Home Improvement and DIY, Vintage Style

Antique China Cabinet Makeover Reveal!

antique china cabinet makeover

Hello everyone! I am beyond thrilled to finally share my antique china cabinet makeover reveal! Here is the photo of the cabinet when I first spotted it at my friend’s parents’ living estate sale a few weeks ago.


I honestly am ecstatic with this find because it was very old, but still clean and mold free!!! If you have been following my blog for some time then you already know I have a severe mold and mildew allergy. I also have chemical sensitivities so I can’t just bleach and kilz moldy furniture or apply toxic sealants. This has made it very hard to go shopping for antique furniture at estate sales and antique shops because a lot of them are full of moldy pieces. I had just about given up on finding a true antique piece that didn’t smell musty. Because I knew the family and that their home was mold free however, I was able to blissfully shop their sale without worry. 



In addition to the cabinet I also found some other beautiful vintage treasures that I will share in upcoming post. I only paid $93 for the 100+ year-old china cabinet (it was on sale the second day) I had given myself a $100 budget for a china cabinet, so I call it a score! Due to chronic health issues it has been such a long time since I have been physically able to redo a larger piece such as this one, but at the time I bought the cabinet I was feeling up to the challenge. 


It just so happened that a facebook memory popped up last week with picture of a similar vintage cabinet I redid around this same time seven years ago. I loved that cabinet and had a hard time parting with it! I was so happy that my brother’s fiance bought it and I still get to enjoy it from time to time when I visit their house. 


I have been looking for a china cabinet for several months to put in my basement craft room to store all of my vintage dishes and transferware that I have had in totes. I hadn’t planned on putting the china cabinet in the dining room until started painting it. I soon realized that it was going to turn out to be a gorgeous piece and much too pretty for basement storage.


I know many antique “purists” shudder at the thought of painting antique furniture, but at some point in time someone had attempted to strip and refinish the cabinet anyway, so I didn’t have any reservations about making it shabby and “chippy with charm” with new paint and a distressed look.



I have worked on a few small pieces such as the corner china cabinet in our dining room and our dining room chairs, but this was quite a large piece for me. My husband helped me with painting the top so I didn’t have to work over my head much. I used some leftover flat ivory latex paint from our living room mixed with Dixie Belle Burlap chalk paint to make my own off-white chalk paint.  There were beautiful inlays on the front and bottom of the china cabinet that I didn’t want to paint over but as I started taping them they literally began falling off, so in the end I decided just to paint over them.  I taped off around the glass door and simply painted the entire piece with my DIY chalk paint (I used mostly flat latex paint in White Eagle by True Value Hardware paint).


I filled in the places where inlay had fallen off with wood putty and let it dry.



After the wood putty dried, I sanded it and painted back over the spots. The spots aren’t perfect but they aren’t noticeable really.



As I was working on the cabinet I fell in love with it more and more. I love the details and carvings around the bottom and the beautiful lines and shape of the cabinet.  I didn’t get a picture, but my husband came up with the great idea of sliding brown paper under the pretty wood work on the front of the glass which made it extremely fast and easy to paint without having to tape around the intricate shape.  



The creamy color was so pretty so I didn’t want to darken it with wax or stain but I did want to let some of the original wood come through. I sanded it all over with a hand sander to give it a distressed finish.  After working on the china cabinet I realized that my old love affair with extreme chippy-shabby white and off-white furniture had been rekindled! I was able to sand it in some places that allowed some of the old inlays to show and I really like how it turned out. I did get heavy-handed with some of the sanding but I wanted a lot of the original darker wood to show through since it was going to be in the dining room next to the dark trim and woodwork.



I liked the old antique brass drawer pulls but I decided to spray paint them oil rubbed bronze to make them “pop” a little more. I also painted the inside of the drawer and lined it with pretty toile drawer liner.



Here she is just after I finish sanding and waxing with Valspar clear wax. I already loved the cabinet standing empty, but I couldn’t help getting excited thinking about finally having a place to display all of my beautiful transferware! As I looked at the finished piece I realize there was no possible way that I could stick it in the basement just for storing the dishes, even though I really didn’t know how I was going to work it in the dining room.


