Old Cabinet Door Refinish

I love how old things have history! I mean, a well-built piece of furniture can outlive you and me! And think of all the people that cared for it, dusted it, used it and loved it!

Old furniture also has some element of mystery to it. We often don’t know who owned it before us, or how it came to be! I love that!!

On my last Canton Trade Days trip I found this lovely old cabinet door! 

I was drawn to its intricate carvings right away and wanted to see it painted white!

The seller said he thought it came from an old Cabinet, and he told me it had fallen out of someone’s truck! He rescued it from the side of the freeway. We both felt sorrow for the cabinet’s loss and the realization that someone may have tossed the piece because of the lost door! (I know that’s crazy… but it’s a weird part of my furniture addiction!)

Judging from it’s flat-head screws, hand carvings and wooden dowels, I knew the door was at least 80 years old.

I literally gasped when I pulled this lovely old flat-head screw out: 

Phillips screws were invented in the 1930’s and furniture manufacturers began using them exclusively because of the ability to get such a tight hold. So if you see a flat head, you know it was built long ago. (But you also have to watch out for scam artists who replace the screws.)

There are a few other evaluations I could have done on the screw to find it’s age… but I could tell they were original screws by how they pulled out of the door.

I thought about cutting off the wooden dowel at the top of the door. But I think it was used as a hinge maybe… and I kind of like that history.

Now… don’t freak out or judge me for what I did next. Antique enthusiasts would say never paint something so old…


It did come off of the original piece, and fall out of a truck. Also, it had a huge crack down the middle… and ended up at a flea market where I paid $12 for it. I don’t think it was worth much without the original cabinet.

So I pulled out my paint.

First I put Shellac on it to block any bleed through. Then I used a latex paint and went gray.

Then I made my own chalk paint and painted it white.

I hoped some gray would come through after sanding, but it didn’t, and instead, it just made my creamy white paint look bright white.

I used my paint scraper to distress and create this crackle finish, then waxed it… but it just didn’t feel right yet.

So I ordered a transfer from Iron Orchid Designs, and put it on.

It still felt too bright white, so I watered down some grayish paint and washed it on.

Then I used a sander and really went to town distressing even more. The transfer distressed so well!!

A final coat of wax and brushing it out to feel smooth, and it was done!

What do you think? I’m trying to decide if I should add an old crystal doorknob. Any ideas?


Using Shellac Tutorial

Have you ever come back to a paint job a few days later and noticed a reddish or yellow mark on the paint?  We call that “Bleed Through,” and it’s one of the saddest hiccups to happen during a restoration project. It’s especially noticeable when painting things white!

You can see the reddish bleed through in the corners of this table! That’s not dirt! 

Whenever you paint over paint, the layers underneath get activated, and old stains, especially common in antiques and red woods, come sneaking through. No amount of new paint in that spot will cover it. Trust me, I’ve tried! This is why priming is essential! I learned this lesson the hard way after forgetting to prime all the doors on my first cabinet restoration project. Yellow streaks began appearing after a month and I felt sick! It was like a horror movie where the blood on the walls keep coming through time after time! 

This is why I caution people to not get so excited about the chalk paint promise of not needing to sand or prime. I too was thrilled and bought it hook line and sinker! Only to find several pieces showing the stains.

So when I heard about Zinsser Shellac I was intrigued.

Disclaimer: I’m not getting paid to review this product. Wish I was (hint hint..) Still the fact that I paid $13.52 at Lowes for a can, makes this a very unbiased review! 

Shellac claims to offer a protective coat and prevent bleed through. 

So here we go:

I found this plaster pillar at a flea market and couldn’t wash the stains off with soap and water. 

I had a sneaky feeling that I’d see major bleed through if I just painted it.

I also tried Shellac it on this old door. I’m guessing the door is ancient… and you never know what stains were used! 

The product itself is super drippy. It felt like I was painting with water. I was glad I had laid the newspaper down! 

It went on yellowish. And even activated some of the grey paint that was left over in my brush, giving the column a weird green/grey look. 

It dried in about 3 hours. Super fast! 

It gave the dull wood of the old door a rich shiny look. It even made the scratch marks disappear! 

Cleaning my brush was a bust… I didn’t have the recommended Ammonia and the brush went as hard as a rock when I tried soap and water. Had to chuck it! 

After the Shellac was dry, I used a chalk paint mixture I made, using SW “Pure White” paint, a small amount of Annie Sloan’s “Old White” for color and Plaster of Paris. 

I needed about 2 1/2 coats of paint for good coverage.
The door got a few other coats, which I’ll detail in another post. But the colum looks amazing! There is zero bleed through, and the chalky feel of the paint makes it feel like a plaster column when you touch it! 

I’m an avid Zinsser fan now! And I’ll be using this every time I use chalk paint! 

What about you? 

Has bleed through ever ruined one of your projects? Any slick tricks to fix it? 

