Vintage Pick That Became a DIY Headache

Would you like to know about the vintage pick that became a DIY headache? I’m depending on YOU to tell me if it’s a happy ending! Final reveal at the end!


A year ago I attended an estate sale in a historic part of town. One of my most memorable finds was this….


elgin american beauty compact carryall
Elgin American Beauty Compact


…a vintage gold Elgin American Beauty compact carry-all dating from the 50’s-60’s. Bought for $5. Sold in my Etsy shop for $125! This was such a pretty piece in wonderful condition! (I had to get the estate sale person to show me how to open it.)

Finding the Homemade Tool Chest


But the real find of the day….my absolute favorite….was this! It looks rough, I know. A homemade tool chest & dirty. At the sale it was sitting on the floor & loaded with screws, bolts, and the like. Isn’t it cute though? I fell in LOVE!


homemade tool chest in original state
Tool Chest in its Primitive State


It had great bones, and when I saw that the top lifted up, I was sold. Paid $5 for the chest & all contents.



homemade tool chest lid lifts up
Lid Lifted Up


And the inside of the drawers was very primitive.


primitive tool chest drawers
A Primitive Interior

Transforming the Homemade Tool Chest


It sat in the basement for a year.


When I finally got around to working on it, I removed knobs and gave it a good sanding.


I couldn’t wait to put on the first coat of paint! Annie Sloan “Old White.”


To my chagrin & horror, the next day it was PINK! Oh well, “it just needs another coat of paint,” I told myself.


More paint applied. Pink again the next day.

More paint….still pink.

More paint…pink.

More paint….pink.



Okay. “What we need is some stain-blocker paint,” I told myself confidently. Ah! Found some oil-based in the basement. How old was it???Who knows! Who cares? Slapped that on….WHAT??? STILL PINK!!!???


Well, it just needs another coat of Annie Sloan! Putting any kind of paint on top of oil-based….not a good idea. I knew better, but I was getting slightly desperate.


The results? P-I-N-K!!!


Resignedly, I dragged to Home Depot. Dreading buying a whole gallon of stain blocker paint, I was delighted to find a quart of Zinsser Gray Stain-Blocker Oops paint. “Great! We got it licked now!”


Do I even have to tell you??? P…I…N…K.


stain blocker paint on old tool chest
Covered in the 2nd Stain Blocker


So how come this works on all the other dark stained wooden items I’ve got???


Pinterest image for DIY Headache



This calls for another coat of Annie Sloan….Nope…..Pink.


I was beginning to despair. I was beginning to wish I’d never laid eyes on this !@#$%&* chest. Fickle me. I had fallen out of love.


I considered covering everything with decoupage. Nope. Didn’t want to do that either.

I considered painting it pink.

I considered painting it black.

I considered chunking it.

no, No, NO! I will NOT give up!


Okay. When all else fails, ask Google. Google suggests shellac. Noooooo! I don’t want to strip this down to bare wood!!!!! It’s got at least 10 coats of paint on it! But I found a suggestion for shellac that works OVER paint. And we just happened to have some!


Slap that stuff on & wait for the miracle of no-bleed-through. Right? Uh…not exactly. I used only 1 coat. Should have used 2, but it WAS much better.


So I felt I could FINALLY progress with this project, instead of endlessly slapping paint on it day after day. I was making a career out of painting this and getting nowhere!


painted and refreshed homemade tool chest
Pondering Decoupage Design


I planned to do some decoupage all along. Decisions, decisions about what kind and the design.


The Transforming Plan:


Napkin decoupage to the drawer fronts

Paper decoupage to drawer sides

Paper decoupage to drawer bottoms

New Knob for top

New Knobs on drawers

Stencil of some kind


Bottom napkin won out for drawer fronts~


choice of 2 decoupage napkins
Pondering Decoupage Napkin Choices



Found paper that looked like old letters~just sand the corners back a bit so it looks worn. Apply “Walnut Ink Antiquing Solution” to give it some age~


aging decoupage paper
Aging the Decoupage


Can’t make a choice, so mix n match papers on the insides of drawers~


choosing between papers for lining drawers on homemade tool chest
Decoupaged Drawers


I found a French stencil I liked on Amazon, and applied it to the top.


Stenciled lid of the Tool Chest turned jewelry chest
French Stencil on the top of Lid


Also stenciled under the top lid.


