How to paint an old wardrobe

Today I am able to share a few tips, having recently given an old wardrobe a new look.

It was a few weeks ago when I bought it; I think it was the scroll detail at the top, the curved sides and the dinky little key in the lock that got me!

Lebus Wardrobe

With some paint to lighten it up, I knew it could be made lovely – perhaps for a girl’s bedroom.  I don’t get to do many girlie projects around our male-dominated house, so I thought it would be fun to make it over and then (hopefully) sell it.

Although I got it for a very good price, it is from the makers Lebus Furniture who had a reputation for quality furniture years ago.  (I didn’t know that until I googled the name.)  I suddenly felt a little more responsibility to do a decent job.

Fortunately I received some good advice, from Jackie who paints furniture over at The Barrister’s Horse.  Apparently when using a light coloured chalkpaint on a dark, glossy item it is important to sand and prime first, as the dark finish can bleed through the chalkpaint.

These are the steps I took to ensure a good result:

  • Sand all over – just enough to dull the surface and provide a key for the paint.
  • Wipe off the dust off with a damp sponge (just water, no soap or cleaner which could affect the paint application).
  • Prime the surface – I used a general water-based primer and undercoat in one from B&Q.
  • Leave to dry then do a second coat.

Your wardrobe will look something like this which is not that pretty yet:

  • Next apply your chalkpaint (you can thin it with water if it is too thick) using a large, synthetic bristle brush – working quickly and painting in all directions.  It dries fast, so if you miss a bit and go back to it just a few minutes later the paint will drag a little, but it doesn’t really matter as you are not intending to get a smooth, silky finish.
  • Once the paint is fully dry (maybe leave a day or two) wax it all over.  You can use a brush or a lint-free cloth e.g. an old white t-shirt to apply the wax.
  • Finally you can distress the edges and details with a sanding sponge (if you do it before applying the wax it creates a lot of dust) and wax again

For my wardrobe, I used Old White (from Annie Sloan) all over and then picked out the scroll detail with a mid-grey that I had mixed up myself.  I also painted the grey along the top edge of the wardrobe and its feet at the bottom.  I used one of the kids small paint brushes to navigate the lock and hinges carefully

Vintage wardrobe makeover

The wax I used was clear Autentico wax which went on easily and had no strong smell (previously I have tried Briwax which is very pungent and left oily looking patches).  I applied the wax with a cloth and once dry gave it a buff.

I guess it could suit either a bedroom or even a hallway as a coat cupboard.  Either way, it was a great project to try and perfect my painting techniques.  You can see more of my furniture makeovers here.

© Copyright 2012 Antonia, All rights Reserved. Written For: #tidylife
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5 Comments

  1. Sharon @ Elizabeth & Co.
    November 20, 2012 / 2:21 am

    That is a beautiful wardrobe and you gave it a lovely finish! It could be so useful in a home with limited closet space or just a cool piece to stow away your treasures!

    • November 20, 2012 / 9:59 pm

      Thank you, Sharon, I really had fun revamping the wardrobe!

  2. danandmariel
    November 20, 2012 / 3:05 am

    Very impressive! I would love to have you come share this or any of your great ideas at the link party on ‘Or so she says…’ There’s one going on right now (and every Saturday – Tuesday). Hope to see you there! http://www.oneshetwoshe.com

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