Invisible No More

Years ago I inherited my Aunt Marie’s 1953 Lane cedar chest. This piece of family history sat in our bedroom, mostly invisible, for years.

Lane chest unfinished front

Aunt Marie was so proud of that blond hope chest. Unfortunately Sparky, her terrier, used it as his perch to watch the world through the upstairs front window. Sparky scratched his way across the top every day, over and over again. Aunt Marie revamped the top, after a few years, by slapping wood-patterned contact paper on it.

Her quick-and-easy solution became my problem because the adhesive, left for decades, dried out the wood. I found a mess when I pulled it off.

Lane chest without contact paper

My efforts to revive this chest became a tribute to my aunt. I wanted to turn it into something decorative and functional. I certainly could not relegate it to a landfill. It represented an era when American-made furniture meant quality and families handed down cherished pieces.

I discovered that Lane Furniture provides safety locks and keys — free of charge — for their cedar chests manufactured between 1912 and 1987. Good deal. It’s a child safety issue and Lane has already replaced 6 million locks and need to find an additional 6 million (minus one). If you have a Lane chest, just go online and fill in the information.

Now, I know Lane wasn’t one of the elite furniture manufacturers, but they were very respectable. I was one of the thousands of girls across the U.S. who received a complimentary mini-cedar chest upon high school graduation. Lane’s program for female graduates spanned decades.

I painted Aunt Marie’s chest Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Cream, a soothing buttery color that matched my yellow and blue bedroom. But I wanted it fancier, so I ordered the medium Palermo Tile stencil from Royal Design and used Old White and Louis Blue. Perfect.

Lane Chest

Top of cedar chest

Lane Cedar Chest 2

Lane Chest Starbuck

It now fits our bedroom décor, although these some of these photos were taken outside with Starbuck, and I’m pleased to provide Aunt Marie–a woman of taste and kindness–this homage.

One more of Starbuck and a detail of the stenciled leg.

Starbuck and Lane Chest Leg

Ann Marie

Updated January 14, 2014

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