Monday, January 6, 2014

Armoire Makeover

One bored night I was perusing the internets and came across this magical site Craigslist. Wait did I go to Pinterest first? hmm which came first Pinterest or DIY? Anywhoo, I knew we needed a new computer armoire. John hated the one I bought about 3 years ago. EVERY SINGLE TIME he went to use his computer, he would remind me of just how nonfunctional the armoire I chose was. My goal was to keep his desk mess hidden, his goal was functionality. I mean really! The nerve of him. Anyway, I just can't go out and buy a new armoire just because. So for a few months now I would look on Craigslist regularly to see if I could find a new computer armoire. I also scoured Pinterest for refinishing ideas, since I knew the odds that I would find an affordable armoire in perfect condition were slim to none. Then it happened. I found the perfect armoire and for $65! SCORE!

The before piece in my crowded garage. We already removed the top molding we were replacing when I took this picture.

I already knew I wanted to try painting with chalk paint. If you are a furniture refinisher, design addict or design blog reader, you probably are thinking Annie Sloan here I come!  If you are not into design or furniture refinishing, Annie Sloan is the only maker of what is called Chalk Paint. Don't get it twisted now, it will not turn what you're painting into a chalk board, that is a totally different paint. Chalk paint gives that old, matte, distressed vibe to the piece you're painting. You also don't need to sand down already finished furniture, you just dust it off and paint right over it. But Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP) is pretty expensive. I would have needed two colors to complete the look I wanted which is a faded gray with a white wash. I then would have needed her furniture wax in clear and dark. So I would have essentially needed about $100 worth of paint and wax just to paint the armoire! HELLO! that is more than I even paid for it and it doesn't include the other pieces I still needed and wanted to buy to make this piece my own! My goal was to buy and refinish for no more than $200.

You see thanks to the power of the internet, I made my own DIY chalk paint. I used Plaster of Paris, warm water and gray paint we had left over from the office and a small can of white paint we had to buy. I also needed/wanted to to buy some other supplies to finish this project. Here is what I bought.

Lowes -  $50 on white flat paint,paintbrushes and more painters tape, Plaster or Paris, Minwax Furniture Wax, Mixing bucket and painters rags and the replacement moulding for the top.
Michael's  - $20 on a stencil and a stippling brush. (I had a 50% off one item and 40% off your total purchase.)
Hobby Lobby - $16 on door knobs, chalk board paint  and some brown antiqueing acrylic paint. (I also had 40% off one item, but nothing was really expensive there, so I think I saved like $2. But hey every penny counts!)
Rejuvenated Creations on Etsy - $20 for furniture appliqués to use behind the door knobs.

I then had to go back and buy more paintbrushes for about another $20. So all in all supplies cost me $126 and then $65 on the armoire. So I spent a total of $191. WAHOO - under budget! If I was an avid DIYer I probably would have had some of these supplies on hand already as I have plenty of leftovers now. I pretty much already had the gray paint and sand paper on hand.
I mixed 1 part warm water and 1 part Plaster of Paris and mixed until it was smooth and then I added 1 1/2 part of the flat paint and mixed that before painting. I used the tutorial I found on the DIY Network page and adjusted from there.
My DIY chalk paint worked perfectly, except it is very messy and I went through about 5 paintbrushes. The Plaster of Paris would just keep thickening in the brush and drying in there and since it took us about 4 days to paint the armoire and we were painting it two colors and we had more than one person painting at a time, each paint brush lasted about 2 days. The plaster just refused to come out when we cleaned the brushes.  I would love to try the ASCP in the future to see if it works out better. Maybe on a piece that was free. (Which I happen to have a free piece sitting in the garage that will be repurposed into an entertainment center in the near future!)
You can see the molding we replaced here.
I watched countless videos and read countless blogs so I could do my very first furniture makeover. We were taking some vacation time with the kids over the holidays, and I was obsessed and excited! My friends on FB are probably sick of seeing my progress posts! LOL But here's the thing, my living room is full of miss matched furniture. I hate the whole matchy matchy look for my living room. Which is odd because my bedroom and dining room are perfectly matched. But I don't know, for my living room the miss matched look was always my favorite. But now I am ready for a whole new miss matched world (Could I possibly say miss matched any more in this paragraph? I bet I can!) I wanted to change everything to a whole new bright and light shabby chic living room of the best home design blogs! I am talking a Miss Mustard Seed, City Farmhouse, Perfectly Imperfect Shabby Chic living room! (Just a few of the blogs that inspired the outcome of this project!) I am so ready for a change! So once the armoire was done, my solid pine rustic bookshelf and TJ Maxx special dark brown end table had to go. So that one armoire project led to redoing those pieces too. (I used Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Ironstone for the end table and book shelf. that may end up being a separate post all together, since it was a whole different experience.
I started with the stenciling of the back wall. What a pain that was! I messed up in a few places, but since I would be distressing it after, I just went with it. Can you see the mess I made on the left? How do the amazing home design bloggers keep it all clean? 

