Refurbished Cabinet Tutorial | Refurbishing Furniture Basics

Hi loves! Lately I’ve been getting asked how to refinish furniture… Man is that a hard question to answer! There are many different types of furniture and they could all be in different conditions. I never know what you guys are dealing with! Some people want to know how to stain wood, how to re-stain wood or how to add wood to a project. Some have a chippy old piece of furniture that needs help or something that is bare wood that needs help…

So here’s what I’m going to do! Every few weeks I will share different projects. Each piece of furniture will be different therefor you can see how to refurbish different types of furniture! This first piece of furniture I am sharing I had no idea I was going to be sharing… So bear with me! My next project I will make sure to add more detailed photos.

Are you ready?! Let’s do this!

First off let me give you some history on this piece of furniture. This piece was given to me by my husband’s grandma. She was in the middle of moving and had all this furniture she wanted to redo. So of course she asked me to work my magic on them! She told me this cabinet was very old and was in the family for a loooong time. After I took a look at it I knew it was true. I was kind of nervous to get started on it because it was so old. Most vintage items should be left untouched because they are beautiful and worth something the way they are!


She had mentioned she really loved the little decals in the corners of the cabinet doors but if they ended up falling off she wouldn’t be upset. I kept that in mind. Because the cabinet was so old it was definitely a little oily and needed some cleaning. It had been used for many years.


The unique thing about this cabinet was that the hinges allowed the doors to completely open and reveal the inside. So if you wanted to use the cabinet as a shelving unit instead to show off your decor you totally could. So I kept that in mind as well.


For some reason the bottom of the inside of the cabinet there was no shelf. Just a big hole. The shelf above it was really low too so if I filled the bottom with a new shelf there would be no room for anything anyway. Before I did anything I cleaned the cabinet from top to bottom and the inside. I usually just use cleaning wipes. Clorox disinfectingk2-_9e8c7caa-b70b-47dd-ae73-ff76fed19661.v1 wipes work well because they are made to clean grease and kill germs. You want to make sure it’s completely clean and grease/dirt free. If you have a piece of furniture that needs major cleaning you can use one part water and one part bleach with a rag. Next I used a towel to wipe the cabinet completely dry. Once cleaned and dry I used my sander to lightld946c509-1d1a-4a50-b19b-8a25253e7b8a_400.jpgy sand the entire cabinet. The sander I have is the 1/4 sheet pad sander by Dewalt. It comes with a cute little bag. For this project I used 3M 150 grit sandpaper. You can get it from any home improvement store in sheets. Since the cabinet was never painted all I needed to do was sand it enough to get the paint to stick. You want it to be roughed up a little bit. If you skip this process your paint will be more apt to chipping off easily. Putting paint on glossy furniture is a recipe for disaster! Unless you buy a certain chalk paint that does not require sanding. After you have sanded the furniture you can kilz_latex_low_vocstart painting! It’s best to use a primer before your actual paint. I use Kilz primer for everything. IT’S THE BEST. It might be a little spendy but it’s so worth it! For this piece of furniture I used two coats of primer because the piece was a dark color and needed a lot of coverage. Kilz primer is also great because it seals whatever you are painting and helps block any oils from coming through. When you prime you must lightly hand sand after each coat! This helps smooth the surface and helps make your paint stick! I use a 220 grit for this step.

This is after one coat of primer:


When priming it’s okay if your primer is blotchy or uneven. Your paint will cover all of that and go on much thicker! After priming the cabinet and letting it dry (you want to make sure each coat is dry before adding another coat sanding lightly in between the layers) I decided what I wanted to do with the hole situation. I filled the hole with a piece of wood and moved the middle shelf up a few inches so there would be more room on the bottom shelf. When taking out the middle shelf the entire back fell off… Sometimes that happens! I get crazy when I demo things LOL oopsies!


Here is the new wood for the back and the bottom of the cabinet. You can also see the railing for the middle shelf moved up. I just popped them off and re-used them. I also did some caulking and put wood putty in all the creases where I added the wood.


