Sometimes (ok– a lot of times!) I can’t decide how to paint a piece of furniture so it just sits in my garage waiting for inspiration to strike.

I didn’t have to wait for this handmade vintage cabinet.

The moment I saw it, I immediately knew two things.

antique cabinet before shot1. That pink top and those purple/white gingham panels just had to GO!

— AND —

2. That wonderfully alligatored old paint on the doors just had to STAY!

That was easy!

I also knew the door panels would look great covered in chicken wire so I nicknamed this piece The Rooster Cabinet. We recently visited Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon on one of those really nice days in between snowstorms. We saw a few roosters up close and Joey “cock-a-doodle doo’ed” at them, which I’m not sure they appreciated. However, I came to appreciate just how pretty roosters are with black and brown and bits of red in their feathers.


You never know where inspiration will strike!

I decided to paint The Rooster Cabinet in the same colors as the real deal.

I started by painting the tops and sides of the cabinet red.

red basecoat

Then I took two more colors–brown and gold–and just randomly swiped them over the red in spots. Before they dried, I came back and randomly swiped some more red here and there.

Here’s what the cabinet looked like at this point:


It looks a little crazy, doesn’t it? No worries!

Layering colors, then wet distressing to blend and reveal them is a simple technique that—with just a little practice—delivers stunning results. This technique works best with chalk-type paint that wears away easily with a damp cloth. If the paint you are using does not distress with this method, let it dry and use sandpaper instead.

You can be subtle and layer soft colors together like my mom did with this cool two-tier claw-and-ball-foot table.

moms claw foot table



While my mom created an elegant finish with her color choices, my Rooster Cabinet is a rustic piece. It has an entirely different look than my mom’s table even though we both used the same techniques.

That’s all part of the fun!

I chose black for my final layer of color, adding lots of water to it before painting over that crazy swirl of red, brown and gold. You don’t have to be super-careful and you don’t have to cover every inch of your project. (That’s less to rub away later!) When the black dried, I wet distressed it. That’s just a fancy way of saying I rubbed the entire piece like crazy until enough of the other colors showed through to look the way I wanted it to.

Here’s what the cabinet looked like at this point:


The colors look muted and a little dull, don’t they? Again, no worries.

Remember all of those colors will pop and look vibrant again when you wax and buff the piece. I used dark wax for this piece to further enhance the rustic look. This photo clearly shows the difference between the side I waxed and the side I didn’t. Big difference, isn’t it?


The paint job was probably the easiest part of this cabinet’s make-over. I described it earlier as “handmade and vintage” which is really just a nice way of saying it was old and falling apart when I found it.

The cabinet was missing two shelves when I got it so we cut new ones out of plywood. I really liked the old wood inside of the cabinet so I didn’t want to paint the interior. However, the new shelves didn’t match.

new shelves

I could have just painted the shelves, but instead I covered them with homespun fabric in a pretty gold color with red and black stripes that matched my rooster paint job.

My dad also rebuilt the bottom drawer that was missing its bottom. He did A LOT of work to shore up this piece while retaining its rustic charm. It is a lot sturdier now than it was when I got it! I learned a lot about carpentry by working with my dad on this piece.

Remember the original crackly paint on the doors? I left it as is and just sealed it with a clear coat. And those ugly purple curtains? Replaced with chicken wire.

Finally, the Handmade Vintage Cabinet Re-Doodle-Do was complete!

Here it is:





~ Courtney

All Things New Again is a family-owned furniture and paint boutique in Leesburg, Virginia (about an hour or so west of Washington, D.C.). We offer eclectic hand-painted furniture and several lines of paint for your next DIY project. We also offer painting classes and workshops. We teach many techniques in our monthly Learn How to Paint Furniture class, including how to layer colors and distress on your next furniture project. Here’s a link with more details.

8 thoughts on “Handmade Vintage Cabinet Re-Doodle-Do

  1. Thanks for sharing the layering of paint technique with us. Love your cabinet especially the layered colors on the side with the original chippy paint on the front. The fabric just ties it all together so nicely. Awesome makeover!

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