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How to Inexpensively Update a Cabinet

Transforming furniture doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive.  Seriously!  Let me show you how to inexpensively (and easily) update a cabinet.

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

Toys here, toys there, we have toys everywhere!  Legos and Little People and Hot Wheels, oh my!

If you are a parent, you can probably relate to these statements.  The amount of toys that one child can amass is pretty astounding.  I know I was amazed at how quickly the toys accumulated after we had our first child.  And then we had another one…

Unfortunately, we don’t have a dedicated play room in our house.  So, our main living room serves double duty as a play room for the kids.  As someone who doesn’t like a lot of clutter, the toys can easily drive me nuts.  After we had our first child, we got a cube storage piece for the living room.  It has always worked well for us because it provides easy access to the toys for my daughter, and the baskets we use in it hide a lot of the toys, which helps keep me sane.  So, it’s always been a win-win for everyone.  (Click here for other ideas on how to organize toys.)

Since having my son, though, the toy collection has grown (despite my best efforts to keep it somewhat thinned out), and we had collected a few toys that didn’t quite fit in the cubes; therefore, they’ve just been sitting out on the floor next to the toy cabinet.  Talk about driving me nuts…  So, I have been on the hunt for a small cabinet to put in the living room for a little extra storage space.

I needed something fairly small, and I really didn’t want to spend a lot of money on it.  If you read my recent post about my Top 10 Tips for Decorating on a Budget, you’ll know that one of my top tips is patience.  And let me tell you, my patience paid off on this one.

After a couple of months of keeping my eye out at garage sales and estate sales, I finally found a cabinet at an estate sale that I thought would work well for what I needed.  It was definitely a bit of an ugly duckling, though.  It needed a facelift, but I knew the potential was there.  With just a bit of time and work, I was able to completely transform it to fit my decor, and my total cost was only about $30 (since I had most of the supplies on hand already)!

So, without further ado, here’s my tutorial on how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

(This post contains affiliate links.  To see my full disclosure, go here.)

Supplies Needed to Update a Cabinet:

  1. Cabinet, or small piece of furniture
  2. Klean-Strip, Liquid Sander Deglosser
  3. Old Rag
  4. Primer
  5. Chalk Paint
  6. Acrylic Paint
  7. Paint Brush
  8. Sandpaper, 220-Grit
  9. Minwax Polycrylic Water Based Protective Finish
  10. Small Paintbrush or Foam Brush

I found this cabinet at an estate sale and was able to snag it for only $10!  Isn’t it a beauty?  😉

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

I know, I know, it’s definitely not the nicest cabinet in the world – it’s largely made out of some type of MDF, as opposed to solid wood, and it also had some obvious water damage on the surface.  BUT, I wasn’t looking for an amazing, high quality piece to stand the test of time.  I just needed something to shove some extra toys in that wouldn’t totally ruin the vibe of my living room.  So, I thought that $10 was a great bargain.

Step 1 – 

The first thing I did was clean it off well, and rub the whole thing down with some liquid sander.  This is a much faster and easier way to prep surfaces for painting than traditional sanding.  All you do is pour some of the Klean Strip on a rag and rub it all over the surface you are painting.  Let it dry for at least 10-15 minutes, then you are good to go.

Step 2 – 

Then, I (okay, okay, my husband actually) took the doors off and removed all the hardware for painting.  I put my cabinet on a paint tarp and propped the doors up on a couple of sawhorses.  Then, I put a coat of primer on it.  I happened to have some Zinnser Bullseye 1-2-3 on hand, leftover from when I painted the backsplash in my kitchen.  So, that’s what I used.

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.
I sneak much of my work in during nap time, hence the monitor in the background. 🙂

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

Step 3 – 

Next, came the chalk paint.  This was a bit of an experiment on my part, which I am happy to say worked brilliantly.  I knew I wanted the cabinet to be a teal/mint color, but I was unable to find the color I wanted.  

