Vintage China Cabinet Makeover... Yes Another One

9 Materials
8 Hours

Vintage china cabinet makeover refreshed it to better fit modern decor style.

It looks nice right? But wait until you get up close! Like 99.9% of the pieces we purchase, or take on as custom work for our clients tend to be vintage that have cosmetic issues so this one was no exception. It had cracked and chipped veneer, a broken corner and molding that had seen better days. We had our work cut out for us but with all of our pieces the first step is cleaning. We used Krud Kutter, rinsed and let dry.

We then surveyed the areas that would need filler, for this one we chose Bondo wood filler. It is a two step process, where you mix hardener with the filler until the color is consistent, then apply. Although Bondo dries super hard, you can still shape it with your sander, which is exactly what we needed to do to get this rounded corner built nicely.

After filling in a few more areas that had chipped veneer, we used our favorite sander, the Surfprep 3 × 4 electric ray to shape and smooth the filled in areas. and remove the old worn out finish from the entire piece, which unfortunately had the always fun crocodile type dried out shellac all over. We removed the molding on the drawer to sand underneath and around it as hard bubbles had formed over time on the perimeter. We then used painter's tape with attached plastic to cover the legs as we did not want to paint over their freshly sanded finish. We also removed the original back as it was broken and cut a new piece to replace it.

We then primed with Bin, our favorite oil based primer. I love using this one when we go from dark to light. It also fills in some grain so that's a plus! We applied two coats, sanding in between each and removing the dust with a tack cloth.

We then took out our collection of wood appliques, that we use pretty frequently from D. Lawless (here is their direct link - and played around with their placement. We eventually switched it around a little, used wood glue and a brad nailer to attach them and then it was time to finally paint! We salvaged what we could from the original drawer moldings and fit them around the new ones.

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Our Fuji spray gun makes it easy to get a nice smooth finish. This is General Finishes Persian Blue Milk Paint, one of our favorites! We sprayed two coats, lightly sanding between each one with a very fine grit sanding sponge and then removed the dust with a tack cloth. We then removed the taped off area on the legs, and stained them in General Finishes Walnut Stain and did the same with the two interior shelves. We sealed everything with High Performance Top Coat and then reattached the new back.

Here it is completed and looking fresh.

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Karen
    on Aug 13, 2020

    Where do you get the primer? And can you use a chalk paint over it?

    • Pas4551
      on Aug 14, 2020

      I have an antique hall tree that has a mirror. It appears to have a shellac finish that is crackled. what would you suggest to clean the hall tree.

  • Bob29489199
    on Aug 14, 2020

    Nice! What color milk paint?

    • Em
      on Aug 14, 2020

      To Pineapple: simple color response would have been nicer, and yes Bob that was already answered. Sometimes we miss something. SO many people answer questions for the AUTHOR of the post instead of letting the person who's post it is. When we do we should be nice.

  • Ellen
    on Aug 14, 2020

    What color is the back piece? I really like it! It makes the decor stand out very well. I couldn't find the color of the back in the blog, only that the back was cut new. Thanks for your posting. It's a beautiful piece.

    • Elaine
      on Aug 14, 2020

      Same color - it's the shadow from being an interior wall that makes is look darker

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