Cedar trunk before and after....

I honestly believe the key element to any decor is surrounding yourself with what you truly love.  Because in the end, those pieces will become a part of your life rather than just an element of "decor" you will want to get rid of next year! Both are important in design, but you have to maintain a happy balance.

Right now everyone seems to be taking any and every piece of furniture they can find and painting it...which is fine, if that is what the piece needs to ENHANCE it!  

But there are some pieces that just need a little TLC.  Remove the old mucky yucky and give it a fresh coat of new.  Not different...just clean and fresh. 

This old cedar chest is a prime example.  I know a lot of people would have snatched it up, painted it with a bright funky color or chalk paint...maybe painted the copper straps black.  And that would have been cool looking...for a few years.  Then it would just be another reminder of a by-gone decor era (like ducks and pastels). 

The inside was in mint condition!

Truth is, the only thing wrong with this old truck was the old varnish.  Varnish tends to get "dirty" looking and crackle after a few decades. And of course it gets worn.  But it is easy to strip and easy to reapply.

Personally, I like the Formby's brand stripper and tung oil. 

It makes stripping old varnish a breeze and it conditions the wood.  The tung oil is SUPER easy to apply and unlike poly, it is pretty much fool proof!   

I didn't sand the scratches...I didn't strip the old copper straps or nail heads.  I didn't do anything but strip the old varnish off and apply 3 coats of tung oil. I know...boring...but I LOVE the wood and the age that shows through the fresh coat of varnish and on the strapping!

I wouldn't fault anyone if they wanted to "jazz" up this piece...to each his own.  But while this piece is not yet a family heirloom, I have no doubt it could be in a few generations. As a matter of fact, I have a cedar chest upstairs that has been in my family for who knows how long (and needs a good refinish!).  And my daughter has a little cedar chest that my great-grandfather bought from a man during the depression.   

So think carefully when redoing old pieces...is it something of value that just needs some freshening up or can you really enhance it by painting it or adding a "rad" design like Chevron?