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Free Ultimate Furniture Painting Guide

Memory Trunk Restoration

It will always be an honor to be trusted with projects that hold sentimental value.

I find them to be deeply fulfilling as if this is exactly what I was meant to do.

There is something very tender about gently shifting the face of a project from the past into something to be enjoyed in the home today.

Just like today's project:

A memory trunk built by a father for his daughter years and years ago. That daughter is now a mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, and she asked for her special memory trunk to be given a more updated look to be enjoyed by the family for years to come.

Tracey's Fancy - Memory Box Trunk with Dixie Belle paint and WoodUBend mouldings and greenery on top of it staged

I call these boxes ammunition boxes; however, this memory trunk was made from the wood of an ammunition box as well as wood from tomato crates. The original stampings and labels can be seen on the inside, and I decided to leave the very tidy and quite beautiful inside of the box 100% original!

The yellow paint on the memory trunk was intact but shiny and dated.

My goal was to NOT try and make it look new. Instead, I wanted to embrace its primitive style and imperfections and even enhance its true age.

If you like to WATCH the entire process...

You can watch this process on my start to finish fully edited YouTube video here.

(Subscribe for a new YouTube video every Sunday)

Prepping the Trunk

First, I began by adding a few appliques from WoodUBend moldings to help with visual interest. I placed #2102 corner pieces to the bottom right and left of the box, then #987 keyholes were added above and below the lock. The pieces were applied using TiteBond wood glue and a heat gun.

Appliques 2102 and 987 applied to project for memory trunk restoration

Painting the Base

The painting process was done by adding Sea Spray which is a product that you add to your paint to give it texture. You get to choose your thickness based on the amount you add to your paint.

Here, I wanted to go for a thick enough consistency that my stir stick would stand up in the mixture, so I painted the entire trunk in Dried Sage with the Sea Spray additive mixed in. After some debate, I wound up painting over the Dried Sage as it wasn't the color I was looking for, but the base layer still served its purpose of adding texture.

Application of Dixie Belle chalk paints in Vintage Duck Egg, Coffee Bean, and Sawmill Gravy to memory trunk for restoration

Once dry, I changed the color of the chest to a blend of Vintage Duck Egg and Coffee Bean. I began by painting Vintage Duck Egg to the outer edges with Sawmill Gravy in the center and added Coffee Bean to the bottom.

My next step was to begin blending the three together, and I accidentally discovered a gorgeous gun-metal blue color that I am in love with! Again, you can watch this process happen on the YouTube video listed above.

Blending Dixie Belle Vintage Duck Egg, Coffee Bean, and Sawmill Gravy chalk paint to create a beautiful, custom gun-metal blue color.
Back display of memory trunk restoration being painted with custom color made by blending Vintage Duck Egg, Coffee Bean, and Sawmill Gravy paint
Finished display of memory trunk with blended Vintage Duck Egg, Coffee Bean, and Sawmill Gravy Dixie Belle Paints

Getting the Faux Just Right

Oh, now for the fun part: FAUX RUST!!!

This will be difficult to explain, but I will tell you the colors that I used. I chose Rusty Nail, Terracota, Daisy, and Coffee Bean to create this look. I began to blot the paints on randomly over the areas I wanted to look rusted, then used my handy mister bottle to squirt water to allow rusty runoff. Afterward, I went back over it after it dried to enhance the colors since sometimes the water washes away a lot of the rusty vibrancy.

Faux rust look on memory box with a mixture of Dixie Belle paint in Rusty Nail, Terracota, and Daisy.
Creating more rust with mixing and blending of Dixie Belle paints in Rusty Nail, Terracota, and Daisy

I applied this on keyholes, locks, hinges on the backside, and both corner molds!

Painting back hinges with Dixie Belle rusty nail, terracota, and coffee bean to create rust effect
Misting water on wet paint to make it look like faded rust on trunk

I am VERY happy with the results!

