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We were gifted a honey oak cabinet. The cabinet itself was in pristine condition and you don’t get this kind of build quality from the big box stores. My goal was to update it so it would match our aesthetics, my challenge was that I wanted it to be beautiful and on a budget.

I decided on an antiqued distressed look. This was my first attempt at distressing furniture and I learned a lot along the way.

Step 1: Materials

My cabinet was fairly large, and being the lazy person I am I wanted to reduce my work load.

I looked for a paint that:

  1. Did not require priming
  2. Did not require I remove all of the old varnish
  3. Dried matte

I found a paint that matched all my requirements, and based all other materials on the instructions on the paint can.

Including tax I paid $47.20 CAD for all new materials

I did use other materials to complete this project, but I did not need to purchase them.

  • Sand Paper
  • Wallpaper and wallpaper glue
  • Putty Knife
  • Ruler
  • Cordless Drill

Step 2: Disassemble

Our new cabinet had a mix of Phillips and Robertson screw heads (for all you non-Canadians, the Robertson has the square bit). One tip would be to make sure you have all tools necessary to completely disassemble before beginning.

If you’re anything like me, the photos of the fasteners and hingers were for my own reference when putting it back together, and not for an Instructable.

I also used little sandwich bags to separate each hinge or fastener.

Step 3: Sand & Clean

I didn’t need to completely sand the entire cabinet down, I just needed to remove the gloss from the old varnish. Originally I had intended to hand sand the gloss away, but it took a little longer than anticipated so I switched to a palm sander.

Once I removed the majority of the glossy areas, I was left with the grueling task of cleaning the sawdust. I just used a cloth and some water.

Step 4: Start Painting

There are lots of techniques out there, but my advice would be to attempt to paint with the grain of the wood. There really isn’t much to this step except to take your time and try not to overwork the paint. I gave my doors two coats of paint, and in retrospect I wish I did that with the entire cabinet.

Step 5: Distressing the Wood

One of the main reasons I chose the brand of paint that I did was because it came with distressing instructions. It said to let the paint dry for two hours before distressing, so that’s what I did. I went over the paint with 120 grit sandpaper and tried to be random but even with the distressing.

I’m not quite brazen enough to do the hardcore distressing. Mine was a hint of distress while attempting desperately to hold on to elegance.

After you finish antiquing your furniture, you have to clean up all the paint dust. Cleaning is always the worst step, but imperative if you’d like to keep your house relatively clean.

Step 6: Adding Your Hinges

If you organized your hardware properly, this shouldn’t be too difficult. I won’t lie, this was the part I was most excited for. I finally got to see all my hard work come together in one cohesive piece.

Putting the Handles on:

If you are using a drill, and you have a torque setting, set it to low for the handles. This way you can screw it in without stripping the screw. I learned that the hard way.

Step 7: Wallpaper Backing

From the beginning, I was concerned that there was going to be too much white and note enough contrast. I wanted to add some extra depth, a little bit of contrast, and some extra country feel.

I choose the purple wallpaper because:

a) it complimented my current interior space

b) I already had some

Next, measure twice and cut once. I measured out my square and cut the wallpaper accordingly. Always do a dry fit before applying the wallpaper. Once you apply the wallpaper, start from the top and work your way out from the middle and down to the bottom to reduce the occurrence of bubbles.

Step 8: Finished Piece

The most impressive thing about this project was that I completed it in a weekend. My arms hurt at the end of the weekend, but it was done and I am happy with the results.

One more tip: Contrast is King. If you go for a darker paint, use lighter hardware. I love the look of the white matte paint against the black matte handle.

About This Instructable

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Bio: I'm a graphic designer from Canada. I love creating things, whether it's digital or something more tactile. I also enjoy writing, reading, learning ... More »
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