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Paint A Small Cabinet

Updated on January 16, 2018
RTalloni profile image

Robertatalloni means creativity. Whether in writing or in more typical art forms, artistry (and a bit of fun) must be part of the work.

Paint Takes an Odd Cabinet from Sad to Happy!
Paint Takes an Odd Cabinet from Sad to Happy! | Source

Paint Gives New Life to a Small Cabinet


A funny little cabinet that was in great shape stirred up the creative side of my brain when I spied it. All it needed was a decorative paint job.

Some say everything inspires me to paint, but it's not true. Some things inspire me to write, and some things do both. This small project proves the point.


Condition of the Cabinet


When it comes to creating new life for a piece like this, though, there are practical considerations that must be dealt with before getting to the fun of painting. Taking the time to think through the different aspects of the project delivers a happy outcome.

If you read my Paint a Dresser hub you know that a piece of furniture can be in really rough shape and yet turn out like new if you carefully plan a paint project that will revive it for better use. Some preparation is usually necessary, but then the fun begins!

It was great to find this item in such good condition that I only needed to wash it down and prime it before painting it. A good wash and rinse with a pat down, then a little time in the sun was all this small cabinet needed before it was ready for primer.


Questions About the Cabinet


It is a bit of an odd piece, simple, with two nice but very thin drawers in the bottom. Perhaps the drawers were originally used for stamps or negatives since the deep top has open spaces sized wide enough for either stationery or printed photographs.

What I would do with it was my main question. What room would I use it in? Could I design its new finish so that it would work in more than one room? How it could meet a need would be a primary factor in choosing the painted design for this little cabinet.


Settling the Question of How to Paint It


The asymmetrical style bothered me at first. It’s not that I’m stuck in a rut about symmetry, though I do like it, but it took me a while to figure out what to do with this peculiar cabinet!

I considered using it in what we call our computer room, but we had no need for it there. Then I thought the kitchen might be a good place to display it, but I wanted it to be useful. I finally decided to use it in my craft room (aka now-grown daughter’s bedroom).

It would be ideal for decorative craft papers, a perfect way to keep those still valuable cut pieces handy. The drawers would be just right for those tiny pieces that seem to get lost no matter how I try to store them.

When the where and why were settled, the plan needed to be worked out. So many options! Pieces like this are a blank canvas and though it is fun to let a project develop as I work through the creative process, things go smoother when I have a good plan.


Simple Paint Supplies

It's so nice to use up supplies on hand--I did not have to buy one new product!
It's so nice to use up supplies on hand--I did not have to buy one new product! | Source

Beginning the Cabinet Project with a Plan


Paints:

• A good primer like Gripper or Kilz

• A sage colored base

• A white glaze

• A variety of greens, browns, and yellows with black and possibly dark blue for highlights

• A clear coat, spray or brush on


I would also need:

• A cover for my work surface

• A storage container for the drawer’s hardware

• Painter's tape

• A Ruler

• A 1-2 inch brush for the base coat

• Artist’s brushes for the painted design

• Props so the pieces can dry quickly

• A bar of plain wax

• To plan ahead for meals for two days



A Photo Montage of the Painted Cabinet Process:


Planning to begin with the primer one morning meant I might be able to do the decorative painting on this piece in the afternoon depending on the day's humidity, but this project could take a couple of days to finish (not counting writing and posting this hub). Don't miss the photo captions since they provide more details on the painting process.


Project Photos:

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Ready to Paint.Set Up Separate Work Area for Drawers.Remove Hardware from Drawers and Store Safely.
Ready to Paint.
Ready to Paint. | Source
Set Up Separate Work Area for Drawers.
Set Up Separate Work Area for Drawers. | Source
Remove Hardware from Drawers and Store Safely.
Remove Hardware from Drawers and Store Safely. | Source

The Cabinet is Clean, the Decisions are Made, it's Time to Have Fun Painting!

The same steps for the cabinet will be used for the drawers. Give them a separate paper/drop cloth, then prime and paint them with the cabinet to match the look on each piece.

