If you asked me what my super power is, I’d have to say problem solving. Whether it’s in my professional or personal life, I absolutely live for listening to a dilemma, finding the key facts and flipping the situation on its head like a boss. It’s why a colleague of mine declared me PS Jackie, a nickname I have enjoyed for over a decade. I love fixing things and helping people solve issues when they can’t see the solution themselves. But the problem you’ll read about below was something of a different kind.
PROBLEM: So we moved into our current house a little over two years ago. We loved our dining room furniture but it didn’t really fit the space so we sold it and the room has sat empty for at least the past few months. I personally love to entertain so not having a functional dining room makes me crazy. I have these romantic visions of a long solid wood dining room table that would seat 8 — even up to 12 with a leaf or two. Along with the long table, I wanted an oversized china cabinet, one that would fit all of our nicer dishes, glassware, etc.
So here’s the thing. I just don’t think they make furniture as well as they used to. All of the dining room furniture either feels like fake wood, or there’s not enough storage space, or it looks tiny in our room with high ceilings. It’s been discouraging to say the least. That’s when we (see: convinced my husband that is was “we”) decided we would look for a solid piece that we could makeover. I was obsessed with all of the results I was seeing on Pinterest of those using chalk paint and wax to turn an old dated piece into a conversation starter.
So I began looking on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace and anywhere else I could find pre-owned pieces that fit our idea.
SOLUTION: And there it was. I found this Drexel Heritage china cabinet just a couple of miles away from us. We negotiated it down to $80 and borrowed a friend’s truck to pick it up. Holy smokes, was it heavy! (So I hear, anyway. I was just hoping I wouldn’t have to drive my hubby to urgent care or pay any doctor co-pays for the guys who helped us move it on either end.)
We got it home and that’s when the fun began. We researched and researched and researched chalk paint options and settled on Annie Sloan. But when we decided to go pick some up, we realized that it’s only sold at select retailers and the one by us is closed on Sundays. Argh! Being the instant gratification kind of girl I am, that wasn’t going to work. I wanted to get started! So we decided to go in a different direction and trekked down to our local Lowe’s for Valspar Chalky Finish paint. Plus, Valspar saved us a couple of dollars per can so win/win, right?
There didn’t seem to be as many color options going the Valspar route but we ended up choose Opera Gown for the exterior and Her Dainties for the interior and we absolutely love it.
But the biggest decision throughout this project was whether to just go with a sealing wax over the chalky paint or to take that extra step and add antiquing wax too. I had seen some projects that used the antiquing wax and honestly, it made some of the pieces look old and dirty. But others I saw, the antiquing wax was the very thing that turned a nice piece into a downright gorgeous piece.
We decided to hold off on the decision to antique or not to antique until after we painted, sealed and sat with it for a few days. We didn’t want to jump into it and then regret it, which would force us to paint the whole piece all over again.
A few days later, we knew we wanted to try it. We brushed on the antiquing wax with a small brush, wiping it off as we went along. It created dimension and depth in the corners and throughout the piece, providing character and making the look feel more intentional. In fact, it’s the antiquing wax that turned the cabinet I really liked into a piece I absolutely LOVE.
So… without further ado, I present to you our new china cabinet. Voila!
I am so happy with the outcome of this project! This cabinet will be in our family for years to come and I love that my husband and I (and our daughter at times) created it together, even when at times we felt like dragging it to the curb and leaving it.
I learned so much about the process and happy to share if it helps the next person rock their DIY project.
• The reason to choose chalk paint is to avoid all of the sanding and prepping of the wood. No priming, just paint! That being said, the blue covered beautifully but the white… that took quite a few coats and could probably still use another. I’m not saying to not use a light color, just be prepared. We used twice as much paint for the inside of the cabinet than we did for the outside.
• Be patient. As I mentioned above, I’m a huge fan of instant gratification. Waiting or taking my time isn’t exactly my strongest quality. But a project of this size requires a whole lot of patience. Allowing the paint to dry completely before waxing is obviously important. And then you’ve got to wait for the sealing wax to dry before starting on the antiquing. In total, between cleaning top to bottom, two coats of paint on the inside, at least three on the inside, plus touch ups, sealing and antiquing (never mind two working parents and three kids), it took us a few weeks to get it all done. But it was totally worth it!
• Paint the inside first. I won’t go into it (sorry, honey) but save yourself some time and stress. I am actually considering re-doing the inside with adhesive wall paper or something similar to give it a little personality and depth. We’ll see!
• When it comes to hardware, measure, measure, measure. The holes already in the piece were pretty specific and didn’t fit with most of the hardware out there for sale. We were limited on selection due to the sizing. If you’re handy, you can always create new holes for hardware but a piece this old doesn’t match the standard sizing.
I hope you enjoyed our DIY project. I’m happy to help answer any questions – just leave them in the comments.
Got a problem or dilemma you want me to help fix? You might just get free advice and a feature on the blog! Comment below.