Thrift Store Cabinet Upcycle Step-by-Step Guide
I found this amazing china cabinet at the Habitat for Humanity HabiStore on Grant Road in Tucson, Arizona. Absolutely gorgeous bones, but a roughed up finish that needed some love, or a complete makeover.
I wanted to create a classic yet whimsical finish.
I choose to recreate this piece in Wise Owl Paint Nautilus and Isles Ave.
Before I could dive into painting, though, I needed to repair a few damaged areas along the bottom, the feet, and sand off some of the finish to get some of the deeper scratches out of the cabinet.
First things first–I needed to ensure I repaired the areas with missing veneer.
I went ahead and got out my wood bondo, available at any hardware store. (Note: When you use bondo you need to make sure you are in a ventilated area and wear gloves and also a face mask.)
The first image is of the missing veneer, the second is to show you the wood Bondo filler and the third shows the application of the Bondo. After applying the Bondo, make sure to allow it to dry fully and then sand down with 180 grit sand paper to smooth out the Bondo so it is flush with the rest of the wood.
After making sure all the areas have been filled, clean your piece with a 50/50 mix of trisodium phosphate (TSP, found at any hardware store) and water. Once cleaned, make sure to then remove the TSP solution with clean water to ensure no residue from your cleaner is left over. After drying, make sure to sand any additional areas that need to be smoothed out and remove with a damp cloth or cheese cloth any remaining dust.
NOW it’s time to paint! Make sure to use some Frog Tape in order to tape off any lines or areas that you don’t get paint on the glass areas.
Because this piece is older, I knew that I might have issues with tannin bleed through. In order to ensure an amazing crisp paint finish, I decided to use Wise Owl Stain Eliminating Primer in White (for the inside of the cabinet) under the Isles Ave and Gray for the exterior of the cabinet under the Nautilus.
Applying two coats of each primer with my Cling On Brush and waiting six hours in between coats provided an amazing base and completely prevented any bleed through! Perfection!
One coat of white primer on the inside in the picture on the left. The second picture shows the Gray primer with the second coat being applied.
Once two coats of primer were applied it was time to start painting using my Cling On Brush to allow for an amazing smooth finish. I applied two coats of Nautilus to the exterior of the entire cabinet.
I had taped of the bottom interior of the cabinet because I wanted the bottom to be in Nautilus and the three sides to be in Isles Ave. The picture above shows two coats of Isles Ave on one side and one coat on the other. It was creating a lovely contrast and pop on the interior of the cabinet.
I continued to paint the interior and exterior of the cabinet, ensuring to wait several hours between each coat.
After painting I knew I wanted to add some gorgeous floral accents to the back of the top of the cabinet. I decided to use the Ruby Rose by ReDesign with Prima.
I love these because I was able to cut out and play with the design before actually rubbing and applying the transfers to the cabinet. Below is a picture of how I cut out and then taped on the transfer to ensure my design would look the way I wanted it to.
After I decided the look I wanted, I went ahead and removed the backing from the transfer and pressed it onto the painted surface. Using the rubbing stick provided with the transfer, I rubbed the transfer so it would stick to the back of the cabinet and slowly removed the top layer. If I lifted a part and the transfer lifted with it, I would put the cover back down and rub the area in order to ensure it would stay.
After applying all the transfers, I went ahead and sealed with Wise Owl Matte varnish in two coats on the interior. The exterior was sealed with Wise Owl Clear Wax. I also wanted to make sure that the interior of the drawer and cabinet were reconditioned. Below you can see the two pictures, one before the Wise Owl Salve and the second shows the difference of the drawer after it has been reconditioned.
I also used Brasso to clean up the original hardware and really make it shine. It was just perfection against the Nautilus Blue!
Below is the final picture of the newly finished cabinet in her complete makeover. Her name is “Blue Bonnet”
Full list of supplies:
- Amazing piece of vintage furniture- Habitat for Humanity Store.
- Wise Owl Paint in Nautilus and Isles Ave and Primer in White and Gray- available at kateandbarreldesigns.com
- Ruby Rose Transfer- available at kateandbarreldesigns.com
- Cling On Paint Brushes- available at kateandbarreldesigns.com
- Wise Owl Varnish and Clear wax- available at kateandbarreldesigns.com
- TSP cleaning solution- any hardware store
- Sand paper- available at any hardware store
- Brasso- available at any hardware store or Amazon