How to Paint a China Cabinet #DIY

For the last number of years I’ve been checking out the various furniture painting tutorials on Pinterest…from bright bold signature pieces to understated elegance…each project re-purposed from a worn out item needing a new life.

Years ago I was given a beautiful, solid wood, fabulous dining room set. It’s gathered my family around multiple dinners when if first lived in my former in-law’s dining room, and then later in mine. The table is my favourite piece, an oval pedestal, but I’ve been eyeing the buffet and hutch for years thinking I’d like to paint it!

With the big makeover going on, I decided it was time.

For colours, I chose a bright, wonderful turquoise…then switched my mind to a classic deep navy…then decided to funk things up with a vibrant, bright coral pink.

In the end, I settled on white…a colour I’d not have expected and yet…positively thrills me!

To start with, I messaged my friend Michelle at Hue Design Studios in Halifax and she dropped off a quart of FAT Chalk Paint in “Warm White” as well as a can of Clear Top Coat. I’d used FAT when making a sign last year, but had yet to paint anything larger with it.

And once the paint was in the house…the project got real!

Prep the Project:

The first step was to remove all hardware and glass, lay all of the wood pieces out on a large piece of cardboard, rough them up with a sanding block and then wipe them down with a tack cloth. Easy peasy!


Once prepped, I began the first coat of paint and while the paint goes on fantastic, I have to say I’m not a fan of how it feels to the touch (when it’s dry) until you actually get the top coat on. (To be really honest, touching chalk paint without the top coat kind of gives me the heebie jeebies…but I’m weird like that!)

Once the first coat was dry, I did a quick sanding and added a second coat.

Followed by another quick sanding and a third coat…and YES, white paint over dark wood required FOUR coats of paint in total which had me running back to the paint store not once, but twice! (I was also painting two bedside tables at the same time so I was going through a fair bit of paint.)

Once all coats were on, I applied a coat of FAT Clear Coat to the entire piece HOWEVER, in the morning, discovered there’d been black DUST in the paint brush that I used to paint the doors so I had to sand and re-clear coat the piece all over again. BUT, not before I had a little hissy fit and left the project alone for a few days to get a break from it!

In the meantime…

Paint the Hardware

Dad popped by to see how he could help and I’ll admit, I DID tell him to put the hardware in a box and give it a light spray of silver spray paint followed by a second…but I would NEVER have thought to poke the screws into the flap of the box to spray all of the screw fronts the way he did.

INGENIUS DIY Hack from the Master Handy Man himself…my Dad!

Paper the Inside:

With the painting completed and the hardware drying, I decided to whip up a little wallpaper paste and paper the inside of the cabinet.

I’d thought to paint it a different (possibly bright) colour on the inside, but Michelle had this fabulous piece of Farrow and Ball Wallpaper that was absolutely perfect for my project as it’s the exact same colour as my walls.

Side Note: This “quick and easy” wallpaper project didn’t exactly go smoothly as the knife I was using was rather dull and ended up ripping the paper when I tried to trim off the top and bottom inside the cabinet…so, I ended up having to remove the paper in another hissy fit, clean up all the wallpaper paste mess, and set it aside until the hardware store opened the next morning so I could get a better knife! Note to self…get better tools!

Put the Piece Back Together:

With everything painted and papered, it was time to put the cabinet back together again and this went without a hitch!

In the end, I am absolutely thrilled with how the china cabinet looks painted white…and how amazing my new dining room looks! In the next few days, I’ll reveal the full look but in case you need a reminder…here’s what I started with!

To see the entire room makeover in it’s full completion…click HERE.

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