Prime insides of cabinet and drawers first, then the outsides, including the bottoms and backs.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The Inside Needed Two Coats of PrimerPrimer Identifies Small Nail Holes that Need FillerResting Top Side Down While Bottom DriesResting Bottom on Prop While Top Dries
The Inside Needed Two Coats of Primer
The Inside Needed Two Coats of Primer | Source
Primer Identifies Small Nail Holes that Need Filler
Primer Identifies Small Nail Holes that Need Filler | Source
Resting Top Side Down While Bottom Dries
Resting Top Side Down While Bottom Dries | Source
Resting Bottom on Prop While Top Dries
Resting Bottom on Prop While Top Dries | Source

Paint the cream colored base coat over the primed surfaces of the interior and top edges.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Paint Insides and Top Edges of the Sections, then Bring Paint 1-2" Over the Outside Edges.Two Coats Were Required For Good Coverage
Paint Insides and Top Edges of the Sections, then Bring Paint 1-2" Over the Outside Edges.
Paint Insides and Top Edges of the Sections, then Bring Paint 1-2" Over the Outside Edges. | Source
Two Coats Were Required For Good Coverage
Two Coats Were Required For Good Coverage | Source

Put painter's tape in place. Paint all the exterior surfaces below the tape line and the drawers sage.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Measure from Top Edge to the Point the Creamy  Color is to Meet the Sage.  Pencil a Line and Put Tape in Place.  First Coat of Sage on Drawers.Final Coat of Sage on Cabinet.Painted Cabinet is Dry and Ready for Next Step
Measure from Top Edge to the Point the Creamy  Color is to Meet the Sage.  Pencil a Line and Put Tape in Place.
Measure from Top Edge to the Point the Creamy Color is to Meet the Sage. Pencil a Line and Put Tape in Place. | Source
First Coat of Sage on Drawers.
First Coat of Sage on Drawers. | Source
Final Coat of Sage on Cabinet.
Final Coat of Sage on Cabinet. | Source
Painted Cabinet is Dry and Ready for Next Step
Painted Cabinet is Dry and Ready for Next Step | Source

Measure and draw border on front of cabinet. Tape off and paint white.

I then sectioned the border for my "window" design, but your design may be completely different. The purpose of this overview on how I painted this cabinet is to inspire you for your own project.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Measured Border is Ready for Painters Tape.Taped Border Ready for Paint.White Washed Border has Neat Edges that Allow Work to Progress Easily.Find Center of Border and Begin Painting Semi-Random Sections With the Sage Green.The Sections are Windows to Frame My Designs. They Need Shadows, Beginning with a Light Brown.Smaller Black Lines Finish the Shadow Highlights for the WIndows.
Measured Border is Ready for Painters Tape.
Measured Border is Ready for Painters Tape. | Source
Taped Border Ready for Paint.
Taped Border Ready for Paint. | Source
White Washed Border has Neat Edges that Allow Work to Progress Easily.
White Washed Border has Neat Edges that Allow Work to Progress Easily. | Source
Find Center of Border and Begin Painting Semi-Random Sections With the Sage Green.
Find Center of Border and Begin Painting Semi-Random Sections With the Sage Green. | Source
The Sections are Windows to Frame My Designs. They Need Shadows, Beginning with a Light Brown.
The Sections are Windows to Frame My Designs. They Need Shadows, Beginning with a Light Brown. | Source
Smaller Black Lines Finish the Shadow Highlights for the WIndows.
Smaller Black Lines Finish the Shadow Highlights for the WIndows. | Source

Using a small corner of a sea sponge with small openings, lightly apply the white glaze and allow it to dry according to the manufacturers instructions.

I used the glaze on all four sides of the cabinet, but it would be fine to do only the front where the painted design will be.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Hopefully, this Photo Shows the Stages of Sponging on the Glaze.  I Worked in Small Sections to Swirl the still Wet Sponged Areas and Quickly Go Back Over to Subdue the Sponge Marks.Close Up--Note that the Shadowing is now Softened for Better Effect.  Layering the Glaze Using the Same Technique Increases the Softened Look.  Sponge Drawer Fronts at the Same Time so Patterns will Match.  Keep Sponge Damp (not Wet) and Rotate it as You Work to Prevent a Pattern from Developing.A Look at the Front as it is Drying.  (I will not rush, I will let it dry correctly, I will not rush…)
Hopefully, this Photo Shows the Stages of Sponging on the Glaze.  I Worked in Small Sections to Swirl the still Wet Sponged Areas and Quickly Go Back Over to Subdue the Sponge Marks.
Hopefully, this Photo Shows the Stages of Sponging on the Glaze. I Worked in Small Sections to Swirl the still Wet Sponged Areas and Quickly Go Back Over to Subdue the Sponge Marks. | Source
Close Up--Note that the Shadowing is now Softened for Better Effect.  Layering the Glaze Using the Same Technique Increases the Softened Look.
Close Up--Note that the Shadowing is now Softened for Better Effect. Layering the Glaze Using the Same Technique Increases the Softened Look. | Source
Sponge Drawer Fronts at the Same Time so Patterns will Match.  Keep Sponge Damp (not Wet) and Rotate it as You Work to Prevent a Pattern from Developing.
Sponge Drawer Fronts at the Same Time so Patterns will Match. Keep Sponge Damp (not Wet) and Rotate it as You Work to Prevent a Pattern from Developing. | Source
A Look at the Front as it is Drying.  (I will not rush, I will let it dry correctly, I will not rush…)
A Look at the Front as it is Drying. (I will not rush, I will let it dry correctly, I will not rush…) | Source

