Decorative Chess Sets

Last week, I turned a $2 second-hand cabinet door (from the recycle area of the county dump) and a garage-sale box of wooden chess pieces for $1.50 into… a cool and colorful chess set for our family room. It was crazy simple!
I cleaned up the board and spray painted it in a color to coordinate with the marbled paper. I used the images that I posted HERE to create the checker-board pattern and end pieces. I’m including them here for you to download and size for your own set if you like these colors. (Of course if you know how to use Photoshop well, you can change the colors to suit your own decor.) Simply print to size two copies of the board pattern halves and one copy of the end pieces and trim out with a craft knife. I used spray adhesive to mount my paper to the board beginning by butting the two checkered pieces together in the middle and then adding the end pieces. I then sprayed the entire piece with clear matte acrylic.
HAPPY ACCIDENT: I chose the same blue-green spray paint color as I used for the board for one set of chess pieces, and a dark red for the other. After spraying them all outside, I went back into my studio to work. Looking out the window I realized the wet pieces had blown completely off their paint surface, into one another and onto the ground. After picking grass and dirt out of the paint, I found they actually looked pretty cool roughed up with random paint spots! I love when that stuff happens, but it helps to keep a good attitude, because I do know how some crafting mistakes can be stressful.This isn’t all I have to offer in the way of ideas for chess sets- please read my latest commissioned post over at SC Johnson’s Family Economics HERE!

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34 Responses to Decorative Chess Sets

  1. #1 - amyg @ My 3 Monsters says:

    I LOVE IT!!!!!! What a great idea. Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. #2 - Selena says:

    I've agreed to make a Chess set from scratch for a school auction next week. I'm going to borrow these fabulous ideas for our project.

  3. #3 - baysiderose says:

    This is just brilliant. I love it. Thanks for sharing.

  4. #4 - Julie says:

    That is SO cool! Thank you for sharing that. I may just use your ideas for making Christmas gifts this year.

  5. #5 - Camille says:

    So cool! Thanks for sharing. I've got an old wooden tray that will work nicely for this project. I'll make checkers also, so folks can play either game. Did you also decorate the box that holds the chess pieces?

  6. #6 - Kathie @ Just a Happy Housewife says:

    very cool. 🙂

  7. #7 - Lisa Madden Bass says:

    This is great…I see these chess pieces all over the place, but never thought to make one of my own. Now seeing yours, I think it is a "can do!"


  8. #8 - fawndear says:

    Oh my HONK!!! What a wonderful idea. I've got some huge chess fans in my home and our old vinyl roll-up board is on it's last leg. I could totally do this… once I find a place to store the board.
    Thank you for sharing such a fabulous idea.

  9. #9 - Sue says:

    That is so clever! Love the colors-

  10. #10 - Cortney Lyon says:

    You just gave me the perfect gift idea for my father-in-law for Christmas. He is so hard to buy for and each year my husband and I think about getting him a chess set but they are expensive-I can definately do this though! Awesome!

  11. #11 - curiousdetails says:

    You = GENIUS!!!

  12. #12 - Country Dreaming says:

    Very cool –love the alternative colors.


  13. #13 - Jane says:

    This is really cool! Thanks for sharing this idea…
    Jane (artfully graced)

  14. #14 - Beth says:

    That's gorgeous!

  15. #15 - troutdalite says:

    such a wonderful idea…and the great workmanship you always inspire us with. Wish I didn't already have so many chess sets…

  16. #16 - Katsui Jewelry says:

    Oh, my gosh! You are just a wonder. I absolutely love this. Thank you for such a treat! I follow your site all the time. Know that I am one of so many who appreciates you!

    Suz Reaney

  17. #17 - Katsui Jewelry says:

    Oh, my gosh! You are just a wonder. I absolutely love this. Thank you for such a treat! I follow your site all the time. Know that I am one of so many who appreciates you!

    Suz Reaney

  18. #18 - Alyssa @ Clever Penguin says:

    Great idea for a chess set! My husband is always in the market for a new set, and I'll have to keep this in mind – for Christmas perhaps.

  19. #19 - Kit James says:

    Gorgeous! Just the type of project I love – the ability to color coordinate every day things to my interior is always a priority. Also love the reusing of materials aspect.

  20. #20 - Susan says:

    BEAUTIFUL!!! I also love the results of your happy accident ;o)

  21. #21 - Joy Just Because says:

    LOVE the vintage chess set. So cute!

  22. #22 - Sue says:

    Love the colors, and the marbled antique effect! Gorgeous!

  23. #23 - Purnima@a creative project says:

    Incredible!!! It looks superb!! Hats off to you!!

  24. #24 - TruWhim says:

    O.K. EVERY time I check out your blog I always think, 'THAT'S SO COOL.' And this time is no exception. How do you come up with these ideas all the time?
    You are amazing.

  25. #25 - Anna van Schurman says:

    I love it, but my chess playing husband is very upset the board is set up incorrectly. Light on right. <a href=">Article 2.1</a>.

    (He does think it's cool though.)

  26. #26 - Katie says:


  27. #27 - hoffee and a nuffin says:

    It doesn't surprise me that you have created yet another BEAUTIFUL piece of art. I love to hear of inexpensive, ordinary things turned into such treasures!

  28. #28 - Tina Pfeiffer says:

    Wish anyone in our family played chess. Or even board games…or cards..or anything fun like this. Love this project all-the-same; maybe I’ll make one for a friend. 🙂

  29. #31 - Beth says:

    Very cute idea, but I have to agree with Anna van Schurman–lower left square should be dark. My son plays chess and I was searching for something to decorate the tables at his graduation Open House. He would have thought this to be hysterical!!!!

  30. #32 - melissa says:

    This is great! can you please tell me what name brand and color of paint you used? Thanks so much!

  31. Pingback: 10 DIY Projects You Can Make With Old Cabinet Doors

  32. Pingback: DIY chess sets and chess tables | Make Create Do