Antique Cabinet’s Interior Makeover

8 Materials
6 Days

I’m willing to bet that anyone that has worked on more than 3 pieces of furniture knows what it’s like to have a tough project sit… and sit, and sit, just waiting for a lighting bolt of inspiration (or motivation) to hit.

I REALLY try not to take on too many of these projects anymore buuuuut, LOOK AT THOSE DOORS! I had to at least try.

As you can see the cabinet was in rough shape. You can’t even tell here but it does have shelves. The top was taken off at some point and the whole piece looked like it had been hanging out in a abandoned barn for the last 20 years.

First step was ridding the cabinet of every single spiderweb with some deep cleaning.

Uh… Little hiccup. While I was scrubbing the door split.

I will admit I wanted to march the whole piece straight to the dump at this point.

But I didn’t and worked on putting it back together.

While the door was on the mend It was time to prime the interior of the cabinet. JUST THE INTERIOR.

Nobody fret I’m not going to be touching the beautiful exterior.

I covered the interior with one coat of KILZ Original interior primer in the white that it comes in. One is all it takes before applying your paint color of choice and be warned it is very thick to work with. I used the whole quart for this one coat of paint.

This is the interior of the cabinet after one coat of the KILZ primer and one coat of Valspar Satin Interior paint in the basic white that it comes in.

Here you can see splits in two of the back panel pieces. They didn’t affect the structure or function of the piece so I wasn’t too worried about them staying.

I did the same steps to the cabinet shelves. Primer then Paint.

Okay, now for the fun part.

I really wanted the inside of this piece to pop when somebody opens the doors but not in a crazy way. We’re shooting for understated yet beautiful. I decided to go with my hand-painted detail design that I’ve done in the past for a whimsical look. Yes, you could probably get a similar look with a stencil but, to me, this way looks much more custom and put together.

To start this process I sketched out a bunch of light, wispy lines. I weaved them around each other. Some touching and coming together at a point but not too tightly together. Just enough so there weren’t any huge gapes of white space in-between.

After sketching out my lines I consulted my paint stash for something that I could used for the leafy design.

lucky I found this sample of Valspar’s Aesthetic White that I had grabbed a few weeks back from the discounted paint rack at Lowe’s.

I did a paper-plate test to make sure that the base color and the detail work’s color would play well together before I committed to the combination. In this picture you can’t even see the base color because it is so close the same color as the paper plate.

Then I ran to Micheal’s and picked up a set of round brushes.

Which brush you use will determine the size of the leaf you paint.

And I got to work. I wish I could say there is a secret to how do this design but there isn’t. Its actually really simple to do and you can easily get into a rhythm.

I start the tip of a vine with one big leaf and then go back & forth with little, quick strokes down the vine towards the connecting point. I would suggest watching my YouTube video on this project (Channel: Amanda’s Mercantile). It will help give you an idea on the hand motion if you are confused.

Don’t worry about it being perfect.

This design is very forgiving when comes to making a few mistakes here or there.

As you can probably imagine this design, although simple, can be a little time consuming. I would work on it for 30 mins to an hour, take a break, run some errands and then come back to it.

For the final steps I covered all of the detailed work with one coat of Minwax’s Water Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in Clear Matte and reattached the top.

This was the final product without the shelves.

And with the shelves.

I hope y’all try out this design!

I think someone could do something similar inside a small closet or, if you’re feeling ambitious, an accent wall. Bless you if you decided to do an accent wall but please send me pics on Insta if you do! I gotta see that.

Insta: @amandasmercantile

OG Blog Post: Antique Cabinet's Interior Makeover

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  2 questions
  • Cindy Bates Cindy Bates on Apr 15, 2021

    WOW!! You are very talented! I sometimes paint pieces to look like the tops are faded beach planks? But your design is very ambitious! One question? Do the doors have handles? Hard to tell! Thank you!

  • Donna Belvees Donna Belvees on Apr 09, 2022

    This is gorgeous!!! You said the top had been removed but, you don't mention the crown molding on the final picture. Was it some of the scrap inside the cabinet or did you replace it with new? If you replaced it how did you get it to match? It's perfect!!!

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2 of 36 comments
  • MJ MJ on Apr 06, 2023

    Your freehand design in those muted paint colors is the PERFECT complement to the slightly rustic exterior of the piece. Beautiful!

  • Gerl Nucc Gerl Nucc on Apr 06, 2023

    It is a beautiful piece of furniture and your work is inspiring. Did you use anything on the outside of the cabinet? If so, what? Love the look.