For the middle shelf I used 3 pieces of pine wood. I love the look of planked wood especially when it’s stained. I knew it would be a great idea because it would give the inside of this cabinet a whole knew look! Here’s an example of what it will end up looking like.


I stained the wood with a Minwax stain called Special Walnut. It’s my favorite and I use it for everything! After staining the wood and letting it dry overnight I sealed it with Varathane Polyurethane in satin.


Our grandma wanted an off white color so I chose the color Divine White by Sherwin Williams. 3 coats of paint later…


Is this the same cabinet?!… Love the after look once the paint is completely dry! So fresh and so clean! One other thing I wanted to add to this cabinet to give it that wow factor was new legs and shelf paper! Definitely always consider adding shelf paper. It gives your furniture so much character.


These legs were given to me by my grandma. She had tons of old vintcd79d289-9722-4351-970b-31767d59d449_400.jpgage legs she just gave to me. These ones were begging to be added to this piece. To add legs to a piece of furniture you want to use a double sided dowel screw. You’ll need to drill a hole into the legs and into your piece of furniture. Make sure the hole is the same size as the dowel. Screw the leg onto the dowel and then screw the leg into your furniture. Make sure they are tight.


Much better! Now this piece will make a statement and won’t be hiding in the corner of a room! Next to add that pizazz that I lost when the decals fell off the front during sanding… I added some new ones that were sure to make a statement!


These wooden decals were from our local Jerry’s. I decided to try Benjamin Moore’s new metallic paint. The color I chose was a little too bright for me but I did love the paint. It gave them an old metallic look. It was very gooey and thick. I let it dry over night and then used some dark brown acrylic paint to dab on top. Since the metallic paint was too light for me I thought adding the dark brown would make it look darker and aged. Mission accomplished. I just used a paper towel, dipped it into the brown paint and sponged it onto the decals.


I used wood glue (Liquid Nails) to apply the decals to the cabinet. The wood glue dries super fast so you don’t have to hold them on for too long. After everything was complete I put a layer of polycrylic over the entire cabinet. Polycrylic over the paint gives it that extra protection against paint chipping and completely seals it all. Sometimes I do several layers with no sanding in between if it looks okay. Normally you’re supposed to sand in between your coats so the piece of wood or furniture will stay smooth.

The Afters


Before & Afters


Cabinet makeover complete! This cabinet is ready to be on display and the inside is ready to display!


Shelf paper – Walmart

Knobs – Hobby Lobby

Primer – Kilz 2 Interior Latex Primer

Paint – Divine White by Sherwin Williams in Satin

Varathane Polyurethane Satin – Jerry’s/Home Depot

Metallic paint – Jerry’s/Home Depot

Tips & Tricks

  • Make sure you are in a room that is room temperature when painting. Too cold or too warm will make your paint dry wrong or it won’t dry at all.
  • When demoing a piece of furniture: After it’s taken apart there might be holes left in the piece or jagged edges. You’ll want to sand those down by hand or with your sander before painting.
  • When painting I always choose a satin or matte paint. It gives your furniture a nice clean flat look. I’ve never liked glossy paint for some reason!
  • I taped off the inside of the top with painters tape and left it untouched. I didn’t think it needed painted because it wouldn’t be seen. Less work is always a plus too!
  • When priming you’ll want to sand in between the layers with 220 grit sand paper. I usually do this by hand. This will make the surface smooth. You do this with sealing your piece of furniture as well. Sanding in between coats.
  • To get a smooth finish on top of paint and wood you start with 120 or 150 sand paper. It’s more rough. Then you’ll work your way up to 220 (which is a finer grit). This makes your piece smooth/soft. You can even go to a higher number for that extra smooth surface. Make sure after sanding each time you use a damp cloth to wipe of extra dust.

Please feel free to leave any questions or comments! I’d be happy to answer them!

2 thoughts on “Refurbished Cabinet Tutorial | Refurbishing Furniture Basics

  1. Wow!! Such an incredibly fantastic job! You have inspired me to start tackling some of my own projects; thank you! Can’t wait to see more.


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