shape, if I was ready to commit to change. I met up with Toby and immediately he assured me he could help me achieve the body I was hoping for.”

Radical departure

“I wasn’t sure what I wanted, but he just gave me loads of confidence to be bold. He asked if I was ready for a really radical departure from my normal look, which, let’s face it, hasn’t really changed for decades! So I said yes, let’s go for it! So exciting (and scary!).”

Toby agreed with Carol-Anne that her legs were a great feature and suggested just a simple rejuvenating coat of black satinwood, which would give her legs definition.

Increasingly adventurous – Carol-Anne: flat on her back with her legs in the air.

Toby showed her some sketches he’d done, quite literally and very much actually on the back of an envelope.

“How about something like this?”

“Wow! If you can get me looking like that, I’ll be amazed.”

Carol-Anne saw the mock-up Toby had done using some imaging software called Affinity (it’s a lot like the market-leader that rhymes with Motoshop, but is about a fifth the price).

“Maybe we could go mega bold?”

“Er, no.”

Carol-Anne said this was a step too far, so they agreed to tone down the front a little.  They looked at a mood-board of retro looks that were contradictorily bang up to date, with a palette of greys, coral-pink and turquoise, taken straight from obscure album covers of the sixties.  Carol-Anne was blown away, but luckily brought back without any damage.

The Make-Over

Toby set about sanding off the original top varnish, careful not to go through the veneer. Lacking genuine sentience, Carol-Anne was not particularly worried about the potentially damaging dermabrasion procedure. Using a palm-sander starting with P60 grit, he worked through P80 and P120 before finishing off by hand with P160 for a super smooth finish. Although he said “finishing off by hand”, you should leave that alone.

He then painstakingly followed the elegantly curved front-edge of Carol-Anne’s top with masking tape and applied the first sections of black satinwood.  Then on to the sides of the top, again involving lots of masking tape and a steady hand.

Peel off whilst wet.

Look at that.

No. Seriously. Look at that!

Toby’s Tip

“When possible, I try to lift the masking tape whilst the paint is still wet or at least, not dry, to reduce the chances of peeling the paint from the surface. I use a high-quality masking tape. I have used cheaper non-branded tapes before, but I find the paint can bleed under the tape.  Frog tape has worked well with this re-imaging. I may try to monetize this fact for money, once I have certaintated my growing blogledge. This will be a keystone tipping-point.”

Next up, he needed to mark out the triangle sections that would be light grey.  Fiddly, but essential work.

Then Toby mixed the grey chalk paint, using a sample pot of grey emulsion he’d picked up last year for 50p, added in some white primer, to get the colour right, then added in the chalking agent, premixed with a little water (see Toby’s home-made chalk-paint recipe further down).

Once the light grey was done, he peeled off the masking tape (no errors so far, phew!).

The next day, the light grey triangles were thoroughly dry and Carol-Anne was pleased with the progress.

It was time to mask out the contrasting dark grey triangles.

Toby’s chalk paint technique

“I had mixed emulsions and the ‘chalk’ until I got a dark grey I was happy with.  That was brushed on with a brush. I have also tried rolling in the deep colours with other methods, like mini-rollers, but today’s, like yesterday’s, was brushed. Having tried both, I think mini-rollers work better.”

“It is reminiscent of a backgammon board”, commented Carol-Anne. Pretty figurative thinking for a chest of drawers.

Once that was dry, the new paints were lightly sanded and wiped clean with a soft damp cloth. Once dry, four coats of clear satin varnish were applied, with a light sanding in between each coat.

“I happened to have some Ronseal Diamond Hard Satin floor varnish left over, so that’s what I used. It doesn’t seem to mind being on not-a-floor.”

DRAWER FRONTS and Home-made Chalk-Paint Recipe

Toby then tackled the drawer fronts.  Having no coral-pink available, he mixed together bits of tester pot red, some yellow, and white.  Not happy with the resulting colour, he added in some extra pure yellow acrylic from his painting box, gave it a good stir and added the watered chalking agent (food grade diatomaceous earth, google it), about two teaspoons for one drawer’s worth, diluted with just enough water to have the consistency of double cream. Stirred in thoroughly.

Carol-Anne loved the colour, but it needed two coats to really sing. Fortunately, there was just enough for that, with a little spare in case Toby needed to touch up any glitches afterwards. Gandalph was once suspected of the same, allegedly.

The turquoise drawer was done in the same way, only utilising colours that together rendered a turquoise hue, with a final coat of satin varnish over the top of both drawers. Imagine that. And now see it, below.


Carol-Anne and Toby agreed that the top edges of her drawers were a little limp and/or lacklustre, so they received the masking tape treatment and a coating of this year’s new black; black satinwood.

Then the two sides of the cabinet were painted in a mid-grey and once they were dry (yes it does go on a bit), Toby could finally finish the edges off with more of the black satinwood to bring the whole transformation together and frame Carol-Anne’s new image.



Even Tigger couldn’t resist being picked up and put on top for a shameless attempt to photograph Carol-Anne with a cute animal.




See MORE Pictures in the Photoshoot. 


Carole-Anne is delighted with her new look and is now considering getting work done with her handles, perhaps removing them completely and having plush new bespoke ones added.  She’s toying with the idea, which in and of itself is no small feat of brainpower for an inanimate box, of extending the theme and using triangular-shaped hardwood handles, half grey and half natural. However, that work is for another time.

The Photoshoot.

See here for more amazing shots of Carol-Anne’s new look, down at the beach!