DIY: Subway Art Toy Chest

Subway Art Toy Chest (After)

I’m so excited to share the toy chest I painted for John and Conor’s playroom!  I got this great idea from Lindauer Designs website.  Here is their New York Subway Sign dresser:

via Lindauer Designs

Isn’t that so cool?  I just love it so much.  The text, the distressing, the wood top, the graphite Annie Sloan chalk paint.  After reading their tutorial, I had to find a piece I could do something like this on.  Then I found this chest at the dump:

Pine Chest (Before)
It was in a rough state.  Some kind of sticky substance and a little damage on the top.  Some rough bits.  But I thought it would be perfect in my boys’ apple green playroom.  Then I thought about Lindauer Designs dresser and got to thinking that maybe doing some kind of signs would be fun.  You all know how much we love Scituate and the beaches here so I decided to dedicate this piece to our love for the sea!
After washing the pine chest down with denatured alcohol and water.  I then prepped the knots with Zinsser.  I learned from Annie Sloan when she was in Boston that knots can bleed through the chalk paint – you may want this look for a washed look, but I didn’t want them showing through on my lettering.
Oh, check it out.  Did you know Ikea did chip brushes – assorted packs for $1.99 – perfect for jobs like these:
Once the primer was dry.  I did my first coat in ASCP in Old White (like Lindauer Designs), but I decided to do a different color for the top coat.  I wanted the toy chest to be quite beachy and what is more beachy than ASCP Greek Blue and Old White?  It reminds me of Cornwall (a place close to our hearts) with that lovely cornish pottery:
Does anything look more beachy than that?  Just looking at that beautiful blue and white pottery, I can almost hear the waves crashing off Cornwall’s rugged coastline.
Anyway, getting back to the chest.  I got some vinyl letters from AC Moore.  I got 2″ and 3″ letters, but you could also do 4″ but I thought that would be too big for the chest.  
Each pack cost a few bucks, but it is important to have extra packs just in case you mess up or run out of letters.  Now, I’m not going to lie to you and tell you this part wasn’t fiddly.  It was really hard, especially wtih the larger sized letters to have them not stick to my hands while trying to get them on the chest.  Putting them on evenly was also a bit of a challenge.  
I flipped the chest over on its back and did the front first.  Staring with Minot – our favorite beach in Scituate.  I continued on until I filled up all the space.  Doing some words in 2″ letters and some in 3″.   Once all the letters are in place, make sure to press them down all the way. You don’t want paint seeping under the letters.
Then I applied my second coat in Greek Blue:
You need to let the paint dry all the way before peeling the letters off.  I let the paint dry over night.  As soon as I woke up, I went straight over and started taking the letters off (without a drop of coffee).  I just was so excited to see if it worked.  Lindauer Designs suggested using a knife to help pry the letters off and this worked great.  Just be careful of scratching the paint:
John was so excited about his toy chest. that he wanted to help peel the letters off:
Then I took the chest outside and sanded it with a 200 grit sanding block.  I did over all the words and on top where there was some rough bits and along the edges.
Here are some close ups of the distressing.  The top:
The front.  Egypt Beach is a rocky beach in Scituate and 1st Cliff overlooks the harbor:
Lindauer Designs used dark wax to further distress their dresser, but I wanted this to look cleaner and beachy because the playroom is so bright and airy.  I used clear wax (2 coats on the top and front, one on sides and back).  I decided to white wash the sides and back and inside.  To white wash with chalk paint you just water the paint down to desired conistency and brush on and then wipe back with a paper towel.  That way you can see the grain and knots in the wood.  Here is a close up of the sides:
white washed sides
A huge thank you to Lindauer Designs for their fantastic tutorial and idea.  I’m going to try this on other pieces and some signs (maybe ones for the kids’ gardens).  My kids love the new toy chest.  And here is the final look:
What do you think?
Linking to:

{Primp}French Country CottageFunky Junk's Sat Nite SpecialtoomuchtimeTip Junkie handmade projectsMiss Mustard Seed's Creative BlogHome Stories A2Z




  1. says

    What a fun toy chest. I bet the boys love it. It’s amazing that it started out a dump cast off. You did a wonderful job. I love the idea of using your favorite beaches, too.

  2. says

    This came out great Danielle! I love the colors and the lettering really really really looks fabulous :) I love the ASCP blue and white. Oh, and I am so jealous of your beach day you posted yesterday! ugh. I wish I wasn’t an hour away!

  3. says

    You are unstoppable! I can’t believe how quickly you go from an idea to execution! Totally enviable Danielle! The box is beautiful… how does it look in the room?

    • says

      Thanks, Cheryl! You know me, I have ants in my pants. It looks great in the playroom. I want to do some flag pennants and then I might do a before & after of the playroom. Can’t wait for you guys to see it!

  4. says

    Love it! The boys are so lucky to have such a stylin’ and memorable toy chest. I have a subway art project on my list but don’t know when I will ever get to it. This is great. Love the Greek Blue and the washed look as well.

  5. says

    So very creative. Sure do love the beach and any thing that reminds me of it. To have a toy box as a daily remind of the beach would be very nice. Thank you for sharing.

    • says

      Jo-Ann, thank you so much for you kind comment. It was a fun piece to work on and a nice reminder of the place we love. My boys are loving it in their playroom.

  6. says

    I have been obsessed with that dresser with subway art. You did a great job with the toy chest. Your clear instructions make me think I can accomplish this. Followed over from Tater Tots.

  7. says

    That is pretty Danielle! I totally want to try those letters too and was utterly inspired by the same subway dresser! Looks fab!
    Thanks for linking up to the Creative Inspirations Party at Embracing Change!
    So happy you were here!

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