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DIY China Cabinet Transformation Tutorial!

This ugly green thing was a STEAL at one of the many local consignment shops in my area.  I like this one particular shop the most because the prices are absolutely affordable and usually all their pieces are in decent condition.  Actually the chairs I used for my re-upholstery tutorials were bought at the same place.  Anyway, I had been looking a long time for a cabinet to put in my dining room.  Most people on craigslist are VERY proud of their oldies but goodies.  Seriously...most of that stuff is a re-do waiting to happen, they need to remember that the 70's can't really claim any's simply "teak."  Not that there's anything wrong with that, but in my opinion it is one of the easiest decades/finishes to paint.  Moving on...I finally talked  my husband into heading over to the consignment shop and as we made our way through, I spotted this avocado green, Asian inspired diamond in the rough.  The price was the best part (not to mention the fact that it was not completely dilapidated)  I love you for $45...I just do.

It is a double-decker that we were able to separate for transport and painting.

Aside from wanting a cabinet so that I could make room in my kitchen cabinets, I wanted to give chalk paint a try.  It seems to be very popular in the DIY universe and I really wanted to see first hand how it all comes together.  I've seen some beautiful transformations using Annie Sloan paints but since I was trying to do this project on a budget, and because maybe I like to challenge myself sometimes, I thought I would make my own chalk paint.  We've all seen the pins, haven't we?  I was so excited to get started!  First though....I had to sand.  Barf.  I HATE sanding and cleaning and sanding and cleaning...yadda yadda yadda.   Commence sucking it up and getting to it.  But first lets take a look at the supplies I picked up at Home Depot.
(A few mixing buckets/cups, tack cloth, cheese cloth, plaster of paris, paste finishing wax.)

This is the DIY chalk paint tutorial I found to be very helpful:  "Make Your Own Chalk-Style Paint" (Thank you Emily!)  I already had a half gallon of white high gloss paint from a previous project so I decided to go with that.  White is so clean and fresh and you have so many options with how you want to decorate your piece and/or around it.

Ok....done sanding!  YES!  Now time to wipe it down clean starting with the tack cloth I bought.  goodbye dust!

Next it was time to mix up my chalk paint.  I had to make some adjustments to the recipe for the high gloss paint.  It was way too thick when I mixed it exactly like Emily did.  When I realized it was because I had a different paint than she did I added a full cup of water rather than the half she suggested and it was much better.  It should be the texture of runny/watery paint.  A piece of advice? Get a good quality brush.  I didn't get a very good one so it was shedding.  Grrrrrr.  Also, make sure you have nice even strokes, don't load the brush because like I said, it's runny.  

Just to give you some idea, this is the first coat.  Looks kinda scary but I heard (and now know first hand) that the homemade stuff definitely needs several coats.

The good news is the thin coats dry within 30 minutes so you can go back over, or sand any out of control moments you might have had.  I have plenty of those on a daily basis. ;)

Getting better.

Because this project took me a few days to complete because of my daughter's birthday, etc...I decided to just paint the drawers and shelves with plain white paint so I wouldn't have to keep mixing a new batch of chalk paint every time I needed to resume.

The interior of the cabinet was proving to be quite difficult when it came to full coverage over the green.  Even though there were several coats I just wasn't getting exactly what I wanted.  
Off to Lowe's I went for some inspiration!

I had already gone to Hobby Lobby to look for the knobs I wanted to use so I had those in mind when choosing a different color to use for painting the interior, which is the idea that sprouted during my discouragement.  One and a half of these is all I needed to make the change I was looking for.

Something that sprung to mind was the fact that this is a boxy, somewhat flat piece of furniture and maybe all white exterior would make it look small and well, boxy.  I went back and forth with leaving the top set of doors off, or painting both sets a different color, but I decided to go with only painting the bottom set of doors a different color in hope that it would give the cabinet some depth and style.    The color I used for the doors is called "Secluded Garden" by Valspar and yes, it IS a spray paint.  After I primed the doors, I sprayed them: one set the "secluded garden" in satin and the other set went white satin.  Yes, you read all that correctly-"SPRAYED."  I mixed things up on this project.  Call it laziness, call it creativity, call it I just wanted it finished---I have so many other projects in the pipeline. 

Once I had everything painted and ready, I used the Minwax Paste Finishing Wax on the cabinet (not the doors).  I rubbed it on with cheese cloth, waited 10 minutes, then buffed it out. (Make sure to follow instructions on the can).

(You will notice that I do not have pics of a few of the stages I just explained, I simply forgot.  I pinky promise it won't happen again.)   ;)

As soon as I got the dry doors hung (and re-hung because of some issues.  Note to self:  Next time label which door goes where, it saves a LOT of headache and scratched paint!)  I put on the knobs.  My favorite part!  Since I was out of wood filler (the original knobs were installed using two holes each) I went with large knobs that would hide the extra holes.

I LOVE these!  I got two different styles to mix it up and give the cabinet some personality.  They look so cute together!  And see??  No extra holes!


I lined the shelves with some grey and white floral contact paper I had in my stash.

And now for my big "TA-DA!" moment.....the reveal.

 I'm really pleased with this little beauty's transformation!  As you can see I painted the backs of the doors the "cathedral stone" color as well.

I love this project for so many reasons.  It has taught me different techniques, not to mention some do's and don'ts along the way.   The inspiration that comes from all the different parts of one project and learning something new changes perspective.  When you learn something new, you grow and for me, growth is the key to a happy and artistic DIY life. 

Bringing home something that cost so little and being able to do so much for it is...well...priceless. :)

Go treasure hunting in your neighborhood thrift stores!  If you find something you see potential in, take it home and love it. :)

Happy hunting!


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