I only stenciled the top half, leaving the bottom half white. I would say that was part of the plan, but the reality is that the stenciling was hard work and I got in way over my head and I just decided, I would only do the top half out of frustration! I mean what was I thinking?!
But now that the work is all done, I have to say I am beyond over joyed with the results. I am also beyond obsessed with home design blogs and refinishing furniture now. I want to paint all the things! Which I guess as long as I'm painting something, be it nails or furniture, I am a happy chick.
The final look

Close up of the distressing,  furniture appliqués and door knobs I selected to finish the piece

Surprise! It opens up to reveal a small pull down desk! I forgot to take a before showing this.  I love this added feature and upon inspection, it seems like it would be an easy piece to apply if you're the handy type. I also painted a chalk board on the other side, so I could write reminders. 
I wish I took a before of the bottom of the armoire. Where the printer currently is used to house a big drawer. On the left was a big space for the computer tower. Since our Mac doesn't have a tower and we wouldn't be able to fit our printer with the big drawer there we knew we would have to repurpose this space. Coco suggested putting some shelves for paper and leaving room for a waste basket. That kid is always thinking! It was a brilliant idea! Then John took out the drawer, but used the track for the drawers and made a small pull out shelf for the printer. I would still like another shelf on top of the printer, but John would like to keep it open.  For now he wins.
We had to get creative inside since we are losing the drawer space. John added a third shelf to the top to create a charging station by running our electronic chargers to the top shelf. I used some spray adhesive and wrapping paper for the polka dot boxes. They now hold receipts and coupons. The silver box holds misc office supplies like tape, scissors and batteries and the paper boxes are used for just that. You can also kind of see the more simple design we chose for moulding on the top of this picture. It is a more subtle floral design that what was on the original piece.

Bonus pics of the redone bookshelf!
This is the bookshelf that was a rustic pine and is now refinished using Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Ironstone. I stenciled the back. I'll do a separate post on this experience later on.  I need to figure out how I am going to decorate this piece. But for now I pulled some pieces I had around the house or that were already in there before.
Oh how I can't wait to find a chair and new curtains and a new picture! Why does one project always lead to more projects? 
Now I have to redo the coffee table, and paint and repurpose an old dresser we found in someone's trash, into an entertainment center and the living room furniture will be done. Well unless you count that we have to replace the cheap place holder chairs I bought 3 years ago and the curtains that are just a bit too short that need replacing as well. And the photos above the couch and bookshelf. And I'd love an area rug, but since we are moving some time this year and rugs and curtains can be such a specific to the room and expensive purchase, they will have to wait. It's never ending, isn't it? But aside from that, I'm rather pleased. What do you think? Did I do alright? Have you refinished pieces before? I'd love to hear your stories!


  1. These turned out gorgeous! You did a great job!! I may have to do some research and find ways to repurpose some of our pieces instead of buying new. I think I may have found a way to save us some money! Thanks!!

    1. It can be a bit of an addiction. I have two more projects lined up already! But now that I can see the living room taking shape, I'm so excited!

  2. I just love the stenciling you did on both pieces! I'd love to see me details in a future post. We have an old dresser set that would make a perfect project.

    1. Thanks! I will post about the bookshelf and talk a bit more on the stenciling. What I did learn is there are a few different types of stencils you can buy. The ones at Michael's, Hobby Lobby or similar stores are not always the best. It makes it very hard to align the stencil without laying a piece of it over a section you just completed. I now have found Cutting Edge Stencils on Etsy that offers top and edge piece stencils. They seem to be a bit more pricey, but after spending so much time cutting up a stencil to make it work, I think that might be worth it if I decide to tackle a bigger project in the future.

    2. Hi Maria, Thank you for your kind words about our stencils. We think your bookcase looks amazing. We'd love to work with you on a future project. We'll send you an email! -Michelle

  3. So beautiful! You did a wonderful job, both with the execution and the imagination to carry it out. Now I want to redo something. lol

    1. Thank you! I was not sure if I should share it on here, but if it inspired even one person to join me in this madness, then it was all worth it!

  4. That's impressive! I love it so much I would absolutely buy a piece just like it. Looks like a ton of work, but you did fab!

    1. Wow thanks for that compliment! WAHOO! I'm like a pro yo! ha!