shabby chic cabinet

How to Get a Shabby Chic Cabinet from an Old Worn Out Cupboard

How to Get a Shabby Chic Cabinet from an Old Worn Out Cupboard

There is vintage furniture and then there is vintage furniture who clearly have seen better days and is begging for a makeover. That is the case with this worn out old cupboard. It’s clearly been around a long time with its dents, dings, stains and grime. This cupboard is about to become a shabby chic cabinet with an added pop of color and once again will shine. I made a little jingle there 🙂
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Unfinished Vintage Cupboard

Let’s start at the beginning. This vintage cupboard is solid wood and well made but not at all without imperfections. To get an idea of its condition before the makeover, its glass was missing from the door, the lower doors swung into the cabinet space with nothing stopping them, one of the wooden knobs were damaged and the extent of dents and dings on the lower sides was pretty bad. vintage-cupboard, painted furniture, vintage furniture

There was a lot going on with this piece but there is also room for improvement, like with many old pieces of vintage furniture. Can you see the potential? You may have to look beyond this first.beaten-up-wooden-furniture

Prepping a Vintage Cupboard to Become a Shabby Chic Cabinet

This cabinet required an extensive prep before I could even think to come near it with a paint brush. Like every piece of furniture I work on I prepped in my standard How to Prep Painted Furniture fashion. But this vintage cabinet required a bit more. It’s time to get down and dirty! wear-mask-to-sand, just the woods

Due to the extensive wear and tear along the outer sides of the piece I hand sanded as much as I could before the cleaning process. You can see here where one side is sanded and the other hadn’t been sanded yet. Such a difference sanding can make. sanding-wooden-furniture

The entire vintage cabinet was sanded this way producing an obscene amount of sanding dust. It’s a good thing I’m wearing a dust mask. sanding-dust

To get into the crevices I broke out my trusty old toothbrush. I keep one in the shop specifically for cleaning nooks and crannies like this. how-to-clean-in-crevices

Once the piece was thoroughly sanded and cleaned I decided that I should prime. There was also what appeared to be a layer of grease on parts of the cupboard, which makes sense since it had spent some time in a kitchen many years ago. I can’t be sure how much grease may or may not have seeped into the wood. So to err on the side of caution I want to seal the wood and block any grease that may be deep in the grain if that makes sense. The cabinet was primed with two coats of primer on the outside and one coat inside. primer-before-paint

Time to Paint a Shabby Chic Cabinet

Once all that prep work was finally complete it was time to paint! My customer wanted neutral but also a little pop of color. She narrowed it down to these few colors before deciding. She bounced back and forth, and though gray is always a popular choice, she immediately felt drawn to the creamy off white.paint-colors

The outside of the piece was painted in Vintage Lace by Kristi Kuehl Pure Home Paint. Vintage Lace is a creamy off white, which is the perfect neutral when you don’t want a stark white but aren’t ready for much ‘color’. It’s great for a shabby chic or farmhouse makeover. There’s no shame in my game, I ‘borrowed’ my daughter’s little plastic step stool to be able to reach and paint the top of the cabinet. childs-stool-to-reach-top

To add a pop of color, the inside of the cabinet was painted in Serenity, a cool pretty blue. tiffany-blue-chalk-paint

Two coats were applied of each color and the piece was sanded in between coats. When lightly sanding in between coats I also keep a hairdryer and clean cloth handy to clear away the sanding dust. As I sand I use the dryer to blow away the dust, and to prevent it from settling in the corners. haridryer-to-blow-away-dust

Followed by a quick wipe with a clean cloth. The same is done before applying the clear sealer. This prevents any blue dust from being accidentally wiped over the off white finish when sealing, and vice versa. wipe-away-dust-after-sanding

The Vintage Wooden Knobs

Remember I mentioned that one of the original wooden knobs were damaged? Well, rather than attempt to repair a damaged wooden knob we opted to replace. On the back of the door to my shop is a plethora of vintage hardware that I have removed over time from previous pieces. They are all stored neatly and out of sight in a handy over the door shoe organizerhardware-storage

After poking through the many options of old knobs we actually found round wooden knobs almost identical to the originals. vintage-wooden-knob

The dark wooden knobs were prepped, painted, distressed and sealed to match the rest of the shabby chic cabinetpainted-round-knob

