A $40 China Cabinet

Remember our $40 china cabinet that I showed you while we were gone on our cruise? The one that was blue and yellow and so ugly that it kind of hurt your eyes to look at it?

Yeah, it totally doesn’t look like that anymore, I promise.

Corey and I bought this guy because it had great bones and a lot of potential, and, um, it was $40. We figured even if it turned out horribly, we could paint it and sell it for more than that – it’s a win-win! Thankfully, though, we won’t be having to do that.

We knew right away that we wanted this guy to be a crisp white. It’s way too large to be a bright color, and we plan on keeping all of the basic, large pieces in our kitchen neutral and adding pops of color through other things, like accessories. We also knew right away that we wanted the inside to be a different color than the outside – I love the two-tone look and I thought that an all-white china cabinet would just be boring.

We still had quite a bit of chalkboard paint left over from painting our pantry door, so after some debate we settled on black for the inside – it’s still neutral, which we really like, and it adds a ton of drama to the piece. We also wanted to incorporate some more black into the room so the pantry door wasn’t the only black thing in the whole room.

I know painting a wood piece is a pretty straightforward project, but I wanted to go ahead give you a few of my favorite tips and tricks that make it all a whole lot easier.

For starters, I usually try to sand the piece at least a little bit, especially if it’s already been painted. Corey and I learned in our great sanding experiment a few months ago that it’s not 100% necessary to sand every piece (all of our chairs are still looking perfect, even the ones we didn’t sand at all!), but with pieces that have been painted it’s not uncommon to have some uneven texture or spots where the paint is a bit thicker. This piece had a pretty awful paint job (as you can see from all of the photos), so Corey gave it a quick sanding for me, just enough to smooth it out and get it ready for primer and paint.

My next tip? PRIME, PRIME, PRIME.

I always (always, always) use Zinsser primer on every single thing I paint. It’s hands down the best primer I’ve ever used, and I refuse to use anything else.

Give your piece 1-2 thin and even coats of primer and follow the directions for dry time (every brand is different – I believe Zinsser calls for one hour in-between each coat and 24 hours before paint). Remember that the goal isn’t to completely cover the piece, or even to get completely even coverage. The goal is just to give the paint something to latch onto, and to make your job easier when it comes time to paint. I usually try to do at least two coats.

Once your primer is dry, it’s time to paint. I almost always use spray paint if I can, because it’s easier to get good coverage and you don’t end up with brush strokes (and I hate using rollers unless I have to). It might seem like it would be more expensive to use spray paint, but I used less than 3 cans of paint on this piece (after priming, of course), and at about $4 a can, that’s only $12 – not bad at all! I usually do at least two coats of paint, but I’ll do more if necessary. If you’ve properly primed it, though, two coats with a quick third to touch up any splotchy places should be more than enough.

Once I had my piece all painted on the outside, it was time to do the inside. I obviously couldn’t spray the inside without getting it all over the outside as well, and I already had some chalkboard paint lying around (plus some extra regular black paint for when I ran out of that), so I used a brush on the inside. If you have enough primer, it would be a great idea to go ahead and prime the entire thing, of course, but I ran out so I just primed the outside.

About 3 coats of paint later, I was good to go! And the finished product? It’s much more sleek, modern, and, um, pretty.

I ended up having just enough chalkboard paint for the top part of the cabinet and the drawer in the bottom part, and I did regular old black paint on the rest of the bottom. Since I had chalkboard paint in the top, I went ahead and scrawled a few labels in it so you can get the idea – I’m sure I’ll play around with it more later and it will be an ever-changing piece!

We weren’t in love with how this piece just sat on the floor without any legs, so you might have noticed that Corey and I chose to add some feet to it. All we did was use metal brackets to attach some cheap-o Lowe’s feet.

As you can see from some of the close-ups, the bottom doors fit on a bit funny and you can see the black paint along the bottom. The doors are pretty warped (and they got even worse when they were drying outside in our 100 degree heat!), and we haven’t quite decided what we’re going to do. We may try to buy some new doors, or we may build some of our own. I’m torn because I love the detail on these doors, but I don’t love seeing the black paint peeking out at the bottom! We’ll see where we land, and you know I’ll give you an update when we decide!

Ready to check out the inside? Let’s start at the top.

We found these pretty coral striped knobs at Hobby Lobby for some ridiculously cheap price, and we thought that they paired nicely with the slightly-nautical jute-covered hardware we have on the bottom (more on that in a minute). I love the pop of color they bring to the otherwise neutral piece!

As you may have noticed, the doors don’t have any glass right now. When we bought the piece, the doors were covered in fabric and we immediately ripped it out. We found some great, affordable glass at Lowe’s this weekend and we plan on heading back up there this week with our measurements so we can get some cut to size. I’ll probably also go back in and paint the back of the doors – all those paint splotches from the old paint job make me crazy!

And now, the bottom…

The hardware on the bottom is one of my favorite details of the whole piece. I promise I’ll get into more detail about it later, but these jute-wrapped cabinet pulls are so gorgeous, and I drool a little bit every time I look at them!

Whew, I got distracted! Let’s open it up and see what’s inside! It’s much more hidden from view, obviously, so it’s not as pretty, but I love the touch of the chalkboard paint on the drawer, and I’m obsessed with how much extra storage it gives us!

This piece adds so much to the room, and it fills the space SO much better than the tiny little wine rack we used to have sitting there! I love how it turned out, and it makes me even more excited for the day when we can finally retexture the walls in here and get that awful color off of the walls!

And, um, just as a quick reminder – here’s the before and after!

Pretty big improvement, right?

Later this week I’ll be back with details on those jute-wrapped cabinet pulls (they were a DIY project!), so be sure to come back and check it out!

What were you up to this weekend? Any big furniture makeover projects?



24 thoughts on “A $40 China Cabinet

  1. Huge improvement! I love white furniture-any kind! The chalkboard paint is so much fun, too! I really love the quirky knobs you added! That splash of red goes a long way! Love it!


  2. Where did you find the blackboard paint? And was it easy to use… did you have to prime under it?


    Amanda Reply:

    I got the paint from Lowe’s! It was very easy to use – I typically always prime on these types of projects, but I’ve used chalkboard paint without priming in several other instances and it works just fine! I’ve had great luck with it and find it is generally pretty easy to work with! Hope that helps. :)


  3. Wow! I’ve been strolling around your blog for a while, nearly commenting several times about our similar styles. I have wood planks above my fireplace and a gray sectional. I found your site after searching for DIY artwork on Pinterest. I love the large yellow frame with the gray striped artwork in your hall. Anyway, I have the exact same china cabinet. I found it on Craigslist for $40!!! Mine was wood at the time I purchased, or I guess wood tone or veneer. I also painted mine white.
    Currently, I have the top and bottom in two separate rooms. I put feet on the bottom of the top and am using it as a shallow cabinet in my sewing room. I added a beadboard back painted duck egg blue.
    I LOVE the curtains you have in your living room. Do you mind me asking where you got them?

    OK, I”m off to check out more of your blog : )
    I see you are on instagram. I’ll snap a pic of my china cabinet and put on my instagram if you want to see. My user name is Autum Hall


    Amanda Reply:

    Wow, that’s awesome! I love the idea of separating them – I’ll have to remember that! :)

    The curtains are homemade, and the fabric is Tempo, Mambo from Tonic Living – hope that helps!


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