I had a brand new tube of Craft Smart acrylic paint in Spearmint on hand, though.  So, I purchased a quart of Rust-Oleum white chalk paint and mixed the two together.  I simply squirted some of the acrylic paint into the chalk paint, put the lid back on, and shook the can vigorously.  I ended up repeating this process until I had used the entire tube of acrylic paint.  (If you’re looking for a good core workout, this will totally do the trick.  Ha!)  

I honestly didn’t expect to need the whole tube, but I didn’t want the color to be too washed out.  So, the whole tube it was!

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

I put two coats of chalk paint on everything.  (Don’t forget to paint both sides of the doors!)

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.
This was after the first coat.

Full disclosure – I did have some stain from the cabinet that bled through the paint and just would.not.cover.  Since I a) wanted to keep this project cheap, and b) just wanted to get the darn thing done, I decided to not worry about it, as I was planning on distressing it anyway.  I was hoping the distressing would cover up some of the bleed through, and guess what?!  It did!  Maybe it didn’t exactly cover it up, but it all just blends in now as part of the distressing.

Step 4 – 

For distressing, all you have to do is start sanding paint off until you get down to the wood stain.  (I used a 220-grit sandpaper, which is fairly fine, but it won’t leave harsh scratches in the surface.)  It’s easy to sand down corners and edges, where a piece would naturally get distressed.  For this piece, I also took a fair amount of paint off of the flat surfaces, as well.  You can do as much, or as little, distressing as you like.  So, just have fun with it.

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

Step 5 –

Finally, I put a couple of coats of Minwax polycrylic finish on it.  I know that most people will finish off chalk paint with wax, but the polycrylic is much more durable and is a permanent finish.  Knowing that this cabinet might get some abuse from toys being pulled out and thrown in, I went with the most durable solution.  It also gives it a nice, shiny, polished look.

I used a small paint brush to paint the finish on, but you could also use a foam brush.  It goes on just like paint, and you’ll want to make sure to use long brush strokes across the surface.  It needs a couple of hours to dry, and again, I did two coats.

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet. Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

I bought new knobs for it, and the cabinet was transformed.  It fits perfectly in my living room, and is exactly what I needed in the way of extra storage.  

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

I was actually quite impressed by how well this $10, cheap-o cabinet turned out.

Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet. Transforming a piece of furniture is not as difficult as you may think. Check out this simple tutorial for how to inexpensively update a cabinet.

So, there you have it – how to inexpensively update a cabinet.  What do you think?

 

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9 Comments

  1. I’m in LOVE with how this cabinet turned out Amy. Those colors, the finish and hints of distressing and then the polycrylic acrylic finish. Wow!!!! It’s beautiful. If you ever decide it needs a new home you better call me. Coz I have just the right spot for it

    1. Thank you so much, Michelle! I’m loving it, too! I truly didn’t expect it to turn out as well as it did, so I’m totally thrilled. If I ever decide I’m done with it, I’ll let you know. 😉

  2. Amy I think it turned out great. Love the soft mint green color you mixed up. I too am always mixing whatever I have left over. And now you don’t have to worry about your collection of toys getting bigger since you have more storage space for them.

    1. Thanks so much, Mary! I actually originally had a darker teal color in mind, but I’m really loving the mint color that I ended up with. 🙂 And yes, I now have all of the kids toys corralled in the living room, but Christmas is coming…. Haha!

    1. Thank you so much, Marie! And thanks for the pin! I do love it way more than having a toy box, or even worse, just having the toys laying around with no where to go (which is kind of what was going on…). 😉

  3. This is a beautiful paint transformation of an ordinary cabinet. But… I actually came here to get another look at that pallet heart. Did you make it? I am quite simply fascinated with it and makes me want to go to the barn and build signs. I always enjoy your sweet inspirations parties!

    1. Thank you so much! Actually, I didn’t make the heart. It came straight off the shelf at Michael’s. 😉 I don’t think it would be all that difficult to make, though. You should make one for yourself, and let me know when you do!

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