Isn’t it so charming? The cabinet came with the original skeleton key and it still locks. I also decided to keep the inside of the cabinet as it was with the dark stain instead of painting it since the color of the original stain is so similar to the woodwork in the dining room.


Well, we found a spot! You might recall from previous dining room tours that we have an original butler door that separates the kitchen and dining room on the left side of the pocket doors leading to the family room. To be honest I never really liked the way the butler door looked because the door wasn’t decorative in any way, and I felt like it was just a dark spot in the corner. I liked the charm of having the original butler door and privacy between the two rooms however so we didn’t take it down. We simply just opened it up the opposite way into the kitchen. This left a  perfect spot for the china cabinet. Problem solved!



Even though there is another china cabinet in the corner on the opposite end of the room, adding the new china cabinet didn’t really make things cluttered since it is in the space where the butler door used to be. The dining room actually appears lighter and brighter with the door open to the opposite side and you see a new “wow” piece as you look into the dining room from the living room.


Just a couple of weeks ago I moved the antique chest that used to sit in front of our staircase in the living room into the dining room on the right side of the pocket doors.  The chest and china cabinet have similar finishes so they really balance out each side of the pocket doors and I am loving having each of these “new” pieces in the dining room.  It’s amazing how simply rearranging your furniture can help a room take on new life.


farmhouse dining room

Here is a quick phone pic I snapped looking in through the butler door from the kitchen into the dining room on one of the rare sunny moments we have had in between all the crazy, rainy days we have had!




I removed the urn with ferns from the center of the table for this picture so you could get a better look at the cabinet from this view.



Here is the straight on view from the living room. Every time I come into the dining room I am so happy seeing the cabinet! I feel like a weight has been lifted from getting all of beautiful dishes out of those totes where I can enjoy and use them  which also cleared up a ton of space in the craft room.



Here is a better peek inside. After I started placing the china inside the cabinet I realized it needed tea cup hangers so my husband added some to each shelf. It took hours (literally, hours upon hours!) to finally come up with a way to display everything in the cabinet to utilize the most of space and come up with an eye pleasing display, but I am so happy with how it turned out.


When I first started working on this post I thought I was going to show you everything that I had put in the cabinet, but I realized that really needs to be another post entirely so I will share that next week. If you are a lover of vintage dishes and tiny treasures, then you certainly will want to come snoop around inside my cabinets when I share the post! I did not include any of my plain vintage ironstone in this china cabinet because I keep a lot of it in the corner china cabinet on the opposite side of the room. In my upcoming post I will show you all the treasures in that cabinet too.



The downside of DIY…

I had planned to share this post sooner but I have had a little physical setback. I overworked myself on the cabinet, lifting the heavy ironstone platters, moving around the totes and also working on repainting my fireplace tile. I ended up with a bit of painful tendinitis in both of my wrists.  I haven’t been able to do type or do much of anything at all for several days!

Here is a picture of the tile makeover in progress last week. I forced myself to finish it since we are getting ready to leave for the beach this weekend, but I think all that waxing is what pushed things over the edge and flared up my wrists. I think anyone who deals with chronic health issues completely understands that when you have a “good day” or two it is hard not to push yourself and end up over working  into a flare-up of some kind. Luckily we will be at the beach all next week and I will be able to rest and relax and hopefully it will give my wrists and arms a chance to recover. I really want to do some kitchen cabinet painting before fall so I will have to be careful and just let them heal. By the way, I used voice to text for the first time to complete this post, and I have to say it’s amazing! I don’t know why I haven’t used it before! 


Well friends, I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing this china cabinet makeover and that it will encourage you to give an old piece new life with paint. I am so happy with it and the way the dining room has come together! Honestly if I would have taken a few days to work on the piece and not tackled the fireplace tile at the same time I probably would have been just fine. Painting the cabinet wasn’t that hard in and of itself, but I just always want to hurry and finish something when I get started and push myself too hard. Patience is a virtue I am still learning to acquire!


