China Cabinet Makeover

14 Materials
8 Hours

This china cabinet looked tired and ready for a makeover. It had definitely seen better days. It needed a deep cleaning, some repair and cosmetic work and a whole lot of love.

Who else would pass this by and not give it a second look? I might have a few years ago, thinking it is beyond saving, but not anymore. I thought it had a nice old world look to it and with some adjustments could be pretty again.

We started with removing the hardware and cleaning. For this piece we used a mix of 50/50 denatured alcohol and water. Deep scrubbing and plenty of warm water helped to remove the dirt and build up from use over the years. Once it was clean we sanded the piece to remove any imperfections and old stain that was applied and set to dry with drips, how sad is that?

Once we sanded, we used a microfiber cloth and a tack cloth to remove any sanding dust. Next, we used a shellac based primer to ready the piece for paint. We lightly sanded after it was dry and removed any sanding dust with a microfiber cloth.

Next, I knew part of the plan was to have dark peeking out from under the final paint color. I wanted to give it the look of being worn, but I didn't like the color of the wood so I used a color called Honfleur on the raised parts of the china cabinet and on the edges where I knew I wanted to rub back the final paint color so this gave it a consistent base color. I used my favorite Zibra round brush for this.

Next, we sprayed a layer of Annie Sloan's Old White on the entire piece. We lightly sanded and removed any dust again with a microfiber cloth. Here is where the fun begins. Remember when I mentioned I wanted dark to show beneath the final paint color? Well this is where I wet distressed. I did this by taking a damp microfiber cloth and rubbing away the paint so that the dark layer underneath would show up.

You don't need a whole lot of pressure, it is just a repetitive motion to be prepared to do this for a few minutes. I love to wet distress because it doesn't leave any sanding dust behind on a freshly painted surface.

This is what the wet distress looks like once finished.

Next, we added two molding pieces to the drawer to dress it up a little. We used wood glue behind the molding and then a nail gun to make sure it wasn't going to go anywhere.

Next, I used Howard's restore a finish to renew the shelves after we sanded them. I used 0000 steel wool to apply it. Take a look at this before and after.

What a difference! After that dried, we used Howard's Wax n Feed to seal in the stain and protect the finish.

They turned out really nice!

Next, we decided that the back needed a little bit of love so we used paintable wallpaper from Lowes. We followed the directions to apply, soaking in water then pressing firmly and using the wallpaper tool to ensure no bubbles were left behind. Once that dried overnight, we painted it the same color as the rest of the china cabinet. Then, we used Annie Sloan's clear and dark wax on the piece to give it dimension and an antique look.

The wallpaper was no exception - that also was sealed with clear and dark wax and then, we used some gold gilding to bring out some of the details in the wallpaper. It was applied by fingertip, it is super easy and you can just place it where you want a touch of an accent. It really gave it an old world look. Check it out.

Here is a close up.

Once that was dry, we placed the shelves back in, changed the hardware to some beautiful glass knobs from D. Lawless hardware and took a few photographs to enjoy the after of all that hard work!

Here it is all put together and ready for use.

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Jjqq
    on Oct 5, 2019

    So pretty. Was the wallpaper a gray color originally? Did you apply it just to the inside back of the cabinet?

    • Amini Design Ashburn
      on Oct 6, 2019

      Thank you! The wallpaper is white paintable wallpaper, I painted it the same color as the china cabinet then clear/dark waxed and gold highlights. It was applied to the inside back and sides

  • Zonski
    on Oct 5, 2019

    Where do you get all those ab fab pieces in the first place (i saw another project of yours, that orangey baby) ?!! I was not sure I would like the end result as i was reading through… until i saw it (the end result) and it's gorgeous ! Brava !!!

  • Cheryl
    on Oct 6, 2019

    Where did you get the extra decorative wood trim pieces that you added?

    • Annie
      on Oct 12, 2019

      Hi, I love this piece. I like the simplicity of the molding you chose. Checking amazon I couldn’t find that one. Do you know if there is a name for it? I have a china cabinet very similar to yours, except it has two drawers, even the legs are the same. Thank you.

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