Shades of Gray: A Vintage Cabinet Makeover

Remember my list of paint projects I wanted to complete in my home this year?

You aren’t going to believe this …


(And it is only the middle of March. Woo hoo!)

shades of gray_vintage cabinet makeover


I picked up this little vintage cabinet to hold my printer and paper. When I designed the new look for my home office, I completely forgot to include space for both of those very important office things. (I know…that typewriter in the picture above ISN’T my printer! My printer is ugly and this just looked way cooler for the photos.)

DSC_0016This is the before shot. This cabinet holds both printer and paper nicely, but it needed a makeover. It looks grayish-blue in this photo, but the color looked more on the purple side in person.

And glossy. Very glossy.

One of the reasons why I love using American Paint Company all-natural clay chalk and mineral paints is because there is usually very little prep work involved other than cleaning your piece really well. And it sticks to just about anything—including high-gloss latex paint.

I didn’t sand or prime this piece. I just opened a can of Amber Waves of Grain, a soft yellow, and started painting. It took two coats of the lighter yellow color to completely cover the purple, but that’s OK. I saved time by not having to sand or prime—and to me that is worth it.

Here’s what the first coat of Amber Waves looked like going on. I safely paint right on my kitchen counter because APC has no harmful chemicals and no fumes.

IMG_0282Here’s a side-by-side comparison of the first and second coats.

amber waves_2coats The trick to making it stick is simple:

JUST GET THE FIRST COAT ON  (it won’t be pretty) …

I wait overnight. The next day, I apply the second coat of paint, but I add several squirts of water to make it thinner so it glides over the first coat—sticking beautifully—and giving the piece a nice finish.



I could have stopped with the paint right there, sealed the piece and had a cute little yellow cabinet.

But then I wouldn’t have a provocative title for this post!

shades of APC gray

Shades of (American Paint Company) Gray

I chose three American Paint Company shades of grays called Smoke Signal, Freedom Road and Tarnished Platter, a new color from the limited edition American Home Collection.

I brushed them over the yellow—all of them—all at the same time—with the same brush.

This is the fun part!

I just kept layering the different shades of gray. They blended together in some places to create a new color. I would step back and look at the piece, adding more of a particular color if a spot needed it to look balanced. I rubbed some areas with a damp cloth to reveal the yellow underneath.

There is no formula here! No right way or wrong way to do it!

Just keep painting and blending and stepping back and rubbing away until the piece looks perfect to YOU!

My best piece of advice for painters just starting out is simple: HAVE FUN! This is just paint. It isn’t rocket science or brain surgery. The fate of the world doesn’t rest on you and your paintbrush. It is just paint.  You can’t mess it up. If you hate it in the end, just paint over it and try again.

(Don’t tell anybody, but I do that all the time.)


IMG_0313After I played around and got the cabinet to look beautiful to ME, I let it dry overnight again.

I still wasn’t finished yet! I chose American Paint Company’s Hard Coat for the finish on this piece because I do plan to use it every day in my office. It will get a lot of wear and tear so I wanted the highest level of protection for it. APC Hard Coat is a low-VOC product that provides a more durable finish than wax or APC Top Coat.

I applied one coat of Hard Coat and let it dry. (This stuff dries fast!)

IMG_0324For the second coat, I just had to add a little shimmer.


I mixed APC Pewter Mica into my little cup of Hard Coat and stirred it well. Micas come in powder form and are added to wax, Top Coat or Hard Coat to give it a little sparkle. I squirted three big squirts of Hard Coat into my little cup and added one spoonful of mica. That’s about as carefully as I measure anything. I had just enough to cover the entire piece.

printer cabinet_closeup pewter mica

Then I remembered the hardware. I added just one squirt of Hard Coat into my little cup this time since I only had a few handles. But I’m never any good at math and totally forgot that the same scoop of mica as before would throw the ratio all off. It turned the mixture into more of a paste—and I LOVE IT! It is almost opaque, but a little bit of the original hardware peeks through.

printer cabinet_closeup hardwareNow came the HARDEST PART of this entire process. The Hard Coat will feel completely dry in less than an hour, but it can take up to a month to fully cure. You risk messing up the finish if you engage in “heavy use” of a piece before it fully cures.

Waiting is hard for me. A month might as well be forever.

I made it a week.

Then I—carefully—pulled out my typewriter to take a few photos …

~ Courtney

printer cabinet_newlogo

printer cabinet_sideview_with logo

printer cabinet_closeup1

printer cabinet_closeup2 All Things New Again is a family-owned furniture and paint boutique located in Leesburg, VA. We offer our own eclectic brand of hand painted furniture, vintage home decor, “project pieces” in need of a little TLC, paint and classes. Our Introduction to American Paint Company class is held the first Sunday of every month. (Except our next class in April will be on Sunday, April 12 due to the Easter holiday.)

Please stop by for a cup of coffee the next time you are in town. We always have a lot of fun!

4 responses to “Shades of Gray: A Vintage Cabinet Makeover

  1. That turned out beautifully! As a newbie to chalk painting I’m always looking for tips. You say you spray with water for the second coat. You spray the wood surface with water ? Or your brush ?

    • Thank you Linda! You could do it either way–spraying the brush or dipping your brush in a cup of water. You could also brush on some paint onto the furniture then spray it with water to thin it out and brush it around to blend together. What I like to do is scoop my paint into a cup then Spray water into it and mix it up. Then I have a thinner coat of paint to put on. Sometimes I do all three at the same time! There’s no right or wrong–just whatever works for the piece you are working on. -Courtney

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