There’s nothing I love more than a hand-me-down piece of furniture that has been in the family for years. Sure, I love to refinish any old thing, but knowing the story behind a piece really makes the end product that much more fulfilling.
This past fall, after announcing our pregnancy to our family, Kurt’s Mimi and Pappa were quick to offer an old child’s armoire they had stowed away in their back shed. Knowing the size of our nursery, which is not big at all, I highly doubted anything else would fit, especially an armoire, which in my head was huge. A couple months later, we made the trip to their house for Christmas and we finally got to rest our eyes on the child’s armoire that had once been Mimi’s.
It was….PERFECT; much smaller than I expected and a perfect fit for our baby’s room.
I started by removing the knobs, which required some elbow grease from Kurt since they had been left on when the piece was previously painted white. Next to go was the door and the metal hanger on the inside of the cabinet. I let all of the hardware (metal hanger, hinges etc…) soak in a vinegar/baking soda solution over night. The next morning the old paint came right off and everything looked like new.
I’ve always loved the look of pieces that are both stained and painted. When I saw this child’s armoire, I knew that is exactly what I wanted to do. I planned to paint the body of the armoire white and stain the drawers, door. Once I got going, I ultimately decided to stain the top in addition to tie everything together.
What we used to refinish our Child’s Armoire
- Krud Kutter Original De-greaser
- Citristrip Stripping Gel
- Plastic paint scraper
- Safety glasses
- 80 grit sand paper
- 220 grit sandpaper
- 1 – 2ft x 4ft sheet of hard board (1/8 in thick)
- 2 – 8oz samples of Behr Paint + Primer (satin finish)
- 4-inch foam roller and roll
- Rust-Oleum Varathane Stain + Poly (Early American)
- Synthetic bristle paintbrush
- Steel wool
- Paste wax
This piece was pretty dirty and musky from having been stored in a shed for years, so we started by spraying down with Krud Kutter and wiping with a damp cloth. Once it was clean, we could see that we would have to sand the entire piece if we wanted a smooth finish because of the multiple layers of paint that had been applied.
Being an older painted piece, we assumed lead paint had been used and wore respirators while sanding. We sanded the entire body using an orbit sander and 80 grit sandpaper to cut through the paint. We followed with 220 grit sandpaper until it was smooth.
Kurt sanded the drawer faces down to the bare wood using 80 grit sandpaper then followed with 220 grit sandpaper until smooth. Seeing how difficult it was for him to get to the bare wood by sanding through the paint, I applied Citristrip Stripping Gel with a paintbrush to the door front and to the top pieces of the armoire. I followed the directions according to the label and this stuff worked amazingly! The paint was very easy to scrap off using a plastic paint scraper. Once the door front and the top pieces were stripped, I sanded with 220 grit sand paper to remove and remnants of paint.
Once the drawers, door, and top were ready, I applied Rust-Oleum’s Varathane Stain+Poly (Early American) using a synthetic bristled paintbrush. This is the same product we used on our DIY Crib. I absolutely LOVE how easy it is to apply and how it cuts out extra steps. After the stain+poly dried, we lightly sanded using steel wool and applied paste wax (this is the same technique we used on the crib).
Kurt then repaired the bottom of the broken drawer and the bottom of the cabinet nook by cutting pieces of hard board to size and then gluing/nailing them in place.
Next, I moved to painting the armoire and the knobs. I had previously purchased 2 samples of Behr primer + paint from Home Depot. I thought they were flat finish at the time, so when I realized they were satin finish I didn’t use them for that project. BUT, I didn’t feel like buying more paint so I just used what I had for this project. After applying with a brush, I didn’t like how the finish looked. The satin finish shows strokes much more than a flat finish. This is how it looked after 1 coat.
After the first coat dried, I rubbed the entire thing lightly with some steel wool to smooth the grooves made from the brush strokes. For the second coat, I used a 4-inch foam roller which applied the paint beautifully. After another coat (total 3 coats) this baby was done. I used the same foam roller to paint the inside of the door and the knobs. For the knobs, I used more of a sponge-like technique dabbing all over to get in the grooves.
I am in love with the piece and it turned out better than I imagined! I’m so happy we brought it back to life and our baby will be able to use the same armoire his great grandmother did!