March 12, 2012

Reimagined Monday: Project Armoire Redux

Today`s Reimagined Monday revisits the makeover of an armoire I completed in the early days at the studio and admittedly breaks with the tradition of highlighting chalk paint, but for good cause...  One of the things you`ll notice is the painstaking steps required to complete it.  That`s all changed since I began using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, but for anyone wanting to paint creatively with latex, this is still relevant; and to this day I adore this cabinet and get asked about it by almost every visitor to my home.

Welcome to...

Project Armoire

It has been some time since I hauled this dented-up 70's armoire home... okay, truthfully, I just hauled out my wallet and the Fiancé did the heavy lifting, but I've been excited to get started on it and finally the project is under way.

I really love the idea of transforming this into a beach-worthy cabinet... something that looks like it has been sitting on a seaside porch storing swimsuits, towels, sunhats and picnic blankets.

This is the armoire the day it arrived at the studio:

There is a long way to go before it looks driftwoody, weathered and worn, but I'm determined.

I started by dismantling it and hand-sanding each piece individually:

Then it was wiped down with a damp cloth to remove any residue and dust, and left to dry thoroughly.  This made finding all the imperfections a little easier, which were filled and repaired as required.  More sanding ensued; since there were no concerns about further residue from the previous finish, a tack-cloth was used to remove dust.

Happiness is finding a piece with unique or useful elements... The carved detail was definitely a draw, but I also really liked that this cabinet has partitions.

These cubbies are going to come in handy:

Next up... primer!

Using primer is always a good idea.  The cost is generally equivalent to the finish paint, and it is well worth it.  Primer keeps the paint from drying too quickly, allowing it to polymerize or 'cure' properly.  It also gives it a good foundation to adhere to, increases the durability of the paint and provides additional protection for the wood (particularly for pieces that will be outdoors).

I don't always paint the inside of a piece.  It depends on the look I want to achieve, and whether the interior will work well with that 'vision'.

Any surface that is being prepared for paint is primed twice, allowed to fully dry, and is sanded between coats:

The drawers are in good shape and they sport sturdy dove-tail joints, so I opted to leave them 'au naturel' and paint just the drawer fronts.

I chose to paint the interior of the upper part of the cabinet:

There's been a lot of sanding and patience on this project and I am happy to be moving on to the creative side of things.

Next to come is selecting just the right colour and hardware, and then it is down to making decisions about how to give it that beachy 'driftwood' feel I've been dreaming about.

I'll be back soon with a glimpse at the finished product.  Wish me luck!

Project Armoire: The Finale

A few days ago, I promised to share the completed beach-worthy armoire with you, and I'm so happy that the weather has been more obliging.  The sun and warmth have finally made an appearance and thoughts of time spent at the cottage are back.  Even if it is fleeting, I am grateful to Aither or Helius or Bill Nye... whoever it is that affected the weather in a positive way.

In part one of "Project Armoire" all of the prep work had been completed, and it was time to select the paint colour(s) and hardware. At first, I had in mind satin nickel handles and light grey-blue paint with a darker underlying shade of brown to provide definition, but as I thought through how to get that well-worn 'driftwoody' feel, it became clear that I should work in the opposite direction. So I painted the entire armoire with a rich cream colour, followed by two coats of a taupey-grey, leaving plenty of drying time in between.

All cured and ready for the creative side of the project, my favourite part, I started with 220 grit sandpaper and began buffing away some of the paint on the more intricate areas of the cabinet, paying special attention to the ornate carvings on the doors and drawers.

When satisfied with the look of the individual pieces, I put the armoire back together in order to see how everything was starting to work as a whole.

Now for specifics... Selecting the areas that would need more lightness, I took the paint down to just a film of taupey-grey. Next came time to fire up the electric sander... the sides and top are large enough that it helped to join forces with Black & Decker! 

I started with the top, going over the entire area evenly.  The creamy paint began to peak through where the outer layers had been 'thinned' by hand, and it was now beginning to resemble that 'driftwoody' finish I had envisioned.

I love the distressed look, so I added a little extra wear to the corners of the body, doors and drawers, and any area that would likely have been chipped or damaged through years of use.

It is important, particularly with larger pieces, to complete the sanding and distressing a little at a time, stepping back frequently to take a look at your progress.  As much fun as this part is, and as enthusiastic as I always am to see the end result, I know it can be tough to undo when you overdo.

Patience truly is a virtue with a project like this!

Once I felt that the overall look was right, it was time to add the hardware. When I'd made the decision to go with the taupey-grey paint, I knew that satin nickel would disappear into the cabinet colour, so opted for something with a little more 'pop'.

I also felt that the original hardware really picked up the curves and curls in the carving, so I defined the handles and knobs by finishing them with a metal paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze and re-installed them.

All that was left was to decide where the armoire should be placed. I bought this piece specifically to house games and craft supplies, so it landed in the family room; And with its reimagined style, it seems to fit in well.

What do you think?

If I were to refinish this now, I would do the repairs, skip the all-over sanding and priming and get right to the painting with Annie Sloan chalk paint in Old White and Paris Grey with a little French Linen here and there to complete that `driftwoody`feel.  So much easier and faster!

For now, I will look back and ``chalk`` it up to experience.

Happy Reimagined Monday!

Here is how to share your reimagined paint project at On the Apple Box:

Send us a description of how you used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to get from your vision to the reimagined piece, before and after pictures, pictures of your project in progress or a couple of it in its finished state, and you may be highlighted on our blog!

Linky Parties!


  1. Wow, that is beautiful! But a lot of work! I don't think I've ever done two layers of primer ;-) But then, I haven't painted a lot of furniture.

    1. I don`t blame you for doing one! It was ALOT of sanding. But with some pieces where sanding of the original finish is required there can be bleed-through from the remaining stain... so I used to over-Kilz *lol

  2. You did a beautiful job on your armoire Leanne. It is very shabby chic. What a lot of hard work you did but the end result is so worth it, I am sure.

    It looks like it supposed to be +10C on Thursday and Friday this week so I am looking forward to getting into the garage for a change. How about you?


    1. Thanks Carrie! I know you understand fully the work it can take to 'reimagine' a piece.

      I am a little spoiled having a studio where temps are regulated, but with spring in the air I feel the same way you do... can't wait to get on to some fresh, new projects!


Your comments are welcome!

Please Share This