Draw a basic design or work freehand as I did on this piece.

Whimsy was my goal and I wanted to make even the windows look breezy, but I'm not sure I got the hyacinths "windy" enough.

Because these paints are water-based I used a spray-on clear finish. Brushing on the clear coat could cause the colors to run and/or bleed through to the surface. This project needed a hard finish because it will be used in my craft room.

Reinstalled hardware on the the drawers and waxing the bottoms of the drawers so they will operate smoothly meant the felt could be added to the bottom of the cabinet. I'll soon have my craft papers organized.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The First Flowers are in Place.Outline Details are Added, then I Began the Petal's Highlights, Centers, and Stem.Continuing with the Flowers--Note Shadows for Falling Petals Below the Windows.Layering Color and Outline Details on Flowers and Falling Petals. Adding Small Swathes of Blue Sky.Adding Hycinth Stems and Blooms.Smallest Flowers are Added, Falling Petals are Finished.Dark Blue Half Circles at the Top Edge of the Green.Dark Green is Used to Make Full Circles--Offset from the Blue Half Circles. The Detail does not Show Well on Camera, but the Dark Blue is a Shadow Behind the Dark Green.White "Commas" Added to the Dark Green Circles
The First Flowers are in Place.
The First Flowers are in Place. | Source
Outline Details are Added, then I Began the Petal's Highlights, Centers, and Stem.
Outline Details are Added, then I Began the Petal's Highlights, Centers, and Stem. | Source
Continuing with the Flowers--Note Shadows for Falling Petals Below the Windows.
Continuing with the Flowers--Note Shadows for Falling Petals Below the Windows. | Source
Layering Color and Outline Details on Flowers and Falling Petals. Adding Small Swathes of Blue Sky.
Layering Color and Outline Details on Flowers and Falling Petals. Adding Small Swathes of Blue Sky. | Source
Adding Hycinth Stems and Blooms.
Adding Hycinth Stems and Blooms. | Source
Smallest Flowers are Added, Falling Petals are Finished.
Smallest Flowers are Added, Falling Petals are Finished. | Source
Dark Blue Half Circles at the Top Edge of the Green.
Dark Blue Half Circles at the Top Edge of the Green. | Source
Dark Green is Used to Make Full Circles--Offset from the Blue Half Circles.
Dark Green is Used to Make Full Circles--Offset from the Blue Half Circles. | Source
The Detail does not Show Well on Camera, but the Dark Blue is a Shadow Behind the Dark Green.
The Detail does not Show Well on Camera, but the Dark Blue is a Shadow Behind the Dark Green. | Source
White "Commas" Added to the Dark Green Circles
White "Commas" Added to the Dark Green Circles | Source
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Putting the Hardware Back On and Waxing the Drawer Bottoms and Sides Makes this Cabinet Ready for the Last Step.Lots of Room for Craft PapersDrawers will Hold Tiny Pieces that are Still Useable.
Putting the Hardware Back On and Waxing the Drawer Bottoms and Sides Makes this Cabinet Ready for the Last Step.
Putting the Hardware Back On and Waxing the Drawer Bottoms and Sides Makes this Cabinet Ready for the Last Step. | Source
Lots of Room for Craft Papers
Lots of Room for Craft Papers | Source
Drawers will Hold Tiny Pieces that are Still Useable.
Drawers will Hold Tiny Pieces that are Still Useable. | Source

The Cabinet Is Ready To Use

Now that this cabinet is finished I'm looking forward to organizing my decorative craft papers in this whimsical storage box. I'm also looking forward to my next furniture painting project.