Under the top lid of the old tool chest
Stencil inside top of Lid


And made a trip to Hobby Lobby for knobs. Found 4 other knobs in my stash to use for legs. I can’t decide whether I like it with legs or not. What do you think?


Final result!!

The final result....the finished tool chest
The Finished Tool Chest Makeover


And here’s the back….


Those 4 holes were there originally. The only thing I can think of is to cover these with buttons. Do y’all have any other ideas?


the back of the tool chest
The back of the toolchest



Is the pink gone? NO! You can see it up on the top edges in this photo. I can also see it just under the paint in various places. Uh oh, I might have to take up that career again. But at this point in time, I probably won’t do anything. Maybe later.


What do you think of the DIY Headache????


Sharing with these link parties here~


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As an experienced online seller for 19 years, I've just begun to reveal some of my selling secrets. In my Vintage Finds posts, I show what I buy for resale, and sell for. Because many items are vintage and need TLC, I show these DIY's, and how I refurbish to sell. I love picking, junking, thrifting, and shabby chic style.

62 comments on Vintage Pick That Became a DIY Headache

  1. Wow!!! That WAS a headache! I have had bleed through before but not that bad! It turned out beautiful though, I love the papers you chose for the decoupage. I say just leave the holes, it is the back after all!


  2. I admire your tenacity! I’d have given up after the first try. Or, would probably never have even started, knowing me. But the end result is really pretty. I do love it. I like the little feet, too. I think I’d just leave the holes, but obviously, I’m kinda lazy. But being the back, I don’t think I’d worry about it.

    (Good for you on the compact!!! That’s great!)

    1. Thanks Wanda! Glad I’m not the only one who felt like giving up! Thanks for the suggestions about the holes & feet. I guess I’ve grown to like them better.

  3. Adorable and inspiring! I have a little two-drawer bin that will now be getting a similar treatment. I was stumped, but I like your ideas and plan to apply them (with the exception of the “new career”, lol). I think that bit of pink tone peeking out adds to the character. Well done!

    1. Thanks Essie! I’m so glad I’ve inspired you!! Just don’t take up that career!! Glad you like the pink. I’m going to have to get a new mindset about it.

  4. It turned out beautifully. It’s a real charmer, but you are a better woman than I. I would’ve given up long before or I would’ve had a pink box!! 😉

  5. Your headache looks beautiful!!! Don’t do anything else to it!! Brush down and back away!!!! Now find a new project!!
    I love reading about your adventures!!

  6. Florence — great save! I am still perplexed about what caused the pink over and over again. Was it in the type of wood? What was the type of wood? The finished product is lovely — and you are right — it had great bones. I personally would leave the mystery holes in the back as I think it gives it character and makes you wonder about the story that goes with them. Also — I think I like it better without the feet, but that is just me… Great job Missy!

    1. It’s an old stain which is what’s causing it to keep bleeding. Stains used in the 20’s-30’s cause a great amount of bleed. I’ve seen it happen before. I don’t know what type of wood it is….probably pine, but it’s the old stain. Thank you for the kind words though! I know what you mean about the feet. I think I liked them better without them too, but I’ve grown used to them now.

  7. PERFECT just as it is!! Nobody will see the holes in the back. I love the pink that barely shows thru and just adds to the character and its “age”. I also love the legs – they are a nice addition and lift if off the floor a little so it can be appreciated a lot more. I am 67; don’t get around that well due to balance and neuropathy, but I love to paint things and I have learned so much from the ladies with blogs and thank you so much you do to teach us old dogs, new tricks!

  8. Oh Wow! That was a headache! I think I would of given up, but I’m sure glad that you didn’t. It turned out beautiful, new legs and All! Love it!!!
    As for the hole, that’s the back so you probably could get away with leaving as is. Or maybe you could fill in with wood putty!

  9. It is beautiful, I love the feet. Wondering how it would have looked painted pink (just feel like that’s the color it wanted to be). Wish I had your patience.

