Up-cycled cabinet—- Make-Over

Happy Tuesday!! I hope everyone’s week is off to a good start. I figured I would start this week’s blog post off with a painting project. A couple of weeks ago, my sister was visiting me in Ohio. While we were out going for a walk, she spotted a cabinet on the side of the road that was meant to be picked up by the trash. I asked my oldest son to stand by the cabinet, while I dashed home to grab my car. After we scooped this cabinet and brought it home, my husband and my sister were making fun of me—- they both said that I went “dumpster diving”. This isn’t the first time I’ve brought something home that I found on the side of the road. I’m certainly not encouraging everyone to go dumpster diving, but it is true with the statement of “someone’s trash is someone else’s treasure”.

If you do by chance find something that’s worth taking home, there are 3 rules that I stick by.

  1. Is it solid wood
  2. Is it built well
  3. Is it sturdy

This cabinet checked off all of these boxes. Well, let’s get right to it and take a look at my free cabinet.



Since this was solid wood, I knew I could paint it pretty easily. The only thing that I questioned was the top—– because it is leather. After some research on my Pinterest account, I found out that I could paint the entire piece (including the leather).

Paint decision-making

After all my research, the main thing that I needed to do in order to paint the entire piece was to sand the entire piece and prime everything. There was some decision-making to which type of paint I needed to use. If your wanting to tackle a project similar to this, here are a few options that you could select from.

  • Oil-based paint—- this type of paint is more durable, and would require oil based paint brushes and some paint thinner (for when it’s time to clean your paint brushes)
  • Latex/water based paint— this paint would also work well, but it’s not as durable as oil-based paint. Since this piece was going to be intended for high traffic—- it’s recommended to seal your paint with a clear coat (such as polyurethane)
  • Chalk Paint—- I had my first experience with this type of paint on a dresser make-over. This type of paint will also need to be sealed with a wax.
  • Milk Paint—– I haven’t had any experience with this type of paint. But it is popular with furniture make-overs. The best thing to do— is do a little research when selecting paint for furniture make-overs.

Since I already had latex white paint, paint brushes, and polyurethane— it was kinda a no brainer for which paint I was going to use. If you’re not sure, which type of paint to use on one of your projects, make sure to ask for help at your local paint store.


I used a medium grit sand paper, and sanded everything by hand. Sanding everything down will ensure that your paint will have something to grip too.



Cabinet Handles



Let me tell you—- out of this whole project, removing the handles was the most difficult. For each handle, there were 4 screws to be removed—– with 8 screws in total. I originally thought I only had to remove 2, because their were only 2 that were visible on the inside of the door. But the other 2 were hidden behind 2 wooden caps that needed to be removed from the front. I tried taking a screw driver and tried popping those wooden caps off, but after that didn’t work I ended up drilling through the caps until I reached the screws.



I spent way to much time removing these suckers!! But I am really glad I did!! Those handles made this piece look old. For anyone that want’s to re-paint a piece of furniture or give a small update. Changing the hardware can have a much bigger impact than you think. Since I was putting brand new hardware on, I needed to patch those holes with some wood-filler.


I grabbed some new hard-ware from Target. I know your thinking—– why the heck does she have some toothpaste next to her new hardware. Well, I recently read another blog post about how another blogger hangs pictures on the wall by placing toothpaste on the back’s of her pictures. She then places her pictures on the wall to mark where she needs to drill her holes. The toothpaste is intended to leave behind the exact marks without the adding measuring, marking with a pen and tapping.  I thought, that this could work for the new placement of my new hard-ware. I added a very small dot of toothpaste on the back of each handle— and placed both handles on the cabinet to make sure they were centered and equal. I set my hardware aside and drilled right through the toothpaste marks. It worked great, and saved me some time. If you wanted to check out the original post over on the “Blesser House” blog, that post will be linked—— here.



Priming everything can take between 1 to 2 coats. This will prep your piece of furniture to get ready for actual paint. Primer was a necssary step when you want to paint something that’s never been painted before. If you’re not sure which primer to use—- make sure to ask for help at your local paint store.



I did end up painting 3 coats of white paint over the entire piece. I wanted a very bright white. To make sure that the paint will hold up against some high traffic, I sealed everything with a clear coat of polyurethane. I already had this on hand as well. If you’re completing a project similar to this, just be aware that there are different types of sheens when selecting your paint or your clear coat. I typically like using a satin finish. Here are a few examples of the types of sheens that you can select from.

  • High Gloss or Semi-Gloss-— great for high traffic, durable, easy to clean, makes imperfections more visible
  • Satin-— can stand up against high traffic, can easily be cleaned, hides imperfections (but not as well as eggshell or matte)
  • Eggshell-— recommended for low traffic areas— hides imperfections, doesn’t clean as well
  • Flat or Matte—- recommended for low traffic area’s, more cost-effective. hides imperfections, doesn’t clean well


The Finished Project



Lets take another look at the before and after—-

Before                                                               After 

Well that’s all I have for right now. I hope your enjoyed my dumpster dive project. (I’m pretty sure my sister will have a good laugh) Just remember— next time you spot something on the side of the road, don’t just pass it up too quickly. If it has good bones, you can give that piece new life with a little bit sweat equity and some elbow grease.



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