Thanks for visiting today!


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  • Reply Debra@CommonGround

    Amber this cabinet is SO amazing!!! It’s perfect for your transferware, and I think the dark interior really sets off all the gorgeous pieces. You did a beautiful job on the paint finish. the heavy sanding brings out all the wonderful details. looks perfect!!!! take care of yourself and rest up for the beach!

    July 8, 2019 at 7:57 pm
  • Reply Pam Richardson

    Amber, I love this old cabinet that now looks amazing in your dining room! You did a beautiful job paining it! Enjoy the beach!

    July 8, 2019 at 8:48 pm
  • Reply Cindy

    Amber I love this hutch and couldn’t put in the basement in a million years.

    Love your husband’s idea with the paper for painting the detail on the door, love when that happens.

    You know I get it with immune disease. Enjoy relaxing on the beach.


    July 9, 2019 at 8:53 am
  • Reply Linda @ Itsy Bits And Pieces

    Oh Amber! This piece is absolutely wonderful! It was perfect for that space…and you have styled it beautifully! Enjoy!

    July 9, 2019 at 11:17 am
  • Reply Tee

    Cute, cute, cute! I just LOVE your new cabinet!! You did such a wonderful job painting it! I’m so sorry about your wrists, though. I hope you feel better soon and have fun at the beach next week!


    Tee @ Teediddlydee

    July 9, 2019 at 9:06 pm
  • Reply ConnieMomma

    ???? This is beautiful, Amber! So authentic!

    July 10, 2019 at 11:27 am
  • Reply Kim @Serving Up Southern

    Wow, Amber!
    This is a gorgeous makeover! I love how you left the interior dark and how that looks with the distressing you did on the cabinet. And your china display is beautiful!
    >>> Kim

    July 10, 2019 at 6:32 pm
  • Reply Ahna @ Hammers N Hugs

    Beautiful Amber! Hope you feel better!

    July 12, 2019 at 7:44 am
  • Reply Kathy A

    Your china cupboard is the best reason for owning more than one china cupboard that I have seen. I can’t wait to see all your transferware; I mainly have my Royal Mail in Blue Staffordshire dishes but I love a lot of transferware. Hope you get to rest your arms; have suffered from “tennis elbow” (I just love saying lateral epicondylitis!) for years; I called it “woodstacker’s elbow!” Any bit of overdoing and it would rear its ugly head again. RICE–Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation will help!

    July 12, 2019 at 4:20 pm
  • Reply Pat

    Exquisite transformation!
    I love the new paint on this gorgeous Antique Cupboard!
    The addition of cup hooks is perfect with your breathtakingly beautiful display!
    I do understand your issue with your hands. . .
    I have arthritis and while painting the Guest Bedroom furniture,
    I, too, suffered a great deal.
    I have a huge paint/stain project for the Dining Room coming this Autumn.
    I’m telling myself to go slow and take it in steps. . .
    oh, we’ll see how that goes.
    Truly an inspirational post!
    P.S. Oh, yes, please I want to see all the lovely dishes displayed within!

    July 14, 2019 at 4:36 pm
  • Reply Julie Briones

    LOVE this makeover, Amber! The color is perfect, too! Hugs, sweet friend!

    July 14, 2019 at 6:22 pm
  • Reply Beth

    Beautiful. You said it took you hours to figure out how to style it. That’s where I find myself. I would love to see a quick video on just how you ended up styling it. China cabinets sometimes can be tricky to style. Especially if you have a lot you would like to display. I’ve changed mine around numerous times and am still not satisfied.

    August 7, 2019 at 3:07 am
    • Reply Amber Lyon Ferguson

      Hi Beth! Making a video is a great idea! I might just do that. I will message you if I do. I do plan to share a post soon about what is in my cabinet and some of the ways I have displayed the dishes.

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope you visit again soon!

      October 3, 2019 at 9:25 pm

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