  10. UGH I hate it when that happens, but you did a great job hiding that pesky pink bleed through. Kudos to you Florence for not giving up. It looks lovely now

  11. Florence everyone has at least one project from hell, and this one is yours. Although I have never been in such a situation I remember once Marie of Interior Frugalista had the same problem. Now she is a master at refinishing wood and her solution was the shellac. I tend to stay clear of anything that has a red undertone and so avoid the problem altogether. Despite all your problems, your little box turned into a knockout. I sincerely mean that. It has so much character and charm, I;m sure whoever chooses to buy it won’t notice the little pink that is left on. There is so much eye candy to look at.

    1. Thank you so much Mary! I appreciate so much the encouragement! This box is now quite heavy. It would be expensive to ship. I was determined to keep going on it, but there were times I was ready to throw in the towel. This was definitely the project from hell!

  12. PINK!!! I have a vintage dresser that did the same thing to me. I was trying to paint it white!!! And some point , after a few coats, it just had a soft glow…I went with it!!!
    I like the feet.
    I wonder if the holes were used for mounting it at one time?
    It is really cute, good find!!

    1. Thank you Margie! Next time you & I will both know to go with shellac. Glad you like the feet too. I don’t think the holes were for mounting. I think they were just in this piece of wood that was used on the back. The chest is pretty heavy.

  13. Florence, wow what a headache that must have been, but you know now the pink undertones coordinate with the green napkin drawer fronts. It looks beautiful!! I definitely say keep the knobs on the bottom, I like the height you added by using them, just my opinion though. As far as the holes in the back, buttons would be a great way to cover them. Its a cute box and i love what you did with it, just sorry you he to go through so much trouble for it.

    1. Oh well, that’s the way it goes with some of the projects we encounter from time to time, right? I’m glad I finally got through with it! It was definitely a challenge! Thanks for the kind words & encouragement Keri!

  14. Oh, my goodness. I feel your pain. But, the finished product is really beautiful. Kudos to you for your perseverance. And, thanks for the tip about the goes-over-paint shellac.

  15. Florence, you have my complete and total admiration. I would have chunked the project. You stuck with it and the little chest looks fantastic!

  16. Beautiful result, Florence–boy it sure took a lot of perseverance 🙂 I love the papers you chose and the “feet.” I’d leave the holes; they don’t bother me. Thanks so much for linking up your crazy project with us at Vintage Charm–

  17. I think this is an absolutely gorgeous piece! I love the blue decopage paper you chose for the outside of the drawers and I love the antique writing paper with the spray. Its so so pretty– just gorgeous!

  18. Florence, after a lot of headaches (been there|done that) it turned out absolutely beautiful! I just love the papered decoupage – so pretty. I think the legs also add so much to this piece. Good ole shellac comes to the rescue every time. Psssst, I have a table on the workbench this very minute that I must’ve painted the top 30 times to get it right but that’s not why it’s back in the workshop…paint bleed…yup, peeking through the white…. after several months. Thank goodness it didn’t sell! I feel your pain and hopefully, unlike me, you don’t make the same mistake twice. Pinned 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Marie, for that advice. Noo, I won’t make the same mistake twice. I fear the bleed might break through this also. Glad to hear I’m not the only one to have had this level of headaches either. Thanks, I’m glad you like this. I’m going to remember in the future that shellac is my best friend…LOL. Thanks for pinning!

  19. I understand what you went through. It has happened to me a few times. Now if I think I will have bleed through I don’t take a chance. I grab the primer. The box has such character and personality. All of your hard work has paid off, the chest looks great.

  20. Sorry to read about your headache, but I love the finished product! I actually like the feet, and think they give it a more feminine look, which matches your pretty paper.
    I paint a lot of furniture, and I NEVER sand anything with red stain if I’m using a light color. I think it just releases the tanins even more. A good cleaning with TSP Supstitute or a liquid sander and then a coat or two of shellac is the way to go. It’s also great for covering knots, which can bleed thru years later.
    Thanks for sharing. Take care!

    1. Love your suggestions & ideas Cynthia! Wish I’d seen it before starting out, but this is advice I’ll remember & it makes perfect sense, especially the bit about sanding. I have other dark stain pieces to do, & I plan to stock up on shellac for the future!!!

  21. Florence, despite this being a royal pain for you I love how it turned out!! I am so glad you stuck with it. The box was such a pretty find and looks just lovely now. Thanks so much for linking it up to the Inspiration Galore Project Party last week. You are one of my Features tomorrow over at Pinned and shared. Hope you are having a wonderful weekend!

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