Before and After | Vintage Cabinet from Shabby to Chic

One thing that really bothers me is when someone takes a Mid Century style piece of furniture and applies a shabby chic paint finish to it. Modern + shabby do not mix! This vintage cabinet was one of those disasters, lightly brushed with a weird green, the door had been removed on the right side and the notches for the hinges were left behind. Ugly white hooks were added to the side for functionality and that green paint had dripped down onto the legs ruining the brass finish. The only cool thing this cabinet had going for it was the drawer, the inside was crafted really well with an area to hold pens or utensils.

I started by removing the hooks on the side and patching all the holes. I lightly sanded the entire cabinet and Andrew aggressively sanded the face of the drawer right down to raw wood. We had to be careful because it was a really brittle wood veneer on top of plywood. The legs were also sanded down to raw wood and a danish oil was applied to both the legs and drawer front in several thin coats.

Since this cabinet was so tall it was calling out to have some shelves made to make it more functional. So we got some MDF pieces cut to fit and drilled some holes to place in some shelf clips at the desired height.

The cabinet was primed with several thin coats to build up a nice base, this was a very dry and brittle cabinet, the primer just soaked right in. Once it was primed, the interior of the cabinet was painted with Benjamin Moore High Gloss Advance in Mantis Green and the outside is Snowfall White.

I replaced the rustic style knobs with something more clean and modern, these tiny knobs are actually from an old Ikea Expedit unit, they’re the perfect size and scale for the drawer. They no longer carry them, but they have other options.

Check out the transformation from shabby to chic:

The shelves were purposely placed at the right height to create a bar cabinet or a record cabinet:

Editor note:  We recently found out Nicole sells her "before's and after's" after we asked what she did with all of her pieces.  You can contact her HERE if you wish to inquire about buying them, or in general she has a gallery of her amazing furniture projects listed HERE.

About the contributor:
Nicole Phillips is a Vancouver based Graphic Designer and blogger.
You can learn more about her at or follow her creative side:

Jan Halvarson


Dani said...

Mid-century furniture with a touch of modern reinvention is my current home decor obsession. I have a sudden desire to paint all of the interiors of my bookshelves bright yellow and mint green. Love this post!

<3 dani

Unknown said...

Lovely vintage bar!

Anonymous said...

Love this! The interior is such a great colour!

Clearly Susan said...

This is very unique and very functional. Love the mint green.

Unknown said...

How did you restore the wood face of the drawer?

Unknown said...

How did you restore the face of the wooden drawer?

Nicole said...

Hi Emily,

The drawer was solid wood with a thin wood veneer on the face of it, so it was lightly sanded until the paint came off, being very careful not to sand too much to damage the veneer. Then several coats of danish oil were applied, following the instructions on the can. Danish oil really brings out the natural colours in the wood.

Thanks for asking
Nicole (@visualheart)

modflowers said...

Looks fab! How did you disguise the groove where the door hinge used to be?

Nicole said...

Hi modflowers

The grooves from the door hinges were filled using standard wood filler or wood patch you can find at your local hardware store. It goes on soft with a spatula and dries hard. Once it's dry it gets sanded smooth and level by hand.

Hope that helps!
Nicole (@visualheart)

Cool Lizzie said...

I love this transformation!!! Painting furniture is one of my obsessions, but you've really knocked it out of the park with this one - very, very cool.

Unknown said...

Totally Love this DIY! What a great find, the update made it so mod!

Elizabeth said...

I really like the finish on your table. My husband wants a rustic end table and your post was the first one to come up in my Google search. The table looks great in your space. Great job!toolsadvisors