Creating a Happy, Colorful, Handmade Home & life on the shores of lake superior

December 22, 2017

DIY Chalk Painted Cabinet Makeover | Before and After

If you saw my last post about the Fish Room, you caught a glimpse of the second-hand furniture that replaced the terrible cabinetry.  There's so much more storage now, which is perfect because my Mom and I streamlined and pooled our sewing supplies.  She has downsized to a much cozier home, plus we always work on sewing projects at my place anyway, so it just made sense to keep everything here.  But I also store my paints, adhesives, and other garage-y things that can't freeze in the Fish Room as well, so the more drawers, cabinets, and shelves the better!

This furniture just happened to fit so well but it was definitely a bit of a hodgepodge - nothing a little paint couldn't fix!  Even though the Ikea furniture had some scratches and dents, I really liked the white melamine and faux wood foil because it has a light and airy vibe with a Scandi feel.  But the pine cabinet I acquired was a little too country for me and I wanted this room to look polished - not like a space where furniture comes to die.

Here's a look at the cabinet before:

It's been a long time since I painted wood because I've really been loving natural wood tones lately (especially walnut!).  When I've decided the wood-look is too much, I've leaned toward pale grey or cream stains to let the grain shine.  But this particular piece needed a paint job and I found the perfect pale blue/grey hue in Rust-Oleum's new chalk paint line.  Their "Serenity Blue" (insanity later) picks up on the blue trim on the glass doors of the Ikea cabinets, which makes my decorating decisions feel intentional (and less "happy accidental," which is what they are).

I hadn't used chalk paint before, so this was a fun experiment and I love that Rust-Oleum has their own line.  It comes as a spray paint or in a can and I opted for the latter for the cabinet so I could avoid any brush strokes.  Although chalk paint doesn't require priming (sweet!), I did lightly sand the entire unit.  I didn't tape off any areas - I just spray painted it closed, to preserve the cedar interior.

I am in love with how QUICKLY this paint dries!  I had dragged it outside when I was home alone one day and had sprayed on the first coat before heading back into the Fish Room to work on another project.  I had only been working for about 15 minutes when I heard a rumble and realized my beautiful, sunny day with clear skies had morphed into a thunder storm.  I ran to the drive way, convinced I'd ruined my paint job but the paint was dry enough for me to heave and shove and drag this massively heavy chest back into the garage.  A few days later the skies cleared again and I finished applying the second and third coats.  Any other paint would have been ruined by the sudden downpour - and my manhandling - but this paint was unscathed.

The coverage was splotchy at first but after three coats it was so seamless and smooth - I love the matte finish and how it modernized this somewhat dated piece.  The stenciled design on the front was covered perfectly, the but irregularities in the wood (which seem faux, to be honest) were preserved. 

To keep things simple, I painted the wood knobs too.

To help prevent that furniture graveyard look even more, Hubby and I added some DIY plywood shelves that line up with the shelves in the Ikea cabinets, but are painted the same blue/grey chalk paint as the cabinet.  For the shelves, however, I decided to try brushing on the paint.  For that application, you have to commit!  No re-brushing is allowed - you have to work quickly and confidently to avoid streaks or brush marks.  But it also goes on really well and a little goes a long way so I have tons left (you might have spotted the color because I used it for my mini potted plant ornaments!)

I found the brackets in the garage and spray painted them white but, in hindsight, we should have sprung for some tougher brackets like the ones in the kitchen.  I wanted to work with what I had but these light duty brackets mean we can't really load down the shelves - which might be a wise idea anyway.  I'll see how they hold up.

When we renovate this space for real, we'll spring for new cabinets, but for now it was so nice to re-purpose and find a home for this random grouping - along with some bits and bobs from the garage.

I am planning on sharing the full before and after tour in the new year - I decided to make a few last minute additions.  But really, when is a space ever "done"?


  1. Haha! The Seinfeld reference killed me! This space is looking gorgeous. So light and airy. And I'm envious of how many drawers that dresser has. I do love me some drawers!

    1. So glad someone caught that reference, lol! Drawers are the best. I am seriously contemplating all drawers when we renovate the kitchen. I added some metal pull out drawers to one of the cabinets in there and now that’s all I can think about.

  2. This looks awesome! I love that you were able to reuse the IKEA cabinets, they are providing you with so much storage! The dresser has hinges? What's that about? Anyway, I love the look of them together and the color you chose unifies them perfectly.

    1. So happy to give these Ikea units a happy home. The vintage chest I painted is actually a door with shelves inside - I should have specified! The drawers are fake, lol. But I have tons of real drawers from other ikea units. So much storage, I’m giddy, haha!


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