The screws to the wooden knobs were just a hair too long. No worries, with simple finishing washers they will fit like a glove. finishing-washers

The finishing washers are the perfect little bump to make sure the knobs are back on the doors and secure. finishing-washer

Make Sure to Seal that Painted Furniture

Once painted, and distressed throughout the cabinet was sealed inside and out with our Matte protective finish. matte-protective-finish

Two coats of clear sealer were applied to the piece using my favorite Cling On brush. apply-clear-sealer

Lining the Inside of the Drawer and Cabinet

Along with wear and tear on the outside of the piece, the inside had also seen better days. Rather than tackling the inside with paint, we decided to simply line the bottoms of both the drawer and the cabinet. I took a quick run to the local craft store and bought some light blue poster board. Poster board is a bit more sturdy that thin contact paper and this piece needed something sturdy. poster-board

The inside of the drawer was measured to ensure a proper fit. measure-inside-drawer

Using an Exacto knife, T-square and cutting mat the poster board was cut to size for both the drawer and the cupboard bottom. cut-posterboard

Simple and clean, now a much prettier surface to keep, well, anything really.


The inside of the bottom portion was actually a mess, but now it’s also simple and clean like the drawer. Poster board is an affordable and simple option to line the bottom of a piece, and if you get tired of it, you can easily swap it out down the line. poster-board-to-protect-furniture

Adding Magnetic Cabinet Catch to Doors

The lower doors had nothing preventing them from swinging inside and nothing preventing them from remaining open either. This is far from ideal, but another easy fix. door-pushes-in

Along with random vintage hardware, I also keep a wide selection of other helpful accessories in my shop, including but not limited to these magnetic cabinet catches with strike plates.magnetic-door-close

One magnetic catch was installed for each lower door on this shabby chic cabinet. Easy peasy,  now the doors are able to stay in place. install-door-close

The Result – A Shabby Chic Cabinet from a Worn Out Old Cupboard

So many steps, but all worth it. This worn out old cupboard has really made a turnaround as a shabby chic cabinet, with an added pop of color too. cream-and-blue-painted-cupboard how-to-distress-painted-furniture, shabby chic cabinet, distressed furniture, shabby chic furniture new-york-shabby-chic-painted-furniture, shabby chic cabinet, new york painted-drawer-sides, shabby chic cabinet, shabby chic, staten island, painted furniture shabby-chic-new-york, distressed furniture, painted furniture tall-painted-cream-cupboard, shabby chic cupboard, painted cabinet, blue insideblue-inside-painted-cupboard, shabby chic cabinet, painted cabinet, white and blue cream-and-blue-painted-cabinet, chalk paint, pure home paint, shabby chicdistressed-furniture, shabby chic furniture, painted cabinetRemember how bad that lower side looked? Look at it now!creamy-off-white-painted-furniture, shabby chic cabinet, painted cabinet, staten islandtiffany-blue-painted-cabinet, chalk painted furniture, non toxic painttall-cream-cabinet, shabby chic new york

Wait! Don’t Go!  It’s that time of the month again for:

Crafty Girls and Furniture Friends

A few of my creative and talented blogger friends and I have joined together in our monthly Crafty Girls and Furniture Friends share.  We get together on the second Tuesday of each month 😉

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Let’s see what my friends are up to! Make sure to click the links below the image to check out all the amazing projects that my bloggy girls are working on this month.  crafty-girls-monthly-meet-up


  1. Lynn Fern – Coffee Table Makeover Using Favorite Brands
  2. That Sweet Tea Life – How to Paint and Shade with Pure and Original Classico
  3. Just the Woods – How to Get a Shabby Chic Cabinet from an Old Worn Out Cupboard 
  4. Thirty-Eighth Street – Dry Brush Painting Technique that Makes Furniture Look Like Art
  5. J. Burns Design – Broken and Outdated to Rustic and Gorgeous

I’ll be sharing this post at these fabulous link parties.

If you love shabby chic style makeovers then make sure to check out:

The Best Shabby Chic Dressers and Distressed Painted Furniture

The Best Shabby Chic Dressers & Distressed Painted Furniture

If you love this group share make sure to check out last months Crafty Girls  get together:

Who Needs a Bookcase when you can have an Etagere


Don’t Forget – Follow Just the Woods and Share this post to Inspire others:


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