I love my local junk store. Just about anything I could ever need is there. Such was the case with this corner cabinet. I had been looking for a shelving solution in my tiny utility room, but the corner cabinets I’d seen in good condition were really expensive. So when I scored one cheap that only needed a some cosmetic work, I was thrilled because I knew I could renew its look and increase the value myself.
The steps are simple, but when you give the paint time to dry, the project will span a weekend. It might seem daunting, but trust me, it’s easy, and when you find the perfect piece, a surface makeover is well worth the effort.
Old and funky wooden painted furniture
Putty knife for scraping
Kitchen knife for scraping
Brushes with stiff bristles
Something to keep the furniture propped up while painting
Step 1: If your shelf has a door, remove the hinges and remove the door. The hinges on this piece were bent, and the screws were really stuck with previous layers of paint. To loosen them, grip the screwdriver’s handle firmly, and gently hit the handle with a hammer.
Step 2: Scrape the entire piece of furniture. Use the putty knife to remove any bits of paint that are flaking off. Every place where the paint is peeling presents a problem for the new coats of paint. Each surface and each crevice needs to be well scraped. An old kitchen knife is the perfect tool for getting in the grooves of carved wood. Scraping the furniture down like this is kind of like excavating, and I love finding unexpected colors beneath the layers. In some places on my cabinet, the wood and paint were bonded, lumpy and stubborn. Don’t try to force those spots — they can be trouble. Just be sure to give any rough edges extra attention in the sanding stage.
Step 3: Use the brushes to remove all the chips and dirt that broke free.
Step 4: Begin sanding. Sand and sand and sand. Repeating cheesy lines from The Karate Kid helps. All surfaces on the furniture need sanding, but the places where paint was removed need particular attention.
Step 5: Place the piece on the drop cloth, and prop it up on something like scrap wood. Replace any doors, but paint the drawers separately. Give the shelf its first coat of paint. I’m a sloppy painter, with a tendency to drip. Try not to paint like me; instead, don’t put too much paint on the brush, wait for drips to fall back in the can, and use even strokes.
Step 6: Let the paint dry overnight, and then sand it again, especially the places where the layers show through. Fun! Try to “Tom Sawyer” friends to help sand sand sand.
Step 7: Apply the second coat of paint. This step is important: the second coat really makes a difference in the overall appearance. Let it dry overnight, longer if the paint is still tacky.