How to Paint Furniture // A DIY Cabinet Makeover

how to paint furniture / a thousand threads
I’m excited to finally share one of our garage sale finds — it’s about time!

Mark and I picked this cabinet up at an estate sale forever ago and have been working on it slowly since.  We had wanted a new piece for our bedroom, something to look pretty on the wall and hold a little of our closet overflow.  We knew we wanted to paint the piece a bright, reddish-orange, but beyond that we were only half sure what we wanted.

So, in this case, where one is open to lots of possibilities, you’d think that any sane person, upon coming across a cedar cabinet for just $25, would have known right then and there.

But then you’re assuming we’re sane…

how to paint furniture / a thousand threads
In reality I’m sure the women running the sale had a good laugh as they watched us stand there, agonizing over the decision for well over half an hour.  Was it the right piece, would it look good in the room, what was that mystery goo on the top?

We still weren’t 100 percent when we loaded it into the truck, but for $25 how could we really go wrong. If we hated it we could always give it away.

how to paint furniture / a thousand threads
The original exterior was in pretty bad shape.  Fading, discoloration, mystery goo… it needed some work. So after removing the original hardware (and the goo) we set to sanding it smooth.

We didn’t take it down to the raw wood since the paint was so thin already.  We just made sure the surface was perfectly smooth, then wiped it down with paint thinner to remove any dust and oils that were left over.

how to paint furniture / a thousand threads
Then we set to painting.  After a little bit of research, we decided to go with an oil-based paint.  It’s a pain in the butt and you’ll probably go through a few brushes if only for the fact that you can’t bear to try to wash the stuff out of another one… but the result is so worth it.

We used this paint from Benjamin Moore, which claims to be self-priming, but just to be safe, we diluted our first paint layer with a little paint thinner to act as a base.

Ultimately, we painted three more layers, letting each dry (for days, actually… another downside of oil-based, but really… I swear it’s worth it… look at that finish!) before we started on the next.

We painted the first two layers with a large brush, and the last with a smooth-surface roller.  The last coat with the roller was a must.  It really helped to make everything extra even and nice.

how to paint furniture / a thousand threads
Then after a few more days in the garage to dry, we put the original hardware back on and moved it upstairs for the fun part!


how to paint furniture / a thousand threadshow to paint furniture / a thousand threads
It was a long process, but I really can’t even believe how well the cabinet turned out.  The finish is smooth and even and looks almost professional, and after paint and supplies we did the whole thing for just a little over $100.

Plus it’s orange… where was I going to get that level of personalization without a DIY?

What do you think?  Would you go to all of this trouble for your very own orange cabinet?  (Okay you can have any color you want…)

how to paint furniture / a thousand threads


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