Tracey's Fancy memory box trunk with upclose view of the faux rust look created with Dixie Belle chalk mineral paint

Stick on Transfers

Alright, the next part was a disaster but in keeping with being fully transparent, I will mention it. I began applying transfers; multiple transfers.

I worked and worked and worked to try and get the vibe I was after, but nothing seemed to satisfy me; even after opting to paint the flowers of my transfer and leave them overnight in hopes that I'd love it the next morning.


Sticking on vintage floral transfers from Dixie Belle

So I mixed up that pretty gun-metal blue accidental color and painted right over all my transfer work!!!!

Paint over transfers

Sometimes you just need to start over!

And to answer your question: yes, you can paint over transfers. They have very thin skin and usually will not show through your work as long as you are working with textured paint or something that will fully cover that area.

After that mini-disaster, I switched to decoupage and chose these gorgeous roses from the Floral Ballerina paper (yes.....there is a ballerina that comes with the roses but I didn't use her). I let my paint dry first before I added a thin layer of topcoat in satin, and pressed my trimmed out paper on top (and smoothed it out). After all that, I applied a coat of Satin Top Coat on top of it.


Applying floral ballerina transfers from Dixie Belle to add a more rustic look to the memory trunk restoration

It is EXACTLY what I was looking for the entire time I was trying to force the transfers!!!! I am so happy I listened to my gut and was willing to start over on that front design. Sometimes it's really hard to do. It's a loss of time and energy, but it feels so much better in the end when you are happy with the final look!

Applying More Appliques

The memory trunk still seemed to be missing something.

I remembered working with several women during paint camp as they painted vintage steamer trunks, and helping them rust out the metal clasp and hardware with this same faux technique.

And it dawned on me.

This memory trunk was missing the cool metal adornments that fold over from the top of the trunk to the face of the trunk! I was so excited when digging through my WoodUBend stash to see that I had a pair of molds (#6076) that were perfect for this!

So I painted first; then heated, glued, and added faux rust again!!!!

Painting WoodUBend Appliques to attach to trunk for restoration project
Heat gun softening WUB 6076 to be applied to memory trunk for restoration
Titebond being applied to WUB 6076 applique to stick to memory trunk for restoration
Using a rag to apply Applique #6076 to memory trunk
Painted, heated, and glued applique being applied to memory trunk restoration project
Tracey's Fancy - Memory Box Trunk with Dixie Belle paint and WoodUBend mouldings and greenery on top of it staged with upclose faux rust WoodUBend

And then, I thought I was finally done!!!


Not yet.

Adding Legs

I added feet (or legs) because I didn't like how the memory box sat so heavily on the floor. In order for it to appear more delicate and feminine, I realized it needed to be up off the ground!

Excited, I ordered feet on Amazon. When they arrived, I proceeded to paint them in the same custom mix, glue them in place, and screw them from the inside to make them more secure!

Amazon legs being painted for memory trunk restoration

I top-coated the entire piece in Top Coat Flat, and...


Isn't she lovely???

Tracey's Fancy - Memory Box Trunk with Dixie Belle paint and WoodUBend mouldings and greenery on top of it staged

Tracey's Fancy - Memory Box Trunk with Dixie Belle paint and WoodUBend mouldings and greenery on top of it staged

Tracey's Fancy - Memory Box Trunk with Dixie Belle paint and WoodUBend mouldings and greenery on top of it staged

Tracey's Fancy - Memory Box Trunk before & after

At the end of it all, I am so very pleased with her and hope that Meme (the daughter-mom-grandma-great-grandma) loves her too!  My hope is that she feels her dad would be pleased with the shift we've made in her look!

Truth be told, I enjoyed this project very much!

May this inspire you to find something old to make new again!

What will you create?

Here are some similar projects to try out:

Grunge style dresser for boy nursery
Repurposing an old tea set to a rusty steampunk style

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