Yard Sale Chair Redo

Every once in a while I hit a yard sale where the owners are just trying to get rid of their stuff, and could care less how much the item sales for! I actually have dreams about these sales! (Weird, I know.) A few years ago I found once such sale in Phoenix. The owner was selling two of these chairs for $4 and I was thrilled!! 

One chair was this natural wood color, and the other was a dark purple. I was so excited to refinish them that I forgot to take the before pic of the purple one, but trust me when I say it was pretty bad! 

First I sanded as much wood as I could. I did not sand the seat as wicker obviously doesn’t sand. 

Next I used Kiltz spray primer and covered everything! Once it was dry, I used 220 grit sand paper and smoothed the grit that primer often leaves. 

Then I did two coats of Krylon’s Paint Plus Primer in White. 

When it was dry, I heavily spot sanded some areas to distress it. 

I love how they turned out! They  are some of my favorite decorating pieces to use and add flair to a corner! 

Total cost: $10 for two chairs! 

Your turn: What is the best yard sale deal you’ve ever scored? 

Corner Hutch Refinish

My good friend asked me to help paint her corner hutch! If you know me, you know how much I love to work with furniture, so of course I said yes! Before:

She said it came from someone’s basement, and she’d had it for years not loving it, but not sure if she wanted to tackle the project. Every time they’d move, her hubby would ask if they should just throw it out, but she had dreams of finishing it.

Don’t we all have those pieces? I firmly believe that waiting to start a project, makes the project feel bigger. I have things that have been sitting around for years because the idea of doing it seems so big and I don’t even know where to start!

I was thrilled to help out. First I sent a few idea pics and she decided she wanted a dark, flat blue paint.

For this project we made our own Chalk paint using plaster of paris. She had previously removed all of the doors, so we began taping off the windows and painting! To be honest, she did most of the work… I was more of the slave driver! But we had it done in less than a week! And I love how it turned out!!


Corner hutch: Free- basement find

Total cost of the refinish: About $20 for paint and elbow grease!

Sleigh Bed Refinish

Today I’m sharing my bed.

About 12 years into our marriage we transitioned into a king-size mattress and it was life-changing. LIFE CHANGING! Don’t get me wrong. I love my hubby, but I also love my sleep, and getting just a little more space to stretch out and relax was wonderful.

Sadly, my queen headboard didn’t fit the new bed. So my hunt began for the perfect headboard.

My wish list:

  1. Big, heavy, wooden bed, that wouldn’t creak and shake like metal frames do.
  2. Grey.
  3. Sleigh bed design. Love that angled back style on the headboard for relaxing in bed.
  4. Nothing too ornate on the headboard. When you lean back to watch TV in bed, there’s nothing worse than trying to adjust to the moldings on the bed.
  5. Less than $500. I’m cheap, I know, but with 5 kids, I need the money for things like clothes… and food…

Both Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn had the perfect beds… but at $2000-$5000, I just couldn’t do it. So, I began searching Craig’s List.

After about 8 months, (sigh) I found one that fit my needs!  So, I asked my friend, R, to go with me to look at it.

This bed was pretty banged up! It was in a rough part of town and we had to go back into a yard full of dog poop! So gross!! I think R thought I was nuts! But the bed had good bones, and at $40, I was willing to take a chance.


I never got a good before pic. These pics are after adding wood filler, and shims to correct the separating.img_4606

My hubby also thought I was crazy. He was not impressed when I brought this big ugly thing home.

It had so many problems! There were chips in the wood that needed filled, the edges were separating, and it turns out that there were 3 different types of wood and composite wood, so I couldn’t sand it down, or strip the varnish off. It also had been splatted with some kind of chemical, and it smelled so bad!

First I filled in the chips with wood filler. Then I used paint stripper to remove the chemical splatters.  Then I began painting the footboard while trying to figure out how to fix the separating of the headboard pieces. Since it had composite and real wood, I opted for chalk paint. I like how it sticks to all surfaces, so I opted for Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey Paint.

Then the worst happened. While the footboard was drying on my patio, a strong breeze came up, and blew it over. That crash was sickening. Even worse, was seeing this:


I was so upset! And my husband was done! He was ready to put the whole bed on the curb for the trash man!

I was in over my head, and I knew it!

So I asked for help, and my sweet neighbor who builds furniture came to my rescue! The poor man is partially paralyzed, but still can function and builds beautiful furniture pieces! We took the ends off of the headboard and footboard, glued them back together and used shims and screws for solid support. Then we synched all the pieces together with rope clamps. I learned so much from his help!


You can barely see the scar!

After painting, I took sandpaper and distressed the edges. Then I mixed ASCP Graphite paint into the Annie Sloan Clear Wax, and rubbed it over the paint. The graphite gave the Paris Grey a darker look.

When we put the bed together it looked amazing. My hubby was so impressed and happy with me again. Phew!

Here’s the fun part:

Total cost of the bed was $140. $40 for the bed, $60 in paint, and $40 for the gift card to  the neighbor who came to my rescue!

I love it! The carvings on the edges make me happy, and it doesn’t squeak when we move around in it! It’s perfect!