Let this one encourage you to go ahead and do that big or small piece of furniture you've been thinking about. Hope to see it in a hub soon!

Decorative Paint for Picture Frames

Have you ever used decorative painting to renew a piece of furniture?

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What do you think of this painted cabinet project?

Submit a Comment

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    4 years ago from the short journey

    itakins:

    Thanks much for your visit and feedback.

  • itakins profile image

    itakins 

    4 years ago from Irl

    I love it...fantastic,and very inspiring.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    5 years ago from the short journey

    Peggy W:

    Doing faux walls is great fun, both the designing and the painting, not to mention the delighted responses from friends/customers. I'm definitely going to check out your hub on your mother-in-law's walls. :)

    Thanks kindly for checking out my project hubs and giving feedback on them!

  • Peggy W profile image

    Peggy Woods 

    5 years ago from Houston, Texas

    I have refinished furniture but never painted it as you have, though I have faux finished walls many times. I sponge painted my mother-in-law's bathroom and made a hub about that which is the only hub I have done on that type of subject. Love seeing all of your many projects and this small cabinet turned out looking so cute. Up votes!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    5 years ago from the short journey

    Internpete:

    Thanks kindly for letting me hear from you on this project! Paint really can be a wonder worker. :)

  • internpete profile image

    Peter V 

    5 years ago from At the Beach in Florida

    Good hub and great pictures! This hub is easy to follow, and has all the information. I am often amazed how a new coat of paint can make almost anything look like new. Voted up.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 years ago from the short journey

    Victoria Lynn:

    Yes, I am working on a variety of creative hubs, actually. Thanks so much for taking a look at this painted cabinet and letting me hear from you! I've so many irons in the fire that I haven't organized my craft papers in it yet. The paint should cure real well before I put the papers in anyway, right? :)

  • Victoria Lynn profile image

    Victoria Lynn 

    6 years ago from Arkansas, USA

    I thought I'd see what you are up to lately. To creative pursuits, I see! That was an interesting piece, and you made it interesting and alive. You were so creative with the "windows." Excellent hub. Well presented!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 years ago from the short journey

    Om Paramapoonya:

    Hearing about other's cabinets to paint makes me want to find another to work with!

    You'll do a great job if you make it a priority to have fun designing and painting yours. Sure hope we get to see it in a hub! :)

    Thank you for stopping in to check this out and for letting me hear from you.

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 years ago from the short journey

    Dolores Monet:

    So sorry to take so long to say thanks! I appreciate your comment very much!

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 

    6 years ago

    Sounds like a fun project! I do have a couple cabinets that would look a lot more interesting with a splash of new color and some cute paint designs. Thanks for sharing this. Rated up and useful!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 years ago from the short journey

    moonlake:

    I hope you enjoy doing your project and that it's very useful to you. Keep in mind that you can always add a decorative paint design later on.

    Thanks kindly for stopping in with your input!

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 years ago from the short journey

    anglnwu:

    Thanks bunches for checking this hub out and letting me hear from you on it. The cabinet was fun to paint and I'm looking forward to using it.

  • moonlake profile image

    moonlake 

    6 years ago from America

    I'm getting ready to do a small cabinet I found at a sale. Just scraped it and got all the loose paint off but I'm just going to paint mine. Not as nice as yours.

    Enjoyed your hub very nice. Voted up

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 years ago from the short journey

    kashmir56:

    Thanks very much for letting me know you like the painted cabinet, and for all of your input on this project.

  • anglnwu profile image

    anglnwu 

    6 years ago

    Your cabinet looks lovely. You're quite an artist, transforming a drab-looking cabinet into a beauty. Thanks for sharing.

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 

    6 years ago from Massachusetts

    Great information and so well explained,well done ! Great photos to !

    Vote up and more !!! SHARING !

  • RTalloni profile imageAUTHOR

    RTalloni 

    6 years ago from the short journey

    teaches12345:

    Thanks kindly for checking out this project. Now if I can just get organized… :)

    So appreciate your visit and comment!

  • Dolores Monet profile image

    Dolores Monet 

    6 years ago from East Coast, United States

    Your work is so neat and tidy! Taking time to really do a piece right makes such a difference. The cabinet is adorable!

  • teaches12345 profile image

    Dianna Mendez 

    6 years ago

    Your did such a fantastic job on this cabinet project. I love the green color your chose. Always an interesting read!

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